said by XCOM:
When an OS is telling you that you don't need runlevels you are in a straight path to hell....
So does this mean that you dislike Debian just as much? While they do handle runlevels during the boot process (as do all flavors of Ubuntu and Mint) they make no distinction between 2, 3, 4, and 5. All four of those do exactly the same thing.
I agree that out of the box, Ubuntu itself is a bit TOO simplified and seems to be getting moreso at each 6-month upgrade. However under the hood it's simply Debian with a minimal amount of tweaking, and anyone who wants to actually learn POSIX-compliant systems be they BSD, Linux, or Unix itself, can do so on any distribution that complies with the standard. When you replace the current default GUI with one that's much less of a nanny (such as XFCE), you have a system that can do serious work easily.
Of course, one could always go to LFS (Linux From Scratch) and build one's very own distribution. The author of LFS helped me greatly when I was stumbling through the help that Mandrake tried to give -- but I'd certainly hate to try to guide a newcomer through the agony of debugging one's own compiled-from-scratch kernel!--