Sabayon KDE linux Fully updated 2.73a blender from blender server, Nvidia card.
Add a plane
Add Suzanne and edit to move origin to bottom of her.
Add particle system to plane ->hair -> object -> Suzanne
Suzanne will end up face down and in the plane halfway. This makes no sense.
If you turn on advanced particles and then rotation and set it to object Y or global Y, it will then face correctly. This is a lot of steps to get it to something it should be anyway. Clearly not something a beginner would find and the manual says nothing about this ether.
I don't see any way to get Suzanne to face in random directions, North, East West etc or to tilt her in a controlled way. These are very important when doing something like grass. You want it to be rotated for sure per partial and randomly and tilting is also often good. It is true than you can effect this a bit but as best as I can tell not in a very controlled way.
Douglas E Knapp