I vote for survival mode with no plugins (or minimally invasive plugins if you must).
Also, if you are taking tangential suggestions on how to setup the server, I definitely recommend checking out Minecraft Server Manager
. It is "A comprehensive start up script for Minecraft and Bukkit servers. Designed by admins, for admins." I have been using it on my CentOS 6 server for a couple of months, and I am very impressed. It definitely makes the job of setting up, backing up, running (daemonized), and updating your server very easy. It should run out-of-the-box on Debian or Ubuntu; I had to make minimal modifications to make it work properly on my CentOS box. PM me if you want my personal installation documentation or other specifics of how I set it up (such as iptables rules and SELinux security policy).