I use debian for my servers… apt-get update every morning via cron, apt-get dist-upgrade when I feel like it. Only had to hand-cobble things twice, and one of those was my fault, the other was a root certificate change that mucked things up.
I don't use a desktop system, but ubuntu looks nice.
Don't mention that in public. People who read PCMag have a reputation for not knowing a damn thing they're talking about. ;)
Funny but true story: I once got chewed out at an old job of mine by a department head because I didn't know recognize some random-ass firewall software package he asked if we were using. He went off on a tirade to my boss and boss's boss about how I apparently was an idiot and didn't know how to do my job because everyone knew that Net Patrol Pro (whatever it was called) was the preferred business firewall solution and that clearly the reason some of his employees kept getting viruses into their building's network was because I was using an inferior off-brand solution. Of course the product he raved about came from some article in PCMag… and turned out to be a desktop firewall suite (like Norton Internet Security) that had absolutely nothing to do with gateway security (we had an old Linux 2.2 gateway on our T1 line at the time… which of course the "expert computer user" department head had never heard of). And we ended up firing both of his frequent-virus-catching employees for downloading porn a few months later when a receptionist caught both of them in the act, and added a Squid-based content-filtering HTTP proxy and DNS blacklists to our "inferior" gateway setup not longer after.
I started with Slackware and have used a number of major and minor distros since. To be honest, it really makes no difference at all, especially on servers. Fedora, Ubuntu, Arch, Slackware, SuSE, Gentoo, Debian, RHEL/CentOS, or any of the bazillion others… doesn't matter, they're all 99.999% the exact same thing. I would steer clear of "unstable" distros for server use, e.g. Fedora, because you really don't want to have to upgrade the OS every 6 months to avoid losing security updates. If you go with Ubuntu likewise pick an LTS release. CentOS is a very solid choice for servers if you're comfortable with Red Hat derived distros, Debian or Ubuntu both are excellent if you like those style disto, etc.
The more "do it yourself" distros like Slackware I personally avoid these days solely because I already know LInux inside and out and don't get any gratifying "learning experiences" out of spending time manually tweaking crap – I'd rather spend my free time doing something fun or at least productive. While not technically social software, distros that make you spend a bunch of time mucking in internals should learn a lesson from ol' uncle jwz: "How will this software get my users lai.... As a corollary then, distros that require command line fu kinda put a drag on life.