8 Jun 2011

Sabayon XFCE: the story continues

My previous post was about Sabayon XFCE.
For those who did not read it and does not know what Sabayon is, I tell that Sabayon is Linux distribution based on Gentoo.
I got multiple comments for that post, and some of them looked very helpful. I could not help but to give Sabayon XFCE another go.
USB stick is in the port. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

WiFi: epic continues and ends

My main concern last time was about WiFi connection. My Compaq C300 laptop has famous WiFi card Broadcom 4311. Many distributions I have tried so far failed to activate this WiFi card. Sabayon failed from the first sight. I spent quite a lot of time trying to make this WiFi card working. And all time I failed.
Help came from very unexpected side. My blog readers help me from 2 different aspects. One of them gave me link to Sabayon Wiki page, dedicated to Broadcom 43** cards. This page advises to blacklist couple of drivers and then reboot.
Reboot? In Live mode it means to loose all the changes, including blacklisting.
Another reader gave me a clue about modprobe command. Actually, this command is also mentioned on Wiki page, but in relations to old kernel versions.
Anyway, I decided to give it a go. Few minutes of experiments, and here is solution. In order to activate Broadcom 4311 on Sabayon XFCE, I had to use command
modprobe b43
That is all! Solution is simple as 1 pence coin.
Although, I still have a question to developers: why do I need to run this command at all? Why can't OS activate my WiFi card itself? What does stop it?


Since I am online, I could do more experiments with Sabayon.
Connection of my external network drive was easy task in terminal. Command mount does in Sabayon what it usually does. Although, this time I had to use option iocharset=utf8 to get Russian characters recognised. The fact that mounting went OK proves that Samba client is included in the default distribution package.
I managed to mount my local NTFS partition last time, and I did not need any iocharset parameters there.

Audio, video and package management

Youtube videos staredt in Sabayon XFCE without need to install any Adobe Flash player. It is already included. The issue was in different place. Videos played OK, but without sound. Solution was found in very unusual manner. Sound was... muted by default. In order to unmute, I had to click icon with speaker on the bottom dock, and then add PCM item to the Playback tab. Both PCM and Master were muted. Unmuting them was an easy task from that point. Unfortunately, later I found that hardware buttons for volume adjusting are not working in Sabayon XFCE.
MP3 files also did not play, but for another reason. I already wrote that Sabayon XFCE comes without any media player included. My favorite VLC player was found in Entropy Store. Of course, first of all I had to update repositiories information. That process took significant time (I was writing other parts of this post in the meantime), but also put lots of pressure on my processor. Cooler fan worked hard since that moment. Entropy Store itself worked very slow after update too.
VLC player took lots of dependencies to activate/update, then requested licences to be accepted. For whatever reason VLC installation also included updates of Samba, XFCE , Python, Linux kernel and tons of other software, 412 objects in total. Not sure if all that was actually required, so behavior of Entropy Store in terms of dependencies is still not clear for me. I also tried to get other Media players: Mplayer and Audacious, but result was the same: list of dependencies was huge and included very unlinked items. I decided not to install any media player in this case. That's why I can't tell whether MP3 codecs are included or not.


Finally, I decided to search for the way to bring my own screenshot of Sabayon XFCE. DuckDuckGo (default search engine in Midori) gave me several links which seemed to be relevant. But click on one of them froze my system. The only button which responded was Power.


"Enough", told I myself.
I know now that Sabayon Linux is better than I though about it earlier. Some of the issues I had last time are solved.
But Sabayon still requires more tweaking than I would like to make. And it behaves itself quite strange way sometimes.
Does it mean I dump Sabayon? Not necessarily. I may come back to it later, but most likely with different desktop environment. KDE? GNOME? Guess or suggest!

Post scriptum

Small but annoying problem in Sabayon XFCE is absence of Ctrl-C combination. This combination does not [always] work. I needed to make right click of the mouse to copy text. Ctrl-V works OK. I am baffled.


  1. The spins ARE getting more love for the next release. (Sabayon 6) But the 5.5 spins, and certainly the XFCE spin, are marked experimental for a reason.

    Kind Regards,
    Joost Ruis
    Sabayon Linux

  2. @Joost Ruis:
    Finally I found a link which says that XFCE (and LXDE) spins are experimental.
    Unfortunately, I could not use either KDE or GNOME due to size restrictions. I wrote about this in my previous post.

  3. The Kde version of Sabayon works flawlessly pretty much all the time. Unfortunately having recently tried the E-17 version I know the same can't be said for their other versions. A good rule is unless you are using the Kde release never update the system as that will cause the loss of a lot of functionality if not crash the entire system. At least that is the case with the E-17 spin and probably true of the others as well.

  4. Chen Xiao-Long8 June 2011 17:07

    If you're running a distro with GRUB2, unetbootin can boot an iso image from your hard drive and add an entry to your GRUB menu. The next time you run unetbootin, it'll ask if you want to remove it.

    See here for more details: http://www.webupd8.org/2011/02/how-to-boot-iso-with-grub2-easy-way.html

  5. @Anonymous: The SL 5.4 and 5.5 E17 spins are also billed as experimental, and do require some effort in order to work smoothly. However, it is possible: I have an old laptop running SL E17 fully upgraded via Entropy and it works well. However, for newcomers to SL I recommend sticking to the KDE or GNOME editions.

  6. @Anonymous:
    Re-install, do not update unfortunately is true for many Linux distros.
    Maybe I am too lucky, but I had no issues when updated Kubuntu from 10.10 to 11.04, except for those which are unresolvable. I had few issues when updated (K)Ubuntu 10.04 to 10.10, but these were easily resolvable.
    Still... I prefer update.

  7. @Chen Xiao-Long:
    I read about this option of Unetbootin, but never tried to use.
    I am downloading KDE version of Sabayon right now. Stay tuned for updates!

  8. @Chen Xiao-Long:
    Unfortunately, it did not work. Sabayon starts to boot from local drive, but then falls over with error message:
    !!Could not find block device in .
    Please specify another value or: press Enter for the same, type "shell" for a shell, or "q" to skip.

  9. Chen Xiao-Long10 June 2011 02:35

    Darn... I'm also in the same situation as you. USB flash drive too small... I didn't have a chance to try Unetbootin yet. I'll see what I can do with a spare partition on an external hard drive.