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I built an AMD 64 box to run Linux. It works, I enjoy it, it didn't cost much -- but I do spend a heck of a lot of time getting it set up to do things like Samba, ftp, finding video codecs, etc. I use a Dell Windows PC at work, and it's ok, but it's not mine, and I don't like Internet Explorer, I've had spyware and virus issues even through our company firewall, and it occasionally at random locks up and I have to call our computer support people.
It's the "just works" factor. Installing new software is quick and easy on the Mac. Mail is simple and easy. Sharing is simple and easy. File serving is simple and easy. The iBook's battery holds its charge better than any laptop I've ever seen.
Linux is cool, and inexpensive, but it takes a lot of tweaking. Windows is just something I'm used to -- there's nothing else to recommend it.
Windows has the edge in specialty apps. Linux has the edge in flexibility, freedom, and raw performance.
Is the Mac more expensive? Only if your time is worthless. At some point, as my Linux expertise develops to the point where I can intuitively do all the things I want to do, I'll say Linux is less expensive. I know in the long run it will be the better value.
Until then, however, and I think for your average user, the Mac wins hands down over both Linux and Windows.