I tried the beta. Its got a lot of potential. Pantheon, gala, and plank are really nice. It seemed pretty buggy even for a beta though, about every elementary app I used crashed at some point. If they get it all nice and stable it will be a very nice distro. Not a huge fan of it being 12.04 based though. because my laptop has ivybridge which works a lot better on 12.10 due to newer kernel/drivers. I'll probably put elementary final on my older spare laptop when the final is released, its a laptop that stays in the living room for anyone to use, and something slick and user friendly like elementary would be a good choice. (I tried putting ubuntu on that laptop, but unity runs like garbage on intel ironlake)
Speaking of mint, I actually just recently switched to mint 14 rc with cinnamon on my newer laptop and really like it. Definitely doesn't look as good as elementary, and cinnamon isn't quite as nice as pantheon, but its ROCK solid, one of the most stable distros I've used in a long time, I was pleasantly suprised. And cinnamon 1.6 is a big improvement over the prior version. Both mint and elementary are nice in their own ways
I thought I got rid of software mode the second I went with intel graphics but turns out mint doesn't load the intel driver, WTF?
cinnamon just looks gnomish, too fat and clunky I'm sorry but it doesn't hold a candle to elementary
elementary os = best OS ever
The intel driver issue is a known bug with ubuntu 12.10/mint 14. Mint 14 works fine with intel, intel is what I'm using right now, its a bug that only happens on certain machines, you got unlucky . I've tried mint 14 on 2 different intel machines and it worked totally fine on both of them though (one ironlake, one ivybridge). There are a few ways to manually load the intel driver if you run into that issue... I had a lot of problems with the elementary apps in luna beta being buggy/unfinished, so I'll try it again whenever the final release comes out and I do have high hopes for it, but I stand by the fact that mint/cinnamon is pretty nice . Of course the visual's aren't as nearly as polished as elementary, I already said as much, but its very usable. And if you change the default fonts/gtk theme/icons it looks decent.
Why not just install this theme and a dock on gnome shell?
I like the way cinnamon handles several things better than gnome-shell. For example cinnamon's notifications play better with a dock than gnome-shell's, and its notification applet is really nice. To get gnome-shell the way I currently like cinnamon I'd have to use a bunch of extensions. Gnome-shell extensions are nice and all, but are also a PIA because they often break with new versions of gnome-shell etc... Cinnamon also has a lot more configuration options than gnome-shell. There's more to cinnamon than what you immediately see in the screenshot.
I also like certain things about mint as a distro, for example out of the box they use nemo as the file manager which is much better than the current version of nautilus.
I have been following elementary luna closely and downloading and running the latest images.
Right now I have what is to become beta2...
here's what I think they are doing things wrong:
Instead of focusing in delivering the best desktop environment ever made on linux and selecting the best apps to suit the needs of users, they have this obsession with delivering 'the luna experience' ...
meaning, their own apps, their own things.
Here's how it goes wrong:
Instead of picking a tried a true web browser like firefox or chromium, that seem to be the de facto standards in 95% of linux distros... they go with their own modified version of midori.
In the last Image I used I had to turn off scripts and extensions just so I could register in public wi-fi and then be able to log in and apt get chromium because midori was crashing and burning at the mere sight of a text input field.
They could have picked the best of the best apps from the ubuntu eco system, be it vlc or k3b, etc... AND then do minor cosmetic adjustements to suit their desktop environment.
Instead they have decided to build apps from the ground up or pick some obscure ones and modify the shit out of them.... just to be different.
If they are not able to deliver elementary before year's end it will be a punch in the stomach of everyone following it