KDE ended up taking 30 hours to compile. Which I guess on a 600MHz laptop isn't that bad. Modern systems should be much better. But the more and more I've played with it, the better it is.
The Portage system is the way to install software. It is slower, because often you have to compile the software on your machine (but this is better anyway, because then its specifically tailored to your architecture and optomizations). Since the Gentoo community are the ones who write the ebuild install scripts, they know how to do it intelligently (rather than the original software creator, who has to take into account many distributions).
Also, starting with a clean slate is the way to go. Commercial distributions litter your computer with all the software under the sun to make sure you a have a little something of everything. Sure you can remove them, but I like starting from scratch so I can choose what is going into my computer.
There are few stumbling blocks... namely the touchpad and ethernet connection. They both work, but neither are set up quite the way I'd like it to be. I think for now I'm going to stick with Gentoo only on my laptop. I still need Windows 2k running on my desktop for Quicken, Dreamweaver, Paint Shop Pro. There are just these handful of programs that Linux doesn't have mature options for (if it did, I'd jump immediately). Though Wine is definitely maturing. Maybe soon.