Originally Posted by Techcow
Any advice is appreciated.
I'm a linux newb and have been looking at different distros. The difference between Ubuntu and Kubuntu is either gnome or kde desktop. Which one you like best is a personal preference and you might want to download both, have a good look and figure out which one you prefer (don't ask anybody else - the "which is better? Gnome or KDE" threads litter every forum I've looked at).
Ubuntu has a reputation as being newbie-friendly (I seem to be the only one who didn't find it particularly so) and its forum is said to be well-frequented. I think you need as many sources of help as you can get when you are a newbie, so an active newbie-friendly forum is a must.
Freespire is very "glossy" and seems to have a lot of installed packages (music players and the like). I only looked at it briefly - it had a bit "too much going on" for my taste.
Mandriva's forum is well-frequented, there's a permanent "Mandriva guy" there who answers questions and I found it newbie-tolerant and friendly. It has what I thought was a quite newbie-friendly setup "control centre". I think it's worth a look.
As everyone has said, grab one and give it a look - or download them all and see if anything "leaps out at you" to make you love it. Only you can decide what you like.