I am really a big fan of openSUSE build service. If you need to build packages for multiple distribution and you development environment is restricted this can be a life saver.
I personally use it mainly to backport packages to my production hosts. In other words, it helps me cleanly install these shiny new tools I always like to have (yeah sure, still have some testing to do but ...).Benefits:
- keep dependencies
- avoid conflicting installation of same tools (packaged and hand compiled)
- stay on bleeding edge software (can be argued to not be a benefit)
- rapid deployment on multiple hosts
Take for example sec (simple event correlation). The 'sec' package distributed with openSUSE 11.4 is 2.5.3 which date back from December 2009. The most recent version is from September 2011, and adds a few new features which can be practical. In older times, to deploy the most recent version, I would probably have overwritten the installed binaries/scripts. Now, I install a clean package (available here).
I know of some alternatives, but this is like beer, everyone has his favourite.
Give it a try: https://build.opensuse.org/