Linux Top 3: PC-BSD 10.1 Linux Mint 17.1 and Mageia 5
1) PC-BSD 10.1
Yes we know, PC-BSD isn't Linux, it's BSD (actually FreeBSD to be precise), but aside from the kernel, it shares many of the same tools than any Linux distribution will include.
The new PC-BSD 10.1 release is based on the recent FreeBSD 10.1 release and includes multiple desktop options including KDE 4.14.2, GNOME 3.12.2 and Cinnamon 2.2.16. Going a step further on the almost-Linux train, PC-BSD 10.1 now has Linux compatibility libraries that have been updated to CentOS 6.6
There is also a new feature that melds BSD jails with PC-BSD applications in a new way.
According to the PC-BSD 10.1 release notes:
"A browser-based application, pc-softweb, combines the functionality of AppCafe® and Warden® and can be used to remotely manage software and jails from another system or mobile device."
2) Linux Mint 17.1 Rebecca
Linux 17.1 is now at its RC stage with milestone releases available for both Cinnamon and MATE flavored desktops.
"Linux Mint 17.1 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2019," Linux Mint founder Clem Lefebrve stated. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use."
On the cinnamon side, the promise is improved performance with a reduced memory footprint.
"A lot of care went into attention to details and Cinnamon 2.4 received many little improvements to make your experience smoother and more enjoyable than before," the what's new page for the Cinnamon 2.4 release states.
On the MATE side the big new addition is out of the box support for Compiz effects.
"Among the various window managers available for Linux, Compiz is certainly the most impressive when it comes to desktop effects,' the Linux Mint 17.1 MATE release notes states. "There's nothing quite like a rotating cube to catch everybody's attention."
3) Mageia 5 Hits Beta
Mageia the offshoot of Mandriva is finally moving forward on its 5.0 release with a beta 1 milestone. The Mageia 5 release includes a Linux 3.17.2 kernel at its core.
Among the new applications included in the release are the Lutris and Vapor open gaming frameworks.
The final release of Mageia 5 is now scheduled for release on January 31 2015.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Linux Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist