I started with Ubuntu since it seems to be one of the most popular out there. Booted from the 12.10 DVD, stepped through the installer, picked defaults for most things. It installs, reboots... and doesn't boot up. Acts like there's no bootloader on the hard drive.
A friend suggested Debian. It installed and booted! First task: Get some music in there. I opened up the default Rhythmbox player and imported an album. The first track *almost* played successfully, until two seconds from the end. It then put itself on Pause and wouldn't resume (and I couldn't play any other tracks either). When I quit and restarted Rhythmbox all the music had disappeared.
I mentioned this to my friend and he asked why I'm not using Amarok. Me: "Because Rhythmbox was the default". Regardless, I opened Software Centre, searched for Amarok, and installed it. I never did figure out whether it works or not, because despite claiming that the installation was successful it didn't add an icon to the Applications menu. With no idea how to start the thing, I have no clue whether it's actually able to successfully play music.
I also installed Banshee which successfully got an icon! I imported some music, hit Play, and it played. Then it stopped after track 1. Hmm. I can't find anything set on "one track only". What about track 2? It played all the way through, then started playing track 1 again. I decided to skip ahead a few. Track 5 led onto track 6, then back to 1. I never did figure out what crazy logic it was using.
By this point I probably should've given up but for some reason I also tried OpenSuse. Naturally after my experience with music on Debian the first thing I did was try to get music going in OpenSuse. I browsed to my other computer, dragged a music folder to the Desktop... and it failed to copy with the error "is a directory". I ended up having to zip up the music directory and unzip it at the other end.
I then imported the files into the default Banshee player. "You need to install a codec to play this content, do you want to install now?" I clicked Yes and it sat there for a minute or so with a progress bar then failed with "packages already installed". Needless to say, the music files (AAC format) still didn't play.
I gave up at this point and wrote a rant :)
Am I missing something totally obvious? I can't believe that it "should" be this bad so am I doing something wrong?
PS. I've heard good things about Mint but didn't even get as far as downloading it; the very first question is "Mate" or "Cinnamon" with no obvious guidance around why you'd want one or the other.
(Edited 5:36: Forgot the question at the end!)