7 Jul 2011

Bravo, Sabayon!

or Where Everything "Just Works"

Do you know what all my reviews have in common so far?
Argh, yes, you're right. All of them are about Operating systems. Mostly Linux, but also few about BSD-based.
Anything else?
Ok, let me tell you. I have tried many distributions so far, and have found none which works ideally for me from the very start to the very end.
Is there any ideal solution for me then? Sure, it should be! Linux world is so vast, and it is growing. It has to have a place which ideally suits me.
Today I will tell you about a system which worked for me almost ideally. There were no issues, apart from few very minor.
What is the name? You have probably read the title of this post already. This is Sabayon 6.0. It has several different versions, and my choice this time was for KDE.
I have written about previous version of Sabayon very recently, and you might notice that I was not very happy that time. Because that was a review of Sabayon 5.5 XFCE. This is experimental release, full of issues which were found by myself in big quantities, and even more are to be listed.
Opposite to XFCE, Sabayon KDE and GNOME versions are recognised as stable and reliable. I like KDE, that's why I chose KDE version for this review.
Image size for Sabayon 6.0 KDE is about 1.3 Gb. It means I cannot "burn" it to CD-RW or 1 Gb USB stick. My choice this time was for DVD-RW.
My usual guinea pig for writing reviews is Compaq C300 laptop. Occasionally I use Toshiba L500-19X. Which of those I tried today? Neither. Today's guinea pig is HP Compaq 6710b, which I have never used for Linux reviews before. This is Intel Centrino Duo 2 GHz laptop with 2 Gb RAM.
DVD disk is in the drive. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let's go!

Sabayon's boot menu has several options. This is not unusial as such. But WHAT are the options - this is more interesting. Sabayon 6.0 KDE can be booted as Music Centre, as netbook edition as... there are good half a dozen options. Most unusual of them can surprise unprepared people: boot without music. Why? Let's see.
I selected normal KDE boot and then understood why "no music" option is there. Music plays during system boot for quite a long time. It could be OK being it some classic melody or soft instrumental. But Sabayon features intro in hard rock. Some people may consider it unsuitable for their family ears or particular time of the day. That's why "without music" is for them.
Anyway, system booted itself relatively quickly.
Sabayon 6.0 has KDE 4.6.4 which is the latest version. Eeeek, sorry, not the latest. KDE 4.6.5 was released just today.
First what I have seen after boot was error message from KDE Daemon. It could not save some bookmarks. Quite clear why - Live system does not allow savings. But that message could be eliminated by developers, couldn't it? Yes, this is a bug. The one I wanted to tell you about. One of the few I found.
Sabayon (Zabaglione) is also
an Italian desert
Desktop wallpaper of Sabayon 6.0 KDE reminds theatre scene with curtains. Good idea and realisation. If you don't like this wallpaper, then you can use any other, including few dozens included into the distribution. Some of them are KDE-generic, some of them are from Sabayon team. All of them are pretty nice, but I kept standard one.
My temporary guinea pig laptop has WiFi card Intel 3945 ABG onboard. It was found and activated automatically. All I had to to was to enter the security key for my network. I had a little adventure here. Entering the key in network configuration activated KWallet which asked me about configuration I want to do for this tool. I did not want to do any configuration and use KWallet at all, but the issue was that KWallet appeared on different desktop. Maybe because I was not attentive enough, or maybe because Sabayon has not very good contrast of colors on taskbar, but I did not notice new window and started complaining to myself about inability to start network. Anyway, I write this off to my inattentiveness and do not name it even "minor bug".
Few keytrokes to configure connection, and I am online.
Yes, that was an easy task. Intel chipset is not as difficult to make working as Realtek or Broadcom. Just to feel the different, I tried same DVD-RW on my Toshiba laptop with Realtek 8191 WiFi card. And it failed to work. I followed guide in Sabayon forum. It required me to download couple hundred megabytes, but still no luck.
Sabayon 6.0 continues tendency which I (not alone) noticed in recent versions of distributions. More and more systems have Chromium as default Internet browser. Sabayon also has Chromium. I am more than happy about this, because Chrome and Chromium are my favourites. I use Firefox 6 (alpha) sometimes, but it still lacks some features which Chrome does have and which I like. Other than Chromium, Sabayon has some KDE-native internet and network tools: Akgregator, Kopete, Konversation.
Sabayon also has KNetAttach which should be used for mounting network devices. I may be forgot something, but in my memory this is the first case when KNetAttach mounted folder on my external network drive, and did it absolutely correctly. Russian characters were shown OK in Dolphin. Files started from network drive (smb://....) without being copied to local computer first.
By the way, as long as KNetAttach works with network folders, this means Samba is already included into default Sabayon distribution.
Sabayon is also prepared for some office work. It includes extended version of LibreOffice. I mean version with database and even with HTML editor (LibreOffice Writer/Web). I have not tried latter yet, maybe should give it a try to compoze a post or two.
What is also nice in "Sabayon LibreOffice edition"? I like splash image with same style as Sabayon default wallpaper, i.e. same colour schema and pattern. Just another reason to keep default wallpaper.
What surprised me to some extent is absense of Kate in default set of applications. Although there is KWrite and installation of Kate itself is not a rocket science.
Sabayon is not very reach in graphic-oriented applications. Same LibreOffice presents here as LibreOffice Draw. There are several viewers, scanning program and screenshot tool. This screenshot tool (KSnapshot) is not automatically called when Print Screen button is pressed. Quite unusual for KDE. And I would consider this a minor, but still annoying, bug.
For those users who have some spare time, there are several games included in default package. I am not from this part of population, so skip to next paragraph.
Sabayon 6.0 KDE screenshot
Whole part of main menu is called "Sabayon". This is a section where you can find links to Sabayon-related resources: download locations, Git repos, Bug reports etc.
Multimedia section of menu includes Media Center (this is one of the options at the boot - to load as media centre), Clementine, VLC. Because of the latter, I could suggest that music files should be played out of the box. And that is true! VLC is default player for MP3 files, and double-click on file's name starts playback. No hassle, no issues. Just click-and-play.
Youtube also starts out of the box. It means that Flash comes as default too.
You see, Sabayon 6.0 comes almost fully packed with software. It is kind of different from what I have seen in Sabayon 5.5 XFCE. I can write it off to distribution size (5.5 XFCE is well under CD size) and to early stages of Sabayon XFCE readiness.
Do you want to have more software? Entropy Store is your guide for more applications. When I started it in Live mode, I got a message about performance after installation in Live system. That is better to be informed than just to be slowed down, as I was in Sabayon 5.5 XFCE.
Usual suspects? All here: GIMP, KOffice, Firefox, Skype. And even Qutim - messenger which support Mail.Ru Instant Messenger (MRIM) out of the box! They are all listed in Entropy store.
Entropy store works very quickly when searching for packages. I was amazed with the speed. It is times faster than, say Ubuntu Software Manager.
Yet another feature of Entropy store is voting. You can see rating of applications. It is similar to Android Market, if you ever saw it.
Just to give Entropy store a go, I tried to install Qutim, and it worked fine. Though, strangely enough Qutim in Sabayon comes withoug MRIM protocol which is the reason for me to prefer this messenger. Installation itself took significant time. Because of Live version and performance? Or because of Gentoo-specific required compilation? Not sure.
Sabayon, like many other distributions, comes with US English keyboard layout by default. You can see flag on the panel from very start, which eases configuration - simply right-click on the flag, no need to search for configuration utility in menu. Configuration itself is very simple and standard for latest version of KDE. Few clicks, and I have 2 layouts active - UK English and Russian. Switching them with Ctrl+Shift works just fine.
Sabayon 6.0 KDE works with quite good speed, even when booted from DVD. And that is very important from my perspective. Basically, if you don't need to save your configuration and data and happy with default package (I would say I am almost happy), you may run a system from Live DVD without major performance issues.

Jeff Hougland wrote once: Sometimes I just want my Computer to Work! Of course, that phrase had some context. But in general, we all expect our computers to be tools which work without much efforts to tune them.
Is it true for Sabayon 6.0 KDE? I would say so. Yes, there are very few minor issues which I noticed while preparing this post. But generally speaking the system looks good all around. It is very well formed, prepared and presented.
Bravo, Sabayon!

PS. Of course, when we're not talking about "difficult" hardware.

Useful links:
One more review of Sabayon 6.0 KDE from Prashanth
Another review of Sabayon 6.0 from Desktop Linux Reviews


  1. Are all codecs installed by default or do we have to install them manually? What about installing Truecrypt?

  2. @Anonymous:
    Codecs are installed by default. As well as Flash.
    Not sure about Truecript. But it should be in repository.

  3. I've recently become irritated enough by Ubuntu's new Unity desktop that I decided to look for a new distribution. And while I'm at it I'm also trying other desktops and like KDE very much. And judging by your review here I should also take Sabayon for a spin.

  4. @Simon:
    I have also been screwed by latest Ubuntu and Kubuntu. Not that I dislike Unity, because I mostly used Kubuntu. But I decided to quit.
    I tried few distros, and made a decision to switch from Ubuntu and Kubuntu to Mageia and [yet to be revealed]. I would consider Sabayon probably too. But have a look at Mageia as well.

  5. Glad you liked Sabayon 6 KDE.:). I read ur previous review on Sabayon 5.5 XFCE and was pretty disappointed coz it concluded more like "stay away from Sabayon altogether".
    I use the GNOME edition on my laptop and it is snappier than Ubuntu-based distros while being eye candy. All the drivers (incl. NVIDIA are installed automatically). Additional softwares many of which are not in Ubuntu or Debian repos (e.g., JBoss AS) are in Sabayon.
    Looking forward to other reviews,

  6. @Anonymous (Harry):
    This review is positive because I used another laptop with "easy" hardware. I wrote small remarks about what happened when I tried Sabayon on "difficult" hardware. But decided not to change tone because of that. 8-)

  7. I've tried Sabayon while ago, but then I went to Gentoo, and used it for a while. The problem is that it takes to much time to install any new app in Gentoo.

    I do not know why I prefer the roots over the forks, I mean Debian over *buntos, Gentoo over Sabayon.

    But I will add Sabayon to my list of future tests. I already have Mint there. :)

  8. @Guillermo Garron:
    If you knew how big is my list! 8-)
    Mint though is not "root" either...

  9. Well, I can't say that Sabayon turned to be easy for handling by me...But anyway, I'm now starting to learn how to work with it on Linux and thus, thanks for the post very much)