Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Sabayon Linux on the Acer 3680

You have to love the mobile telephone market. Well, at least in the Netherlands. Two years ago I needed to renew my subscription (the old subscription no longer being valid) and the search for a new provider left me with a 25 euro a month subscription, a Nokia 6310 cellphone and an xbox with two games (Project Gotham 2 and Fable). This subscription ended so I was curious what the current offerings would be. And, in all honesty, I am no loyal customer. I go for maximizing returns on my “investment”.

My online search brought me to GSM.nl. Ordering a new subscription directly with the provider only results in mediocre cellphone gifts, but ordering the same package through an intermediary brings in the harvest. One of the packages came with a laptop, either for free (very basic setup) or for 99 euro (Windows XP installed and a DVD+/- RW drive). Now, I don’t care much for XP and the drive is a bit expensive, but I decided to go for that option anyway. My previous laptop crashed some time ago (literally, falling from my desk) and this was a nice way to get a new one the cheap way.

The whole package (new subscription plus laptop) arrived yesterday and I am the content owner of an Acer 3680 now. The Acer turned out better than advertised: 512 Mb RAM (instead of 256), a 60 Gb HDD (instead of 40) and a dual layer DVD burner. It’s not a high-end machine with 1,43 Ghz Intel Celeron M and 64 Mb graphics card (shared), but it’s not mediocre either.

Like I said, I don’t really care about Windows XP, but for the sake of Agnes I left it on the laptop. The nice thing is that the Acer ships as Vista capable (yeah, right) and that I am eligible for an express upgrade to Vista once it hits the customer market. Now, that could be interesting.

Anyway, I had already decided to install Linux on the laptop and the choice was Sabayon Linux. Of course I was a bit worried since there have been issues over the years with installing Linux on laptops. Sabayon starts as a live DVD which made a test fairly simple. As before, the boot up was slow but in the end I had a completely functional Sabayon desktop with all the eye candy. The demo games (Quake IV and Cold War) would crash but that was to be expected. I decided to install Sabayon on the machine.

With the partition editor (gparted) the new Linux partitions were made and installing Sabayon doesn’t require a masters degree in computer science either. The anaconda installer is easy to use. The only question that could have been left out is the one about which desktop you want to install (KDE, Gnome, Enlightenment, Flux or Xfce). Whatever the choice, all five are installed by default. It could be a bug, but I don’t mind the whole kitchen-sink. About two hours later there was a complete Sabayon install, with Grub booting both Linux and Windows and the time to reboot.

And yes! It worked. Sabayon is not the fastest Linux to boot up, but once it is up it runs with a fair speed on this laptop. So far there are no issues. If the wifi is working I don’t know, since I don’t use wifi. The eye candy is soooo coooooool! It is a pleasure to work with the various environments. KDE 3.5.1 is a bit cluttered, the price you have to pay for wanting it all. Time to write a complete review of Sabayon. But… first continue with the book.

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