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Feature: Sabayon

Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

By Susan Linton on August 14, 2007 (4:00:00 PM)

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The Sabayon Linux live DVD distribution, based on the unstable branch of Gentoo Linux, has been in development for several years and caters to a wide variety of users. Having started out with a beautiful but mainstream appearance, it now boasts one of the most unique looks in Linux and more usability options than most other distros. The distribution offers premium open source games, accelerated desktop effects, a large and varied software suite, and several variations. Besides the full release, Sabayon also comes in a Business Edition and usually a Mini edition. With all it has to offer, Sabayon has something for everyone.

The Sabayon Linux 3.4 was released last month in a 4.2GB package available via FTP, torrent downloads, and direct purchase. The minimum requirements for the live DVD are an i686 processor and 256MB RAM (512 recommended).

Sabayon's boot screen offers users a variety of choices. Besides the options of language, keymap, screen resolution, and another menu full of other modes and options, you can pick:

  • Start SabayonLinux 3.4 -- boots the normal system, including accelerated graphic drivers and your choice of Compiz Fusion or Metisse (with supported Nvidia or ATI graphics chip).
  • Start without Music -- disables music during boot.
  • Anonymous Internet Browsing -- purports to enable anonymous browsing (see below).
  • Start Graphical Installation -- boots to Fluxbox and starts graphical installer.
  • Start Text Installation -- boots the system and starts console-based installer.
  • XsistenCe (Persistent Home) -- allows you to save personal configuration settings and files on a USB drive for future use.
  • Play with Sauerbraten (Game) -- boots directly into the game.
  • Play with Savage (Game) -- boots directly into the game.

All the options take a relatively long time to boot -- approximately three minutes on my system. During boot, startup music begins playing during the last stages, unless you choose the Start without Music boot option. After the boot process, the first screen to appear will be the Configure Accelerated Desktop options. Sabayon loaded my Nvidia drivers, but neither Compiz Fusion or Metisse would work properly on my machines. I also had trouble shutting down or rebooting Sabayon; it would hang more times than not.

Anonymous mode enables some privacy settings and ad blockers, but does not actually allow you to anonymously browse the Internet. The IP address, client, and referrer are given to sites as usual. A thread on the Sabayon forum states that this option works after a hard drive install, the installation of extra packages, and enabling it.

XsistenCe worked well for saving and letting me use all my settings and customizations, even when I saved settings on one computer and later booted on a different machine. To take advantage of this option, create a file named xsistence-mode on your USB drive and insert the drive at boot time.

Neither booting "Play with Savage" nor starting Savage in the normal desktop mode worked for me, although Sauerbraten worked well enough that I lost a bit of work time when I booted in that mode.

The hard drive install

I've had mixed results with Sabayon's installer in past versions. Users' chances of success have increased significantly since Sabayon switched to the Anaconda installer from the experimental Gentoo graphical installer.

The live system displays an icon on the desktop for updating the installer. After the update, the installer walks you through several configuration screens. There are four choices available: install, several upgrade options, rescue, and configure (reinstall or repair) bootloader; I chose to install. Sabayon asks you to choose a language and keyboard, and then a default desktop environment. I chose KDE instead of the alternatives -- GNOME, Fluxbox, and Core (which is a bare-bones install without X or a graphical interface). Next, you choose package categories: a second GUI, Advanced 3D Games, Basic Free Games, Multimedia, Office, and Internet. I chose them all. There is an advanced detail option, but it doesn't let you select individual packages; it merely lists the packages included the category.

Next, you select any services you might need from among Samba, CUPS, VFS, and Secure Shell. Then there is the disk partitioning step, which offers an automatic and manual option. I chose manual, as my disk is already partitioned, and I designated a 10GB partition for the install. Based on the packages I had chosen to install, Sabayon popped up a suggestion that I use 12GB. Not having a larger partition handy, I went back and deselected the Advanced 3D Games.

After selecting or setting up a partition, you must choose a filesystem. Ext4 is available in Sabayon this release, and I couldn't resist testing this new experimental filesystem. Another pop-up appeared, stating I'd need a separate ext2 or ext3 partition for /boot, as ext4 is not bootable. Finally I was asked to configure time zone, root password, and user accounts. It took almost 45 minutes for the installation to complete, but it finished with no problems.

The system

After the initial install, the first boot took some time while it ran first configurations and such, but subsequent Sabayon boots took only about 45 seconds. Compiz Fusion still did not work, but Metisse worked well. My clock was set wrong despite the install option, but I was able to fix it easily by relinking the /etc/localtime to the correct time zone; unfortunately there is no system-wide graphical configuration tool for this. My display was correctly configured, my touchpad was responsive and accurate, and the sound worked perfectly upon login. Sabayon ships with drivers for my wireless Ethernet chip, and the KDE Network Manager worked even with WPA security. CPU scaling (a power-saving feature) worked out of the box, as did suspend to RAM. I'm not sure suspend to disk is working, however, as the operating system appears to just be shutting down and restarting normally. I didn't see any of the telltale standard output, and the time required to restart is approximately the same as a regular boot. A battery monitoring applet is enabled by default and appears in the upper panel. Overall I was pleased with the hardware support for my Hewlett-Packard dv6105 laptop.

Sabayon Linux includes so much software it would take another article dedicated to that topic to describe it all. The developers provide software for just about any task, and sometimes several choices. The entire KDE 3.5.7 complement is available, as well as many popular KDE-oriented add-ons. Among the many bundled 3-D games you'll find Danger from the Deep, Nexuiz, Battle for Wesnoth, Torcs, Warsow, Second Life, and Flightgear, all of which worked well, as did multimedia offerings Amarok, VLC Player, SMPlayer, Manslide, LightScribe, K3b, Elisa Media Center, Democracy, TVTime, and X-Sane. I was able to enjoy any video or audio file format I tried. Want more? How about Evolution, OpenOffice.org, Firefox (with popular plugins), Pidgin, Skype, YaKuake, and the GIMP, along with less commonly found apps such as Wine-Doors, Google Earth, and Picasa. I did have trouble with Picasa freezing my system. Other desktop environments available include GNOME 2.18.2 and Fluxbox 1.0r3. All rest upon Linux 2.6.22, Xorg 7.3, and GCC 4.1.2. This is really only a small sample of the all the software included in Sabayon. A full install without the Advanced 3-D Games resulted in a system that took up almost 10GB of disk space.

You can add just about anything that's not included by using Portage, Sabayon's package management system. It takes a source package, sometimes adds Gentoo enhancements, and compiles it for your system as designated in the /etc/make.conf file. You may wish to review that file for your own tastes and add support for other applications for package builds. For example, if you wish to provide PHP support for Apache, you must list PHP or mod-php in your USE flags. This file is also where you designate your choice in architecture, including whether to use the stable or unstable branch of development. More information can be found in Gentoo's Configuring Portage documentation, and in advanced Portage Features.

As I said, I chose ext4 as my filesystem. This turned out to be an unwise decision. At one point I had booted the live DVD and mounted my new Sabayon partition, but failed to umount it when time came to reboot. The live DVD hung and froze solid during shutdown, as it has done several times since my testing began, and I had to hard reset the machine. As a result, my new Sabayon install became unbootable. On my next boot I was dropped to a maintenance shell to run fsck, but the damage was too extensive -- I wasn't able to save the install. The moral of the story is stick to tried and true filesystems. During my short time using ext4, I didn't spot any compelling improvements. The system didn't seem any faster, and obviously it proved not nearly as durable as more common alternatives.

Conclusion

I've done quite a bit of testing of Sabayon over the course of a week -- more than usual for a distribution review -- and I find it pleasing overall. It's stable and responsive, and I have suffered very few problems considering the vast size of the system and extensive volume of software. I was happy with the hardware support for my machines.

If you've tried Sabayon in the past and found it lacking, give this version a try. I'm glad I can finally give this derivative of my favorite distro a thumbs-up. I just may continue using Sabayon as my main operating system.

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.146.31.182] on August 14, 2007 05:43 PM
Nice review! Good amount of details.
I would class myself as an intermediate, beginner Linux user and I am always interested in trying out a Live CD of a Linux Distro, that looks promising.

As a Windows XP user also, I am looking for a Linux Distro that handles all the multimedia well, such as playing MP3's, DVD's etc. and be able to access the XP partition files automatically without any additional confiquration required.

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Re: Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 168.156.225.135] on August 14, 2007 06:10 PM
Sabayon is, more than likely, right in the ball-park for what you're looking for. The only caveat is that it's a little more difficult to maintain than some of the other distributions, being from source. If you've had experience with Gentoo, then that part will be nothing new... but EVERYTHING multimedia worked great on first install of Sabayon, Even my bluetooth!

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Re: Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.81.38.213] on August 16, 2007 05:50 PM
Trust me, Windows XP is pretty good. Linux still sucks on the desktop, especially this Chicken Leg Linux (aka Sabayon Linux). If you have plenty of time to waste try Fedora 8, Mepis 7 or Ubuntu gibbon (if you don't mind Gnome's dirty feet on your desktop).

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Re(1): Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.50.88.193] on August 29, 2007 04:18 AM
For someone who hates the work being done by a number of distributions, you sure know them pretty well. I use XP too but I don't go around bashing Linux distros. As a matter of fact, I have been very impressed with how far some of these distros have come. So impressed, in fact, that I am planning on making the switch and leaving that obscene company called Microsoft a distant memory.

.


btw, XP will stop being supported soon - no use trying to sell it. You'll need to buy yet another new computer and another Microsoft license to run it on that machine only. Best of luck with that.

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Re(1): Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.135.69.145] on October 22, 2007 09:34 PM
Oh hey! Mr. Ballmer reads these threads! Hi Steve!

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 168.156.225.135] on August 14, 2007 06:08 PM
Great review. I've recently had the same experience installing it on an HP Pavillion DV9000z... and it rocks! The Gentoo LiveCD wouldn't even get part way through an install on the hardware, but sabayon chewed right through it. Almost everything worked flawlessly from my NVidia card, all my networking including wireless, the bluetooth... everything. The only thing that didn't work was the ACPI Fan support... which is a serious issue. I'm still working on that, but the box-fan sitting in front of it for now is working great. ;)

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Sabayon Linux: Something For Everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.77.197.66] on August 14, 2007 08:37 PM
I have been using Sabayon GNU/Linux for 8 months, each of my two Hard Disks host Sabayon GNU/Linux 3.4, my secondary Hard Disk having been upgraded twice within 2 months. The performance hasn't degraded whatosever, in fact the performance has increased the more frequently I use the Operating System. Upgrading Operating System application software is somewhat unfriendly; a concern I have voiced, however Sabayon GNU/Linux Community values the opinions of End Users, and, unlike many other political distributions, of which include Ubuntu GNU/Linux, Sabayon GNU/Linux caters for whatever an End User may require and the Community has no qualms regarding the inclusion of propiertory device drivers, of which including NVIDIA ForceWare and ATi Radeon, to present a complete unattended Operating System configuration experience; Sabayon GNU/Linux is a perfect Linux Operating System for a new Linux User.

Sabayon GNU/Linux boasts a certain claim of featuring unparalleled hardware detection and configuration; each installation of my Operating System has yielded sucessful and I'm an ardent Sabayon GNU/Linux supporter.

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.111.22.174] on August 14, 2007 11:35 PM
Being a Sabayon beta guy, I am of course partisan to that distro, however, I am a bit concerned about the negative comment about Ubuntu. Sabayon's goals are the same as Ubuntu's in that they both strive hard to maintain a top quality Linux distro aimed at end users. Ubuntu obviously has a much much larger userbase to keep happy, and so it is much harder to please all of them, but they do please most. Sabayon has the advantage of having the solid source base of Portage and Gentoo, and its lead Developer is perhaps the best in his field and certainly the most talented as the distro reflects. He is mostly alone with Sabayon (props to Dark Mage) and considering the sheer size of the base plus all the new stuff he is working on, its really quite amazing what he has accomplished. That aside, Sabayon is THE distro of choice for those of us that just like everything to work out of the box, no hassle.

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.72.39.22] on August 15, 2007 05:46 PM
Well I look forward to seeing this distribution grow and do wish them them the best, but I couldn't get it to boot the livecd on my pc nor could a friend on his. With or with out accelerated graphix.
Alvin ka9qlq

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Chicken leg Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.81.38.213] on August 16, 2007 05:36 PM
I am not going to even look at this chicken leg linux unless they change their logo and fit their main distro on 1 CD

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.177.192.124] on August 18, 2007 03:16 AM
I must agree. Sabayon is definately awsome.

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Wolfger on August 18, 2007 08:22 AM
I think Sabayon has a lot going for it, not the least of which is a *beautiful* look. It's definitely the prettiest distro I've ever seen. Unfortunately, I spent over a week trying to upgrade all the packages in "world", and it was a headache. I never did finish upgrading (in 10 days!). Instead I moved on to try other distros. Not sure if upgrade hell is Sabayon's fault or Gentoo's, but it's Sabayon's responsibility to make things go smoother. If the problem stems from Gentoo, then Sabayon needs to evolve more and be less dependant on its parent distro.

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Re: Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 213.113.223.224] on September 02, 2007 02:27 PM
I do agree with you. I couldnt do a complete upgrade on the world file. Not even the system file. There were alot of packages blocked by each other. Finaly i made it work, after removing most of the packages.
I think its nice to have a distro that works, out of the box and is a bit more bleeding edge then gentoo. However Gentoo is the shit, no complaining about sabayon. But the devs of sabayon have to please to many people therefor includes to manyprogram, and the deps is messed up. In the install, you should have more options, like if you want a working setup, with a normal world file not all programs need to be included.

After 5 days of using this distro i removed the partition and returned to gentoo. A system based on gentoo, with portage, should naturaly be able to use the package management system like it was designed to do. emerge --sync and emerge world --deep --newuse needs to be working for the user to have a secure and good system.

However, it works out of the box so i understand that many people likes it.

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 122.167.88.73] on August 27, 2007 05:08 AM
pentastic

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 210.10.111.121] on August 30, 2007 07:35 AM
As a relatively new Linux user, I've been surprised in the variety you get with different distros, especially with hardware support. Sabayon (64 bit) is the first of the 5 different distros I've tried which has identified all my hardware and set it all up correctly. Big applause for that! Unfortunately, Sabayon 32 bit hung my system every time I tried to boot (surely must be the DVD), but, Sabayon X86_64 is quick, stable and graphically very impressive. Well done to the developers involved with it.

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PCLinuxOS is better

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 125.20.39.39] on September 06, 2007 10:35 AM
Your review is good but PCLinuxOS is the better OS compared to Sabayon. I went through http://pclinuxos2007.blogspot.com and was able to fully load PCLOS.

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 125.20.39.39] on September 06, 2007 10:36 AM
Your review is good but PCLinuxOS is the better OS compared to Sabayon. I went through http://pclinuxos2007.blogspot.com and was able to fully load PCLOS.

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Only few things

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 125.20.39.39] on September 10, 2007 02:25 AM
Yes I tried it. It has much to offer, but it's not as usable as PCLinuxOS.

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Sabayon Linux: Something for people with strange notebooks

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 124.90.86.78] on September 24, 2007 03:00 PM
I just installed Sabayon Mini on my laptop. I must say WOW. Everything works OOB and i mean everything.
Ok nothing special you may think. NO i have a very creepy chinese laptop named Haier w18 It has so strange hardware that even windows dont work propper on it.

With Ubuntu i got till now the best results...i had sound. But now support for my graphic card or my wireless.
On Sabayon everything worked perfectly. Ok there still some things where ubuntu is better even my Girlfriend grab now for the mouse to play with compiz so everything in one. Sabayon is a nice eycandy and has frigging good hardware detection

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 58.104.199.17] on January 04, 2008 10:52 AM
I have never contributed to any forums until now. It is only the excitement generated by Sabayon that has encouraged me to add to the above comments. I currently have installed on my computer (Antec NSK3400, Asus m2npv-vm, Athlon x2 3800+, Gigabyte 7600gs, 1GB Corsair ram 200 GB HDD 22" Viewsonic LCD) Kubuntu 7.04, Mandriva 2008, Mepis 7, Sabayon 3.4f mini. All of these work well on my machine. None had any trouble getting my hardware right. However, I ran into some problems when trying Ubuntu 7.10, Debian 4.0 (great but Kaffeine unstable), Fedora 7 and 8, Sabayon 3.4a (beautiful, but enough faults to ruin it for me), Freespire 2.0 ran well but in spite of its name it was really quite uninspiring. Changing KDE seemingly just to make it look diffetent seems silly to me. That is what annoys me about K/Ubuntu as well. I understand that keeping it simple (and bland) may help newcomers adapt to Linux, but if that is the case why not include things like a firewall by default? Then I tried Sabayon 3.4f mini and just love the look of it. (I know, it also doesn't have a firewall by default). I still had trouble installing guarddog (iptables was missing, but reinstalling it solved that. I make no claims to having special Linux knowledge but since I tried Mandrake 7.2 in frustration with Windows 98's problem with my motherboard (Abit KT7 raid) I have been involved in an ongoing search for the perfect Linux desktop (for me). Sabayon IS inspiring. It is a delight to use. I am willing to persevere with the problems I encounter with a new installation to get it how I want it, and with Sabayon the rewards are worth it. I still think, however, that a complete newcomer to LInux could well give up in frustation even with this wonderful distro, so there is a need to have someone experienced handy to overcome the initial hurdles and maintain their enthusiasm. The forums do help, but you have to be willing to spend (waste?) the time to uncover a fix for your problems. Not everyone is willing to do this, and it would be a shame for them to miss out on the adventure that is Linux.

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.146.8.48] on January 17, 2008 11:31 PM
hi i am new to linux. i am not tech wizard and was getting tired of windows as i not have control over my own computer. i think mr. steve and friends were spying on me? i not know much about the linux kernel an how computers work, but sabayon is easy for newbie. i like to play music video andinternet surfing not much else, but this is happening faster with sabayon distro. i also try open suse but it was having hard time with internet manager stop all of a sudden and don't know why. thank you for your article and i will continue use of this.
:)

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Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.106.63.69] on January 18, 2008 05:08 PM
Sabayon recognised my Edimax Wireless card EW7128G so now my desktop can go wireless, after trying suse fedora ubuntu pclinuxos , after a bit of tinkering around setting ip adderss to card everything worked, I have been a suse fan for ages but had no joy getting wireless card to work, ndiswrapper madwifi ,couldnt get them to work, thought wireless on linux was a myth. Sabayon rules....

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Re: Sabayon Linux: Something for everyone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 125.238.133.208] on February 24, 2008 11:09 AM
that is why i prefer sabayon, i have a bleeding edge intel and I want to play games using the intergrated video card, pclinuxos failed to give workable preformance, sabayon installed everything automatically and the i686 optimisations did my dual core a real treat. While in beta that I used proved more usable than anything else, i could do my work, run windows apps, use the best programs, (some crash without avaliable swap space?) compile my own darkplaces engine (enhanced quake1), mod it out, have a few rounds, save my work and save all my files and settings onto a 1gig flashdisk (hdd? peh!). Excellent. Looks good, runs well. Versitile and so easy to use your grandma can use it. Once the bugs are smoothed out this OOTB experience will be my only distro after testing distros for years and years. Thank you Sabayon! keep up the good work.

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