It Just Works(TM) (for the most part)
So I took a chance and upgraded my Ubuntu installation from 5.10 to 6.6. And by upgraded ladies and gents, I mean a clean install, as there truly is no other way to install an OS. Maybe it's just that I'm fractionally more familiar with it, and conscious of the fact that I'm going to HAVE to open a shell to issue a half dozen commands, but this install was by far the quickest from blank partition to working development environment.
The default setup provides a good base, and the subsequent updates were painless. I still dislike searching through innumerable packages with Synaptic, but and once the basic dev tools (gcc, g++, headers, etc) were installed the only imperative that remained was the video drivers. Been there done that, wrote it down. Nvidia driver install was not an issue, but that's not to say it can't be greatly improved upon.
After the miserable failure of MinGW Dev Studio to do anything whatsoever on 5.10 without crashing, I had downloaded and installed Borland's C++ IDE. Atrocious interface aside, it worked. But before I went that route again, I wanted to give Code::Blocks a try. Last time an install would have required compiling it from source, which is not something I was (or am) willing to sacrifice any of my time for. Let's face it, life is too short and my family is too important for me to waste time compiling something which amounts to a trivial pursuit.
I looked... lo and behold, there was a recent nightly build in a Debian package. What happened next was beyond my wildest dreams. I downloaded it, the Debian package installer opened, Code::Blocks landed on the hard drive and was added to the development tools menu. I opened the IDE up, converted a simple Visual Studio solution and the thing just worked. Amazing.
Suffice to say I'm impressed, as it basically Just Works. This environment is very livable if not slightly more compelling than it has been in the past. Mind you, I still think Linux has a 'slapped together' feel about it, but for now I'll say that if I HAD to work with it, I would consider it far less painful (maybe even enjoyable) than it has ever been.