"the first version of Leap is openSUSE Leap 42.1"
When we get to Leap 42.42, the HHGTTG will implode.
And now for a flock of Mint comments. Then again, this is not a Windows article, so maybe not.
Linux distributions need to walk a fine line. On the one hand users want rock-solid foundations; this is why conservative distros like Debian have long ruled the server. But on the other hand, you want the most up-to-date apps on your desktop, hence the popularity of Ubuntu (rather than Debian) for laptops and PCs. This can …
I've been using openSUSE for a long time (back before they tacked on the "open" bit). It has its advantages - I personally like YaST, both in the newer Ruby and basic curses forms but some folk seem to have their complaints about it. Never been sure why. It also has a pretty good updating subsystem in the form of zypper (if you have ever used Yum, you'll like this too) using the rpm system rather than Debian's package system (I prefer to use a command line update as that can be scripted rather than Apper or whatever else).
The down side is that they are a little too much up the rear end of RedHat, insisting on taking up a lot of their crap including the much hated systemd. They do seem to like Poeterring, in fact, since they also pushed Pulseaudio hard.
I haven't tried Leap yet but it will have to go some to beat out the best version they have done to date, that being the last pre-systemd version, 11.4. I may give it a go but these days I often worry more about what they are going to crap up than what they are going to stick in. 13.2 was all about sticking btrfs in there but that proved to be something of a disaster in some quarters as it ate discs at an alarming rate, not to mention the amount of software that broke the moment that systemd went in, most recently when they imported DBus without giving any backwards compatibility in a number of quarters.
But that's my view. On the plus side, my server is pretty solid on 13.1 as are two other machines including my old Acer Aspire One using 11.4 (still!) I run KDE 3 on all three machines but XFCE and LXDE are pretty good alternatives. I'm not a great fan of the latest KDE versions but can work with it at a pinch. Not really a fan of GNOME (the closest thing to a GNOME that I've ever liked was Cinnamon on Mint). On the whole, openSUSE is pretty accomodating with a good repo setup and takes much of what you might fling at it.
Looking at the package list it appears that PHP is listed as version 5.5 (rather than 5.6 as arrived with 13.2 in Nov14), which would seem to indicate that it was pulled from SLE12 rather than tumbleweed, and wondering if that is also true for apache and mariadb?
The decision to start at 42 is something of a joke (those that have read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will get it) and an acknowledgement that version numbers are essentially meaningless
As an aside Firefox is currently at version 42...
I recently switched from opensuse to Gentoo. And I like this extra freedom in controlling my system. No systemd forced on you, no pulseaudio, btrfs no thanks, no need of hundreds of irrelevant kernel modules, etc. I still keep an install of opensuse (13.1) for the few times I need to access one of those smelly things which I enjoy avoiding on Gentoo (flash, java). Might look at leap once 13.1 reaches the end of its evergreen life, if it goes as planned.
"No systemd forced on you" -> whether you like it or not, systemd is unavoidable if you want to use a commercially backed distro. But I agree, if you don't want systemd for whatever reason, Gentoo is one of the few remaining options.
"no pulseaudio" -> I was not even aware that pulseaudio was on my machine, and have not had any problems with audio, so what' your issue with it? (other than being created by the same guy as systemd)
"btrfs no thanks," -> that's what the partitioner utility in the installer is for. I've ext4 running on all my laptop partitions and OpenSUSE does not complain a bit about not having btrfs.
"hundreds of irrelevant kernel modules" -> on my stock 13.2 install, lsmod | wc -l reports 107 modules (including hardware specific ones), so your plural seems excessive.
"I still keep an install of opensuse (13.1) " -> I still keep an install of Windows for those two programs that I want to run from time to time, but that's because there are no Linux alternatives. Seems to me that if I did not want to have Java or Flash running under Linux, I could always, you know, simply uninstall these.
Keep using Gentoo if you like, that's the great thing about Linux and having choices, but I can't see good reasons to drop OpenSUSE other than systemd hate.
I was not even aware that pulseaudio was on my machine, and have not had any problems with audio, so what' your issue with it?
For a very long time, PulseAudio was a total bugfest. It was really quite bad.
It's mostly fixed now, but still suffers its (well-deserved) reputation from a few years ago...
 I found a nasty bug the other week trying to use my laptop as a pass-through LADSPA unit, but using a different interface for input and output. It didn't work, even though it thought it did...
I'm wondering if the Leap version of MATE has fixed the problem with panel drawers, where they often open up all the way down/up or across the screen. I recently did a fresh install of Mint 17.2 and MATE still has this problem (as it did in Mint 13 MATE). I suppose I could try it to find out.
I did install it on my old Asus EeePC and was impressed with how snappy it manages to be on what is, at this point, very out-of-date hardware
I'd be interested to know which EeePC you have. My EeePC 901 is has an Atom N270 which is - as I understand it - resolutely 32 bit, and while openSuse 13.1 works admirably well on it (I use KDE so that it is consistent with my desktop and my wife's laptop, both of which use 13.2) my reading of the openSuse website is that from version 42 onwards, there will be no 32-bit version: from the Leap portal almost at the bottom of the page it says:
openSUSE Leap will be built for 64-bit architectures only, and hence will not run on older hardware without 64-bit support