I use my Linux box mainly as a server and develop on my Win2000 WS. It needs a reinstall (haven't been using it lately), it has RH7.x on it and I was thinking of putting Gentoo on it but I have heard there may be problems with Java Runtime, etc on it. I'm also probably wanting to try trial versions of WebSphere / Weblogic, so maybe it is better to go with safety supports RPM, etc. Any thoughts??
Personally I would say use Debian. It's super easy to maintain (apt-get / dpkg beats the pants off rpm)
Plus, if you download the conversion program from the web called "Alien" then you can convert .rpm files to .deb.
Debian package management is incredibly solid. I upgraded my entire build to the next version with one command (OK so a broadband net connection helps make the downloads a bit quicker! :))
Try it and see what you think. I have run Java apps on it with no problems whatsoever, including 1.2 and 1.3. Haven't tried 1.4 yet but no reason to suspect it wouldn't work fine as well.
It's system files are in a _slightly_ different place than RedHats but it doesn't take long to adjust. It also has tools and mechanisms which allow you to make changes to core config files and have them preserved when you upgrade the software.
Unlike RH the Debian guys go for rock solid stability. You won't see things in Debian which aren't solid. This means that some things are a bit behind RH, but in my experience the stuff RH launches "early" is usually not really production ready in the way I need it.