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Review: Sabayon Linux

There is a newer distro in town, gaining traction. Sabayon Linux is an installable, Gentoo based live Cd/DVD. It has the stated goal of being 100% Gentoo compatible. A lot of attention has been paid to the Sabayon brand. Theming is consistent and striking. Sabayon is one of the best looking distros I have used. They use a yellow,orange and red theme that is fresh and unlike any other Linux distribution. Beryl is used by default. It is a KDE distro with the option to use Fluxbox as your Desktop Environment. Sabayon gets it’s name from an Italian desert, to quote the website and Wikipedia: “Sabayon is an Italian dessert made with egg yolks, sugar, a sweet  liqueur (usually Marsala wine), and sometimes cream or whole eggs. It is a very light custard, which has been whipped to incorporate a large amount of air.” Sabayon refers to its users as “Hens” which isn’t as off putting as you might think.

Sabayon uses the Anaconda installer, from Red Hat. It is fully themed and consistent with Sabayon’s desktop look. The install goes as painlessly as an Anaconda install should, the difference is that instead of Fedora you have a fully running and configured Gentoo system without the hassle of a Gentoo install. You are left with a metaphysical question, am I using Sabayon or Gentoo? Is Sabayon a flavor of Gentoo? What was your original face before you were born? I can say that I don’t feel as if I am running Gentoo, I feel like I am running Sabayon.

I installed using the Mini Edition X86_64 3.2 as opposed to the full edition. My DVD burner is on the fritz, so it was my only choice. It was easy to add the programs I need and use. I prefer this method, actually. It is nice to build my system from a smartly configured base. 3D effects worked right out of the box. Package selection was intelligent. It contains proprietary and non-OSS software, which you can disable with the “noproprietary” boot flag. The mini edition gave me a fully featured operating system. It includes the Koffice office suite, the Amarok audio player, Codeine for video, K3B for Cd/DVD burning. Post install I emerged Mplayer, OpenOffice and other programs without a problem. Need your Google apps? Google Earth and Picasa install very easily.

Portage is your package manager. A graphical front end, Kuroo, is provided. I found Kuroo a bit confusing, and felt safer working through the command line. Kuroo is nice to see what if available, then emerge from the command line. Since it is Gentoo, expect installing packages to take some time. It isn’t as if your computer is rendered useless while programs compile, so that didn’t bother me. Sabayon uses Portage with a Sabayon overlay. Before installing and upgrading anything with Portage, be sure to read the forums. You need to mask packages, specifically dbus and qt or you may break your KDE, as I did. Be careful updating. Do not do an “emerge –update world” just because you can. You really need to take the time and make sure you understand Portage before doing anything. Sabayon recommends waiting for a new release and updating using the ISO. You can save yourself a lot of trouble following that advice if you are new to Gentoo. You are given the power to completely hose your system. Use it wisely.

I use the 64 bit version, Sabayon installs 32 bit versions of packages that have trouble running in 64 bits or are unavailable. That means you get Adobe’s Flashplayer for your browser. Mplayer uses 64 bit Realplayer for its codecs, so they are truly 64 bit. I have run into no problems or slowdowns. Everything runs seamlessly, whether it is using 64bit or 32bit libs. All of my multimedia needs are met with Sabayon.

As I mentioned, Sabayon uses Beryl by default. I run Compiz on my Arch install, so it was interesting to see what Beryl brings. I am running Beryl 0.2.0 beta 2. It is snappy and running without problems. Kudos to both the Compiz and Beryl teams. 3d effects are moving along very rapidly. I find it hard to work without the cube or transparency (Alt + mouse scroll) now. There seems to be a lot in this Beryl release, more than I have had time to play with. The new Beryl Settings Manager is nice and clean looking. There are still so many options that I end up getting overwhelmed and closing it. I read that “Beryl-settings-simple” exists, but it isn’t part of my install. Sabayon has a partnership with Beryl, so if you are a Beryl addict, this is the distro for you.

In the few weeks I have been using it, Sabayon has become one of my favorite Linux distributions. The developers have done a very nice job, particularly for a newer distribution. It is great for the whole spectrum of Linux users, from a new user to a seasoned vet. It is very simple with the potential to be as complicated as you wish. If you have been curious about Gentoo but put off by the installation, I heartily recommend Sabayon. They have a great and helpful user community that is growing. They have the weight of Gentoo’s documentation behind them. In this age where most new distros seem to be Debian based, Sabayon is a breath of fresh air. It is a great Distribution.

Screenshots:

Sabayon Desktop Sabayon Cube Sabayon showing transparency

LinuxQuestions.org has graciously allowed me to link to thier comprehensive screenshot gallery here. It is appreciated.

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February 7th, 2007 Posted by admin | Sabayon, beryl, Linux Distributions | 27 comments

27 Comments »

  1. I installed Sabayon using the default install, and I have to agree that it is very slick looking. However I ran into a lot of problems trying to emerge programs, because different libraries weren’t there, or it would tell me it was the wrong version. Specifically, Frozen Bubble. I had a lot of issues with beryl as well, especially if I had 2 user accounts to switch. Beryl would sometimes try to load twice, whenever I logged in, and I would end up with a blank white screen, and a mouse cursor, and nothing else. I wish other distros would put some work into the polished look that Sabayon had done so well, but the system seemed very unstable to me.

    Comment by Whitt Madden | February 7, 2007

  2. I installed the dvd version of 3.26 and was blown away by the look, feel and speed of it. This was my first look at beryl and I was very impressed.

    I just can’t get past a distro that doesn’t have an equivalent to ‘apt-get update.’ The forums are full of “Don’t do emerge -u world!!!” Fine, what’s the alternative? If amarok or firefox or koffice, etc,etc comes up with an update am I supposed to emerge -s each important individual package on my machine?

    I thought using sabayon meant you didn’t have to become an expert in gentoo and the emerge package? Nice distro but I don’t want to do a fresh install to update packages.

    Comment by Dale MacDougall | February 7, 2007

  3. Sabayon is smooth and easy. Professional, but playful. Gentoo is a great flavor to be based on, and that has Sabayon bringing much to the table. The portage/apt argument is similar to chocolate vs. vanilla. After using Gentoo for the better part of 5 years, I have reached a nice comfort level. When trying out various debian-based distros, I felt like a fish out of water when modifying apt. I see a bright future for Sabayon, and hope the great work continues.

    Comment by Chris Teeple | February 7, 2007

  4. […] Linux Tech Daily reviews the latest Sabayon Linux LiveCD and takes the installer for a spin.   [link] […]

    Pingback by LiveCD News » Archive » Sabayon Linux 3.26 Review | February 7, 2007

  5. For the Updates to specific programs your options really are just as easy as emerge -u . I use Gentoo which is Sabiyon’s progenetor.

    emerge -u world is one of the more used things, but depending on how this distro does things that can have an effect on your system. There is actually a tool in the Gentoo distro in the gentoolkit package that helps when things get busted. it’s called revdep-rebuild.

    So say you update dbus or hal and it hoses something. Or you update an important library. You run revdep-rebuild and it will go through and check the dynamic link library that will then make a list of programs that need to be reinstalled and do it for you.

    I’ll be linkinging to this post on my blog as well.

    Comment by LD | February 8, 2007

  6. […] http://www.linuxtechdaily.com/2007/02/review-sabayon-linux/ […]

    Pingback by Dhampir Dreams » Review of Sabiyon Linux from Linux Tech Daily | February 8, 2007

  7. As a faithful Gentoo user who also enjoys Ubuntu’s stability, I have to say that the aversion to using “emerge –update” seems to be more a lack of understanding. The problem here is not really the “emerge –update” but the way Portage is maintained and frequently updated. Ubuntu, for example, locks packages to distro versions, so I can’t get Blender 2.42a on Ubuntu 6.06 without some significant work. But, on Gentoo, things are constantly updated… the trade off is potential instability, but if you maintain your system you never have to upgrade versions… you always have the latest.

    So, the warning should be, don’t use “emerge –update” blindly, without paying attention to what you’re updating. And, you probably shouldn’t go 6 months without updating either, or you’ll be in for a bit of repair work.

    Ubuntu is a great, stable, just-works distribution… but if I have to make a choice, that choice is Gentoo any day.

    Comment by Jim | February 8, 2007

  8. What’s the difference between Sabayon and Gentoo with the GTK installer? Beryl?

    Comment by Grant | February 9, 2007

  9. The difference is the use of a lot of experimental and unstable packages that you will have a lot of fun with…..

    Comment by klimg | February 9, 2007

  10. […] as off putting as you might think.Linux Tech Daily :: More.. No Comments Leave a Commenttrackback addressThere was an error with your comment, please try again. name (required)email (will not be published)(required)url […]

    Pingback by Review: Sabayon Linux « Tuxicity’s source | February 9, 2007

  11. Italian desert?… dessert, liquor

    Comment by Anonymous | February 9, 2007

  12. If you’re going to correct someone’s spelling, make sure you’ve got the right information, Teacher:

    “liqueur” is spelled correctly.

    liqueur - any of a class of alcoholic liquors, usually strong, sweet, and highly flavored, as Chartreuse or curaçao, generally served after dinner; cordial.

    Comment by Anonymous | February 10, 2007

  13. Thanks Anonymous, both for correcting my spelling and sticking up for me. I had spelled dessert correctly, but had “liquor” instead of “liqueur”. Actually,wikipedia did. Thank you both for commenting.

    per Whit’s comment, I tried to emerge Frozen Bubble and was unable to, as you said. My guess is that it has something to do with the updated Python libraries, but it is only a guess.

    per Dale, as I mention in the review, being discouraged from doing an “emerge -u world” is part of using Sabayon. Fortunately they release often enough that you can upgrade using the ISO, without having to do a fresh install.

    LD is correct pointing out revdep-rebuild is a great tool.

    and thank you to Jim for clarifying things about “emerge update”.

    I thank you all for your comments,
    Rich

    Comment by admin | February 10, 2007

  14. My bias: I love Sabayon!
    Reaon: It’s the first distro that needed no post-install activity … because I want to watch a DVD movie or do something with USB, etc. I simply worked and did so beautifully and looked beautiful.

    I come from Debian and FreeBSB, so I know that I will have too master emerge to do whatever I want while not shooting myself in the proverbial foot. However, to be of help to those not conversant with emerge and want to do stuff - like they are still in Windows! - it would be good if the Saabayon forum could just develop develop a cookbook of emerge recipies for (1) doing ad hoc stuff, install a program, (2) how to update your world, handholding of Saybayon to go out into the sea of Gentoo (this would be a proof of concept, that Sabayon is 100% Gentoo compatible), and (3) how to update a Gentoo box to Sabayon, (or how to get back to Saybayon after doing step 2 and you don’t like it.

    Sabayon is eye candy that more than eye candy and if they provide a few scripts to let new/non-advanced users act like they are in Windows (installing and uninstalling at the click of a button) IMHO they will have achieved their goal of ease of use.

    Comment by albertfx | February 14, 2007

  15. LOVE IT! First time Sabayon linux user here, just installed 3.26. Just love the look, the ease of install on my HP Pavilion 4000 laptop with Intel 915 GM graphics card. The reason why I installed Sabayon was to try Beryl and kiba dock on KDE. It Detected all my hardware great out of the install although the install process takes over 1 hr. Brilliant eye candy, I must say, except the 3D cube transparency slowed down the performance when rotating the cube (It must be the Intel 915). For an open source OS it is great to have all the software you need in one install and some you dont need. I did install the full version because I wanted to know what software was great so for the next version I can use the MiniCD instead. The install took 11.5GB of space. I had a 13.5GB partition set up for it and you really need more space, unless you want to uninstall the extras or try the Mini CD.

    I still think XP is still easier to use and most importantly easy and quicker to update the software! But Beryl rocks! and linux handling multiple windows on multiple desktops is incredible.

    The BAD: Some bad things about Sabayon 3.26 on a laptop is the Power Management! Could not suspend or hibernate (hopefully fixed in version 3.3) There was an option to do so at first but then it crashed on resume and now the option has disappeared. Also, getting the whitescreen with just the mouse cursor when KDE or Gnome loads, then having to restart or power off the machine using power button.

    I would still keep my default XP installed but if you want to try beryl, Sabayon Linux is the hassel free OS.

    Comment by zrex | February 24, 2007

  16. LOVE IT! First time Sabayon linux user here, just installed 3.26. Just love the look, the ease of install on my HP Pavilion 4000 laptop with Intel 915 GM graphics card. The reason why I installed Sabayon was to try Beryl and kiba dock on KDE. It Detected all my hardware great out of the install although the install process takes over 1 hr. Brilliant eye candy, I must say, except the 3D cube transparency slowed down the performance when rotating the cube (It must be the Intel 915). For an open source OS it is great to have all the software you need in one install and some you dont need. I did install the full version because I wanted to know what software was great so for the next version I can use the MiniCD instead. The install took 11.5GB of space. I had a 13.5GB partition set up for it and you really need more space, unless you want to uninstall the extras or try the Mini CD.

    I still think XP is still easier to use and most importantly easy and quicker to update the software! But Beryl rocks! and linux handling multiple windows on multiple desktops is incredible.

    The BAD: Some bad things about Sabayon 3.26 on a laptop is the Power Management! Could not suspend or hibernate (hopefully fixed in version 3.3) There was an option to do so at first but then it crashed on resume and now the option has disappeared. Also, getting the intermittent whitescreen with just the mouse cursor when KDE or Gnome loads, then having to restart or power off the machine using power button. As well as this it takes forever to boot up and shutdown compared to Windows XP. Also the fan on my laptop, spins at approximatly, constant quarter to half speed but when used on XP it is off most of the time unless it needs to use extra grunt.

    I would still keep my default XP installed but if you want to try beryl, Sabayon Linux is the hassel free OS. If you want to use on a laptop, its almost ready.

    Comment by zrex | February 24, 2007

  17. I tried Sabayon when it first found its way to Distrowatch. I’m guessing it was a fairly unremarkable experience since the only thing word I remember to describe it is “hokey”.

    Since then I’ve seen it come out with new releases far more frequently than might be expected. An attention-getting strategy, I guess.

    So, having seen it climb into the top ten at Distrowatch, I thought I’d give it another try.

    Now I have two words to describe it: hokier and crappy. It installed with no problem onto my Pentium 4 2.8GHz, 1GB ram machine. But after rummaging around in it, my opinion sank lower, lower, lower.

    Desktop: HORRRRRRRRRIIIIBBBLLLLLE. I make my living as a systems admin/developer and would not want to have to face that bright orange desktop ever.

    Package selection: can you spell b-l-o-a-t-e-d? Why the hell do I need three office suites, multiple image viewers and god only knows what else. If you know what you need to do, all you need is one application. You do not need three apps for every task.

    Stability: Crash, crash, crash.

    Speed: Slow.

    The default menu? I know KDE thought that one up, but why would anyone want to include in on their distro as though it were some kind of improved feature? Takes forever to navigate thru it. I changed that back to the standard menu real quick.

    Sorry, but wavy windows and all the other eye candy do not make up all its faults.

    Don’t know why, but it took me an entire day to figure that this distro is not going to take up 10GB of space on my hard drive, even if it is just space to play with.

    Thank god for Slackware.

    Comment by jahlen | March 8, 2007

  18. Thank god for choice..
    Many distro’s are focusing on desktopusers lately, it’s a good thing since it’s the main market yet to be qonquered.
    Sabayon at least is trying.. Can’t be said of Slackware. Personaly I’m using gentoo for some time and since I’ve been learning a lot about using and maintaining my system.
    Still I love seeing distro’s offering some painfull setup for those interested in leaving Windows without having to spend hours updating there graphicsdriver or emerging kde without risking killing some basic part of the system.

    Sabayon has a long way to go but at least it’s trying..

    Comment by kel_p | March 12, 2007

  19. kel_p. Point well taken. Choice is good.

    After going through numerous distros over the last few years, I ended up forcing myself to make a choice. It boiled down to Gentoo and Slack. Both are similar in that once configured, they offer speed and stability. Both are similar in that they are not easy to configure. I ended up choosing Slack because even though checking dependencies was a pain, package installation was quick. Since Slack will remain essentially unchanged til its next release, I won’t have to touch it unless I want to add a package for a new app.

    My problem with Sabayon is that I have a hard time figuring out to whom it might appeal. True, all the eye candy might appeal to the novice Linux user. But what’s a novice to do when they find their system crashing or not having the slightest idea what to do when they go to the menu and see virtually hundreds of choices.

    Some novice users might high tail it back to windoze as fast as they can. Others might be willing to explore Sabayon to make it work or start looking at other distros. Who knows? But I can see many being very disappointed by Sabayon.

    I bet that instead of bloating their distro, the developers at Sabayon could better spend their time creating a leaner and better tested release. Sure, keep the eye candy. Just make sure that their apps work and that the system is stable.

    That’s Sabayon’s choice.

    Comment by jahlen | March 14, 2007

  20. Sabayon might draw some away from Vista.

    Now THAT’S a plus. :O)

    Comment by Amos | March 16, 2007

  21. /Package selection: can you spell b-l-o-a-t-e-d? Why the hell do I need three office suites, multiple image viewers and god only knows what else./

    Because you might prefer 1 software over another and someone else just the opposite.

    On a live DVD (ie a read only media that you can just pop into any computer you happen to be next to) it is extremely handy that you dont need to relearn how to use the favourite app of the person making the CD/DVD but can choose the one you like. It’s not like it wont fit on the DVD… or you prefer more unusable blank space on the DVD instead?

    In the future for sure there will come a posibillity for manual selection/deselection of various software. Meanwhile, for people that like to bitch over too much choise of software there is a minimal version where you have to add a lot of things by yourself.

    Comment by Stefan | March 18, 2007

  22. Blog of directtv

    Comment by directtv | March 27, 2007

  23. all these Linux geek lunatics,..all snob experts in programming and releasing ever more increasingly complicted programs designed for rocket scientists and nerds
    They wonder why people still use Windows, and its still topping 98% of the market
    The public want simple programs,..one button update,..one button reset to default parameters,..etc,..
    Now they make Beryl with a thousand permutations,..yet no default settings buttons when things go wrong?
    Hey but what the Heck Linux people are self-absorbed pompous genius’s,..so much more clever than Gate’s crew

    Comment by mike1 | April 10, 2007

  24. mike1: you’ve definitely got a point, though I might disagree with your comment that Linux users are snobbish. Different from Windoze users who seem satisfied with getting what they get, Linux users love to have a system they can work with and make their own — kind of like a dog pissing on a tree to mark his territory. Also, I think many Linux users truly enjoy being a part of mutually supporting community: find a bug, go to a forum, find out how to fix it and pass the info on.

    Still there are good many distros that are easily installed, run perfectly out of the box, and have a limited number of packages that make them very functional. But out of this bunch, you’d have separate out those that eventually break after several updates due to some dependency problem. That leaves only a few that I think give WinDoze a run for its money.

    Oddly enough, none of these are ranked in the top 10 on Distrowatch. Instead, I see all the “cutting edge” distros that are way too buggy for the novice user (with the exception of Debian, of course).

    The point is that there definitely are distros that offer the same level of comfort that Windoze does, though why people are comfortable with that virus magnet, I don’t know. The problem is that they are lost in the shuffle among distros whose selling points are based on image and pointless eye candy.

    Comment by jahlen | April 27, 2007

  25. Quote : “Hey But what the Heck Linux people are self-absorbed pompous genius’s,..so much more clever than Gate’s crew”

    Hey you want to use Linux, use it ! Dont wanna use it - Don’t. Nobody’s forcing it down your throat.

    And as for self absorbed pompous genius’s - No they’re not ! Its Gate’s crew who are ! Linux is Linux, Windows is Windows. Please don’t use Linux thinking of it as a free windows O/S - Its not. Its a different O/S in its own right. The fault doesnt lie with the Linux OS but it lies with you not being able to scale up the learning curve.

    Linux has been desktop ready for years. Its people who haven’t been ready for the Linux desktop.

    Thanks,

    Andy.

    Comment by Andy | May 17, 2007

  26. Andy ^ “Linux has been desktop ready for years. Its people who haven’t been ready for the Linux desktop.”

    Beautiful

    I’m currently running ubuntu, my first real excursion into linux, starting allmost a year ago. I love ubuntu (especially with beryl), and i love the linux community itself. I’m running it on my laptop, and im soon to put linux on a desktop, im just deciding on a different distro and i may go with sabayon.

    Comment by PD | June 11, 2007

  27. Sabayon has its flaws yes but so does any other distro , what i love about this os is that if realy realy wnat to i rebuild the thing and increace its performance quit abit try that with slackware :) no its not perfect and need a lot of work but they are working :) adn they do have a mini version that fits on one cd :) again no distro is perfect , i realy like sabayon though and even spent money on it :)

    Comment by greywolf7 | July 11, 2007

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