Distro suggestion for combined server/HTPC

I currently have a Nextcloud server on Debian 9 running on an old laptop. The system has been solid and I love the unattended updates that run seamlessly in the background. Until recently, I also had a Raspberry Pi running an OSMC media center. The PI died and I’ve decided not to replace it. Rather, I’d like to add Kodi to the Nextcloud laptop and utilize the device for both functions. Unfortunately, I’m having issues getting the Debian install to play audio/video. This is a very old install and I did a lot of experimentation on it in the past and likely broke some things. That didn’t affect the Nextcloud server but I can’t do much else with it at this point and so I’m thinking of reinstalling the OS. Can anyone suggest the right distro and desk envioronment for this sort of usage? The laptop is a 4th generation i7 with 8GB of RAM and a spinning (very slow) hard disk drive. I’m thinking of Xubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu Mate 18.04 as stability is very important for the server and I do not want to bog down resources with a demanding DE. I would expect a Ubuntu distro to be better prepared for handling video/audio but maybe I’m wrong about that. I’m also considering runing a Ubuntu host and puting Debian in a VM for the server. Would this be a better setup? I’m open to suggestions! Thanks!

I would recommend Ubuntu MATE 18.04 if only for the welcome app that makes setting up DVD support, installing codecs, and installing drivers extremely easy. Plus it’s nice looking out of the box and pretty lightweight. I’m currently running Ubuntu MATE 19.04 on an Acer Aspire One D260 with an Intel Atom N450 at 1.66GHz and 2GB RAM (upgraded from 1GB). Would I recommend doing this as a daily driver? No, but it serves to prove that MATE is a pretty light desktop.

Ubuntu Mate is not a bad option but I would rather like to know what issues with the sound you have exactly with Debian because on a server I prefer Debian.

I always run all of my home services as VM’s. Mainly because it is easier to backup and restore of something happens. I have used the Ubuntu server LTS releases for a very long time and i have never had any problems.