If you have the most recent diplomacy patch (version 1.31), none of the community tools are going to help you out very much. Things were done (files deleted) that require human intervention (for the entity manifest) to make it all work properly. I believe if you've updated it properly, including the manifests and delete these lines from the entity manifest:
and reduce the entity count by 12, you should be more then well on your way to playing with the good stuff. Any other errors and crashes and I'd need to know specifics of what you were doing, clicking on, zooming in on, etc. when it crashed to be of any better help.
Your best bet is to just dive in head first and play DS though. I have a site set up here http://sinsdistantstars.wikia.com/wiki/SoaSE_Distant_Stars_Wiki that is for a slightly older version of the mod that goes into detail of what the new things DS adds are so you're not empire building blindly. Mind you the formatting sucks because wikia changed things on me, but once version 1.0 is out and there are only hot fixes left, I'll get back to updating it properly. The learning curve to Sins is one where it's really tough at first, but once you learn how to handle the AI, it becomes extremely simple and you have to play against other people to get any sort of a challenge in the game.