It's great and I love it.........
I've been using it since late v4 and it has been great. OK, it's not necessarily the cutting edge. v8 will help with more contemporary versions of things like PHP. I run a few v8 betas and they have been very stable indeed.
Yes, templates & modifying things take a bit of getting your head round if you really need to (and if like me you aren't an expert unlike 'us screwdriver-and-soldering-iron folks'). Anyone with an ounce of commonsense and a modicum of education will suss it in no time.
Disabling services is a doddle once you know how (or as suggested, use a contrib if you don't)
and is something like (if I remember correctly)
db configuration setprop (whatever service) status disabled; signal-event console-save
Is that so hard compared to some arcane things I have come across elsewhere ? I don't have to worry about manually hacking a config file to enable or disable a service - all that's taken care of in the background, as it should be. I just want it on or off.
Yes, some services are 'running' to start with, thought I'm not sure 'everything' is correct, but the default settings are pretty conservative - e.g local access only. Apache is needed to run the web managerment interface. Is that so unusual if you run say webmin ?????? Mail is enabled so that the system can send admin notices in the first instance. Is that unusual too ? Samba ? How else are we going to share files on a file server ?
Security ? Only one of the servers I have installed ever got hacked and that was because the owner, against my better advice, insisted on changing to a nonsense root password. He learned his lesson.
The rest have been fault free. They sit in a corner and do what they are meant to do. Just work. For months on end, without trouble - the longest was over a year, and only went down because they moved offices.
I run all sorts of stuff on mine - vTiger, eGroupware, PHPlist. LimeSurvery, and lord knows what else over time. Yes, I have long argued that to be a competitor to SBS it needs shared Calendaring, but then no one in the FOSS world can ever seem to make up their mind as to a standard for such things.......... an easy replacement for Outlook/Exchange is a must, in the Linux world in general. It's been the sticking point in me trying to get people to move away from Windows. They'll give up their Windows, but not their Outlook. Funny really.
Having tried a few other linux 'server' versions (and having had to try & figure out the mess that is WIN SBS), one thing I have always been concerned about is whether the system is secure with the things I DO enable. I'm no SAMBA, SMTP or Apache expert. At least with this, it takes away a lot of that pain.
A great distro, and I won't be changing, hopefully for a very long time.