So, I've been a little slack in keeping just Free software on my computer, but things are happening in such a way that I'm getting rewarded when I do purge myself of non-free junk. For instance, I tried using the non-free Nvidia drivers when I was having trouble with my graphics card (I now know the problem was that you should never mix Nvidia and ATI) and I forgot to switch back to the free drivers when the problem persisted. After a while, I started getting random crashes, and switching back to the Free drivers made everything better. On a similar note, I haven't had a single browser crash since I removed Macromedia Flash Player from my plugins folder.
It's great—stability really improves when you use an all-free system. The lone holdout of non-free software on my machine is Gizmo. Gizmo is worlds better than Skype, its closest competitor since it's on an open standard (SIP), but I recently discovered that Skype has other problems. Apparently they aren't too shy about arbitrarily crippling their product when it gets them a sweet business deal. I can't stomach the idea of supporting a company that has so little regard for their users.
Anyway, I've found Ekiga to be a promising alternative to Gizmo. (This can be a little confusing since Gizmo is really offering two things: a decent open VoIP service which I've already dropped money into and a crappy closed client program.) Ekiga would allow me to use the account I have with Gizmo without getting stuck with their lousy client. The latest version is especially bad and saps over 90% of my CPU usage when I use it.
The point is: go all-free. You'll be surprised how rewarding it is.