Right, I'm fairly proficient with linux, I use Debian on my desktop and Gentoo on my server, and know basically what I'm doing. However, I'm not familiar with other distros, as I never really bothered with them. I'm now in the position of fixing and looking after other student machines in my college at university, and more than a few have asked about Linux on their laptop... while more than happy to help these people, I'm not sure what to install for them, and am now looking forward to about 25 entirely different laptops with some form of Linuxy goodness. So here are the rules for suggestions
1: Must be very laptop friendly. I don't want to fiddle with every laptop to get stuff working. 3D graphics support is unimportant, but sound, on board ethernet and 2D graphics should work straight off after install.
2: Install must give at least KDE, OpenOffice, an IM client with MSN support, and media players. Firefox and Thunderbird would be nice too.
3: Should be very simple to use, as these are all first time users. I can handle an unintuitive installer though, so don't worry about that too much
Remember that these machines are all different, so the thing has to be flexible...