abf, to clarify about Yoper...
I was a dev at Yoper for a bit, and it is basically an OS that can run RPM's, Debian .DEB files, as well as compile from source...and you have the option to use KDE / Gnome / XFCE if you want, and it has apt for fetching all stuff (Like Debian).
Also, I wouldn't personally reccomend Debian for a n00b to Linux, SuSE is MUCH simpler to set up, and 9.2 is very stable. I ran 9.1 Pro and never had the issues you had with Wifi though, and I was using a proprietary NEtgear 108 mps card that came out around the time of the OS - yet it ran like a dream at its max speeds, too. ALSA I had issues with as well, or so I thought, as it was actually a defunct sound card in my system...:P
I used Debian Testing / Unstable and didn't like the installer, it was ugly. Also, it didn't recognize my graphics card and monitor properly, didn't set up sound, or anything - when SuSE / Fedora did in the past...I find SuSE to have *more* hardware compatbility then Debian (From looking at it.)
And btw abf, I totally agree, Mandrake sucks. :P