I should work for the Canonical QA team. Whenever I do something on an Ubuntu based machine, hell brakes loose.
Here I am, working on my LTS 12.4 machine, when suddenly I notice that an upgrade to a new LTS is being proposed. Weird, I thought, as 12.10 isn't a LTS. But I couldn't resist, as I got daily errors on my desktop and upgraded, only to find myself in a far worse unstable situation. So I decided to opt for the upgrade to 13.4, hoping this would fix some of the obvious bugs. Alas, something with the nautilus upgrade must have been corrupted, as my new desktop was completely unworkable. Crashing window managers, slow Xorg and worse of all, USB didn't seem to work.
This is probably not even the fault of the people at Ubuntu or Canonical. This is a workstation that has been upgraded from Dapper Drake onwards, and which contains a horrible Nvidia card which is hardly supported anymore by the nvidia/nouveau drivers.
I decided to bite the bullet, and to completely wipe my installation, and reinstall Debian 7.0 aka Wheezy from scratch. Luckily, I had my /home on an separate partition, so the upgrade path would be minimal. Top of all, it seemed that Wheezy had the nvidia-legacy-173 driver, which worked like a charm with my video card.
A default Debian desktop is still crude and spartan, so there is some more work in order to obtain a nice looking graphical environment. The Adwaita/Cupertino theme offers a nice mix of OSX and Elementary components which can compete like that with an Ubuntu setup. And yeah, Gnome-shell is a breeze to work with in comparison with Unity.