There are now plenty of distributions that have excellent incremental upgrade support -- Debian is the classic leader here (and my preference), but it's not unique. AFAIK Red Hat does pretty well these days too. So portage might well beat out RH9 (which is what, 4 years old at this point?), but that's not really saying much.
And, if your criterion is minimizing the risk of upgrades, then a source-based distribution like Gentoo will necessarily be worse than a binary-based one. With a binary-based distribution, everyone is running exactly the same executables, and the chance that you will be the first person to trip over some bug is minimized. With a source-based distribution, it's entirely possible that you are the only person in the world to have packages built with your exact combination of header files, compiler version, and USE and compiler flags -- so even if the bug tracker says that some piece of software has been out for 6 months with no reported problems, that's no guarantee that it'll work for *you*. Of course, you can minimize this by sticking to well-known compiler versions and declining to fiddle with compile flags, but if you're doing that then why bother with a source-based distro at all?
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