I have tried various linux distributions since 1999. My latest favorite is Linux Mint.
Linux Mint focuses on usability, not unlike Ubuntu – which it is based on. They share the same codebase and overall software selection.
What sets Linux Mint apart, is it’s elegant, well thought-out interface. While ubuntu once had – what I considered – a decent layout / theme (orange and brown, with decent window borders and icons), it slowly morphed into what I consider ugly – a black and purple color scheme with less appealing interface elements. Setting subjectivity aside, everything right down to the default wallpaper selection and god-awful purple startup screen are now utterly horrifying in my opinion; as if they based the entire theme on Heath Ledger’s Joker. Its frankly so glaring that I’m confused as to how this stuff ever got off the table. Whatever the case, I was motivated into looking into other themes and layouts. Eventually I stumbled onto Linux Mint.
Linux Mint uses a custom theme, which happens to be drop-dead gorgeous. A simple, clean, minimalistic look, and also very modern. Colors are a neutral metallic and vivid green. It has the best icon set as well as interface buttons of any theme I have come across.
The Linux Mint menu is custom. It can show “favorites” or traditional applications, and switching between the two is very easy. Both have nice, large targets, especially “favorites”, and the layout is superb.
Linux Mint has only one bar by default, at the bottom, which I prefer.
On the software side of things, Linux Mint comes with additional packages that I tend to use. An example is GIMP (a graphic manipulation tool, one of the bits of software I use most), which ubuntu no longer auto-includes.
While Ubuntu, and any real linux distribution for that matter, can be modified, and additional software can be downloaded, Linux Mint is exactly what I want right out of the box (er… ISO image) – something I honestly never thought would happen.
I also happen to like mints, which is awesome.