All platforms: We've previously suggested that Linux Mint, a distant cousin of Ubuntu, might make for a better beginner's Linux OS. With the inclusion of an incremental backup tool, app selection backups and a smarter software finder, Mint is hitting its mark.
Mint 9's Release Candidate, or "Isadora", has a whole lot of new stuff, but the biggest win for users is a backup tool that not only does full backups with incremental updates — meaning only the new and changed stuff is transferred when you apply it — but can also back up a list of the software you've chosen to install in Mint. When it comes time to upgrade or install on another system, you can make a clean wipe while feeling secure that you can quickly reinstall everything you had before, along with the data that went with it.
Along with that backup tool, Mint 9 has improved its software finder and installer, already a highlight of the system, to include user reviews. After you use an app from the repositories, you can fill out a simple text box and choose a star rating, hit submit, and share with the Mint world the pros and cons of the tools you were trying out.
Linux Mint 9 RC is a free download, and should boot from most Intel-based hardware. It's a release candidate, of course, so there could be some remaining bugs — but upgrading to the final release should be a snap, and you've got a nice backup tool if you want to make a clean install later.
Linux Mint 9 LXDE RC released! [The Linux Mint Blog]