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Sabayon 9 KDE review

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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.
Sabayon 9 Rigo

This is Rigo showing several status messages.
Sabayon Rigo Package Manager

Same application showing available updates.
Sabayon 9 Rigo Package Manager

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.

Resources: You may download installation ISO images of Sabayon 9 for your platform from here, and read the Release Notes.

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.
Titlebar Dolphin Sabayon 9 KDE

The Rigo package manager on Sabayon 9 KDE
Sabayon 9 KDE Rigo Package Manager

Sabayon 9 KDE desktop showing the Update Manager Widget.
Sabayon 9 KDE Update Manager Widget

Installed games on Sabayon 9 as seen from the KDE Plasma Netbook interface.
Sabayon 9 KDE Plasma NetbooK Games

Installed multimedia applications on Sabayon 9 as seen from the KDE Plasma NetbooK interface.
Sabayon 9 KDE Plasma NetbooK Multimedia

Individual application view on Rigo package manager.
Sabayon 9 Rigo Package Manager

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18 Comments

  1. aram says:

    I have recently installed Sabayon 9 dual booting on my iMac. The one advantage I have observed so far with Sabayon (over other linux distros) is that audio works out of the box.
    Ni other distro neither ubuntu nor mint gives a prompt audio response on an iMac.

  2. greywalk says:

    The major advantages of Sabayon are:
    – it rolls smoothly most of the time. it’s the best rolling distro in terms of stability and ease of use
    – you always have the latest software (this causes addiction, it does ;)
    – it’s a binary distro (and a source distro at the same time) = easy to use
    – it comes with multimedia and proprietary drivers out of the box

    Sabayon’s disadvantages:
    – less polished then most others. you have to customize small things like the login screen cursor style yourself
    – latest software = more buggy software. though, most of the time you’re fine

    Overall, it’s one the best distros. It lacks the user base and popularity it deserves most probably due to the lack of polish. If you’re fine customizing stuff yourself a bit – you love Sabayon.

  3. simon says:

    bollocks! Sabayon 9 is a great distro, rolling release and stable. Yes sometimes things break, it is bleeding edge and for intermediate/advanced users. Rigo’s notifications tell you when there is a potential breakage and how to fix it beforehand

    I suggest you both stick to an easy distro because you are clearly not ready for Sabayon…. those of us who are intermediate/advanced linux users think Sabayon is a Great distro! Far far better than archlinux

    • themainliner says:

      This is the true attitude of most Sabayon users. Sabayon is great and everything else sucks and if you don’t like it it’s because you lack the skills.

      The arrogance of these fanboys is staggering.

  4. David says:

    Finid, Sabayon seems to have a reputation for being buggier and less stable than other distros, and KDE for being buggier than other desktops. Do you find them so?

    • finid says:

      KDE 4.8 is definitely buggy. For example, many desktop effects do not work. As for Sabayon being buggier that others, I can’t really attest to that, other than the issues from upstream. Comments from others do point to major issues, but, of course, fans of Sabayon will always disagree.

      • peter says:

        Sabayon is using latest software, is based on Gentoo testing as far I remember.

        I am fan of KDE since 4.7 since than many bugs are resolved. I find 4.8.4 which I am using now with latest kernel flawless. It still have bugs but I never encountered any up till now.

  5. sleepy says:

    I have wanted to love Sabayon – even with the massive updates. But recent updates have stopped the boot process leaving a blank screen with just a cursor (yet again- 4 times in the last 12 months and no solution on Google) – fortunately I am on a multi-boot system and have been able to retrieve photos, data and documents) – how disappointing for a distro that promises so much!

    • peter says:

      Did you use kernel switcher to update the system?

      If you just run upgrade it will and a new kernel is available it install the new kernel and you will get this screen

      If you use kernel switcher if will install the Nvidia or ATI driver correctly on top of it.

      Always check for new kernels first and install them before upgrading the rest of the system!

      If you enter in this kind of black screen go su and install Nvidia or ATI driver which is 9 out of 10 the problem you encountered!!

      I am a noob and it took about 45 min solving this issue on the net.

      Most people do not read the instruction manual including me so this happened to me too.

      • sleepy says:

        Thank you for your helpful advice. I have looked at kernel switcher on Sabayon Linux Wiki – and will give Sabayon another go :-)

        • sleepy says:

          Tried again – full install and then kernel-switcher. Same blank screen and non-responsive cursor. Seems to be an ATI-driver issue which I am not getting on other distros.

  6. themainliner says:

    Sabayon 6 was worse. The only thing I could recommend was never, never, ever run an update. WHich is messed up. 7 was more arrogant. The installer had a pop at other (markedly better) distros. The bottom lines with this distro is it claims to just work out of the box, but it doesn’t. If you ask questions on the forum even the moderators bite, their attitude is if you don’t like the complex f~ck off and install Ubuntu.

    Based on Gentoo, no ethos, no philosophy, not as good as Arch not as user-friendly as…anything. A bad stitching together of other peoples work.

    • peter says:

      If you post with this kind of attitude you get this kind of reactions to your questions
      I had good help and admin and users are friendly.

      The releases are not versions but just snapshots!!

      If you install 1 year still using latest version you get more updates than the actuall download.
      I agree this is not the best option but you can install also the daily build with which you get the latest software right away

      • themainliner says:

        The problem is the tension between what Sabayon ains to be and what it is. ‘We aim to deliver the best user experience “out of the box”‘ noble sentiments and would not look out of place on the Linux Mint website, however, for all it’s sophistocation Sabayon is not a straight forward experience and lacks the consistency and polish of some of the more popular ditros.

        I didn’t mind an initial update taking six hours nearly as much as repeated getting the same result: a broken DE. https://forum.sabayon.org/viewtopic.php?f=86&t=25350&p=140945&hilit=initial+update#p140945 – the responses on the forum were aggressive. What’s wrong with a four hour update? If Gnome 2 breaks why not try Xfce?

        I came, I saw, I jumped through hoops, I still ended up with a butchered DE and the invitition to just need another and quit whining.

        • peter says:

          I know what you mean concerning ‘out of the box’ thing ….
          I was angry too at the time and I have to admit that I posted that remark on the forum which gave me some reactions but almost any distro that says ‘out of the box’ has issues which require terminal or other kind of surgery and Sabayon is no exception ;-)
          (btw upgrading the system without errors requires terminal, any time you are forced to go back to terminal a system is not out of the box which I mentioned on the forum too)

          I had some installation issues and used daily build instead and torrent instead of ftp/http download.
          Sabayon has some rough edges though but I have not found andy distro without them, even Mint.

          You have to do mirrorsort with terminal first which in my opinion should be done automated and the normal download uses weekly repos’s and the daily builds are using daily repo’s.
          I found some conflict there sometimes when trying to change the daily to weekly.

          Now concerning your case, i think what the problem is ..

          Sabayon is a pure and complete rolling distribution, this means you got the latest of the latest stuff but with often updates.

          F.ex. version 7, 8 or 9 are nothing but snapshots. You installed Sabayon 6 my quess, earlier versions had issued but the main problem is that if you use f.ex 6 which came out a few months earlier you get a few month of updates / upgrades to do which can break the system.
          This is the problem with all rolling distro,s including PCLINUXOS. These guys for example stripped the update manager out of the system (Mandriva based) and you have to do manual update every 2 weeks or else risk to break the system. The download they over is however over a year old … (feel the contradiction?)

          Best thing to do with rolling distro is to go for daily builds, if you do not, like with Sabayon in my experience, you risk to download updates with a large gb than the actual download of Sabayon itself …

          I know, it’s not perfect but once installed and it’s up and running I do not want anything else. I take the other problems for granted.

          • themainliner says:

            You’re absolutely right. I ma sure Sabayon is a great rolling release distro when you approach it right. As I stressed in my blog post about it (which wasn’t properl read by the forum trolls either – including the package maintainer!) I approached it as their home page offers it as an easy to use out of the box distro.

            Despite being ex-Windows, I’m not GUI bound, I don’t use Synaptic of the Ubuntu Software Centre to manage packages. I open up the terminal and use the must more flexible apt-get commands. Trust me I did mirror sorting and asking for equo to be less aggressive in it’s dependency tree pulling. Managing a Sabayon installation goes well beyond that and way out of the out of box experience envelope.

            I love Arch Linux so Sabayon will come back around for me. Despite the tenor of the forum and difficulty of getting anyone to address your problem, “this guy keeps saying he has a problem? Gnome is broken? Like Gnome, try Xfce?” Sabyone Linux 7.5/10 community minus something.

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