I'm relatively new to Linux, been running Ubuntu (with Gnome I think) for a couple weeks next to windows on my laptop. Been thinking it's about time to scrap the whole Win7 partition and go full on Linux.
I don't mind the UI on my setup, but mint does look nice. My main concern is useability and reliability for me, the newb. I don't want to have to re-setup my prefs and the like because I find some basic part of a OS is broken, or too complicated to fix for me.
If you stick with a mainstream, tried and true Linux distro, you should never find yourself in such a situation. Unlike windows, it's ALMOST never necessary to reinstall the OS because something is just so broken it can't be fixed. Plus, if you stick with a mainstream distro, there will be plenty of help available if/when you need it.
Can some of you with more experience, but not too big of a head
give me some suggestions/advice on what version to go for? Should i stick with what I know? is Mint as functional?
If you like Mint, there's no reason not to stick with it. However, I always encourage new Linux users to try several different distros just to see what's out there. You may find something you like better, or that works better on your particular hardware, or that's easier to configure, or...whatever. So download ISO files from a number of different distributions, burn them to CD/DVD, and use their 'live' method of booting up so you can try them out without affecting anything on your computer.
My personal, primary choice is Kubuntu
, which is Ubuntu with KDE as its desktop environment. I highly recommend Kubuntu for its ease of installation, use, and configuration even for the newest Linux user. I also like Bodhi which is great on older and/or less powerful computers.
BTW, what exactly is Gnome? Can you compare it to something in the Android world? is it the "Launcher"? If so, what are the most popular options out there, and are they able to run on any distro?
GNOME is a desktop environment. So is KDE. So is Unity. So is Enlightenment. And XFCE. And Fluxbox. And...a bunch of others. They're the TOTAL environment that you see and use when you boot up your Linux box.
KDE is my personal favorite, but every once in a while I'll start up with GNOME, or Unity, or IceWM, or some other choice just for the fun of it. And all of these are on Kubuntu boxes. You're not limited to one default desktop environment on Linux, regardless of which distro you're using. So even though I use Kubuntu, I also have all the other DEs available to me if I want them.
Even if you settle on one distro, like, say, Kubuntu!, you should still experiment with other DEs. There's so much eye candy out there now, why limit yourself to the default?