I spent the greater portion of the last two weeks installing Gentoo on my laptop. I wanted to get more in depth with Linux internals and administration and additionally my laptop is somewhat underpowered and it benefitted greatly from doing a source install rather than a binary install. Things are much snappier under Gentoo than they were under Mandrake--which is the Linux distribution I used prior.
I have ALSA, APM, Gnome (with Metacity), Xmms, GDM, vim, pure-ftpd, X, gcc 3.2, pcmcia with a wireless ethernet card (SMC 2632) and a series of other things all installed and working happily with everything else.
The Gentoo forums are great for help as is the mailing list. I found I was able to fix all my problems without too much looking around.
At some point I may post the various configurations involved in getting ALSA and the wireless pcmcia stuff working--that was probably the hardest part and required the most tinkering. The rest was cake.