Sabayon Linux is a remastered version of Gentoo Linux. I first took a look at it when I was writing for ExtremeTech, back when Sabayon Linux was in version 4.1. This latest release is version 5.0.
Gentoo, as you may already be aware, has long had a reputation for not being particularly friendly to folks new to it. Although it has shined as a distribution for Linux power users, it has sometimes scared away less tech-savvy users that might have found it somewhat intimidating to deal with.
Sabayon Linux aims to tame Gentoo and make it more accessible to non-power users and it largely succeeds at this goal in this release.
Note that Sabayon Linux is available in Gnome or KDE. For this review I went with the Gnome version.
What’s New In This Release
Here’s a list of the new stuff in this release:
Less than 2GB size (1.6GB for Sabayon5 GNOME x86)
Based on new GCC 4.4.1 and Glibc 2.10
Shipped with Desktop-optimized Linux kernel 2.6.31
Providing extra Server-optimized and OpenVZ-enabled kernels in repositories
Installer now available in multiple languages
Complete Ext4 filesystem support (used by default)
Complete Encrypted filesystems support (via dmcrypt, available in the Installer)
Featuring X.Org 7.5 and up-to-date FLOSS, NVIDIA, AMD video drivers
Containing GNOME 2.26 (2.28 ready) and KDE 4.3.1
Outstanding 3D Desktop applications (Compiz, Compiz Fusion and KWin) working out of the box
Bringing Entropy Framework (Package Manager) 0.99.3
Shipped with OpenOffice 3.1 productivity suite, Multimedia applications
Transform Sabayon into an full-featured HTPC Operating System (Media Center) using XBMC
Shipped with World of Goo Demo – best 2D game ever!
Sexiest Skin ever! (Ian Whyman rocks)
Requirements & Installation
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to run Sabayon Linux:
– an i686-compatible Processor (Intel Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Celeron, AMD K6-2, Athlon)
– 512Mb RAM
– 9 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)
– 1024Mb RAM
– 20 GB of free space
– A X.Org supported 3D GPU (Intel, AMD, NVIDIA) (esp. for XBMC)
– a DVD reader
The Sabayon Linux install is pretty easy, I’d rate it about on par with Ubuntu’s for the most part.
When you first start the installer you get the option of installing the regular Gnome desktop or Sabayon Media Center or Sabayaon Linux Fluxbox Desktop. I did not test the media center as I have very little use for it but you may want to give it a shot. The Fluxbox desktop environment provides a more minimalistic experience than Gnome or KDE and might be suited for those who are using older computers.
At one point during the install you will be able to pick which categories of apps you want to install and you can view the details of each category before installing. You can choose to install Office Applications, Internet Applications, Multimedia Applications as well as some Basic Free Games. Note, however, that you cannot pick and choose individual apps to install. You are limited to installing the entire category or not.
Desktop & Apps
When you first boot into the Sabayon Linux Live CD you’ll note that there is a song being played in the background. I think it’s “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” or something like that. I found this amusing but it did get old after a few minutes. Note that when you first boot into the Sabayon Linux menu you do have the option of loading the Live CD desktop without the rock music playing.
The Sabayon Linux desktop is black. Very, very black. You are either going to like this for its simplicity or you’ll probably change your wallpaper and otherwise customize it to suit your tastes. I personally found it a bit drab and I’d like to see a better default theme released for Sabayon Linux that has more energy and that gives this distro its own unique brand. Something similar to how Linux Mint has its own unique look and feel.
Note the Sabayon link in the Applications drop down menu. That link provides some great resources such as links to places to get help, downloads, documentation and even a Sabayon Shop.
You get a good selection of software with Sabayon Linux and here’s a sample of what you’ll find: