Linux Mint Community Edition
I then heard about yet another Ubuntu variant called Linux Mint that came with multimedia components such as adobe flash and the ability to play real, windows media and quicktime already configured.
So I tried the XFCE Community Edition BETA 008 CD as a live CD (runs entirely from CD without installing in order to try out prior to a hard drive install) on our intel based Mac and it was the fastest performing live CD I’ve ever used. Web pages loaded faster than on our Mac mini and I could watch the BBC iPlayer without having to download flash (though I did have to upgrade the installed version of flash in order to use the full screen function). Linux Mint also places the program menu items in a configuration that many other people will be familiar with which is a bonus for anybody deploying it on machines that are being gifted back into the community.
I also tried the Gnome based edition that has more eye candy (rotating workspace desktops even on the live edition) and uses a slab style menu though inevitably the memory footprint is not as efficient as the XFCE based edition (XFCE being better for computers with less memory). For comparison I made a similar screenshot walkthrough that can be found here.
Update: All Flavours of Linux Mint ran perfectly from CD on our intel Mac though I’ve experienced a fair few problems attempting to load on older hardware circa PIII’s and Duron’s. A warning if you try to install alongside OS X as these editions will not give the correct boot loader and currently requires installing without GRUB (or you’ll mess things up in a big way for your Mac) and manual jiggery pokery in the Mac terminal afterwards to get a correct dual boot.