"stick with your current distribution or use something else as the speed improvements are small and for most people not worth the hassle"
However I am not most people, I say this on the basis that I like to tweak my system for performance.
Unfortunately the problem I have been facing with every binary distribution I have used is the bloat and noticeable sluggish performance.
My solution which doesn't improve things much is to try and tweak various settings / services until I am satisfied. But here is the real problem, I often find myself spending far too much time trying to make it work how I want.
This is why Gentoo makes sense. It is logical, I spend the time installing it with the added benefit that after installation it works how things should work. Fast, efficient and no bloat.
With other distributions such as OpenSUSE, Ubuntu and Fedora after dedicating time to install it, I then have to spend additional time trying to make it work how I want it to work. This isn't right, it is illogical.
Why buy a boat with the intention of using it as a car, you would be better off making a car from scratch.
Out of the recent distributions I have tried, Gentoo has to be the most innovating I have used to date. It has provided me with the ability to create the perfect setup with positive results and in a satisfying manner.
I have lost count the amount of times I have felt disappointed after installing a recently released distribution. Disappointed with its speed, system responsiveness and general assumptions made as to which applications or services should be running by default.
This disappointment is only further enhanced when I take the plunge in an attempt to try and tweak the system to make it work how I want it to work.
Linux distributions are too generic and performance is compromised as a result. My Gentoo experience has enlightened me even further on this aspect.
Being too generic is a bad thing, some may say it is advantageous because it is more adaptable but desktop users do not require this. If Linux overall is to succeed in taking over the desktop it must become more streamlined to desktop users.
I find it ironic when a Linux kernel that is part of a distribution is labeled as a desktop kernel, for example in OpenSUSE 11.2 you may notice the -desktop at the end of your kernel but when you view the kernel configuration it has support for 64 processor cores, extended non-PC platforms and extensive debugging options enabled.
These are simply bumping up the kernel size, adding more subroutines and slowing it down.
Looking at the distribution itself, security features such as AppArmor and SELinux have no real benefit to your average desktop user and further add a performance penalty.
So this is why I have decided to give Gentoo a whopping 500GB of disk space on its own dedicated Samsung F3 hard disk drive.
It works so well, it is fast, has nippy performance and is tailored for my needs. This is exactly the same reason why I always build my own PC's.
Gentoo, a waste of time and effort?
If you have the time and are willing to put in the effort then why not?
Gentoo 10.1 x64 - KDE 4.4.3
I am not giving up on the other distributions and will continue to evaluate their progress but Gentoo has earned its place on my system, at least for now.