Originally Posted by rich_c
you'll not go far wrong with either Mint or Ubuntu in that order.
Not really current data, but I sure managed to go far wrong with Mint. Around the time I selected Mepis, I tested a bunch of Linux distributions on a bunch of then only slightly obsolete computers.
Various distributions failed on various machines, generally because of incompatibility with display hardware. Like most newbies I did not have the expertise to tweak badly documented boot parameters etc. to get far enough into a liveCD to even try installing different drivers.
Mepis 7 covered the widest range of hardware, partially because it booted without manual overrides in more cases and partially because of better documentation of boot parameters.
Mint was the worst. I'm not sure I recall exactly, but as best I recall, between failure to display at all, unusable low display resolution, and random crashes shortly after boot, it was unusable on every system I tried. I'm sure I remember correctly it was unusable on most systems.
I also posted some requests for help with Mint in a few different forums. Probably I posted badly, because I didn't know what I was talking about. No one answered, not even to say what was wrong with my questions. Newbies ask poorly formed questions about Ubuntu installs all the time here at LQ and usually get constructive replies.
The quality of online support is another big factor in the choice of beginner distribution. If you expect to ask stupid questions about installing your chosen Linux distribution, your best chance of getting constructive replies is asking Ubuntu questions here at LQ.