I’m not a professional reviewer; I know exactly what I want for myself and know generally what most clueless home users will tolerate. I have some vague ideas about what business users like.
Mostly this is a matter of testing it on my Dell Precision M4400 laptop, which has been a little cranky up to now. It runs Vista okay, for which it was designed; it does Win7 less tolerably as some of the drivers are wonky. In terms of what an OS is supposed to do, Windows has been the most troublesome that I’ve tested. The suspend and hibernate work well enough, but the touchpad was an abomination no matter which of a half-dozen drivers I tried. It’s behavior is inconsistent and somewhat unpredictable. There were other issues, but that’s a sample.
Under Linux the touchpad is at least consistent. However, up to now, nothing I’ve tested works properly with suspend and hibernate. The fans are less active under Linux and the instructions for tuning are not easy to follow. Everyone expects you to know what you need in the first place, and that is highly unlikely with most users. However, I believe it tends to run cooler with Linux in the first place, so it may be working better than I know. It has never overheated on me, but it runs pretty hot compared to other laptops I’ve owned, so it requires bottom space for good ventilation, drawing fresh air through the bottom of the case.
With Mint 18.2 XFCE edition, we now have a fully functioning suspend and hibernate out-of-the-box. For the first time it has needed no tweaking to work properly. That’s a real plus for me. Little else has changed in terms of the hardware interaction. The nicest part was that Mint was very smart about default options, including good driver support without interaction; it was all installed by default. This is actually easier than installing Windows.
Side note: As part the user setup, Mint asks you if you would like to test other software repository mirrors to see if they are faster than the default. Once you click on the repository name, another window opens and tests each of the mirrors for response rate. I suggest that, if at any time, you see it offering the servers connected with Oklahoma University, you might want to bypass because that has been by far the most unreliable source I’ve used. Not only is it down too often, but it’s response can make the updater act a little nutty. I live geographically close to OU and it gives me trouble.
Mint also shines with things like WINE. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a backup copy of MS Office 2003, my favorite version. It didn’t install on Debian 9, but works just dandy with Mint 18.2. And I can now use the latest version of Notepad++ without any problems, aside from spiking the CPU just a little. Still, I use it for writing and editing posts and all my other stuff. The only problem is that you have to install Notepad++ plugins manually, but I’ve not had any real trouble finding the source for those and simply installing them by moving the file into the right folder.
It would be very easy to add a VM for more complicated needs. And for those who sense a need for network security, the firewall is very easy to setup and use. For now, I can’t see any reason a user would balk at choosing Mint if migrating to Linux seems like a good idea. Overall, I’m quite pleased with Mint and I can recommend this to Linux newbies with very little hand-holding.