Also, everyone who says that Windows 'just works' and that Linux is too complicated does not know of what they speak. I tried installing Windows XP on the 8GB CompactFlash card. All works, but somewhere towards the end the machine would simply reboot and re-do the whole installation from the second boot (when you get the graphical UI). I tried a few different things, but nothing worked.
Then I popped in the Ubuntu Live CD, and that installed onto the CF card without any problem! When I booted into the installed Ubuntu, it correctly identified my display hardware and offered to install the restricted (non-Open Source) drivers. I did that, and after a reboot I had a glorious 1600x1200 screen. So: installation without a hitch, two reboots, everything works. Only a pity that the Linux drivers do not trigger the hardware accelleration when playing HD content -- so the video still stutters. I have to use the Windows drivers. :(
So I put in a harddisk that I still had lying around, and installed WinXP another time. The motherboard came with a driver DVD, so when I booted into WinXP proper, I popped that in the drive. Some automated tool popped up and I let it do its thing.
Except it didn't work. I had to manually kill off run-away processes, had nine reboots, and then still had to manually install the drivers for various things like the network card.
Windows "just works" -- my ass. It's come to the point where using Windows introduces lots of hassle -- especially when compared to Ubuntu. Unfortunately, I will have to keep using Windows on the MACH F, because of the hardware accelleration issue. (Though just now I found out that AMDATI also has a Catalyst driver for Linux which claims to provide hardware accel too -- gonna check that out!)
Also, we discovered that we don't have a way to hook this machine to our TV. So now our plans for getting a HD(-ready) LCD TV have been brought to the front. Funny that, how a single purchase sets off a chain of upgrades.
Edit: It seems that with a little bit of tweaking, the hardware accelleration does work under Ubuntu. Which means now I will have to decide whether to rewrite the MACH F software for Linux, or to just stick to Windows. I think I'll just use what we have now -- and leave the option of migrating to Ubuntu open for the future.