Hmh, ugliness >_<. In the looks department, Linux really came a long way. Except Knoppix, those ugly widgets are still everywhere.
I remember that back then, a friend of mine (older guy) was thrilled with Linux, and its level of customization. He always ranted about how cool was this one 'theme' (perhaps it was another thing) that made Linux looks like a space computer or something, very flashy (probably barely usable, anyway :P). He gave me a few tips on how to install SuSE on my back then brand-new computer (my first PC!), but never got to do it.
My older brother and his friends also loved Linux, and especially dabbling with KDE. It was a lot of work to make everything work, and they were learning every day for months (in their words), but it was worth it. Funny enough, now that Linux is much more usable and user-friendly, all of them are using Windows :D