Update: Not really sure what I was thinking here. Sorry.
So it turns out I find myself installing on fresh systems an awful lot. I'm tempted by Alpha Ubuntu releases even when I know I should probably just wait an extra month for the final release. With these releases happening every six months, I've got the reinstall process down to an exact science. Some of it is pretty obvious—I've been keeping my dotfiles in version control since 2005, which mitigates a lot of pain. Then there's the init scripts I've written for getting my regular set of apt-get and gem packages installed.
This was pretty handy for as much as it did. I could get a decent system up and running with about seven commands from a fresh install. But it left a bit to be desired for a few programs. For instance, I've basically got to have the latest version of GNU Emacs. Call it an addiction, but packaged versions get old quickly. The version of git that comes with Ubuntu 7.10 is a bit old and doesn't have the stash command, which is six kinds of useful. The latest GNU Screen from CVS has an excellent vertical-split feature that Emacs has gotten me so accustomed to. And what setup is complete without Rubinius, which hasn't even made it into any package management system? The list goes on...
So here we have a bit of a situation. I could add lines to my init script that check out each individual source tree. But each one has a slightly different installation process. GNU Emacs has you run make bootstrap in between the configure and make commands. Screen makes you cd into a src directory before you can configure. Who has time to remember all this? And then the biggest problem with installing stuff from source is that there's no automated way to get the latest version of the programs you have installed.
So I know it wasn't really a burning need, but I put together a tool to help the situation.
uh ok so roast beef is some kind of package manager that is for bleeding-edge programs. so basically it does not have its own repositories. instead it just will download source from the upstream repository and will do all the necessary steps to install. you get things that are as fresh as possible. i am talking about really fresh like your eggs and milk.
To get started: sudo gem install roastbeef.
If it sounds interesting to you, fork it on github. I've still got some invites if anyone wants to contribute.