I have Mint KDE version installed but my main day-to-day distro is PCLOS KDE. PCLOS is a near rolling release. I run Xubuntu XFCE on my laptop. Any flavor of Ubuntu would be good for someone new to Linux. If you don't like Unity, then there are many other flavors of Ubuntu to choose from, like Xubuntu that I am using. To stay away from the 6 month cycle of version updates one would need to stay with the LTS versions. The latest LTS from the Ubuntu and ubuntu flavors is 12.04. Since 12.04 there is 12.10 but only the 12.04 is LTS.