The free software age is all about giving the freedom to choose: flexibility to choose the best out of a variety of almost-the-best software is one of the hallmarks of this era. On the flip side, a newbie to this world often faces a choice overload. Should she go for Fedora or Ubuntu or Debian, GNOME or KDE, NetBeans or Eclipse, Open MPI or Open MP or PVM? We have loyalists on every side swearing by their product--and they are not wrong. It is tough to make a choice. However, with time, based on usage preferences, a choice is made and she finds her favourite distro, development tools and the like.
At the moment, two IDEs are dominant in the free software world: Eclipse and NetBeans. Being a NetBeans fan (and part of the NetBeans community), I will explain why in my opinion it's NetBeans is a fantastic choice.