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An intermediate Ubuntu is a good choice, but Ubuntu 12.04 is an excellent choice. Because 12.04 is LTS (Long Term Support) and of enterprise quality (extra reliable and extra stable). Intermediate versions (standard releases) nowadays receive security updates for nine months, but LTS versions for five years.
Note: Ubuntu 12.10 is an exception: this particular intermediate version still receives 18 months of security updates.
See this graph of the life cycle of Ubuntu versions (click on the image to enlarge it):
Intermediate versions (standard releases) are good, but 12.04 LTS is simply better. The difference between consumer quality and enterprise quality.
You may temporarily have to choose a newer intermediate version though, when you have very new hardware that's too new for an older LTS version. That's because the drivers for the hardware are in the kernel, which is the core of the operating system. Only the latest Ubuntu has the latest kernel, and therefore the latest drivers.
A later intermediate version has in this respect only a temporary advantage over an older LTS version: an LTS version of Ubuntu receives in the first two years of its existence, every six months the newer kernel of the most recent intermediate version. See this announcement.
Since Canonical releases LTS versions with a two-year interval, you can always choose to "go LTS". No matter how new your hardware is. As far as support for new hardware is concerned, there's only a temporary difference of a few months between the latest LTS version and more recent intermediate versions.
For 64-bit Ubuntu, there may still be a little less applications available and a little less hardware drivers. Yet I advise to choose 64-bit, because that unleashes the full power of your hardware.
Important exception: computers with "only" 2 GB RAM or less.
In a 64-bit system, applications use more RAM than the same applications in a 32-bit system. So if you have a computer with relatively little RAM (2 GB or less), then 32-bit is definitely the better choice. For with 2 GB RAM or less, you'll even notice the performance difference during simple, "light" home usage.
Computers with Windows 8 pre-installed: for those, always select 64-bit Ubuntu and not 32-bit. A Windows 8 computer with UEFI, needs a 64-bit operating system.
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Xubuntu is your best choice.
You should also take into account the minimal system requirements of Ubuntu versus those of Xubuntu and of Lubuntu.
5. You can get a free copy of Ubuntu here.
Do you want more tips and tweaks for Ubuntu? There's a lot more of them on this website!
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