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A Look at Gentoo based distribution Sabayon

So, I’ve mentioned in a previous article that I have been known to distrohop (read: change distributions often) and I decided that I wanted to try something different; again.

I’ve used Sabayon many years ago, probably around eight, and so I thought perhaps it was time to revisit it and see how it goes.

What is Sabayon?

Sabayon Desktop

Sabayon is a binary based distribution based on the source based distribution Gentoo. In English that means that the developers of Sabayon built a distribution off of Gentoo that no longer has a primary focus of building packages strictly from source, but rather, has it’s own repositories of packages that have been precompiled and are available for download through a new package manager they call Entropy; so even users who are new to GNU/Linux can use Sabayon without the steep learning curve of Gentoo.

Why would they use Gentoo for a base?

Why not? Google did when they made their Chrome OS for Chromebooks. Gentoo is a very powerful system, and behind the scenes the Entropy package manager still deals with the Portage package manager through some overlays,

  • “Overlay: We have our own Portage overlay for ebuilds. Ebuilds are script files that contain instructions for the Portage package manager on how to install the package from its source code
  • Performance: We have modified the Portage make.conf file in order to ensure that our distribution will run at higher speed on newer computers and as fast as possible on older computers.
  • Variability: Again, we have modified make.conf in order to cater to a wide spectrum of hardware, using the x86 and amd64 (x86_64) processor architectures.
  • Entropy: We have a binary manager that can be used as the one, unique package manager. It functions also with Portage so that you can use them both if you are an experienced user. The Entropy binary packages are ready-built and can be installed immediately without the need to compile anything from the source code.
  • The main branch of Gentoo is considered Gentoo stable. Sabayon is based on Gentoo's testing branch.
  • Sabayon has different versions ready for quick and pain free installation. The Gentoo installation is done from the ground up, relying on you to make all the configuration choices.
  • Gentoo has use flags. Sabayon will ignore use flags when using Entropy, but will apply the use flags when using portage.

Users of Sabayon have the option of using it as a binary based distribution, or opting to make use of the Portage source system and essentially just have a Gentoo build. You also CAN mix and match and create a hybrid, but it’s not generally recommended and there are specific steps you must follow, as read on the wiki.

The installation

The installation of Sabayon is pretty straightforward. If you’ve installed any normal binary distribution before, you can install Sabayon.

Also good to note that full disk encryption worked flawlessly in the installation process, and I had absolutely no issues whatsoever during any of the installation process on my machine.

The system
Sabayon Update

I opted for installing the KDE flavour of Sabayon, so upon booting up and logging in I was presented with the typical KDE 5 Plasma desktop. After connecting to my WiFi I loaded up the system update software and started to update the system....Which took forever. My WiFi usually gives me about 120Mbps (roughly 15MB/s) connection speeds, but my Hard Disk is 5400RPM. That said, the update took around two hours.

Once updating was finished, I needed to install a couple things that I use regularly, namely Firefox, optipng (a small CLI based application that optimizes png files to lower filesize), and Shutter, my screenshot application of choice.

Something to note about the ways Sabayon installs software using Entropy, is that not only does it install the application you want, but also the dependencies and usually most optional packages as well. For example, Shutter has a built in editor that I use to edit screenshots I take for articles, this editor requires libgoo-canvas or other similarly named packages to be installed in order to use it. Generally with most distributions I have to install shutter and install the needed dependencies for the editor manually; Sabayon installed it automatically for me, which was a very nice change of pace I must say.

I did notice however that my KDE system locked up once and basically had to reset itself. It wasn’t a huge issue, but something to note.

Sabayon unfortunately (in my opinion) comes with a LOT of bloat. For example, it comes with the entire KDE games selection when you install the KDE flavour. I have absolutely no interest in playing simple KDE games on my machine, and so at some point I’m going to need to remove them.

I’m not sure how much bloat comes with the other flavours of Sabayon, but at least be aware that with the installation of KDE you will get ALL the standard KDE packages, including likely a bunch of things you will never use. It does however come with everything you need essentially, from LibreOffice to Clementine, Google Chrome as the default browser, VLC, Atom editor etc.

A noteworthy feature is that Sabayon included a Sandbox (aptly named “Sandbox”) that when launched, gave me a terminal window locked inside a sandbox. I like this inclusion greatly.

Otherwise, Sabayon seems to be running fairly well. A little slower, but I attribute most of that to KDE to be frank, KDE running on this Hard Disk was probably not my best choice when thinking in terms of optimal speed; perhaps I will switch to MATE down the road; albeit KDE does have some lovely features.

Final Thoughts

So far I’m impressed with Sabayon, and I think it definitely deserves a good shot at becoming my daily driver. I dislike that the KDE flavour was preinstalled with so much bloat, but I can’t speak for the other flavours of the distro yet. Overall the system seems fairly stable minus the one KDE hiccup, and the Entropy package manager seems powerful and intuitive; a pleasure to use really.


This article was first seen on ComTek's "TekBits" Technology News



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