For those who have been waiting anxiously since Ubuntu 10.04 was released, good news. Linux Mint 9 "Isadora" is available for download. For those who aren't familiar with Linux Mint, it is derived from Ubuntu, with lots of very useful additional packages included in the base distribution. I suppose it is fair to say with this distribution that one of the most controversial new "features" in Ubuntu 10.04 has not been included in Linux Mint 9 - the window control buttons have not been moved. Likewise, this release retains the green color scheme that is standard for Linux Mint, thankfully not adopting the Putrid Purple (or Awful Aubergine) of the Ubuntu distribution.
Check the Release Notes for details on what is new or changed in this release. So far I have loaded it on my Fujitsu Lifebook S6510 (Intel Core2 Duo CPU, Intel 965 graphics) and HP Pavillion dv2-1010ez (AMD Athlon Neo CPU, ATI Radeon graphics), both loaded and run just fine. On the Pavillion it offered to install the proprietary fglrx graphic driver, but this distribution includes the much improved ATI drivers, so unless you are doing something particularly graphic-intensive, you probably don't need the proprietary driver.
The Mint Software Manager has been improved again in this release, and I consider it to be one of the very best. It's easy to find something specific, when you know what you want, but it is equally easy to browse around, find new things that you didn't know about, get more information and opinions about them, and try them out. I also think the Mint Update Manager is one of the best, doing an excellent job of keeping you informed, quickly and clearly without getting in the way.
Of course there are lots more improvements and additions - for a more complete description and screen shots of some of the major items, check What's New in Linux Mint 9 Isadora.