Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

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 don’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.

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15 thoughts on “Sabayon Linux 3.2 impressions

  1. Hi,

    Nice review. Sorry to hear about the monitor detection. We’ve implemented the first migration of knoppix’s excellent montitor DCC program to help with better resolution detection. As you can tell, it needs some work. Please use the nodcc and res=*x* and refresh=* cheat codes. BTW, nvidia drivers incorrectly report the refresh rate, so that’s why it seems stuck at a low resolution. Feel free to report back on that on the irc or forums. 🙂

  2. Sabayon was big disappointment to me, I couldn’t get it to boot on any of my three computers. I tried serveral different boot parameters, but still no joy. In each case it could not find any bootable media (or something like that) and hangs on boot unable to find /dev/hdc. This was particularly annoying as i needed a recent distro with 2.6.18 to support my sata chipset. I am mystified why no one else is having problems. While Sabayon looks great in my case it was not worth the 24hr download. I ended up using Parsix 0.85, which is very polished and installed with no fuss.

  3. @cvill64: thank you Christopher. I hope it helps in convincing people to try out Sabayon and keep an eye out for it. I decided to create a new category in this blog and write about my experiences with the distribution as time progresses.

  4. @Manyon. It shows there is always a distro out there that suits your hardware and interests. However, it would be good to keep in mind that Parsix is a very localized distribution tailored at the Farsi speaking Linux users, leaning heavily on Kanotix. That is not to say that it is wrong, but to compare that to Sabayon is not completely fair.

  5. sabayon did not freeze at 75% because of the drive. It’s the distro’s problem. It did it to me as well. After ages of it being frozen i decided to reboot and do a text mode install. Choosing a repair/upgrade immediately crashed the installer. So new reboot and text mode install from scratch… (which had other issues, e.g. the 9 gig / partition was apparently not enough, but sabayon never informed me…)

    It’s not yet mature..

  6. @N K: I can assure you that in my case it really was the harddrive. The install on my laptop was finished without any issues. In general I have encountered freezing install processes across the board, both with Linux and Windows. Why? I have no idea. It could have been something as simple as a power spike.
    As to the maturity of Sabayon Linux I think the nature of the distribution should be an indicator. It is using bleeding edge applications in a novel way that is not yet found in many other distributions. For some that only adds to the charm, but it can result in unstable situations. I don’t mind playing with the newest of the newest, but for my production box I use a more stable, solid and -frankly speaking- boring Ubuntu Dapper Drake. I love working with Ubuntu but since it simply works there isn’t much to play with anymore.
    Sabayon is a showcase of what Linux is capable of and I am sure that much of what the team is showing us will find it’s way in more mainstream distributions over time.

  7. SABAYON ROCKS!

    Now that I got that out of my system, I just installed Sabyayon and I’m quite impressed, I haven’t tried a TON of distros, but I have tried the big ones such as ubuntu, opensuse, mandriva, pclinuxos, and gentoo. I got every one of those to work, but for some reason sabayon is the one im stickign with and i only see good things to come for this distro!

    Thanks for reading.

  8. Joachim on said:

    Hi,
    in my case, Sabayon installed flawlessly!
    I had suse and ubuntu before and was always too lazy for gentoo, so I gave Sabayon x86_64 a try.
    I have not been disappointed!! Great distro, very snappy!

    Joachim

  9. If you get a cannot find bootable media it means you probably burned it too fast for the isolinux bin file to handle well. As always, I would suggest burning at the slowest speed you can as this helps ensure good data being processed

  10. moonpappy on said:

    I simply LOVE Sabayon and have made it my distro of choice on all of my boxes. I did have issues with the DVD edition but all those disappeared with the mini edition (which I prefer anyway and just add what I want). Finally a workable 64 bit solution that automagicly supports smp, himem with a ton of working apps in the repos. Rockon dude, you’re my hero!

  11. Richard Davis on said:

    I have been using Sabayon since the RR4 days as my main computer and I have to say it is the best OS I have ever used. I regularly try most of the new releases on my test machine but have not been inclined to switch. I like this disto so well I did send cvill64 $15 by paypal and hope to make that a annual tradition. Thanks!

  12. well, what’s the use of jumbo pack that does not move. i am happy with my PCLinuxOS that gives just what i want. Try it!

  13. @ Manmath
    Consider yourself warned. I am okay with you trying to promote PCLinuxOS, but I won’t allow you to do that by spamming my weblog.

  14. i dont know how to get sabayon on harddrive i let disk load and it comes up and works i went omline with firefox it worked but i did not hnow how to turn of the computer so i shut it down with front panel buttin and turned it back on and it said load operating systom eror and did not load on my harddrive so could somboddy help me thankyou joe prickett

  15. Pingback: First impressions: Sabayon Linux Four Oh! | Ruminations on the Digital Realm

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