Aside from updated applications and kernel, there are two new features introduced in Sabayon 9. They are Rigo, a replacement for Sabayon’s graphical application manager, and userland ZFS.
ZFS, a file system-cum-logical volume manager, shipped by default in OpenIndiana, FreeBSD, PC-BSD and other FreeBSD-derived distributions, is probably the best file system available on any operating system. It was first introduced in Solaris, when Solaris was Sun Microsystem’s flagship software product. Because of licensing incompatibility, ZFS cannot be shipped in the Linux kernel. That is why you will not find it as a file system option in any Linux distribution’s installer. And that is why it is available in Sabayon 9 only in userland.
The problem with a userland file system is it can be a pain to use, especially for the lay desktop user. Take the ZFS in Sabayon 9, for example. It is not even installed out of the box, and if you install and try to mess with it, you will get a “Failed to load ZFS module stack” message. For a version of a file system that is many revisions behind the latest available, having to deal with module and other issue is not worth the headache. If you really want to mess with ZFS, and configure some of its advanced features during installation, your best bet is PC-BSD. The latest beta release of PC-BSD, makes it especially easy to setup ZFS’s RAIDZ feature. See PC-BSD 9.1 preview for some screen shots.
Rigo, the other new addition to Sabayon, is a graphical package manager with a different but disappointing take on package management. You can probably tell why by looking at the screen shot below. Yes, that is Rigo’s main interface when there are no status messages. If it reminds you of a search engine, it is not by accident. The release announcement states that “Rigo is a search-based, modern, modular and scalable application for browsing Sabayon packages.”
Where Sulfur, the package manager it replaced, and package managers on other distributions feature a list of packages and package categories that make it easy to find applications, even when you do not know they exist, Rigo does away with all that. Sure, it does pattern search, but other package managers are capable of that too. Rigo is just an unnecessary attempt to redefine package managers. If Sulfur was broken, and I think it was, they could have cleaned it up or written something much better.
Do not get me wrong, Rigo has a clean, uncluttered interface, but at a cost of a slight learning curve in an application that did not need to have one.
This is Rigo showing several status messages.
Same application showing available updates.
After reviewing and playing around with the KDE edition of ROSA Linux, a distribution derived from Mandriva and sponsored by ROSA Laboratory, every other KDE-powered distribution, Sabayon included, appears very boring and not very user-friendly – at least not as much as ROSA Linux. And that is because ROSA developers have enhanced the desktop experience on their distribution with applications like KLook, ROMP and StackFolder, especially KLook and ROMP, that are not yet available upstream, but they should be, if not in KDE 4.9, then in KDE 5.0. If all distro developers will take a cue from what ROSA Linux developers are doing, the desktop experience in Linux would be completely different, in a very good way, from that it is now.
The most important feature of Sabayon that could make it very appealing to some folks, is rolling release. I wish my favorite Linux distribution had it. I wish every distribution followed that development model.
Screen Shots: View more screen shots from my test installations of Sabayon 9 KDE.
In this review, I wrote about missing window titlebar buttons in this release of Sabayon. Here is Dolphin with a complete titlebar button.
Individual application view on Rigo package manager.