For my second review, I have chosen to review Sabayon Linux, currently at version 3.4. Sabayon is based on Gentoo, and is based in Italy. I have never used Sabayon or Gentoo in the past, so this was going to be a new experience for me. Historically, Gentoo is a more advanced system, better for more advanced Linux users, which left me with the question – will Sabayon be any easier?
Something that I had found interesting about the installer was that it allowed me to install different desktop environments. The three provided choices were 1) KDE and 2) Fluxbox and 3) a base minimal system, with no GUI. Note that in the screenshot, Fluxbox is noted as “geeky,” a good safeguard against new users accidentally installing the much more difficult window manager, Fluxbox. As a clarification, Fluxbox is a window manager, while KDE is a desktop environment. A desktop environment (e.g. Gnome, KDE) is a full-software system, with extra features that support a window manager, typically packaged with the desktop environment. A window-manager manages the everything to do with the program windows and the desktop, and relies on a desktop environment to provide advanced features. I decided to install KDE.
Sabayon’s LiveCD comes with a good number of applications preinstalled. Working with Sabayon was relatively easy, and many of the applications that came preinstalled were aimed at home users. Some, however, were meant for system administrators, rather than the average user.
The ease of use took a hit, as the package manager showed itself to be slow. In Portato (a front-end for Portage package manger), I got a strange message, stating if I updated my package list more than once a day, I would be added to a “temporary ban” list. That’s a heart-warming message for a user!
To top it all off, the package manager did not include a help manual, leaving me to try and figure out how to use the application. Here’s a screenshot of Portato:
The applications that came preinstalled in the Mini Edition include Firefox and Thunderbird, as well as many KDE applications. One of the software choices that stood out was the use of KOffice, instead of the typical OpenOffice installation. KWord, KSpread, and KPresenter of the KOffice suite were installed. There were also some QT (KDE is based on QT code) development applications installed.
Using Sabayon has been an interesting experience. On one hand, the system showed that a Gentoo-based system can be rather easy to use. On the other hand, the system has some rough or difficult edges. As you have read above, the main problem that I had was with using the packaging application. Here’s my rating for Sabayon 3.4 MiniEd.
Installation: 9/10 – Installation was extremely easy. I hope to see this pattern in Linux distributions that I review in the future. Those distributions who make installation easier help bring Linux further into the mainstream.
Ease of Use: 6/10 – As far as KDE is concerned, it was easy as usual, but the package manager was difficult to impossible to use, with no provided help file or manual. The program, according to the sourceforge site, also seems to be in the middle of development.
Graphical Appeal: 8/10 – The red theme looks good, although in my opinion, it’s a little dark.
Application Availability: 9/10 – The applications I was looking for were there, but to install them I had to use the command line. Not much fun, but about like using apt-get, which is another command-line package manager.
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Personally, I would recommend Sabayon for power users, since there was a good number of tools and controls, all tailored to help make the system your own. Sabayon is a very interesting distribution, and is definately worth a look, especially if you want to try out a Gentoo-based system, without the difficulty of installing Gentoo.
8/10 is my final rating for Sabayon, and it is one that the Sabayon has earned. The system, although not free of quirks, is still a good distribution. You can visit the Sabayon hompage to download either a LiveCD or a full DVD system. Also, there is a new version in the works, which which is already loaded with great new features and applications.