Sabayon, the Gentle Gentoo

Posted by jun auza On 9/19/2007
Sabayon, the Gentle Gentoo: Gentoo, formerly known as Enoch Linux is one of the pioneers among the Linux distributions. It is well-known and loved for its speed (the Gentoo species is the fastest swimming penguin), and hated for its unfriendliness with Linux newbies. Thus, many flavors of Gentoo have been created including this highly capable one named Sabayon.

Every now and then, I’m searching for a perfect Operating System worthy to replace my OpenSuse 10.1. I have chosen to try out Sabayon Linux as I have already used Gentoo before and was quite impressed with it. I downloaded the Sabayon x86 3.3b Mini Edition live CD then installed and tested it via VMWare Workstation. So here is my own view and assessment of this distro:

Test Machine Specs:
Board: Intel D101GGCL
Processor: 3 GHz Intel Pentium 4 with HT Technology
Hard Drive: Samsung 80GB with 10GB allocated to VM disk
Memory: 1.5GB 400 MHz DDR with 512MB allocated to VM memory
Graphics Card: On-board

Sabayon is made in Italy and created by Fabio Erculiani. He named it after an Italian dessert called Zabaione. The reason behind this tasty name is yet unclear but Linux users’ appetite for Sabayon can’t be denied as it is currently ranked number 5 on Sabayon’s main aim is to transform a computer into a powerful Gentoo Linux system in less than 5 minutes.

The link to the download site for Sabayon Linux is here. There are variety of installers to chose from which includes the DVD and Mini Edition supporting processors with 32 and 64 bit architectures. However, I would recommend the DVD for beginners for a reason that I will disclose later on. Anyway, the installation on my VMware System using the Mini live CD was completed in about 15 minutes with a unique feature that will let you update the installer before you start. Thanks to Anaconda, only few easy steps were necessary for the installation. It would have been a different story if it was done in an old Gentoo way. After the installation, it rebooted smoothly with all virtual hardwares detected. The audio, floppy, cdrom, ethernet, and usb controllers are working well.

Look and Feel:
Sabayon is short of being artistic in this edition. Most themes and wallpapers included are part of KDE by default. They could have added a few extras. Though I like the default Sabayon theme, I'm not that much of a KDE fan. The only good part is that it comes with Beryl which can be easily enabled. So if you have a capable video card, then you are just a few clicks away to eye-candy insanity.

Package Management:
Now here's the sad part for the newbies; The mini edition doesn't come with adequate software applications installed off-the-shelf. There's no Gimp, AbiWord and OpenOffice, just to name a few. Even though you can use a graphical portage package manager with a funny name called Kuroo to add or maintain software in Sabayon, it is not as easy as you think compared with say Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS, or OpenSuse's package management systems. That is why I'm recommending the Live DVD installer for beginners because it is pre-installed with plenty of useful applications to choose from for free, of course.

Gentoo is considered one of the most stable if not the most stable distro ever. I was not surprised that Sabayon Linux inherited its quality. Though I have not tried Sabayon long enough, I can already say that it can be reliable for a long period of time based on the initial tests I made which includes running several applications simultaneously and probing its hardware support. In addition, I was also very amazed with its speed. It is very fast indeed, with a start-up loading time faster than any other distro I've seen so far.

Sabayon is certainly not for everyone. But because of its quality, versatility and many advanced features, it is undeniably worth a try. I would recommend Sabayon to Novice users and to those who are bored with their Ubuntu or PCLinuxOS distro. But for experts or advanced users, you may also utilize Sabayon as a Linux web server.

To those who are just migrating from Windows to Linux , in short extreme newbies, don't ever think of touching it. Sabayon may sound sweet, but when tasted it could lead to a bitter experience.

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