The last time I looked at Sabayon Linux it was up to version 5, this time around it’s version 6. Sabayon Linux is based on Gentoo and, as you may already know, Gentoo has not always been considered the easiest version of desktop Linux for non-technical users to install and use. Sabayon Linux does a pretty good job of making Gentoo available to those who simply want to install and use Gentoo without having to roll their own or otherwise deal with Gentoo’s potential headaches.
Sabayon Linux comes in a number of different spins including GNOME and KDE. For this review I’ve installed the KDE version. Note though that there are other spins including SpinBase, CoreCDX, ServerBase and OpenVZ. Most desktop users will probably want to simply opt for the GNOME or KDE spins rather than the others.
Here’s some additional info though about the other spins for those who are curious:
SpinBase is a very minimal environment that can be used for many different purposes: didactical, home server deployment, but even for custom Sabayon ISO images creation, using our tool called Molecule). Any Sabayon release we make is based on SpinBase.
CoreCDX instead, is geared towards very minimal graphical environment setup, no fancy tools, browsers, whatever, just Fluxbox and command-line. You set the rule.
ServerBase is very similar to SpinBase, but powered by a server-optimized Linux kernel (package: sys-kernel/linux-server)
OpenVZ is our official OpenVZ template.
All of them have a smaller footprint making them fit into a single CD, or USB memory sticks.
SpinBase and ServerBase are provided with a very minimal Anaconda Installer and CoreCDX should be preferred for non-standard filesystem/partition layouts.
What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:
Linux Kernel 126.96.36.199 and blazing fast, yet reliable, boot
Providing extra Server-optimized, OpenVZ-enabled, Vserver-enabled kernels in repositories
Natively supporting btrfs filesystem
Completely reworked artwork and boot music intro, thanks to our little Van Gogh (Ian Whyman)
Improved theming for 16:9 and 16:10 widescreen monitors
Transform Sabayon into an full-featured HTPC Operating System (Media Center) using XBMC
Entropy 1.0_rc10, bringing outstanding speed and reliability. Entropy Store (Sulfur) went through a massive speed rework. Entropy Web Services foundation library has been introduced in order to support User Generated Content contributions in a more powerful way, bringing our Package Manager in the Social Internet age. Added support to delta packages downloads, parallel packages download, differential repository update through simple HTTPS protocol
Several Sabayon Installer improvements, especially with dealing with crypt, LVM and swRAID environments
Added a non-intrusive firewall tool called “ufw” and its frontends for GNOME and KDE
X.Org Server updated to 1.10
Sane Desktop Compositing now enabled by default
Switched to IcedTea6 as bundled Java VM
Switched to jpeg-turbo library, boosting JPEG images rendering speed
Switched to LibreOffice 3.3.3
Switched to Chromium/WebKit as bundled Web Browser
Split nvidia-drivers and ati-drivers into userspace and kernel modules, improving reliability over kernel migrations
Updated to GNOME 2.32.2 and KDE 4.6.4
Updated to GRUB 1.99
Introduced the “kernel-switcher” tool, to easily switch between available Sabayon Linux kernels
Python toolchain updated to version 2.7
Updated to GCC 4.5.2
Dracut and Plymouth ready (expect them in Sabayon 7)
Thousands of updates and bug fixes that flew in, during these last 4 months
We’re still here! (it’s a feature), only thanks to your donations, please keep donating, donate now!
There’s obviously quite a bit of new stuff in this release. Much of it isn’t necessarily obvious to most desktop users, especially those new to Sabayon Linux.
I’m very happy that LibreOffice 3.3.3 is now included as the default office suite. I’ve been using LibreOffice for a while and it’s shaping up nicely.
I am also glad to see that Chromium is the default browser rather than Firefox. I still like Firefox but I’ve found myself gravitating toward Chromium for a while now and it seems that many distro developers are moving in that direction too. Firefox is still available to install if you want it though, so no worries there.
GNOME and KDE have both been updated in this release. I’m glad to see that the Sabayon developers did not use GNOME 3, given what a mess it is right now.
Hardware Requirements & Installation
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:
Minimum requirements (aka, we don’t underestimate them, like everybody else does):
An i686-compatible Processor (Intel Pentium II/III, Celeron, AMD Athlon)
512Mb RAM (GNOME) – 768Mb RAM (KDE)
8 GB of free space
A X.Org supported 2D GPU
A DVD reader
A Dual Core Processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or better, AMD Athlon 64 X2 or better)
15 GB of free space
A X.Org supported 3D GPU (Intel, AMD, NVIDIA) (esp. for XBMC)
Installing Sabayon Linux is on par with installing Fedora (they use the same installer, though the install is slightly different in terms of steps). The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.
Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:
The Sabayon 6 desktop contains 3 icons: Donate to Sabayon, Entropy Store (software management) and Get Live Help. The wallpaper is dark and subdued for the most part.
Since this spin uses KDE as its desktop environment, I switched the menu to the classic version. The sliding menus drive me crazy after a while. I recommend that you do so if you find yourself irritated by them. Just right-click the kicker button on the panel and you can easily make the change.
Navigating the application menus, etc. is easy and everything is where you’d expect it to be.
You can access the Desktop Theme choices by pulling up the System Settings tool. There are a few other choices if the default theme isn’t to your liking.