Sabayon Linux began life as a
binary shortcut to a fully working Gentoo system. Early experiences with
RR4 - Sabayon's original name - ranged from "nothing installed" to "data lost."
Fortunately, the developers never gave up and today Sabayon is a beautiful,
functional, and stable Linux desktop distribution.
Booting the Live DVD
Sabayon Linux is comparable to Mandriva or openSUSE in that it is a
large system aiming to meet the needs of a broad section of users. The
first evidence of this is seen at the initial boot of the live DVD, which
contains several modes of operation. Beyond the default choice that boots
with music into a highly customized KDE, one can also boot an EeePC mode
that provides the same KDE environment at a 640x480 resolution. You can
also opt to start the installation in either graphical or text
mode. You can also boot to an
anonymous web browsing mode that uses Tor or boot to play Sauerbraten,
a popular 3D action game.
With most of these boot modes, the user
is given the chance to enable 3D desktop effects with Compiz Fusion if their
hardware is supported. Besides the native Intel support, Sabayon comes
with NVIDIA and ATI proprietary accelerated graphic drivers. So, most
hardware is supported - if you do not mind binary blobs. Compiz Fusion
usually requires a beefy system, but
basic functionality was tested successfully here with 2.0 GHz processor and
512 MB of RAM.
Sabayon Linux 4 sports a tasteful new theme that starts at first boot and is consistent throughout. Gone are the gothic tones of 2.x and the gawdy bright blue of 3.x. The professional quality graphics feature gray tones with royal blue accents and is very easy on the eyes. This new theme reflects the maturity of the distribution and its developers.
Installing Sabayon Linux
It's during the installation that one can see further evidence of Sabayon's ability to meet the needs of many user types. First is the support for every language and keyboard available to Linux today. Further, there are choices which will determine the type of system installed. One can choose from several default desktops that include KDE 3.5.10, GNOME 2.24, and Xfce 4.4.3. These will result in the multipurpose system with the full complement of software and accelerated graphics.
For lighter systems, Xfce for UMPC and the Fluxbox minimal desktop are
offered. Sabayon Core can also be chosen which excludes any graphical
environment; it is well suited for server deployments. If a server is
desired, Sabayon includes software such as Apache 2.2.10, PHP 5.2, and
MySQL 5.0 in its repositories.
GParted, a graphical partitioning tool, makes partitioning easier by
allowing users to visualize the layout of their hard drives. By default
the full contents of the live DVD is installed, but packages can be deselected
individually if desired. The wizard also walks users through setting up
the root password, user accounts, networking, and boot options. Unlike
Mandriva and openSUSE, the Sabayon installer doesn't add other operating
systems that may be present to the GRUB menu. One significant change from
the previous release is the opportunity to install upon an Ext4 filesystem,
although,in that case, Sabayon still requires a separate Ext3 or Ext2 boot
partition. For the most part, it is a typical Linux install routine;
those with experience will have no difficulties, and those with no
experience should have very little.
The Sabayon Linux Experience
The new theme is carried over from the live DVD; it starts with the
boot-up process and remains through log in and onto the various desktops
including Xfce, Fluxbox, and LXDE. This level of continuity is usually
seen only in the larger commercial distributions and adds an air of
professionalism to Sabayon. In simple terms, it looks good.
Sabayon Linux ships with software for everyone as well. For work, for play, and everywhere in between, the Sabayon menus are overflowing with applications. For office tasks, OpenOffice.org 3.0 leads the way. For graphic work Picasa, Inkscape, Hugin, and The GIMP stand out among the many others. Multimedia applications include MPlayer, Ardour2, Elisa Media Center, Kaffeine, VLC, and Juk. For file transfer d4x, aMule, Filezilla, and Deluge are among the choices and for communications Pidgin, Skype, Ekiga, and Evolution are available. To surf the internet Firefox 3.0.4, Konqueror, Epiphany, and Seamonkey are at the ready. The extensive menu contains lots of KDE and GNOME games as well as several 3D games such as Nexuiz and Sauerbraten.
Aside from the expected, Sabayon offers some more unusual software too.
That includes BOINC, which facilitates distributed computing and replaces
Seti@home. Another is Second Life, which is a client for an immersive
Plus, there are several graphical programming environments such as Qt
Designer and lots of system tools such as KMyFirewall, KlamAV, Wireshark,
VirtualBox, and Wine-Doors. Sabayon comes with multimedia codecs and
plugins needed to enjoy video and audio either locally or streaming over
the internet. Linux kernel 2.6.27, Xorg 7.4, and GCC 4.3.2 form the
If by some chance you require something not included within the
installed system, perhaps it is in Sabayon's repositories. Sabayon
developers have been working for quite some time to perfect their new
package management system, Entropy. Entropy installs binary packages from
Sabayon's repositories rather than compiling the source like Gentoo's
Portage. The graphical front-end, Spritz, is nearly feature complete and
has options for the most commonly needed tasks - plus a few extra. Like
other package management systems, it has a search function to check
availability and status, update feature, and even a database backup and
restore option. Sabayon is reputed to be compatible with Gentoo Portage
emerge is an option on a very small
Linux hardware support in general is very good these days and most hardware is auto-configured. This is true for Sabayon as well, although it goes a bit beyond by providing proprietary graphic drivers and drivers for some of the more challenging wireless ethernet cards. It was quite refreshing to have the Broadcom 43xx in my HP laptop work out of the box. With standard dhcp networking, most internet connections should work without user intervention. Screen resolutions were configured as desired here, but graphical configuration tools are available as is the xorg.conf file that has begun to disappear in may distributions with the use of Xorg 7.4. Difficulties did arise when configuring a Samba shared printer due to some issues with Samba in general.
Overall, Sabayon Linux 4 was found to be an excellent release. Over the course of several weeks very few issues emerged. Firefox crashed occasionally on streaming video sites and the Samba issue was unfortunate, but no other notable problems were experienced here. Performance and stability were above average and, frankly, much better than expected. The new look and feel make using Sabayon a sheer pleasure.
Sabayon Linux 4-r1 was released on December 31 and comes in several varieties. The flagship four gigabyte DVD is available for 32-bit and 64-bit systems. A smaller two gigabyte Media Center Edition is also offered for those whose primary interest is in multimedia. Xdelta files are available for the main system as well. The files are available for download directly from an http or ftp mirror, through rsync or torrent, or from retail outlets.
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