Embeding the dependency information and whatnot in the original source doesn't obviate the need for someone to manually intervene at some point. You'll still have the same number of bugs, errors, and time spent combating them. An automated tool would involve all 4,700 projects (in just the Gentoo case) adopting a single package system. And just how are you going to convince every distro of every Unix and Unix-like system to follow suit? There are projects that don't even use autoconf, much less favor a particular packaging system. It couldn't compete with the distro-agnostic, write once, run anywhere approach of good, portable code.
The ebuild maintainers are very responsive. Rather than consult the project's roadmap to determine when a fix can go out, they just do it. They put the "early and often" shine on the most glacial of development styles.
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