As you may know, Ubuntu has been my distribution of choice for several years. However Ubuntu will be switching to the Unity desktop at the end of April. But the problem runs deeper. The Gnome desktop is also changing. Gnome 3.0 is being released soon and it is very different.
I should explain that Unity is a shell that runs on top of the Gnome 3.0 desktop. And Gnome also comes with its own shell, which has some similarities to Unity. The Gnome shell eliminates the maximize and minimize controls, and has redesigned the interface. Now you can choose to use the “classic” desktop at the login screen. But it is not the same old Gnome that many of us have grown to love. It will take several revisions before many of the old features are again available. So in all fairness to the Ubuntu developers, it is not entirely their fault that they are changing the default desktop to Unity.
So what is a person to do? Gnome 2.0 will eventually be history. You can stay on the LTS version of Ubuntu till April of 2013. Which was a tempting option. You could also switch to the KDE desktop, which has gotten to be much better. But I am not a KDE guy and have never liked the feel of it. For me the best option out there is Linux Mint. Linux Mint will use the Gnome 3.0 desktop, but it will modify it to look and act pretty much how it does now.
I have been running Linux Mint 10 for a little over a month and love the design and feel of it. There were a few frustrations that I have run into, but all in al the positive outweigh the negatives. It is for this reason that Linux Mint is now my distribution of choice on all my machines.