So it looks like I am going to be wearing this hat for a while on my work machine (see what I did there?).
LTS distros are great until they fall far enough behind in software versions to not get critical patch/updates. I was running Linux Mint 17.x, which is super stable and works very well, but ran into this pitfall forcing the change.
During my Zaurus development I needed to emulate the ARM system under QEMU. I built my file system, installed QEMU-ARM, and then fought for days trying to track down a system crash. When I posted my work to a forum another user got it to run immediately without modification but on an updated version of QEMU.
Sure enough I was still on 2.0.0 where the newest was 2.4.1. I looked to see what the latest version shipped with Ubuntu current was and it still lagged behind at 2.3.x
Manjaro was current, based on Archlinux. I tried a few times to get this installed and every time my desktop settings were fubar. I know it is because my /home has existed for many years and something is conflicting but I didn't have the patience to track it down.
I also gave Archbang a go, but it won't load off CD and I didn't have a USB drive handy.
So here we are, running Fedora, and so far so good. I haven't run a RPM system since 2003 so there is a little learning curve, but nothing major causing my day to day to suffer.
Gnome Desktop is a little different but it's like Yoda said "You must unlearn what you have learned". As long as I approach it with the attitude of "how does this work" instead of "how do I make it function like (fill in any other desktop environment)" things are good.