These days I dig console environments much more, without all that clutter. So I can definetely see where you come from. 🙂
At my full-time gig, everything is done at the console. It’s nice to be working on a machine in the UK or something just like it’s here, with full abilities to do everything as fast as it is locally. I still run x at work, but I do it because I like desktop pagers over screen sessions. (Plus, I have to grudgingly admit I run a windows vm for outlook).
Still, on any given day, I’ve got at least two of my monitors in full screen console windows.
I do think that one can’t know unix without knowing and coming to prefer the console as opposed to the x windowing system. And I could make an argument for learning from the console to begin with, but I would only recommend that to the most persistent type, as it involves a lot of head-bashing, initially.
The learning curve for unix (at the console, anyway) is pretty steep — more a cliff face than a slope. I think it’s been said that windows makes most things easy, except for hard things, which it makes impossible. Linux, on the other hand, makes all things hard. Even simple things under linux are hard. Interestingly though, things which you might think are impossible are only merely hard on linux.
So if you are a compulsive fiddler, or someone that sees fighting the system as a challenge rather than an annoyance, I’d say try console only first and see where you get. You’ve gotten a taste of it with the slug already.
Otherwise, I’d agree with fizze — go with ubuntu and *try* to do everything from the console. Fall back to xwindows where you have to, but try and at least understand what config files the gooey app is touching and what it’s doing.
And I’d always recommend a debian-based distro, just for the depth of the packages.