A major side effect of Portage and how easy it is to stay on the cutting edge of OSS developments is that there are now MANY more linux users with convenient access to beta and candidate releases. This makes the process of identifying bugs in new software quicker, especially ones that only effect certain hardware configurations.
I bet that a completely disproportionate number of people running a 2.6.0-testN kernel right now are running Gentoo. Same thing goes for GNOME 2.5 and many other testing packages.
Gentoo was developed for developers that constantly update their software as changes are made. Gentoo has turned a lot of casual (and often clever) linux users into developers, or at least into masses of bug wranglers. Portage is a very powerful tool for open source software testing and "validation."
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