like the Gentoo-way of doing things, that's fine. But your arguments above are mostly bogus to me.
There really is room for users / developers of binary distros and source-based distros to have common ground, and respect for the use case of both models. The only thing we need to acknowledge is that neither binary distros nor source-based distros are the "One True Way". Once we concede that, we can start talking about which specific use cases and user requirements are appropriate for each type of distro. This discussion is interesting for people who are distro shopping, and there's a lot of room for debate, but it doesn't have to become a flame war.
If anything, talk of Gentoo on Phoronix might expose some Phoronix readers, who previously didn't know about source-based distros, to Gentoo. If we can calmly and dispassionately describe what the advantages of that might be, then we can introduce these readers to source based distros, thus expanding their Linux vocabulary. Whether they convert to a source based distro is irrelevant; now they know more than they did.
And there are sure to be plenty of Phoronix readers who don't know about Gentoo. Look at Michael's Linux Graphics Survey 2009. Most users identify themselves as mainstream. Mainstream = Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva. There's no reason to think that these "typical" Linux users would even know what a source-based distro entails. So hopefully if they read the comments here, or just google Gentoo, they'll know.
The general verdict seems to be that you gain flexibility at the expense of some complexity and maintenance work.
Basically.The only inalienable feature of source-based distros over binary distros is the ability to fiddle with things. It's for people who have to be able to fiddle with their system. Which is fine.
Sounds about right. In my case, fiddling with KDE was very very painful in Debian.I'm taking a stab in the dark here, but maybe the difference between the "me-type" and the "Gentoo-type" is that the Gentoo type likes to fiddle with everything, while I only want to fiddle with the things I care about (and the things that I don't care about had better stay out of my way, lest I replace them with a very tiny shell script). I can understand where Gentoo users are coming from, but I'm not really Gentoo material.
Maybe fiddling makes it sound more like the point of Gentoo is for experimentation. That's how I interacted with it years ago. But I'm sure that, after a while, long-term Gentoo users stop experimenting, because they've reached a point where they've explored the possibilities enough to know what they want. And then the "fiddling" mostly stops, because their configuration settles down into something specific and carefully designed to satisfy the user's needs.
But yeah, it sort of has to include some degree of fiddling when you're a Gentoo newbie, doesn't it? The newer you are, the more clueless you are, and the more likely to make mistakes. So you're basically just fiddling/experimenting until you read enough howtos or gain enough experience to make directed, well-informed and correct decisions. And then you can actually make deep configuration changes with ease, because you've internalized the knowledge of how to do that. It's a learning process.
Like people have pointed out, it doesn't usually hurt if you have enough memory but it is a bit annoying in some cases. You shouldn't HAVE TO install GStreamer if you don't intend to use it, for example. And GStreamer should not have to pull in gconf, which doesn't need to pull in all of gnome-base, which pulls in other stuff, and all of this gets loaded every time you start any X program.
It's not a huge deal, true, but I don't need it.
After a while, some people switch to another distro with more knowledge under their belts. Others like the Gentoo way and stick with it.
Don't forget that the biggest reason to use Linux for the longest time was that you could fiddle with it. Look at the code, rearrange things. Only recently did people start switching to Linux because of fancy 3d effects and to run WINE games. For many people, it's still a game of learning and discovery like it was with MS-DOS 3.3 and a hex editor back in 1989 for me. And Gentoo exposes all of this to you.
When I was administering a webserver, I put Debian stable on it, and with good reasons. There is a time and place for everything. I did not want to fiddle too much there, I wanted to be stable and easy to maintain. On my personal computer, though, I still have Gentoo. I can get latest software straight from git or svn easily. I hear that the latest qt4 has a new experimental renderer, but you're not supposed to use it, I'm already there. Experimental GLSL support for r600, will break your system, I have to try it. Gallium3d on r600? Gimme!
People often say that computer is like a toaster, an appliance that's only for work. It should have an OS preinstalled, not offer many options, and it should provide a wizard for everything to hide the complexity from you. To me, it's not a toaster. It's more like a huge set of Legos, or a good puzzle. The more you play with it, the more you learn. You can't give me a completely open and complex piece of technology and expect me not to look inside and tear it apart. This is the Gentoo way. It is not a way to optimize your toaster and squeeze extra POWAH for your toast. If you look at it at a way to optimize your toaster, you'll miss the whole point. Gentoo is a toaster development kit, together with complete documentation, great community you can learn from, and you can make your own toaster. Maybe it won't be as good as the toaster from the shop, but it will be a blast making it. Gentoo appeals to people who make their own amplifiers, modify their own cars, fix their own electrical appliances when they break. Some of them will go on to make toasters for a living, others will simply enjoy the ride.
There are plenty of toasters out there in the OS market. Some of them are really good toasters. But I want my Legos
I think it's pretty funny to see Gentoo fans arguing one of its strengths is saving disk space and memory, while at the same time apparently a fast quadcore is needed to fully enjoy it.
Gentoo might be neat if you like to fiddle around for the sake of just fiddling around, instead of getting work done. The ricer comparison isn't that far off.