I've been using SuSE 9.2 and just recently 9.3 for linux PCs. What I've been doing is a vanilla install, removing the stuff I'll never use, and then further stripping it down afterwards. Hibernation works with SuSE 9.3, at least on an MII-12000 with just a little extra configuration. This has decreased my startup from over 90 seconds to about 20.
As for a frontend, I can't comment on any since I wrote my own. I used a few when I first began researching and decided I'd have something more to my taste by just doing it myself. 6 months later I now have something I'm REALLY happy with.