Going back a few years, I remember the review in either Byte or more probably Dr. Dobbs talking about the new Intel 486 as providing developers with blazing speed that would result in "a killer re-inforcement schedule" -- following on my last post, while waiting for the 14MB of the db4 rpm to trickle out of python.org (I eventually had to use Prozilla to get a robust connection) I had bandwidth to spare to explore this whole Apt/Yum thing
Another anecdote, I was at one of the very early meetings of the Toronto Linux User's Group, back when Yaggi hosted them upstairs in the North York Library, and the conversation rolled around to ponding topics for future meetings. "What bugs you most about Linux?" was thrown into the ring, and I said, "I hate how, when configuring your kernel, you realize by the current question that you'd answered some previous question wrong and the only way out is to Ctrl-C and start all over again!" -- and I looked around at a room full of oddly confused faces.
Why don't you just use make menuconfig?
Dammit Janet, who has time to re-read the READMEs on every single release?
Anyway, for those snoozers like me who got stoned and missed it, the magic answer to the RedHat semi-automagic update without having to subscribe to anything is not up2date (which needs new certs if you want to use it on RH9 now) but all fully described by DAG with intallable RPM packages going back to RedHat 6.2.