The lack of a functional package manager, multimedia codecs, and a redesigned unintuitive installer don't help either.

Verdict: A very capable distro for an experienced Linux user who's going through a mid-life crisis.

Rating: 6/10

Slackel

The distro takes bleeding-edge software from Slackware's Current branch and offers them in a desktop friendly package by borrowing a few of the more choice tools from the Salix OS distro.

The KDE-based Slackel images are offered in live-installable and install-only mediums. Some of the tools that it uses from Salix OS are the codec installer, the Gslapt package manager, as well as the live CD installer.

Verdict: A rolling release that delivers the latest from Slackware, while using tools from Salix OS.

Rating: 7/10

PureOS

The distro is available in two flavours, each based around either the Gnome or lightweight Openbox desktop. PureOS is based on Debian's Testing branch and supports multilingual locales. PureOS is only available as images for making Live USB disks.

The goal of the distro is to serve as a functional distro that you can then personalise by adding modules via the included scripts. This distro also includes the smxi script for tweaking the system and installing proprietary drivers.

Verdict: A sleek ready-to-use distro best suited for tinkerers.

Rating: 6/10

Mageia

Mageia

Mandrake Linux was the first Linux distro designed for the every day user. It's been through many incarnations, and its last avatar forced long-time community members to fork the distro.

The RPM-based distro is now called Mageia, and is backed by solid community infrastructure. It offers both KDE and Gnome desktops, and between the project's three repos you'll get all the software you need. Its installer is easy to navigate and several screens have the Advanced button, which brings up more options for experienced users.

The most distinct feature of the distro is the Mageia Control Center, from where you can tweak almost all aspects of the system.

Verdict: The community fork builds on the solid foundation, and is an able distro for every day use.

Rating: 8/10

PCLinuxOS

PCLinuxOS

This distro started as a repository to improve a stock Mandriva release, and later forked into a distro of its own. PCLinuxOS is officially a KDE distro, but also has community spins around the LXDE, and Xfce desktops.

The distro can play all sorts of multimedia. It uses apt-rpm and the Synaptic Package Manager to install RPM packages. Its configuration tool and installer clearly give away its Mandriva lineage. The distro includes an illustrated installation guide, and also produces a monthly magazine for its users.

Verdict: Think of it as being something like Mageia with multimedia codecs.

Rating: 7/10

Sabayon Linux

Sabayon

The Sabayon project aims to give regular desktop users a taste of the Gentoo distro. It's a feature rich and complete desktop distro built on a stable and mature foundation.

The distro has everything a regular desktop user needs, including all sorts of codecs and plugins. Besides the usual slew of apps, it also has the XBMC media player and Wine for running Windows apps.

For managing packages, there's the custom Rigo app browser. It's a graphical front-end to Sabayon's Entropy package management system and mimic's the appearance of the Google search engine. The app is simple to use and very verbose. Instead of displaying cryptic messages, it converses with users in plain English.

The distro has different spins around all the major desktops, including Gnome, KDE, Xfce and Mate. Also, the distro doesn't ship a stock Gnome release. It's made some tweaks - for example, to show minimise buttons - to maintain consistency between the editions. You'll find other desktops, such as Cinnamon and Razor-Qt, in its official repos.