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7. Linux Mint
If it weren't for Ubuntu Unity, Linux Mint would not be where it is today. And Linux Mint is one of the finest desktop distributions available. They have taken GNOME 3 and stretched it to include a number of extensions to make GNOME 3 a mashup of Classic GNOME and GNOME 3. It looks great and is one of the most user-friendly desktops you'll ever use.
Image credit: Linux Mint
8. Ubuntu Unity
Some may be surprised to see Unity included here, but it deserves its place because it proves Canonical is still committed to pushing boundaries. I also include it because its rise has really taken the Linux desktop to a new level, making designers and developers realise that they can't sit back on their reputations. Now every desktop in the Linuxverse is enjoying new life and development. Even if you hate Ubuntu Unity, you must give it credit for rejuvenating the Linux desktop.
9. GNOME 3 libs
Another achievement of the modern iteration of GNOME are the underpinning libraries known as GNOME 3 libs. Although they may not be of interest to most end users, these libraries are worth mentioning because they have dramatically helped increase performance and simplify development. Ubuntu Unity is making the migration to the GNOME 3 libraries — greatly increasing the reliability and performance of the Unity desktop.