And no, I've never had to reinstall Linux. Windows? Just about once a year.
My hdds tend to fail before I need a windows reinstall. So far every single linux install I've done to date has gotten mangled from my attempts to do things on it (even simple things, such as installing steam on debian) that the only help I can get from the support forums is to just reinstall.
I'm the luckiest guy on earth.
Either that or you have a bad memory. I haven't once installed ubuntu or debian on a laptop where at least 1 semi-important bit of hardware wasn't recognized, or was only partially supported. The most common offender was the network card(s) not showing up at all, followed by the touchpad/keyboard buttons not being fully recognized, and then occasionally the video drivers. More often than not the fix involved screwing with repos to install some non-free driver, at which point the system would seem to have more and more things broken every time I updated.
The worst problem I've had with Linux is a lubuntu install that doesn't care what I set for wakeup. After five minutes of inactivity, I have to log in again.
That's exactly the kind of minor issue I'm talking about. A non-tech savvy person wouldn't know the first place to start and just live with it. I like to at least attempt fixing those sorts of things, but generally the attempt ends up breaking more things than it fixes.