I'm also a relative newbie in Linux. I've currently got 2 Linux boxes - one Ubuntu 9, one VL6 (xfce). Imho, Ubuntu is a little more graphic, in VL6 I had to use the command line a bit more. I've only had the tourist guidebook lessons in command-line-speak (where is the bus station?), but I like VL6.
I first installed VL about v4. It has consistently matched or bettered Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and a few other distros in hardware detection and it has sometimes done a better job of partitioning. This time they both installed just fine. VL installed faster, and had some of my basic requirements running quicker. Ubuntu feels more like my Windows machines. They are both good distros, with a few differences in programs (glslapt vs aptitude, etc.) I don't like the "free-only" restrictions on Ubuntu, but with 9.04 they've really opened that up a lot (previous Ubuntu I installed was 7).
Conclusion: I find both equally great, with a slight preference for VL6.