If you are looking for a distribution of Linux that is light and quick but still based on the familiar distribution of everyone’s favourite Ubuntu, I recommend that you give #!CrunchBang Linux a try (#! stands for CrunchBang). CrunchBang Linux cuts through the bloat that people say has crept into Ubuntu and other Ubuntu based distributions (like LinuxMint which I use) and provide the user with a lightweight and speedy yet functional Linux box that keeps the promise of making your Windows user friends jealous with its customized appearance.
CrunchBang Linux features the OpenBox window manager and a highly configurable PCManFM file manager. The aim is to keep things running fast and light and the interface follows the same criteria. Conky is also installed by default and is the only thing on the desktop apart from the wallpaper. While the distribution lacks any of the bells and whistles like compiz effects, it really impresses with its speed and simplicity. If you want a simple Ubuntu, CrunchBang is your answer.
Here are a few screenshots from a VM installation.
CrunchBang is available from the website in standard (620mb) and lite (427mb) versions for both 32bit and 64bit computing.