If my brain were a ping-pong game then this is probably the longest game in history! Choosing between one distribution and another for my laptop has gotten me going around in circles for some time but it seems to keep returning to Ubuntu for a few different reasons.
It Just Works
Probably the biggest argument I have had for Ubuntu since I was introduced to the Breezy Badger (a badger with gas?) has been how easy it is to not only install it but to maintain the system.
In the beginning, when I was learning it wasn't such a big issue to take time to learn how to do or fix things. On the other hand with so much overhead required I wasn't about to add the frustration and difficulty in supporting Linux for anybody else but me.
Now, though, I have kids and want to spend more time doing things with (and without) the computer than spend time working ON the computer. This is in addition to providing a stable, maintainable platform for the rest of the family to use that won't keep me up all night.
Basically I've wanted a system that I can get up to what I expect my Windows machine to be; easy maintenance and facilitates (or at least doesn't get in my way of) doing things. Whether it is really that much easier or that I've spent enough time with Ubuntu to know how to do things just as I have spent so much time learning how to do things in Windows, I don't know.
With Ubuntu, I have wireless working well, hibernate and suspend workings and volume buttons activated. Except for the wireless, which was painless, these features have actually run without my intervention and, in the case of the power controls, just needed me to learn how to use them and where to access them.
Everybody Else Is Doing It
Yes, it seems if you run across somebody who doesn't look at you cross-eyed when you mention Linux there is a fair chance that they are running Ubuntu and a greater chance that they have at least heard of it!
I am part of a computer club's Linux special interest group and just at this last meeting I found myself outnumbered 4-to-1 on distro of choice. Alone, this isn't enough to make me change.
On the same token, though, if I am in this Linux special interest group it behooves me to use a distribution that the other members will likely be familiar with so that not only are we all on the same page, but when I research a question or setting I will be less likely be caught in the "but they do it THIS way" or "we don't do things like that".
Plus Ubuntu is the #1 recommended Linux for newcomers and the easiest to get your hands on so the chances of new people coming to the meeting will be running Ubuntu is not an astronomical number!
Of course this doesn't account for the difference in how Gnome does things and KDE, but that's an even bigger battle than what little 'ol distribution to install on my laptop.
There Is A Future With Ubuntu
Now I'm not talking about the "End is Near" for any distribution or even operating system. What I am talking about is the momentum that Ubuntu has developed in their push to get into the Enterprise market.
Of course Red Hat is the biggest one, and Novell (SUSE) is a running second largest enterprise Linux in use, but when you look at smaller places the iron grip is not so tight.
When I hear somebody running CentOS, I find that usually the small business has a larger company mind set which isn't wrong and I think they are doing the right thing going with CentOS or even openSUSE.
For smaller operations, I hear some people using Debian or even Gentoo. This market, though, is almost perfect for Ubuntu due to it's strong Debian underpinnings, Linux security and Ubuntu "just works".