Re: Need help choosing a stable, fast(ish) Distro...
I would not suggest any rolling release distros (like Arch or Gentoo) if stable is what you want. There will be breakages with a rolling release model. Avoid the BSD's too. Think of them more as server OS's than something you want to live in as a desktop user.
Debian is stable but you are stuck on alot of ancient packages. Maybe try out Crunchbang if you want a Debian-based lightweight distro...it uses Openbox. For something with fresher packages, I'd suggest Lubuntu. LXDE/openbox is very, very lightweight. And you have access to all of the (reasonably) fresh packages in the Ubuntu repos. Stability shouldn't be much of problem with LXDE/openbox.
"The Linux philosophy is laugh in the face of danger. Oops. Wrong one. Do it yourself. That's it." --Linus Torvalds