This post is feedback for developers. If it is better suited somewhere else, please move it.
Pretext: I do not want to offend anyone. I have donated and I appreciate the work a lot.
And I am a user, not a developer/programmer.
My first impression of and experience with LMDE in 2010 was perfect, see here:
Since then it has gone down hill.
Along the changes in KDE, Gnome, etc. the developers seem to have lost focus.
With the many distros and desktop environments I installed on various laptops, LMDE 2010 9 was the only one (!) working out of the box. All others needed "fiddling". Sound being the most tiresome issue. Thus, LMDE made me extremely happy. Those days are gone.
In KDE3 and Gnome2 the tools for fiddling were pretty much right there, within the desktop environment. Like most users, the terminal is NOT my preferred working environment. After some reading and educating, within a few hours a regular user had a working system.
KDE4 and - even worse - Gnome3 are horrible in this regard. And sadly, Xfce, Mate and Cinnamon aren't much better.
It seems to me, the developers have totally forgotten one issue: hardware compatibility.
And the resulting need for the user to adjust the system, to fiddle with it.
Sorry guys, Linux isn't Microsoft, the hardware companies do not build machines for Linux yet. Thus, whoever installs a Linux distro runs into compatibility/driver issues. If developers then create desktop environments, that make it close to impossible to change system settings, the user sits in front of a useless machine. How many hours is a user required to fiddle with extensions, config files, etc. to have a working machine?
And while I am at it, let me debunk a myth: NOT all applications run under all desktop environments. Try working (!) with evolution under KDE and see how for example notifications are fubar or not working at all (calendar notifications?).
It seems to me, tons of time and effort goes into the wrong area.
Instead of fixing bugs and improving the core system, additional layers of software are added constantly. For example in sound: alsa, pulseaudio on top, then mono, ... all the while hardly any machine has flawless sound to start with.
Graphics is another area. Do developers fix it? No, instead they add compiz, needlessly create their own Firefox versions, make yet another calendar application, screw with notifications and panels and menus, add eye-candy, while making the computer ever less usable out of the box.
your hard work is highly appreciated. But for me you are running into the wrong direction.
I used to recommend (K)Ubuntu first and later LMDE. Today, for regular users, I recommend Windows 7. Why? Because it works. And getting a laptop to work with current Linux distros is worse than 5 years ago. Which is a very sad mis-development.