I second your opinion on this matter of Pluto vs LinuxMCE. Even though I have some concerns and doubts, I really hope LinuxMCE takes off and attracts more good developers to make it better.
I have been using Pluto for a while now and I am also a software developer with quite a bit of experience.
Having looked at the Pluto code in detail I can understand why it is so buggy. The developers have been squeezed to get things out and have compromised the initial design in quite a few ways. There are even comments throughout the code indicating such hacks.
I think the basic design of having everything as a device managed in a single heirarchy that extends over all machines in the household is great. The messaging mechanism of commands and events and a lightweight protocol is also sound.
I would like to see a major cleanup but with the amount of code written already I doubt that the Pluto guys will get to this and am keen to see what this fork can deliver. It certainly has generated a lot of interest.
I am keen to see how this project develops. I hope to be able to contribute as well.