[b]You don't give newbies Beta software! [/b]
I agree with you on that, I definitely agree. But, at least in the last 1.5 years, when I started using Linux, there were many features in Ubuntu, which even if not rock-solid, were very appealing for me as a Linux noob at the time.
BTW, your post is really pushing me to try out Mepis :)
I read many posts in this thread, defining Ubuntu as a distro for noobs, which should be changed in favor of another distro after getting some experience, but I can't completely agree.
By always including the most recent kernel version, Ubuntu offered a better out-of-the-box hardware support.
Even if I can compile the kernel myself, I do it only to tune performance, not to make my hardware work.
It's true that compiling your kernel makes you learn a lot, but not all Linux users might benefit from this knowledge:
In informatics itself, there are so many interesting things, that knowing them all is not possible having a single life, so I believe that one should have some priorities and focus his/her efforts on the things he/she cares about the most.
I started using Linux because I wanted a free, virus-free, OS which was good for developers.
Every time I have a problem, which gives me the feeling that I don't know enough of what happens under the hood, I always deeply investigate.
But not knowing each and every aspect of, say, the kernel, won't prevent me from using the OS, writing my apps, etc...
Plus in the end, after you configure it as you need and learn how to change things, IMHO, every distribution is the same.
Unless we are talking about stability of course.