I think Chakra should give gentoo quite a boost once it gets out of alpha/beta. I might actually give gentoo another go next time I install....I mostly just use fedora because it's not hugely dissimilar to the Scientific Linux systems at work (and I don't have to maintain it much, reinstalls are quick etc).
But what's the funny thing? During compilation you can do whatever you do even without compilation, because compilation in Gentoo is the same process as apt-get is in Ubuntu. You just write emerge plus the package you want and that's all.
Yes! Compilation in Gentoo is easy, no need to touch makefiles or anything else. Just one command. There is even a gui for that. The difference with apt-get is that you don't see a progress bar, but just the compilation output.
Heh I really miss the rolling releases from arch, gentoo etc but alas AUR is less up-to-date than fedora and I didn't fancy compiling everything. Maybe i'll give it a go, it can't take too long on a 4ghz quad core, 8gb ram and an SSD can it? Though, i'm dreading the OO.o / KDE4 compilations...
What's the benefit? Ofcourse speed is one of them but is not the most important. Absolute control is the most important of all. You can choose whatever is going to be installed in your system. You don't want pulseaudio with your gnome? You won't have it. You don;t want policykit either? You won;t have it. You don't want Hal? Easy! You don't want java with your Openoffice, no problem. That leads to a system so light that it can be fast even without compile optimizations. And hell is modern. It will be as modern as Ubuntu, or OpenSUSE, or Fedora 3 months before their releases, and after their releases, Gentoo is gonna be again be 3 months ahead.
That's Gentoo. You love it or hate it. It's a trouble once but after that a permanent pleasure!