-1 for 9.10
+1 for 9.04, but...

I've had a lot of problems on 9.10 *other than* the 64-bit 9.10 System76 factory image. Many or most of my problems may be from really terrible LPIA support in 9.10, while 9.04 works fine (Dell Mini9). So take that for what it's worth.

Going all the way back to LTS 8.04 seems a bit silly, when LTS 10.04 is just around the corner--though I'm going to let it "mature" for at least a month after release before I even look at it.

If you don't know what LTS is, you need to go read this: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Releases

Now, 8.04 LTS --> 10.04 and 9.10 --> 10.04 are *usually* the only supported "upgrade" (as opposed to clean install) paths. We'll have to wait until the end of April to be sure though.

So, live with 9.10 for another 2 months until you can upgrade to 10.04 LTS? Downgrade to the stone age to 8.04, then upgrade in 2 months? Downgrade to 9.04, then have to do a nuke&reinstall to 10.04?

You have to decide for yourself. FWIW, I run a mix of current LTS (8.04), 9.04 LPIA, and 9.10 stock System76. Regardless, it's ALL far better than Windows...