Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
I used Gentoo for a few years, and at first I loved it. Mainly because of portage, but the only distro I had experience with before Gentoo was Slackware, and I used to install packages and dependencies manually, so you can see why Gentoo would was so appealing to me.
When I first began my new job, the only distro available was Ubuntu, which deep down I hated without any real reason. I guess I saw Ubuntu as being “too user-friendly” and Mandrake-ish: Bloated and sluggish. But 10 minutes into using it, I made the decision that as soon as I get home, I’m wiping out Gentoo and installing Ubuntu.
You Learn From Compiling Apps Yourself
This is somewhat true, but I don’t believe it applies to Gentoo/portage. There’s nothing educational about watching shit scroll across the screen. None. If you want a real learning experience, try Slackware or Arch. You’ll learn if you’re forced to figure out what an app depends on, and what the most efficient compile flags are for your system. With Gentoo, the app is being compiled from scratch, but you aren’t doing any work, or research, for that matter. Running 1 command and then grabbing a bite while you wait for portage to do all the work for you isn’t going to teach you more than installing an RPM.
Gentoo’s installation isn’t going to teach you much of anything either, except maybe that patience is a virtue.