Re: Great OS
"Added to the fact that there is a nasty ripple in the graphics when I have the temerity to scroll the mouse wheel in either browser, on a new laptop with 8GB of RAM, it seems like it is not a finished system."
It's called tearing, and it happens because both Firefox and Chrome completely disable hardware acceleration by default in Linux, across the board. They're afraid of issues that may pop up, and they don't want to have to field the calls for help, so they just turn it off. I've never had any issues simply putting it back on in any of the systems I've set up in Linux for my own use (and thus able to know how it went), though I must note also that four is too small of a sample size to really say whether it's a problem or just paranoia on the part of the browser vendors.
I've never had any such problems as you describe in Mint on any of the various PCs I've put it on. I've had some issues with Kubuntu, the Ubuntu distro with KDE instead of Unity, which failed to work right out of the box (I had a heck of a time getting the installer to even complete; it never got any better after it was installed and updated fully) in my fairly mainstream desktop. Hangs, kernel panics, all kinds of issues happened with regularity. This was in whatever version was current at around the time of Windows 10's release. I switched to Mint KDE after that, then Mint with Cinnamon, and both have been rock solid.
I've also never had an application hang bring down Linux. App hangs in general have been quite rare in Linux, far more so than in Windows for me, but all I've had to do was click the close button on the application window, and Mint will recognize the hang and ask if I want to force close it, which solves the problem. I've got Gnome System Monitor in the main (start) menu so I can access it easily enough to force close something, but it hasn't been necessary as yet for an app hang.
I've often wondered if the lack of a three-fingered salute type of thing (which is sometimes the only thing that works when Windows hangs) would cause the sorts of issues you describe, but app hangs are so rare in Linux that there's not much to look at, and I've never had the entire OS hang as Windows seems to love doing.
I've only been using Linux as primary on some of my machines for a few months now, though I have been using it as a secondary OS ever since I realized how horrible Windows 10 was. I may not have enough hours on it to know what a really nasty application hang can do, but I can tell you that I've had a few in Windows during that same time frame. I don't know that it's any fault of Windows, though... not enough information to go on.
As far as crashes, I haven't had any in Windows or Linux in a long time. Long enough that I can't remember the last time, other than the panics I had in Kubuntu back then.