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I don't know what all the hubbub is about, and why people have to keep bashing one over the other. I'm a Gentoo nut and haven't tried Arch, but it looks really intriguing. The only reason I haven't tried it is because I'm way happy with Gentoo, and I have enough on my hands learning Linux to try another distro. But I used to use SuSE till I got fed up with RPM. I'm sure Pacman is a great package manager, but since I haven't tried it I'm not gonna stick my neck out and say that Portage is better than Pacman. I think it's safe to say enough of us have had enough bad experiences with RPM to want to try something else. I'm at the point where I prefer meta distros anyway.
I have almost no trouble with Portage, except when I get brave and try to emerge a masked package. I'm sure all those other package managers have their merits, too.