You wanted to know what the "best" source-based distro is right?
For eg. LFS is source based. It is best if you want real nuts-and-bolts linux education. Since you chose three with source-archive/packet managers, this is probably not you. Similarily for T2.
I suggested gentoo because it's community support is second to none... even non-gentoo users have cause to reference their pages. So this would be best if you want good support and quick problem solving.
Sourcerer has spawned some independant varients (sourcemage and lunar for eg) suggesting that it is easier to set up than gentoo. So two of your suggestions are almost the same distro (though sorce mage is kinda humourous). So if you want ease of installation, this may be the best for you. (I've not tried though, so cannot comment from direct experience.)
Heretix users have a liking for the Ruby programming language - which must be fun. seeing as how practically everything linux comes in c++. So this is best if you want extensive use of Ruby.
Most source distros are really exercizes in building a personal GNU/linux system rather than creating an actual maintained distro.
Here's a list I have - (incomplete of course) - the distros you mentioned are in green.
Source Distributions with or without a packaging system
* Gentoo Linux is a versatile and fast, completely free Linux distribution geared towards developers and network professionals. Unlike other distros, Gentoo Linux has an advanced package management system called Portage. Portage is a true ports system in the tradition of BSD ports, but is Python-based and sports a number of advanced features including dependencies, fine-grained package management, "fake" (OpenBSD-style) installs, safe unmerging, system profiles, virtual packages, config file management, and more.
* Heretix (formerly known as Rubyx) is a young GNU/Linux distribution managed entirely by heretix, a Ruby script. Heretix boasts a clean design and a pragmatic package handling concept. It is not a "point-and-click" distribution, but it is easy to use for everyone who is not afraid of the shell. And Heretix is written in readable Ruby code, offering every user the opportunity to understand how their system works.
Linux From Scratch
* Linux From Scratch (LFS) is a project that provides you with the steps necessary to build your own custom Linux system. There are a lot of reasons why somebody would want to install an LFS system. The question most people raise is "why go through all the hassle of manually installing a Linux system from scratch when you can just download an existing distribution like Debian or Redhat". That is a valid question which I hope to answer for you. The most important reason for LFS's existence is teaching people how a Linux system works internally. Building an LFS system teaches you about all that makes Linux tick, how things work together, and depend on each other. And most importantly, how to customize it to your own taste and needs.
* Lunar is a source based Linux distribution with a unique package management system which builds each software package, or module, for the machine it is being installed on. Though it can take a while to do a complete Lunar installation it's worth it as it tends to be quite fast, once installed! In the beginning Lunar was a fork of Sorcerer GNU Linux (SGL). The fork occurred in late January to early February of 2002 and was originally made up of a small group of people who wanted to collaboratively develop and extend the Sorcerer technology. The original name for the project was Lunar-Penguin but the group decided to re-christen it Lunar Linux while the Lunar-Penguin name has become a sort of umbrella which the team could use if they decide to collaboratively develop something besides Lunar Linux.
* MURIX is a Linux distribution created with the goal to function on all hardware platforms. It is based on Linux From Scratch.
* Onebase Linux is an independant source and/or binary operating system based on the Linux kernel, providing built-in support for binary and source packages of open source software.
* ROCK is a distribution build kit, or in other words, a software development toolkit for building OS solutions. You can configure your personal build of ROCK and easily build your own distribution directly from source code. Most of the ROCK Linux development is done on ix86 hardware, But ROCK Linux also supports the Alpha AXP, PowerPC, Sparc32/Sparc64 and MIPS architectures.
* Sorcerer is a source based Linux distribution. Sources are downloaded directly from software authors' homepages and mirrors. Then, they are compiled with the architecture and optimizations that the system administrator specifies. Finally, it is installed, tracked, and archived for easy removal and upgrades. SGL is a distribution for advanced systems administration with both command line and menu driven package mangement programs.
Source Mage GNU/Linux
* Sourcemage is a source-based GNU/Linux distribution based on a Sorcery metaphor of 'casting' and 'dispelling' programs, which we refer to as 'spells'. Descended from Sorcerer GNU/Linux.
* An open source system development environment (distribution build kit). T2 allows the creation of custom distributions. Currently, the Linux kernel is normally used, but Hurd, OpenDarwin and OpenBSD kernels are being ported to T2.
* A distribution with a small base installation that the end-users can expand to include the software they need. Plans to support different architectures, such as Alpha, Sparc, PPC and PA-RISC, but at this time only x86 is fully supported.
Last edited by Simon Bridge; 04-08-2006 at 12:09 AM.
Reason: added clarifications