I used Ubuntu off and on for years. It was my main introduction to Linux. I thought I liked Ubuntu. But then I found out that I really liked Debian, and eventually grew to dislike the extra crap Ubuntu added to it. I have Debian stable on my laptop, which still uses Gnome 2. There is also Crunchbang (!#), which is basically just Debian packaged with eitehr Xfce or Openbox, plus a few tweaks. No GUI heavy nonsense. I have that on my desktop.