Welcome to "our neck of the woods" jasmc!
You're gonna love it here. Just keep a couple things in mind while using VL. First, you're on a laptop. Could be tricky even for the seasoned Linux geek. Second, you're running a RC. But at least it's a darn good one
Doesn't seem that far off from going gold. Third, you're right about the community. These guys/girls really do care about you, and want to help in any way possible. And it's rare that a issue can't be resolved. Never ever be afraid to ask anything here. We don't flame people. If it's a question you are stumped on... chances are someone else in the future will be as well, and the information will be here for them to find.
Take care, and look'n forward to rubbing elbows with you elsewhere on the board.