I need advice about motherboards! please and thank you!

As I got ready to pull the trigger on an Asus motherboard a few minutes ago (P8Z77-LGA 1155... their middle of the road consumer board) . I thought that might be the best choice because it uses the Intel LAN chips, and is much less expensive than comparable Intel boards (which I've also read to have worse BIOS and/or memory issues). It also comes with a WIFI b/g/n module that most everyone says performs very well.

I came this discussion board, to verify it was a linux compatibile/friendly motherboard. Reading the various threads here... scared the crap out of me! I know nothing about UEFI (I understand it is a more modern BIOS) and nothing about "secure boot". Reading stuff here has me wondering if there is any modern board that won't be a hassle (get it up and running quickly... and maintain it) for someone with no experience with UEFI and "secure boot".

I did some preliminary shopping a month back, but decided to not buy anything because we had no pressing need for it. I was looking to assemble a home theater/media server/living room PC. I was want something fully modern (PCI 3, USB 3, SATA 3 (basic RAID), Ivy bridge, good GPU power, etc).

We now have a pressing need (!). My wife has book to write, with a deadline, and her laptop is in for it's 5th RMA(!) and we have no confidence that things will ever be resolved this time either. We need to have another PC in the house, ASAP. She was mad that I didn't buy all the parts yesterday!

I want something with decent CPU power (occasional kernel compiling duties, IDE usage, etc). I'm not a real hacker, but I am trying (and learning everyday). My old PC (8 years old, pentium D) is still fine for many things, but certainly shows its age when real muscle is needed. I've been an everyday Linux user for maybe 4-5 years, now. And in that time, I've actually come to love computers. But it has always been with this old clunker. It has never been with hardware more modern than that.

--The most important capability for the PC, is it absolutely, unconditionally... must run Linux (mint/Xubuntu/debian). My wife actually prefers using linux over windows herself, too. She also prefers libreoffice, gimp, inkscape (etc) over the commercial applications (MS office, photoshop, adobe) she has to use while at her work office. This book she is writing is not related to her work... so it will all be done at home.

So, this machine will NOT dual boot with any MS OS. It might multi-boot between a few linux distributions though. So, we really have no need for MS on it all (although I might throw XP in a virtual box). We don't even own any modern MS OS versions (besides the windows 7 that is on the laptop... which is constantly broken).


other related hardware I was looking at buying... mostly because of past experience or rumors... any comments about these other choices of hardware?

intel i5 line (3450, 3550, 3550K... maybe overclocking might be fun?)

EVGA GeForce GTX 660 SUPERCLOCKED 2048MB GDDR5 (i've been manually installing proprietary nvidia drivers on my old PC, with every kernel update, for years now)

WD hard disks
Corsair or seasonic PSU
Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600 MHz