I'm going to go out on a limb and say the the Ubuntu/Gnome approach is often worse. It tries to simplify everything down so much, but ends up being extremely inflexible if you need to do anything slightly complicated.
For my distro, I use Debian Testing That way I get the latest releases instead of 6 months late, but at least it has 10 days of testing to stop critical bugs. Having continuous updates means that I don't ever have to work through a whole bunch of problems at the same time.
For my desktop, I use KDE, which aims to be more of a "power user" interface instead of treating users like they're retards.