Indeed you can follow a bottom-up or a top-down approach. That is up to you. My understanding is that @TheDoctor is looking into GNU/Linux to keep working on his crackmes as consequence of the outcome of the poll he posted some days ago.
In that context, my guess is that he wants something up and running to do his stuff… Getting to know how to fully configure a Linux box may not be an immediate objective. Some people don’t want to become sysadmins.
Maybe that was quite an assumption.
Said that, I have to admit that Debian is my preferred distro
Hope these different points of view may help @TheDoctor to make its own decision!