I would recommend getting Debian(stable) as a net.install
and configuring it from there.
(1) The only problems with 'trying' out Debian is that the complete Debian 5 (stable) iso.files are quite large.
On my last torrent download of Debian the complete 5.0 ISO was around 1.7 Gb.
(2) The other problem with 'trying' Debian is that the installer does not allow the distro to open as a LiveCD, you must install
Debian to be able to view it.
I installed Debian 5.0.3 from a net.install, (around 250 Mb) then added the Xfce desktop and the 'testing' repositories.
And I have been working at Mint-ify-ing it. Adding the Mint specific apps. and repros.
Debian is a great main/base Linux distribution IMHO.
Clem has stated, in the past, that there will be a LinuxMint CE based on Debian with the 'rolling release' in the future. Mint-Debian
There are a couple of Mint-Debian specific topics in this Forum, already. Check them out:viewtopic.php?f=141&t=19599viewtopic.php?f=141&t=10267