Users would disagree, it's not a matter of intelligence, they just want their shit to work. Choice is great when you know enough about something to make a choice, in the meantime, users trust distributors to pick a sane default that lets them get their work done.
Thanks for your comments, Jorge. On this note, we are in total agreement. You're correct, I have not tried Ubuntu, having limited myself to the "corporate" distros from RedHat, SuSE and (years ago) Caldera.
Of course it's clear that smart developers can do the right thing with respect to packaging and installation: witness Windows and OS X. My point is that in the Linux world, they (largely) have not, for reasons that seem to be indemic to the community itself. That is the basis for my argument that Linux will never get it right.
Another commenter echoes this:
I think most of the dissonance about choice is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Linux software ecosystem works... The open source software ecosystem is a collection of specialized software packages, designed to do one or a few things very well, that work like a set of building blocks. A Linux distribution merely sorts, selects and assembles these pieces for its target audience, with a spit-and-polish touch that also caters directly to its audience... This puts some people off - they want an tightly integrated software package that appears to be a smooth monolithic entity.
That said, I'll see if I can give Ubuntu a try to see if it is, in fact, different. As I said at the outset of my post, as an "enterprise ISV" I am forced to live and breath Windows. I long for better. OS X is better, but, so far, I can't say the same for the Linux desktops I've experienced.