Problem: Multiple solutions using shared dll's can cause havoc when individual solutions are retracted.
Example: You have a web part helper dll used by all your web part code. If you retract a solution containing a reference to this dll then the SafeControl entry is removed from the appropriate web application and all your web parts start to fail. Or even better, the dll is removed from the GAC altogether.
Solution: I don't know? You tell me.
When you have common/shared components, like the helper DLL you talk about, that get used across multiple solutions within you organization. My recommendation is to package these up as a 'framework solution' that is deployed to the servers indendently of the 'feature based solutions'.
This way you 'feature solutions' are developed in the knowledge that the 'framework' is always available.
SharePoint always will retract/remove what you added in a solution package, unforunately it does not have anything built in to detect shared components.
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