What you can do Boffy, is to get debian by a roundabout means. If you try to install "proper" debian, you'll need to know one hell of a lot of stange/unfamilar stuff about your hardware.
When I tried debian, I did it by installing Knoppix to my hard drive getting everything set up and sorted and then changing the apt-sources to proper debian ones. That way, I had the benefit of a nice easy installer, but then access to all the debian packages.
If you wanted up to date debian, you'd have to make sure it's testing or unstable (not as dramatic as it sounds) debian. Because it's the debian philosophy to test everything to death, before they'll include it in stable version.
Personally, I've ended up going a different route (yes, i did it because of the mandrake upgrade cycle - which is due to change in the near future from 6 monthly to yearly - but that's no good for me, as I like to be able to get the newer stuff reasonably quickly - but with a certain amount of confidence that it's been checked out by people who know what the hell they're doing - I don't
So, hence I run gentoo now. There's still a shit load of stuff that I don't know about it, but with just the 2 disc download burned onto cdr, a downloaded and printed copy of the install hand book and a copy of the desk top set up guide, I managed to install it in about 2 hours to an up and running system with full graphic facilities. I did the Stage 3 +GRP install. I used the binary packages (don't forget, the package manager for gentoo, called portage, only downloads the source code and then compiles it on your system) to get KDE and Gnome installed.
The only downside of Gentoo, is that compile times can take a while! (a f*****g while at that). for instance, when I was originally looking into distro's and tried gentoo, I made the mistake of missing out -k from the command that I meant to issue i.e. I did "emerge kde" instead of "emerge -k kde". The difference being that the -k bit would have got kde from the second disc as a binary package, rather than downloading it the compiling (kde's really about 90 + seperate little packages) and the bugger took nearly 15 hours to compile.
Hence this time I just used the binary (GRP) packages from the second disc, and then just updated the whole system - with ONE command.
Yes, gentoo also has "testing/unstable" stuff, but you have to do some specific stuff to get those packages, you can't get them by mistake and end up down shit creek. The stable (normal) version is pretty damned up to date (well I'm currently using KDE 3.3.2-r2, and just waiting for KDE 3.4, which is still in the testing portage "tree").
Gentoo's brilliant. After mandrake I can't enthuse enough about it. One thing it does do, and that's teach you a lot about how your system works. Ha, one excellent thing that I find most convenient, is that the portage tree even has "e-build" version (that's gentoo-ised source code) of the nvidia driver so none of all that messing around to get that installed.
S'up to you, but you could do a lot worse than at least look at gentoo. You'd be able to find all the docs linked from here
and the other place to look is here
nearly as much stuff there, as you'll find here at LQ, but it's just for gentoo!.
Hope that gives you something to look into/think about, now I'm off to do my daily (yes, I update/upgrad my system daily) update.
TTFN from the south coast
p.s. and yes, I do all my updates over night, when I'm not using the system so much (though I can still use it if I want/need).