I have now been playing with Mint from Bea through Bianca.
I have followed many of the posts in this forum watching this community develop.
my summary as is...
Linux Mint is a definite improvement over the Ubuntu base.
It's use of customized menus and config tools make the end user experience a more relaxed, productive experience, not having to struggle to find apps and not wonder where everything is on a barren desktop.
The method in which the Mint customizations are implemented add a distinct and unique personality to the distro, definitely not a "copycat" distro.
Solely as a distro, I rate Linux Mint a 4 out of 5. ( in case you wonder who I rate a 5, currently I have no fives, but Mint is one of the closest)
I don't look for just how many apps are available or how cool the desktop looks. Iprovide computers to many people and I have to be sure the end user can sit down to their PC and be functional with it.
Can they find their way around and find files.
Can they find the apps they want to use use either by name or category?
Does the overall appearance convey "current/modern/"with the times"?
I think Mint does all of these things very well.
While I applaud the release of a KDE version, I also think Mint should stay focused on Gnome.
The best products and companies are those who do one thing and do it better than everyone else.
Right now, I can't think of a better implementation of a Gnome based Linux than Mint. The more more the dev team diversifies and spreads itself out, the less fine point detail attention will be afforded to it's primary product. That's not picking on anyone, that's a reality of business.
The only difficulties that have been had involved updates, which were dealt with easily enough, and using other WM like KDE which isn't what Mint was made for to begin with, so problems were anticipated.
The Mint forums are growing, still small and comfy. The mod style is very open and not imperialistic.
On the average, the users are welcoming and forthcoming, if not a bit "fanboyish" but that is to be expected "at home" so no real concerns as they handle discussion of other distros very open-minded.
On the tech assistance side, responses could be a bit quicker, I'm not sure If it due to the lack of more mods to capably handle those questions or the sudden infusion of new users still building their knowledge enough to be able to answer all of the questions.
having said that, The answers provided are articulate, easy to follow and I have yet to see a comment along the lines of RTFM. very encouraging.
It's not entirely clear if Clem is the only dev or just the only one who makes himself so available. Either way, Clem should feel very good about the development of this distro and this community, hopefully, he can find a few more folks to "represent" on behalf of the team in the forums.
Keep up the solid work.