markfilipak wrote:What desktop, big guy?
Is there a desktop that's a perfect clone of WinXP?
PS: I don't know if I like Mint 14. I haven't gotten to run it much. Plus, where does the desktop end and the underlaying OS begin? And for that matter, what makes Linux Mint, Linux Mint?
I do recall seeing distributions that strove to be exactly like XP. I do not remember what they were (are?) called. I do know that they weren't that great. And they were in Chinese.
If you like the windows feel, try cinnamon. If you want more customization options, try KDE. You might even find that you like Unity. As I said, you are running a virtual machine, so you can try as many as you want. I personally now run KDE. I ran Cinnamon for several months. That's an extremely long time for me.
The real difference between Mint and Ubuntu is Mint includes different desktop options and some extra packages, such as the DVD decryption libraries and the Mint utilities. The main editions of Mint are built on Ubuntu, and they tend to be a bit more stable at release.
And in your original question, you asked which version of Mint and XFCE. That tells me that you are trying to stick with XFCE, so I suggested Mint 13 for more stability. As renatov suggested, If you want stability, install debian stable. You will have old packages, but you will have to be trying to break your system.
Finally, The desktop environments tend to have a similar look and feel regardless of the underlying system. You won't notice a lot of difference in daily use between Fedora, OpenSUSE, Arch, Debian, Gentoo, and Ubuntu if you run KDE in all of them. You will notice large differences when you're setting them up or installing packages. RPM packages don't work in Debian, portage Doesn't work in Arch, and .DEB packages won't install in OpenSuse.
It really all comes down to personal preference. Look around in the forums and description pages of each distribution. Try as many as you can. I've settled on Mint because of it's ease of setup and convenience. Gentoo was faster and had newer packages, but it was a pain to setup and was breakage prone. Debian was extremely stable (boringly so), and was too dated for me. I never cared for RPM, and the obstinate lack of closed-source packages (flash) turned me off of Fedora. If you ask on other forums for their opinions, they will be biased towards their favorite distro, just as I am biased towards Mint. There's no small coincidence that I have over 500 posts on this forum, or that I've stuck with Mint for the past few years. I think we have a wonderful community and a wonderful OS to boot. I don't see Mint falling by the wayside anytime soon.
I like Mint. It works for me. Tasty too.