Chris J Powell

OS Sunday – Footprints in the Sand with Sabayon Linux

As the first post on the new and improved home of Krispy’s Rants I thought that it was fitting to try out a new Linux Distro that I have fell in love with years ago but from what I have heard has matured into a very robust and full featured Distro.  Sabayon Linux always intrigued me as its logo is built from the footprint of the Gentoo Penguin, call me old fashioned but that visual image is often what gets me to look further at any given Linux Distro (if you don’t put some time into the front facing part…well what is the backend going to look like).

There were several options to choose from but the one that most intrigued me was the newest version of Mate as a Desktop Environment.  Sabayon also has downloads for a very robust KDE desktop and also XFCE, LXCE and Enlightenment.  Sabayon X though really breaks down nicely into either KDE and their take on the Gnome 2.0 desktop and it really shows.  The Mate ISO came in at a very small 782MB where the KDE was upwards of 2GB.

The installation as all previous OS Sunday reviews was done in an Oracle VirtualBox environment with 4GB of RAM and a 20GB HDD.  The installation went very smoothly with the layout of the installer very simple but with enough options to balance between both the experienced user and a novice to the Linux World.  Taking less than 15 minutes from start to finish, I was truly ready to make my leap into the world of Gentoo Linux for the first time in almost a decade.

The Initial Boot after the install was right on par with many of the other Distros that I have reviewed in the past (archives can be found at http://old.chrisjpowell.com) and came in at just under 30 seconds from the black screen to full desktop.

I was a bit surprised by Sabayon’s choice of included applications though.  I can understand that it is designed to be a fast loading and minimalist Distro…but with no Office Apps and an interesting selection of standard apps I was wondering why…but that is the prerogative of the team that built this fine Distro.

Internet:

  • Mindori Browser
  • Transmission Torrent
  • XChat IRC

Office:

  • Dictionary
  • Document Viewer (PDF Viewer)

Sound and Video:

  • Audacious

Because there was a very minute list of Applications that comes with the OS itself, it was time to test out the ease of finding and installing additional software.  Nicely, there is a Desktop Icon for the Rigo Application Browser but it is also found under System -> Administration.  My initial feelings of this package manager were less than stellar as when I attempted to browse for options…every category came up empty…I closed out and restarted it though and it went through a Repository Refresh that filled all the categories with all the goodness that I have come to expect.

I was able to find my standard programs that I am used to like Firefox and LibreOffice with ease.  Installing Codecs and other Multimedia Apps were equally easy so two thumbs up for that, but the number of times that I had to restart the search process was more than a little frustrating.  Giving some Breadcrumbs would make it far easier to get back a layer and install the next program.

Overall, the Sabayon Mate Desktop is a familiar and welcome return to Gnome’s roots.  Nothing flashy, it just works and as a bonus, it was able to locate all my Network Shares without having to fiddle with Samba (which in my experience is one of the biggest failings of many distros).  Once I got things settled with the right mix of Apps and Codecs, all my videos and music played flawlessly.

Things that I would like to see in future renditions of the Mate Desktop…having a Core system like this is fine…but looking to having a more robust offering right out of the box will be key.  Choice is great but users want to get started right away and any barrier placed in front of them at the outset…is not a good thing.  Add things like LibreOffice, the Gimp and other standard apps.  It is fine that the choice for the Mindori Browser was made, I actually rather liked it as a rendering engine so I will actually be installing it on my main install to play with it further.

Overall, I liked Sabayon X – Mate…but the reality is…it falls short on out of the box usability which in my opinion is a failing.  While there is the option to install other Apps…it needs to be easier.

The rating…

Cheers and Welcome to the NEW Krispy’s Rants!

Chris J Powell

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