We run debian (or ubuntu) as our platform of choice, and largely this is great. If we want software we just apt-get install the package and we're ready to go. The downside is, however, that occasionally a package won't exist (or only an older one will exist). In my case I wanted tomcat 6 on lenny. Previously what we would do is each server install would require a set of instructions to follow (untar foo into bar, symlink this or that, etc). This led to a situation where we had 4 different ways our various server where set up.
In order to make this "better", I wanted to build a .deb to make the install/removal/upgrade process easier. I could have done the "right" thing and build the proper package from the source, but it turns out it is relatively simple to build your own .deb binary, so I did this instead.
I used these instructions
After about 4 hours (there were some false starts), I had a package that could be installed and removed. Hopefully this will go a long way to making our server installs go more smoothly.
Next step will be to add the extra scripting pieces to allow us to configure our tomcat instances instead of hacking xml files.