i am was a slackware user for the last 5-6 years and i had the feeling that time has came for a change!
i never was bothered by the lack of a package management system, but i always wanted an automated way of
./configure && make && make install applications. I am trying to have control of what is installed to my system and so what i did was using makepkg utility to create slack packages. but that was surely not enough. i needed that to be more elegant.
besides that there is another thing that a slack user really deny to admit. we they can defend almost any flame attack but one: that slackware development is handed by one person. sure many people of the community help him with patches or bug report but if he is busy or sick then a year or more may pass until stable release comes out. additionally one brain can always make a mistake on package compilations or a wrong judgement on apps selection...
half of my linux mates' choice is debian, mostly because of its huge community and its package management system. i always respected debian apt-get system but i also find it a little tight and restrictive. being a slack user my first priority is freedom of movements inside my box and as i already mentioned i don't bother compiling my apps (so as to use my specific configure flags).
you may have already guessed it. i chose the distro that keeps the very best of slack features (freedom, custom made packages, speed) and the very best of debian features (package system with dependency check, huge community).
i 'm actually writing this post from my first gentoo installation and i have to say that i 'm already thrilled! i have built up a system meeting my needs (and my needs only) and i 'm enjoying the sense of freedom that use flags give me and the speed boost. (i never expected i 'll find a faster distro than slackware).
i 'll be back later with further details. for now i 'm just going to get lost in this excellent gentoo documentation project: it's own wiki...