Yes, you've hit the nail on the head. I am no Linux noob, yet I grow increasingly tired of having to spend hours to resolve problems which, on the surface, are entirely mundane. When I setup a server, I choose a distro which will be rock-solid stable; when I setup a laptop, I use the distro which will allow me to get up-and-running fast.
As to the use of defaults, I see no reason why I should go out of my way to change things around. Do I have some favorites? Sure, and I install them. Do I care what image viewer is bundled with the GUI? Not really, so I don't bother to make a switch.