In the Linux world first impressions are usually almost lasting. I stumbled upon my first Linux in the back of a library book. I found it hard to understand. That stuck with me until Linux became easier and I educated. So in that same vein I came across "Linux All-In-One, for Dummies" (4th edition). This is not a crit on the book, it is very wonderful as are the whole "for Dummies" series.
In the back of this book is a DVD with 5 live CD versions of Linux. Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Mandriva and Mint. To try 5 versions of Linux in a row is quite a coaster ride. I am already an Ubuntu user but this version did not even boot on my ancient laptop (must be ver. 10.4). The Fedora 12 detected a kernel crash on my system. Fedora always says that about my laptop, it's spooky. OpenSUSE came up the fastest but it had the KDE desktop which my biased self doesn't like. Mandriva gives you the choice of KDE or Matisse desktops. Matisse is very different. I think a desktop should let you get on with your work. But if you learn to use KDE or Matisse, I am sure you will have reasons to like them, just don't ask me.
So Ubuntu is cool but not ver. 10.4 on my laptop. And the last one Mint 8 is.............very impressive. I even like the minty green color. OpenSUSE is green too but Mint is nicer green. When you hit the Mint menu button it is clean, good looking and functionally smooth, way better than other distros doing menus the same way. OK, Mint is Ubuntu based and I am familiar, but Mint is a refreshing good design.
It is cool to have 5 tryouts and look at them while your impressions are hot. Of course, once you have settled you can tweak to your hearts content. First impressions carry a lot of weight with us fickle users. If you can have a good entry perhaps going deeper is easier to deal with. So we know, yes if you don't like what you see, you can change it. BUT, some folks don't and they have to like what they see first. If Ubuntu 11.04 won't work on my laptop, I'm going to put Mint on it. And that's a refreshing change.