Looking around the gentoo newsletters there are a few things that people might like to know (which are not necessarily distro specific ....
1) Making X faster
optimizing harddisk settings and running X with increased priorities
2) Bootsplash on Framebuffer
to get something like this... http://www.relaxz.net/archives/vc-fb-2.png
try the instructions here: http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic.php?t=49036
I hated Mandrake for doing it to me without my consent, but now i have the option to do it myself, it's entirely different!