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Debian basically doesn't give you any choices, even dpkg supports this feature with virtual packages: for example, it is very hard to use a different sound system than ALSA, like OSS4 or to use ALSA with pulse audio emulation, and the same goes for different init systems. See More
Even though it makes sense to split devel and the actual binary of an application, the splitting has become as mess in debian and its derivates: for example the nvidia driver is splitted into over 40 different packages: https://packages.debian.org/en/source/sid/nvidia-graphics-drivers See More
GNOME is quite outdated and buggy; KDE is too old, even in Sid it is at 5.14 branch (at Jun 13 2019 Plasma 5.16 is available in many rolling/fresh distros); XFCE behaves like crooked, visual artifacts at the taskbar and so on; Cinnamon as far as I know works better in Linux Mint compared to (almost) any other distro; For other desktop environments (e.g. MATE) can't say - these are too new (as projects) and possibly incomplete, thus might have many bugs. See More