I run FreeBSD. I like how it doesn't come with any cruft installed, although that's kind of its downside too (the only reason why I don't recommend to new Unixers).
Fellow FreeBSDer checking in. Use as daily driver, even on desktop. To extend on what you said, the clear separation between base system and ports (all third-party software) is key.
This is one of my favorite things as well
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