"Gentoo is often said to be not a distribution so much as a philosophy.
If so, that philosophy may be that of FreeBSD, from which it originally
developed its emphasis on security and optimization. First released in
2002, it quickly gained a reputation as a geek's distro, largely because
it required all packages to be compiled for maximum optimization for
each system. This process could take days to complete, and could mean
many wasted hours if you made a mistake.
"Perhaps in response, Gentoo developed one of the comprehensive sets of
documentation available in free software. Moreover, Gentoo has evolved
over the years. It now features a Live CD and a graphical installer,
while retaining a high degree of customization. In addition, probably
only Debian supports a greater number of hardware architectures.
"Since the departure of Daniel Robbins in 2004 to work at Microsoft,
Gentoo seems to have lost direction. Robbins's recent blog suggesting
that the governance of the distribution was in such disarray that
control of it might as well pass to him, while not altogether serious,
serves only to emphasize the lack of organization and direction in the
distribution. Yet, while Gentoo itself may have lost much of its
prominence, it remains the source of several other distributions, such
as Sabayon and Ututo."