Sabayon Linux 3.2 impressions
I was very impressed with version 3.1 of Sabayon Linux though the ethernet problems on the laptop were a bit disappointing. Version 3.2 has hit the internet and I was eager to give it a test run on my regular desktop. Before I wrote that Sabayon Linux is an amazing showcase of what Linux is capable of in terms of eye candy and breadth of applications. Well, 3.2 is even better, way better and the team is making serious headways into making it more accessible to casual users who are thinking about switching to Windows Vista. Sabayon Linux 3.2 screams NO to all of them.
The distro website has enough information to satisfy the geeks, nerds and techies among us. A quote:
- Massively reduced boot time thanks to the integration of UnionFS and the parallelization of some time consuming boot tasks. Really improved hardware support: new drivers added, strenghtened USB Scanner support, initial implementation of NVIDIA legacy drivers infrastructure, enhanced ATI drivers support, JMicron ATA support, AM2 NVIDIA mainboards support, and a lot, lot more.
Massively improved Sabayon Linux Installer speed and reliability (3x times faster).
2GB squashfs limit broken, this means more applications (a lot), complete localizations support (all the language packs available have been included).
New Accelerated Desktop infrastructure for easily manage your Beryl-powered PC.
New KDE KickOff menu integration.
New artwork and new OS theme
- End of quote.Well, if Sabayon was not lacking in one thing, it was lack of applications. Under KDE that left us with a very cluttered menu structure. Gnome already had the Vista like programs box and now KDE has moved to that interface as well. The KDE is now a box that slides to the next level in the menu. Beautifully done, but I do hope there is an option to use the traditional panes as well.One downside to the live DVD option: it only allows up to 1024×768 with 56 Hz, which is a bit on the low side for a GeForce N6200 card that is flawlessly recognized. (I know more is possible with the proprietary driver that is included. The inclusion of proprietary drivers and codecs might not appeal to the Linux purists, but it does make live a lot more fun.) Also because of this the default KDE desktop appears cluttered and full. The Sabayon team delivers you a desktop complete with various shortcuts, that -in my opinion- ruins the first impression a bit.Booting the live DVD does feel a bit faster. Most of the time seems to be lost on the OpenGL configuration. Sabayon doesn’t automatically fire up with all eye candy guns blazing. Nope, it kindly asks you if you would like desktop acceleration enabled, either with the AIGLX option or the XGL option. The good thing is that it also explains both options. When choosing the AIGLX option the Beryl 0.1.2 flash screen appears. Translucent screen, ghost in the bottle minimizing, the rotating cube, it is all there and extremely fast. Too fast for the KDE menubox that first appears and minimizes in a split second. The graphical effects are stunning. What’s the use of seeing the shadow of your mouse cursor, or the shadow of the 3D rotating Windowslike hourglass. None of course, but it looks amazing. Eye candy is not about functionality, it’s about it being a pleasure for the playfull eye. The things that scream into your face that playing with computers was supposed to be fun. And all that on hardware that Vista considers mediocre at best.The next step, of course, is to install Sabayon on the harddrive. The previous version took it’s time, but the team promises some serious improvements here. Let’s give it a spin. The install on disk icon is easily found. The all to familiar Anaconda installer appears. I used an older 40 Gb harddrive for this install, one I use regularly to install new distributions. In this case it recognized a previous install, but I decided to go for a clean install and leave it up to Sabayon to setup the partitions. Exactly, the same route a noob user might take. And yes, the install process is faster than before. Installing all files on the harddrive took about as long as packing my suitcase for the weekend off (well, I am slow packer and travel heavy on tech gear, but still…). It took less than an hour to finish 75% of the process.
Why only 75%? At that moment the harddrive decided that enough was enough. The whole thing froze and nothing worked anymore.
For first impressions I had seen enough of Sabayon Linux 3.2. It is a massive improvement compared to the previous release only a few months ago. Personally I am not keen on the “scratch an itch” distributions, but Sabayon does not fall in that category. It is a bleeding edge release for the spoiled desktop user. Who should be interested in this distribution? First, it is a very interesting release for Windows users who love the eye candy and have been playing with Vista transformation packs for months. They will see that you don’t need Vista to get a solid desktop environment with all multimedia functionality you will ever need. Heck, Sabayon is more stable with all the eye candy than Windows will ever be, especially with the likes of Window Blinds enabled.
The distribution is also fun if you have never played with Gentoo before and donâ€™t want to bother with compiling your complete system. Sabayon is based on Gentoo and gives you access to all that Gentoo has to offer. In that sense Sabayon can do for Gentoo what Xandros, Linspire and Ubuntu did for Debian: to make the powerhorses of Linux available to the masses. This distribution is no competition for the likes of Ubuntu or Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop, since it focuses on a completely different market. But Mandriva and Fedora Core might very well feel the heat soon.
Now I just have to start digging up another harddrive…..
If you like to read about all on my Sabayon experiences, just follow the blog thread The Sabayon Linux Showcase.