Bad, ill informed advice
This is very bad advice.
First, the problem with Ubuntu is stability. It is remixed every six months from Debian Experimental, so the laments and howls every six months when a new version comes out are due to the fact that you cannot get from Experimental to Stable in six months. Ubuntu cannot, neither can Debian.
If you want an apt based system, get Debian. Do not go to Testing versions unless whatever name it is has been in Testing for at least a year. Otherwise, take the Stable version.
Second, what are the other alternatives? It is not true that Damn Small Linux is a sensible alternative - its been out of active maintenance for years now, and it never was viable for end users. Puppy is a decent recommendation.
Gentoo looks no different from anything else, and does not belong here, neither does Arch. Neither one is suitable for the audience this article is directed at.
Mandriva is not at all bad, very worth considering, end users get along with it just fine, the main asset is the control center, which they really like a lot. The control center is shared with PCLinuxOS, and that is certainly worth considering. If you give someone Mandriva, the one to get is Mandriva One, Gnome Edition.
Suse is fine.
Debian is an interesting one. I would say the difference between Debian and Mandriva or Suse is who is going to set it up. If you are going to set it up, do the install and customize the desktop, give them Debian. If they are going to do it, either Mandriva or Suse. Or, if its an old machine, Puppy is a possible.
The sleepers that should be mentioned but have been omitted, and should be there in place of Arch or Gentoo or Sabayon, are the various Slackware based distros. Vector is very nice, very fast. ZenWalk is also excellent. Slackware is a bit bare metal, not recommended for non-computer people, but the derivatives are just fine.
So, bottom line: If you will install it, Debian. If they will, Mandriva One or Suse or PCLinuxOS. If its an old slow machine, Puppy, Vector or Zenwalk. If they want a live CD to try out, Slax rather than Knoppix.