As I’ve often said, “Ubuntu on the desktop, Debian on the server” is the way to go. That said, I’ve mixed and matched the two a fair bit over the past couple of years, and would now say that as Ubuntu is ready for the server, so Debian is a damn fine desktop distro which is also surprisingly easy to set up to play every possible kind of media file I can throw at it.
So yes, I went with Debian (stable) because the computer I’m using was already running it. I’ve set the machine up, copied all the music, movies and TV shows across, and now have a very pretty and totally functional media machine. So far I’ve played some music, watched a documentary about T.S. Eliot (who still to this day inspires me more to write than any other person living or dead), and have some live footage of Leonard Cohen to look forward to at some point this week. I’ve also got it on our wireless network, so I can dump media onto it from anywhere (anywhere being largely my main laptop which lives upstairs).
It currently looks something like this:
I’m using Rhythmbox for music, Totem for video, and have installed very little extra apart from the required media codecs (I seem to have a mix of pretty much every type of media file for some reason). I can’t say I really came across any problems, and Debian did a great job of being able to find and install whatever was needed to make each file type work (although I’m systematically converting everything to .ogv and .ogg so a lot of this won’t be required soon).
So far so good.