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Sabayon Linux 5

October 7, 2009
By

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)

Black is beautiful and the Sabayon Linux desktop is bathed in black.

Requirements & Installation
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to run Sabayon Linux:

Minimum requirements:
- 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

Optimal requirements:
- 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.

You can choose between Gnome, Media Center or a Fluxbox install.

You can choose between Gnome, Media Center or a Fluxbox install.

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:

Games
Blackjack
Chess
Gnometris
Mines
Nibbles
Robots
Sudoku
World of Goo (Demo)

Graphics
GIMP
OpenOffice.org Draw
F-Spot Photo Manager

Internet
Firefox
OpenOffice.org Writer/Web
Pidgin IM
XChat IRC
Deluge BitTorrent Client

Multimedia
Audacious 2
Brasero Disc Burner
Movie Player
Pulse
XBMC Media Center
DVD::RIP

Office
OpenOffice.org
Dictionary
Evolution Mail and Calendar

Use Sulfur to update your Sabayon Linux system.

Sound and Multimedia
When I tried to play my Superman test DVD, I got a message saying that the Totem Movie Player did not have the right plugins and I apparently had to download them. I tried to find the missing plugins in Sulfur to get my test DVD to play but was not able to do so.

I had no problem playing YouTube videos, however. The sound and video worked fine without me having to do anything.

When I tried to play my test DVD I got a plugin error message in Totem Movie Player.

When I tried to play my test DVD I got a plugin error message in Totem Movie Player.

Problems & Headaches
I first booted into Sabayon Linux 5 using VMWare. When I tried the install it hung on the disk partitioning and I was not able to get it to continue. So I switched over to Parallels and found that Sabayon Linux 5 booted faster and seemed to run much better in Parallels than in VMWare. The install completed successfully in Parallels but I was not able to boot into Sabayon Linux. The system hung after I restarted it.

So I did another install in VirtualBox. Thrice pays for all they say and the third time was indeed the charm as I was able to boot into Sabayon Linux without any problems. I had no problems running Sabayon Linux at all in VirtualBox.

Note that the install seems significantly slower than installing any of the versions of Ubuntu. I’d like to see it speeded up in future releases. If you decide to install Sabayon Linux make sure you have something else to do while the install proceeds.

I was also irritated that I couldn’t choose individual apps to install rather than entire categories of apps during the initial install. It seems to me that if the developers have gone so far as to let users choose categories of apps then it makes sense for them to take even further and allow each user to choose the applications to be installed within each category. I’d like to see this in a future release.

Pick the application categories you want installed on your Sabayon Linux system.

Pick the application categories you want installed on your Sabayon Linux system.

Where To Get Help
You can always post a note in the Desktop Linux Reviews Forum and we’ll do our best to offer feedback or at least point you in the right direction. You might also want to check out the Sabayon Linux Wiki and also the Sabayon Linux discussion forum.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Sabayon Linux is a good way for folks to get a taste of Gentoo without having to actually install or configure it. Just boot into the Live CD and you can play around until your heart’s content.

However, having said that, I think that Sabayon Linux is a slightly better choice for experienced Linux users rather than newbies. Newbies can and should play with the Live CD if they want to but it might prove better for them to go with Linux Mint or one of the other Ubuntus rather than try to use Sabayon Linux as their main desktop distro.

Summary Table:

Product: Sabayon Linux 5
Web Site: http://www.sabayonlinux.org/
Price: Free
Pros: A good way to experience Gentoo Linux via Live CD. Lets you choose categories of applications. Provides a good range of software. Also allows for Fluxbox, KDE, Media Center or Gnome installs.
Cons: Install is slow and Sabayon Linux didn’t work well in VMWare or Parallels. Only lets you choose categories of apps, doesn’t let you choose individual apps during your first install.
Suitable For: Intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Summary: Sabayon Linux provides an easy way for the curious to experience Gentoo Linux without requiring an install.
Rating: 3/5

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14 Responses to Sabayon Linux 5

  1. albfneto on October 22, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Sabayon 5.0 is a veru good Distro!

    easy, fast, high performance, by powerfull as the gentoo.

    Green, Sabayon is totally different of Ubuntu, and is a differente linux, also.

    Sabayon uses a special binary installer, entropy, that install gentoo binaries optimized for hardware architeture, but also may use the Portage, the installer of Gentoo, that automatically make their binaries from sources (compilation linux).

    therefore, sabayon is a binary-compilation Linux.

    Sabayon is my favorite Distro, i use Gentoo also.

  2. DW on October 20, 2009 at 5:39 am

    After hearing so much about Linux, I decided to give it a try a couple of years ago. I started with Ubuntu. It totally screwed up my machine. Maybe it was just me! I like the graphics in Linux and I like that you can configure it just about any way you desire. However, Linux DOES have its faults also just like Windows. What I don't like about Linux is that there are some programs that will not run on it. Programs that I HAVE to HAVE. They won't work on Wine either. So, Windows has its pluses and minuses also. Everybody raves about Microsoft and Bill Gates, well, if it wasn't for Bill Gates we'd all be using Mac's which, I guess is a good thing. Anyway, some hate windows, some like it. Some hate Linux, some like it. As for me, I'm going to continue to use both of them.

  3. Colonel de Guerlass on October 19, 2009 at 9:03 am

    " This is a INSTALATION’s review, not a DISTRIBUTION’s review":

    well, as most distributions are meant to be installed, that is rather logical…

    The exception is with live CDs/DVDs , as they are not meant to be *systematically* installed :

    I used Sab ayon 5.0 as a live DVD to unetboot (on a net"book"), and, though it had nice features (keymap selection, NTFS partitions are easily mounted) it is less easy

    *to add software (it seems illogical, but with a huge file | filesystem mapping /usr/local or /opt, it is often rather easy to recompile parts from source and to complete a live CD) and

    *to use than Scientific Linux liveDVD (some headers are missing in tcl/tk; KDE never crashed -in the case of Sabayon 5.0 and me- , but seems to have an irregular RAM greediness, with spikes; Scientific Linux asks you to choose a password every time you booot from its DVD, which might be safer than having no/a predefined password like Sabayon).

  4. SergiuC on October 10, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I've installed lots of distros, Fedora, Ubuntu, Mandriva, Slackware, LinuxMint, OpenSuse, and others, on VMWare, VirtualBox, Parallels or VirtualPC, and I must say that I found more problems installing on my PC than in a virtual machine, and generally, if I had a problem when installing in a virtual machine, on my PC there were even more problems. As for Sabayon 5, the installer crashed two or three times before I could install the system on my computer. After that everything was ok, but I can think of a few other linux systems wich are faster, and more configurable. But again, is a good distro and it worth a try.

  5. BlueJayofEvil on October 9, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Good review (albeit somewhat brief). Sabayon really sets itself apart from Gentoo with the Entropy package manager. This can be utilized by the "equo" command or through the GUI called "Sulfur".

    The speed of Sabayon has been an issue since before I first tried it way back during the 3.x series. It has come a long way in boot speed but installation could use some improvement, as you mentioned. And the package selection during install has been requested before, but likely requires a good amount of re-work and tweaking.

    Another thing I can't say I'm fond of is the boot song. I remember the 3.x series and its bold ambient music song that played. But that's just my personal taste.

  6. Jim Lynch on October 9, 2009 at 8:19 am

    go green and save energy wrote:

    I am not really satisfied with your review of sabayon 5…Actually i would rather like to see the review of KDE version of Sabayon as it is using the latest version 4.3.1 which is yet to see in a major distro….So it will be better to review KDE version in this review than a all familiar Gnome 2.26…..

    Another suggestion i’m having is you didn’t even mention the SOFTWARE INSTALLATION METHODS used in sabayon as it will be entirely different from ubuntu….i haven’t even tried a gentoo based distro yet…i’m very curious to know about the software installation methods used in sabayon(like ubuntu is having apt get,synaptic,.deb etc…)please update blog with one more page describing software installation method in sabayon….It will be useful for people like me…

    Another complaint i’m having is your blog lacks real content in review of distros…the only detailed review i have seen in your blog is the review of Linux Mint 7….other reviews are rather a copy of details given in the release notes of the distros and some wiki articles,which is used to fill first 3 pages of your review…These details can easily available from the distros website or from wikipedia,eventhough it will be useful to see everything in one site…if you are giving the above thing in your blog please dedicate ONE OR TWO PAGES EXTRA for more details like SOFTWARE INSTALLATION METHODS …

    please consider these things and please give update about software installation methods….

    Thanks for the feedback, I'll try to include more details about software install methods in the apps section of the review. As far as including what's new, etc. I think it's necessary to put it in the review because some folks might not bother to go to the distro's site to read it. All of that info should be included within the review.

    chickpea wrote:

    Well, thanks for the review, but it falls a little short in my book. First of all, installing in a VM is a little more advanced than beginner linux for starters, so bashing SL for being bad for n00bs but using it in a way that n00bs would not use it, is unfair. That aside, the KDE version has traditionally been better in many respects. You failed to mention anything about the full disk encryption which is a new option in the installer for this release (along with Ubuntu and Debian IIRC as the ONLY distros which provide this important option at install).

    For the previous commenter, Sabayon Linux uses Entropy (an in-house binary package manager). It is very slick on the CLI, if that’s your thing, also we have a GUI front-end sulphur which the review mentioned. SL does also theoretically work with portage and Ciaran’s package manager (can’t recall the name off hand), but such usage portage/entropy combined is HIGHLY dangerous for people who don’t know what the hell they are doing with portage and entropy. Entropy is on par with apt-get in terms of functionality and speed (although we would point out that in many respects it is better :P).

    I'll try to do more with KDE but I do lean a little toward Gnome. Can't help it, it's just more my thing than KDE. KDE is great too but we all have our own preferences. I'll bear your comment in mind though for future reviews of Sabayon Linux.

    CJ wrote:

    I too have to agree that the review more or less sucked! You completely glossed over most of the aspects that make Sabayon interesting. I’m an Ubuntu user but I’ve tried each release of Sabayon and find it to be a rather nice distro. As has been pointed out, reviewing a distro in a virtualized environment isn’t something a n00b is likely to be doing. Besides that I’ve found that most times a virtualized install introduces issues that aren’t present in a hard drive install.

    What would you have liked to be included in the review? Please be specific and I'll try to incorporate your ideas into future reviews.

    g wrote:

    This is a INSTALATION’s review, not a DISTRIBUTION’s review

    What would you have preferred to see included? Constructive feedback with detailed ideas is always welcome.

  7. CJ on October 8, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I too have to agree that the review more or less sucked! You completely glossed over most of the aspects that make Sabayon interesting. I'm an Ubuntu user but I've tried each release of Sabayon and find it to be a rather nice distro. As has been pointed out, reviewing a distro in a virtualized environment isn't something a n00b is likely to be doing. Besides that I've found that most times a virtualized install introduces issues that aren't present in a hard drive install.

  8. g on October 7, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    This is a INSTALATION's review, not a DISTRIBUTION's review :blink:

  9. Brian Masinick on October 7, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Wow, a lot of critics out there today! Perhaps a few of you should write your own review of Sabayan – which Jim welcomes, to get more points of view.

    I did try out Sabayan Live, and I tried the KDE edition. Considering the supposed fast Gentoo roots, I was not terribly impressed with the performance I got, especially since I am comparing it to a lot of distributions that I run the same way. What I'll conclude, rather than suggesting that the distribution is not any good is just comment that it is not my style or preference.

    It was OK booting, but probably 60% of the other systems I've tested have started up faster. In the KDE 4.3.1 edition, I got a number of error messages, which I believe were coming from the desktop search application, but I generally do not use that anyway, so other than the annoyance, they did not disturb me further.

    I am not a particularly heavy user of test systems either, unless I am specifically doing quality assurance testing, which is another matter. In this case, I just wanted to do a quick evaluation to see if this one would interest me or not.

    What I will say is that it browses fine, it will install the KDE 4.3.1 version in a Virtualbox OSE environment without any problems, and once loaded, it provides acceptable performance.

    Friends I know that have used Sabayon in the past seem to like the game collection; I am not a gamer so that doesn't matter to me, but for those who are, that may be one reason you would want to try out this distribution. Another reason might be if you like the Gentoo source packaging method, but you want an easier, more stable starting point, then Sabayon might be just the thing for you.

    For me, it's OK, but I'm more tied to the Debian way of doing things. Since Jim reviewed the GNOME version and I checked out the KDE version, they both work. I'd tend to favor the KDE release. sidux released a KDE 4 release, and with rolling upgrades, you can run KDE 4.3.1 on it, but this is the first release (Mandriva and Kubuntu are on its heels) that has actually released ISO images with KDE 4.3.1, so that may be another compelling reason for some people to try out this release.

    The Firefox Web Browser is the latest 3.5.3 release, and it works smoothly, even live and in a Virtualbox instance, so that is another positive.

    Thanks for the review Jim!

  10. Scott on October 7, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Got a fresh install going and updating now. Although the POP is still there, I did get sound configured right this time.

    Once great thing I like about Sabayon is the inclusion of neat softwares that may be hard to find elsewhere, like Google Chromium, Picasa, LaCie Lightscribe Labeler and such.

  11. chickpea on October 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Well, thanks for the review, but it falls a little short in my book. First of all, installing in a VM is a little more advanced than beginner linux for starters, so bashing SL for being bad for n00bs but using it in a way that n00bs would not use it, is unfair. That aside, the KDE version has traditionally been better in many respects. You failed to mention anything about the full disk encryption which is a new option in the installer for this release (along with Ubuntu and Debian IIRC as the ONLY distros which provide this important option at install).

    For the previous commenter, Sabayon Linux uses Entropy (an in-house binary package manager). It is very slick on the CLI, if that's your thing, also we have a GUI front-end sulphur which the review mentioned. SL does also theoretically work with portage and Ciaran's package manager (can't recall the name off hand), but such usage portage/entropy combined is HIGHLY dangerous for people who don't know what the hell they are doing with portage and entropy. Entropy is on par with apt-get in terms of functionality and speed (although we would point out that in many respects it is better :P).

  12. Scott on October 7, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I tried to sort out various issues with the KDE4 install. Sound continued to be a problem for my ECS 945G board as it was with 4.2. There is a really, really loud >POP< when the system is starting. Some apps, like Kontact, crash frequently.

    I have not booted in Sabayon 5 for some days, preferring the stability of my openSuse 11.1 day-to-day disk. Perhaps I should let it update and try to reconfigure the audio before giving up. It is indeed much faster than 4.2, and the artwork is great.

  13. go green and save en on October 7, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I am not really satisfied with your review of sabayon 5…Actually i would rather like to see the review of KDE version of Sabayon as it is using the latest version 4.3.1 which is yet to see in a major distro….So it will be better to review KDE version in this review than a all familiar Gnome 2.26…..

    Another suggestion i'm having is you didn't even mention the SOFTWARE INSTALLATION METHODS used in sabayon as it will be entirely different from ubuntu….i haven't even tried a gentoo based distro yet…i'm very curious to know about the software installation methods used in sabayon(like ubuntu is having apt get,synaptic,.deb etc…)please update blog with one more page describing software installation method in sabayon….It will be useful for people like me…

    Another complaint i'm having is your blog lacks real content in review of distros…the only detailed review i have seen in your blog is the review of Linux Mint 7….other reviews are rather a copy of details given in the release notes of the distros and some wiki articles,which is used to fill first 3 pages of your review…These details can easily available from the distros website or from wikipedia,eventhough it will be useful to see everything in one site…if you are giving the above thing in your blog please dedicate ONE OR TWO PAGES EXTRA for more details like SOFTWARE INSTALLATION METHODS …

    please consider these things and please give update about software installation methods….

  14. mr.solution on October 7, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Another outstanding release. I'll prefer you give try to this distro then you know its worthiness.The distro has everything for daily use or if you are a gamer then this distro will be ideal for you. A nice review on Sabayon can be found on
    http://distrolove.blogspot.com/2009/10/sabayon-li



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