Just wanted to encourage other people to give Gentoo a whirl. I'v only been using it since June, but I've found it to be the fastest desktop Linux I've used to date.
I have rather mundance hardware, a PII366 laptop, and desktops ranging from Celeron 366 to PIII600. Gentoo has compiled without a hitch on each system, and given me steller performance and stability.
The instructions on the website are thorough and take you through each step of the install process. Though more involved than a Red Hat installation, I still found it to be amazingly easy to do and I learned several things I didn't already know.
What I like best is that is that I end up with a very clean system. There are not a lot of programs installed or daemons running in the background that I didn't explicity say that I wanted. In my opinion this makes the machine a great choice for a desktop OS to deploy to end users. A minimal configuration with just the business applications you want to have on it. And emerge is very scriptable so it is possible to completely remotely administrate the machines and keep them up to date.
That said, I cannot get the ebuild for Xfree 4.1 to work. I know 4.2 is the latest and greates, but a bug appears to have been introduced that doesn't allows a 4.2 user (Linux, Cygwin Xfree, Oroboror (sp?) on Mac OS X, to run Framemaker from a Solaris server. I know 4.1 works, just not 4.2. Interestingly, 4.2 does work if you ssh to the machine within an ssh session you already have to that machine. Weird.
Sum up, try gentoo out. You'll be happy you did.