Ubuntu is a safe bet
If you are in doubt about what distribution to choose, Ubuntu is a safe bet. It has a company behind it that offers support and will be constantly putting manpower to develop it (see https://www.canonical.com/ and www.ubuntu.com). If however Canonical Ltd. collapses, there's still the Ubuntu Foundation, that has a 10 million dollar initial fund, to continue it's development. It also has a great and very active community that treats and solves most of the everyday problems (see ubuntuforums.org or askubuntu.com among others), with many people testing and reporting bugs and fixing them (see launchpad.net). All these things surrounding Ubuntu helps the users and the developers to keep everything running smoothly.
Ubuntu makes it easy for you
Ubuntu was made with one priority: being user-friendly. It's not by chance that their slogan is "Linux for human beings". The most important factor of Ubuntu's success is the ease of installation and configuration. No technical knowledge is required to have it up and running. The choices of standard applications are good and they are well integrated into the operating system as a whole. Ubuntu has also made smart choices about being Free (like in freedom) but assists users to install proprietary software if necessary. As a rule of thumb, Ubuntu will make things easy for you (or at least try!).
Ubuntu is a reference
Some people say Ubuntu is a newbie distro because many people start getting involved with GNU/Linux through Ubuntu. This does not mean Ubuntu is a simple or less powerful distro, it is just as good for experienced users as it is for newbies.
Ubuntu has become important also because most companies or developers that want to make their product available for GNU/Linux will aim compatibility with Ubuntu first rather than other distributions. This is a big achievement for Ubuntu since it has become a reference in the GNU/Linux world. Sometimes, Free and OpenSource Software can look chaotic because everybody can do what they want. A point of reference is very important for Free Software, for the users as much as for developers. Having a distribution like Ubuntu as a sort of standard is excellent for the entire GNU/Linux eco-system.
Why not to chose Ubuntu?
There are many really nice distros out there. Some of them, like Mint, benefit from many of the advantages of Ubuntu because they are based on it. I encourage everyone to test other distributions as well and make a choice based on these experiences. Every distribution has something to offer and it's wonderful to discover new ones. Be careful though not to fall in the trap of "distro hopping" and having to adapt to new environments and applications endlessly, sometimes what we have is just as good as it gets.
To help you find out more we also have:
- an explanation of what distributions are and how to chose the best for you,
- a list of the most popular distributions that you should know about, and
- a list of the coolest distributions (usually for performing specific tasks).