I spend a significant portion of my life installing and testing distributions of Linux-based systems. It\u2019s really rather ridiculous.\nEven obscure ones\u2014ones that never stand a chance of being listed on the likes of DistroWatch\u2014find their way onto my drives. I can\u2019t help it. It\u2019s an addiction.\nBut you know which one I haven\u2019t installed in a long, long while? Debian. Not some Debian-derived system, like the ones that get a lion\u2019s share of the media attention, but pure Debian. I haven\u2019t loaded it in eons.\u00a0\nI know, weird, right?\nSo, I installed it. Debian Stable. Code-name \u201cJessie.\u201d Originally released as version 8.0 in April 2015\u2014then given the ole\u2019 \u201cpoint-5\u201d update to 8.5 in June 2016.\nFirst of all, I chose to do a net install (you know\u2014minimal CD, most packages download at install time). But, of course, the Debian net install ISO image didn\u2019t support my Wi-Fi chipset. So, I grabbed an unofficial (but hosted by the Debian project) ISO, which includes support for non-free firmware. That did the trick and supported my Wi-Fi with no tweaking.\nEasy installation\nThe installation process was nice and easy. (The download speed wasn\u2019t stellar for grabbing all those packages, but I probably just hit it during a busy time of day.) I opted to go with MATE as the desktop environment. The last time I ran Debian for any length of time was back in the GNOME 2.x days, so MATE\u2014being the living incarnation of GNOME 2.x\u2014seemed like the right way to go. It tugged at the nostalgia-based heart strings a bit.\nInstall finished, and I logged in to the desktop and\u2014well\u2026\nRemember what Ubuntu was like in the early days? You know, back before Unity. Super fast and responsive. A classic, but nice-looking, desktop experience. The combination of traits that led Ubuntu from \u201cnever heard of it\u201d to \u201cmost popular desktop Linux\u201d in no time flat.\nIt feels like your operating system is from 2006, but with software and hardware from 2016.\nThat\u2019s what Debian 8.5 is like with MATE. I put this on a Lenovo 11e Thinkpad laptop. It was fast (even on this less-than-super-powerful hardware)\u2014felt peppier and more responsive than modern-day Ubuntu running on far more expensive hardware.\nI ended up keeping Debian on this laptop for an extra week just because it ran so gosh-darned, cotton-pickin\u2019 good. Close the lid, it sleeps. Performance is good. Never hit a single error or package issue. The battery life is even a little better (an extra 20 to 30 minutes) over what I got when running Ubuntu MATE on the same system.\nThis is just straight-up a really great system. I struggle to come up with a reason not to recommend it to most people.\n(I say that as a huge fan\u2014and board member\u2014of openSUSE, which I also can\u2019t think of any reason to not recommend. But that\u2019s a different article.)\u00a0\nI know resource usage and user experience can vary wildly between desktop environments, so my Debian\/MATE experience may not reflect the experience with Debian\/Plasma. But the Debian\/MATE combo is seriously choice.\nThe old-school-ness of it is absolutely delightful. It feels like your operating system is from 2006, but with software and hardware from 2016. There\u2019s nothing I can\u2019t run\u2014and without the slowness problems of some of the more modern environments. Both the base system and the desktop environment lend to that.\nDebian Stable is great, but not my cup of tea\nThe packages in the Debian Stable repository aren\u2019t the newest in the world, but they\u2019re also not ancient. If I\u2019m looking for a system with cutting-edge packages, I\u2019d go with a rolling release like Arch or Tumbleweed. The version of LibreOffice in the default Debian Stable repository, for example, is back at version 4.3.x\u2014roughly 2 years old.\u00a0\nOK. Now that I\u2019m looking at it, the packages are a bit on the stale side in a lot of cases. Not earth-shatteringly stale, but still\u2014not exactly fresh. Though, with the speed and stability on display, maybe that\u2019s not such a bad trade-off.\u00a0\nWill I continue running Debian Stable? No. It\u2019s great, stable and fast, but it\u2019s not exactly my cup of tea. Still, if you were an Ubuntu user back in the pre-Unity times, I recommend giving Debian Stable a spin.\nThat is, if you haven\u2019t already\u2014but you probably have because it\u2019s Debian, and I\u2019m assuming everyone has used it more recently than me.