Some of the problems are down to my particular hardware setup:
ICH9 based motherboard.
Intel Q6600 Core 2 Quad
PATA boot drive
3*SATA for software (MD0) RAID 5
The PATA drive, rather than being detected as HDA is detected as SDD or SDE. Some distros can handle this, the ones that can't are:
Ubuntu Desktop 8.04
This is an issue with Grub being unable to find /boot/grub/stage1
The problems with the distros that can handle it are as follows:
OpenSUSE: SVN Server broken since SuSE 9.3, although the init script now exists the svn user and group and /srv/repos are not created. The RPM description claims it as 'read only' and even after manual addition of the missing requirements for the server to start, this appears to be the case (reading with authentication works fine). When exactly did SuSE start turning into half-finished crap?
CentOS 5.2: Does not recognise the Gigabit Ethernet chip. This could be worked around with a manual compile of the required kernel module (who says only proprietary drivers are this bothersome?) or a spare network card. If I have one spare (and I think I do) it might be worth all the extra work to get NFS running properly.
Ubuntu Server 8.04: This may involve a certain amount of work to get X/GDM working. Not convinced it's worth it.
Anyone have any ideas? I mean, apart from 'bin it' or 'buy a Mac'?