Linux Mint rolls out an impressive version 7 RC of its own
Not familiar with the distro? It's based on Ubuntu - the Mint v7 core is Jaunty Jackalope, which Canonical recently freed from its cage. Apart from providing a solid foundation, that also means you can install Mint from within Windows using Mint4Win (Wubi, modified) (quick update: this is not working in the RC, but will be ready to go in the stable release).
For Windows users looking to try out a Linux distribution, Mint is a nice choice. The Gnome interface is set up Windows-style, with a taskbar along the bottom and menu button in the left-hand corner.
Apart from the obvious visual updates, Mint has introduced a few core features that have improved ease-of-use. The MintMenu system now offers a more intuitive search box (similar to the one in Vista and Windows 7). If Mint can't find an exact match for your query, it will provide suggestions. Results appear in an flash, and sugegstions are generally spot-on.
Mint Install and Update have also been improved, and they make adding applications and keeping your system current a breeze. Screenshots offer a welcome visual preview before you download - especially handy if you want to check out some the dozens of available games - including great ones like Wormux, FreeCiv, Nexuiz, and Warzone 2100.
Mint is a great distro, and the version 7RC is very enjoyable to use. Don't want to install it? Mint plays well with VirtualBox and VMware, and you can also run it as a LiveCD.
I'm enjoying the new release so far, and look forward to seeing it evolve into its final form.