I found this interview of Crunchbang Linux developer Philip Newborough in which he details reasons for building #! on Debian-Squeeze (testing). The first reason he gives is the difference between Debian’s democratic process and Ubuntu’s commercial sponsorship by Canonical, which he likens more to being a “governing party” more interested in “producing a polished end-user system” that often makes the work of derivative projects more difficult. He thinks “that some of [Canonical’s/Ubuntu’s] recent decisions might not necessarily have been made with the best interest of their users/community at heart.” He also lists other reasons including the ease of the build process under Debian.
I had my own reasons for ditching #! last year, primary among them was an issue related to wireless performance that has less to do with distribution base than (IMO based on reviewing many threads relating to certain hardware combinations) getting the kernel’s wifi driver to work correctly with WPA encryption. I reconsidered using it on my new laptop, but instead chose Debian-Lenny (stable) as it was adequate for my hardware and spared me all the hassles of bleeding edge versions that tend to be found in Ubuntu. I’m quite happy with older software that gets patched for legitimate reasons like security, bugfixes, and real features.
For the moment, I’m running Debian-Lenny on both my laptop and desktop. The desktop is basically being used as a server, without X installed (yet). The only other Linux install I have right now is a small 5GB partition on my Aspire One which is being used for TinyCore and MicroCore. I finally rebooted that the other day and used my USB wifi adapter instead of ath5k.
The main reason I’d probably not care to use #! on my computers full time is because it’s using the testing branch rather than stable. I couldn’t care less if it’s set up on a “corporate” base as it was under Canonical/Ubuntu or a more “democratic” base under Debian. What matters more to me is stability. I hate drama. Debian wins that battle over Ubuntu hands-down, in my opinion. The other potential deal breakers for me are the Openbox/Xfce options. I’d like to see something even more basic than those. I may check it out when it’s at a “stable” release, but probably only via USB stick.
I have my own ideas for what would make it lighter, faster, and less obtrusive to the end user. But that’s a subject for another time when I have… well, time.