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Don't forget another reason some people left was quality assurance and stability. Its not an enjoyable feeling having to hope and pray that an emerge -u world would not break your system. Another point being that with most of the current stable releases of apps were frequently masked in portage (I'm sure those weren't you're packages) a stable system was not all that up to date.
Tell me about it. You pretty much can't do an emerge world anymore without having to manually inspect what it's going to install. I haven't upgraded to expat-2.0 yet because I just don't have the time or the patience to spend hours or more with an otherwise broken system trying to make it through the upgrade. Also, the new Xorg stuff is broken and still isn't fixed, so I'm stuck on 7.1. It works fine in Fedora. Broken in Gentoo. Can't get GIT to build. And much more crap like that. It's a maintenance nightmare.