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That's because 16.04 is LTS (Long Term Support) and of enterprise quality (extra reliable and extra stable). The next LTS version will be 18.04, which will be released in 2018.
Intermediate versions (standard releases, version numbers for the current period: 16.10 to 17.10) only receive security updates for a mere nine months. But LTS versions for a generous five years.
See this graph of the life cycle of Ubuntu versions (click on the image to enlarge it):
Intermediate versions (standard releases) are not bad, but 16.04 LTS is simply much better. The difference between consumer quality and enterprise quality....
The lead developer and founder of Ubuntu is Mark Shuttleworth. This is what he says about this:
"Our working assumption is that the latest interim release is used by folks who will be involved, even if tangentially, in the making of Ubuntu (read: developers and testers), and LTS releases will be used by those who purely consume it (read: you and I)."
In short: choose LTS!
You may temporarily have to choose a newer intermediate version though, when you have very new hardware that's too new for the most recent 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.
However, a newer intermediate version has in this respect only a temporary advantage over Ubuntu 16.04 LTS: 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 standard version. This is done by means of a so-called "point release". 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 standard versions.
With Linux Mint you won't have to pay attention to this matter: nowadays, Linux Mint only uses LTS releases of Ubuntu as foundation.
For the experienced Linux users: the software in the repository "Main". Besides the operating system as such, this contains applications like Firefox and Libre Office.
Although "Main" contains most of the software of the default installation of Ubuntu, it doesn't contain all of it. A smaller part of the default software comes from the repositories (software sources) "Universe" and "Multiverse", and those are being maintained by the Ubuntu community. Not by the company Canonical.
They contain several popular applications and things like multimedia support.
What's in "Universe" and "Multiverse", is sometimes supported for less than five years. If shorter, then usually three years at most. That's why it's wise to use an LTS version of Ubuntu for "only" three years maximum.
Before those three years are up, you can upgrade to the new LTS, because every two years a new LTS is being released. The best upgrade moment is the release of the first point version of the new LTS ("Service Pack 1"), for example 16.04.1, because by then the inevitable teething troubles of the new LTS will have been fixed.
Xubuntu is your best choice.
You should also take into account the minimal system requirements of Ubuntu versus those of Xubuntu and of Lubuntu.
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I advise to choose 64-bit, because that's the future and it unleashes the full power of your hardware.
Important exception: computers with 1 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 little RAM (1 GB or less), then 32-bit is still the better choice. For with 1 GB RAM or less, you'll even notice the performance difference during simple, "light" home usage.
Computers with a pre-installed Windows 8.x or 10: for those, always select 64-bit Ubuntu and not 32-bit. A computer with Windows 8 or 10 with UEFI, needs a 64-bit operating system.
Linux Mint is easiest in this respect: you can force PAE upon such a processor by selecting Start with PAE forced in the boot menu from the Mint DVD. You can make that boot menu visible by interrupting the automatic boot, by hitting the space bar during the countdown.
6. You can get a free copy of Ubuntu here.
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Do you want more tips and tweaks for Ubuntu? There's a lot more of them on this website!
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