It is on Arch. I know Debian used to, if you installed X, make it necessary to manually turn it off in the startup scripts, but I haven't used it in awhile.
Fedora, Ubuntu, and no doubt several others, tie far too many things into their default Desktop, whether it's KDE or Gnome. At present, on the latest Ubuntu alpha, if I don't boot into Gnome, it's a song and dance to get the NIC working--however, I haven't spent any time looking into it, as I only throw that on in case one of my users or a family member asks me about it.
On Fedora, one can boot into runlevel three and do start X. Their default, however, is to use Gnome, and they have various and sundry things such as sound and networking tied into it. I know a bit more about RH systems, though, so the workaround is easy.
At one point, in Rawhide (their testing rolling release, more or less) they changed the typical behavior of deciding upon whether you boot into text or GUI by editing /etc/inittab. They put it in another file, with no real documentation. As I'm on the Fedora testing list, I mentioned this, got the answer, and then asked was it documented.
When told that it wasn't really, I suggested that they put a note in the /etc/inittab file since the people who would change the default behavior would look there first to make the change. The developer agreed and the next day's version had a modified inittab, which was a nice change from the typical RH attitude which seems to be, "Documentation? Haven't you heard of google?"
(In the end they changed that behavior back but left a note in the inittab file mentioning that it is the only behavior that is covered by the new version of the file.)
Both Fedora and Ubuntu, in my opinion, keep protecting the users from themselves, and it aggravates a lot of people--I know about it mostly from Fedora as I'm on the testing list--tonight, they did another where something that wouldn't run as root was reported as a bug and the developer disagreed.
Both contravene CarpetSmoker's sig that Unix doesn't prevent you from doing stupid things, etc. (Yeah, Linux isn't Unix and all that, but Apple is, so whatever.)
This irritates a lot of the more knowledgeable people, including at times, Alan Cox, one of the main kernel people. I remember a quote of his on one of these, when one more thing (I've forgotten what now) became something that root couldn't do--he wrote, "What's the point of this, to prevent you from fixing a broken machine?"
So, as far as that X thing goes, you can do it in Fedora relatively easily, but it takes a wee bit of knowledge to ensure that your network and sound work. Arch, on the other hand, will boot to runlevel three by default, and you don't run into its functions being tied to any particular desktop.