For some years, I've had to use Linux in an academic setting and also fiddled around with the BSD-style Unix on OS X. Recently a friend and long-time Linux user convinced me to take the plunge and use Linux full-time.
I enjoy using Ubuntu (sans Unity) and think open-source software will, and should, play a more dominant role in normal people's lives, but I am far from a Linux advocate. Or to put it another way, I'm more like a Linus than a Stallman.
I like using the Awesome window-manager. Many questions about Awesome can be resolved by perusing a more experienced user's
rc.lua file, so here's mine, and hopefully it will resolve some of your questions.