I use FreeBSD and Debian GNU/Linux on servers (because rock-stable), and Gentoo or Fedora on workstations or notebooks (because flexible/up-to-date).
After having a habit of switching these a LOT (KDE, fvwm, fluxbox, i3, …), I got used to gnome-shell with several extensions.
Most of my tools run in a terminal emulator anyway (except browser and pdf viewer), so having tmux is way more important than the DE itself.
- irssi (connecting to znc and bitlbee)
That’s all I need (plus basic things like shells/compilers/interpreters/texlive and git),
and it also works well on remote shells or without X.
If I decide or am forced to go without X for a longer time on a workstation or notebook, I find kmscon very useful.
Some of my configs are available on GitHub.