What the hell is happening to the Linux ecosystem?
I've been a Debian user since late 1999 and I very much sympathize with what you've said here. Over time I've gotten increasingly deeper into Debian, and I also find I have some nagging issues with systemd that I didn't have under sysvinit/sysv-rc. Thankfully I've never been a heavy Gnome user, but I've been testing Gnome 3, Cinnamon, and MATE lately, and find that I heavily dislike the current Gnome 3 in Debian Jessie, can deal with Cinnamon, and like MATE the most of the three. Agree re: Firefox/Iceweasel, though I can still tolerate it's current version in Sid.
The biggest problem I have with systemd isn't on the technical side but rather the social side; the issue has been very devisive -- no other issue to date has set groups against one another in such a heated way in some time now. A number of Debian developers have quit or dropped out of teams over it, let alone the heated threads in [debian-devel] about it.
Right now my short-term plan is to ride out the Jessie release by sticking with sysvinit on servers but use systemd on desktops to gain more familiarity with it. I don't have any plans to switch to FreeBSD, and I'm upset that Debian dropped the kFreeBSD port from being official for Jessie. :-/ It would have been nice to have that as a fallback.
Re: Debian Testing -- the stability of Testing has been the issue of ongoing discussions at DebConfs so unfortunately this is a known issue. I can't say I know all of the reasons behind this problem, but I think one of them might be the automatic removal of source packages within 30 days that have RC bugs, and another being that transitions from Sid -> Testing can be such that source package versions in Testing can be out-of-sync compared to Sid. So the irony is that Sid / "Unstable" is actually more stable than Testing, almost all of the time. Sid doesn't get support from the security team though, so I don't consider it good for servers. So because of this I avoid Testing altogether, and run Stable for servers (and "customer" desktops) and Sid for my own desktops. That seems to work except of course that I run into some frustrations with packages for Stable being a bit old.
Anyway -- good post. Best of luck in whatever you choose to use for your free OS.