Sabayon Linux Review

It’s a known fact that majority of Linux users are on Ubuntu. So, I thought why not do a brief review of my favorite distribution out there for ya’ll!

1) What is Sabayon Linux?

Sabayon Linux is a linux distribution based purely on Gentoo.

I think most of you guys have heard about Gentoo more or less. Some know Gentoo as the distribution that geeks fantasize about. Well since this is about Sabayon, I won’t bother going into the details about the benefits of Gentoo.

2) Is Sabayon like Ubuntu?

Depends on how you look at it. When you first switched from Windows to Linux (I’m assuming u started off with Windows in the first place), Ubuntu was the first distribution that you set your foot into. I’m saying in a generalised sense, since Ubuntu is the best noob friendly distro.

Similarly, Gentoo is one of the most bad ass & hardcore Linux distro out there…so before attempting to get yourself drowned in the great Gentoo lake, Sabayon is the best place to start off with.

Why start off with Sabayon? Because it’s pretty much Gentoo under the hood, but comes pre-installed with all the latest softwares out there. You don’t have to start off with compiling your own kernel from source like in case of Gentoo, but by using Sabayon you get to mess around with Gentoo’s package manager that is supported on Sabayon & use commandline utilities like “emerge” to even install packages right out of the Gentoo repository. Basically, by using Sabayon you would learn a lot & get used to Gentoo if you wish to do so.

In other words, Sabayon is as simple as Ubuntu provided you’re using their main package manager (Entropy). Using Portage requires advanced knowledge of Gentoo, etc.

3) Why would I use Sabayon when I can get Gentoo?

* Main reason to go for Sabayon in place of Gentoo is because on Gentoo compiling everything, every time from source is really a waste of your time. You wouldn’t benefit much with improved speed compared to the amount of time that you would have to sacrifice just by compiling. Also point to note here is that modern computers today are quite fast to start off with, therefore who wants to waste that much time compiling? Thus, Sabayon’s main package manager “Entropy” provides binaries that are precompiled & optimised for your architecture similar to how it’s done on Gentoo…but you don’t waste your precious time for compiling.

* Not every one who’s interested in Gentoo is prepared for the land of Gentoo. Should you wish to go towards Gentoo, Sabayon helps you reach there without making you frustrated, tired and stops you from hanging yourself.

4) What are the features of Sabayon? Why should I dump my “precious” Ubuntu or [enter your name here – distribution] just for Sabayon?

Well I’m not asking you to dump Ubuntu or any other distribution. Ubuntu has it’s purpose. Anyway, these are some of the points that made me switch to Sabayon

* Fast as hell, obviously you’ll have to understand that it’s Gentoo power. Switching from Ubuntu to Sabayon in my experience was like switching from Windows to Linux. Sabayon simply blows Ubuntu out of the water when it comes to speed. My suggestion: try it, you’ll definitely notice the difference.

* Everything works out of the box. When I used Ubuntu I saw that my HD / Blueray movies were choppy & audio was out of sync, etc. (may be because it lacked the latest closed source driver). But what amazed me was that on Sabayon, everything was crystal clear! I’m still amazed at how everything on Sabayon works perfectly fine out of the box. Not to mention that even on Windows I had trouble getting blueray movies to work properlyl.

* Sabayon has 2 package managers not just 1:

– In Sabayon you have access to Gentoo’s source based package manager, which is called “Portage” and it consists of the entire Gentoo repository. Btw, you have no idea how big the entire Gentoo repository is… even has metasploit & may be the entire backtrack toolkit. No more messing around with PPA’s if you’re coming from Ubuntu.

– Sabayon’s main package manager is called “Entropy” and it provides you pre-compiled binaries, which are optimised for your architecture.

* Since Sabayon is based on Gentoo, you always have the latest and greatest software & will be on the bleeding edge.

– By default if you have a dedicated graphics card whether it’s Nvidia/Ati, the latest closed sourced version of the driver will be installed on Sabayon & works out of the box. This ensures that you fully utilize your graphics card & obviously video, audio & everything works perfectly fine.

* A lot of distros like Arch doesn’t support package signing (which in my opinion is a big security issue), but Sabayon enforces more than 2 forms of security checksums that ensure that the packages you download are not tampered with. Let’s say a malicious hacker breaks into the server and attempts to change the package contents…you would have nothing to worry about as the checksum won’t match & the package downloaded from that particular server won’t be installed.

* Support on Sabayon forums, bug fixes & software request is simply amazing! I’ve personally filed a lot of bug reports & made software requests, & I’m impressed at how quickly the developers there get things done (2-3 weeks before it’s implemented with the next update depending on the severity of the bug/request, etc.).

* Extremely Stable package manager (Entropy). Sabayon developers claim Entropy has a built in brain.

– Let me explain this point from a different perspective. Well to start off I’m not sure whether you guys know that I’m from India. The electricity crisis in this God forsaken country is really bad, worse cos it’s summer. Power outage by around 3-4 times per day. Just imagine what my desktop has to go through :P. Too bad my first Ubuntu installation didn’t survive that, until I made my mind to switch to Sabayon & to date no matter what has happened…Sabayon didn’t crash on me a single time. Take my word for it or don’t, your choice 😛

5) Alright may be Sabayon is good. But what does it look like?

Link to Screenshot –>

Note: The screenshot is a my customised install of Sabayon with KDE Desktop Environment.

6) What are the disadvantage of Sabayon? Clearly there must be something right?

* Sabayon has bigger binaries compared to other distros like Ubuntu but alternatively you can enable Delta feature to drastically reduce download size.

– Reason for big binaries is because every program is pre-compiled & optimised from source for your architecture, directly from Gentoo’s repository & packaged under Sabayon’s main package manager (Entropy). You have to understand that everything has a price attached to it. By downloading bigger & optimised binaries you gain massive speed bonus compared to the ones which are not optimised and have a smaller size. Also if you use the delta feature of Sabayon, only disadvantage is that you might waste some hard-drive space, but in the long run in my experience my download was reduced by as much as 50-75%.

* Sabayon community is not as big as Ubuntu.

– I don’t really see this as much of a disadvantage. Obviously Ubuntu is every linux noob’s paradise & the existence of Ubuntu is a necessity in the linux ecosystem. Without noobs, we wouldn’t have so much hype over Ubuntu & people who are not so technical wouldn’t consider switching to the linux world in the first place. You might say that without noobs linux is a better place 😛 . But you also have to understand that these noobs evolve with time & they are the ones who tend to contribute & keep on supporting the linux community (Btw, everyone was a noob at one point & that includes me). Anyway, let’ get to the point….just because Sabayon has a small community doesn’t mean that it lacks support/documentation. Actually I found that in my experience, support in Sabayon is actually quite better compared to Ubuntu. Yes, may be they have less people out there but those small group of people are highly talented & some are just ex-Gentoo wizards/developers. They know exactly what the problem is….it’s like they can communicate with computers telepathically.

7) Final thoughts

Sabayon is an awesome distro, I’m not just saying this just because I use it myself. In the past I have used more than a handful of other linux distros and Sabayon is the only distro that I’ve stayed with so far. Even if you don’t personally agree with everything that I’ve said so far, I would highly recommend that you try it out yourself and see if it is the distro for you. Anyway, if you find this review useful…don’t forget to let me know about it & also feel free to share about what made you pick Sabayon!


1 Comment

  1. I agree with you on the stableness of the distro I myself having been a distro hopper for quiet sometime. However I always come back to Sabayon. In Ubuntu you must know to download and install the restricted extras before you can do anything with it in multimedia. Well someone will say ogg files just play but how many movies or music are produce with open source. They are mostly bluray, mp3 etc. for me noobs should rather be encouraged to move to Sabayon because just it works. Bugs? well every OS has bugs. I did not know what to do with Ubuntu when I first encountered Ubuntu and I wonder the number of people who will be frustrated first time with ubuntu and may not touch linux again. Sabayon developers must do some sort of marketing to attract more noobs.

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