You see, such poular distros such as Ubuntu, Mint, and Fedora seem to be locked in a perpetual war of modernization, adopting the latest version of every component in the Linux universe as quickly as they can manage without blowing up the OS. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it means that they are bringing the latest technology to the users. However, it does mean that the lifecycle of a given version of the OS is quite short (often around six months), and regression testing is sometimes not as rigorous as it should be, so minor bugs will be present in these distros. When major changes occur, such as the major version 3 release of the Gnome desktop, the level of change can be shocking to all, as we have seen.
Not all Linux distros operate in this manner however. Certainly, business can not tolerate such a high level of change, nor can they tolerate the bugs. So, some distros are quite a bit slower at moving forward, with a much longer time between releases. In the family of Linux distros, these conservative distros tend to be the ancestors of the live-hard-and-die-young distros.
In the family of distros that include Ubuntu and Mint, the parent distro is Debian Linux. Ubuntu has its roots in Debian while Linux Mint has its roots in Ubuntu. Ubuntu is now pretty far away from where Debian is, and Mint is even further away. However, Mint also maintains a seperate distribution that is based directly on Debian and is kept very close to Debian. This is Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE). LMDE is like Debian, but maintained by the people who maintain the current leader of the distros, Linux Mint, and as such, LMDE has a coating of that Minty goodness.
LMDE is based on the current version of Debian (6.0.3), and as such is kept quite stable (Debian moves along at a slow and steady pace). The release schedule for LMDE is not really a release schedule at all. It's referred to as a rolling release, meaning that you never have to install a new version. You just keep updating the one you have now. They do periodically release updated DVD images, so that you don't have to start with an installation that is too far out of date. The latest DVD image was released in September 2011 and is called LinuxMint-201109.
LMDE runs Gnome 2, and has the traditional appearance applet with all its customizable goodness. It's not clear when LMDE and Debian will be forced to move to Gnome 3, after all Gnome 2 development has been stopped. It sounds like when they do move to Gnome 3, they will work very hard to complete the Gnome Classic experience that has so far been less than complete. In the mean time, those of us who love Gnome 2 can still find a distro that remains supported and still has that nice Minty smell.