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Sabayon Linux is a gentoo fork that is built around bleeding edge technology and fully configured for a very fast install. In fact I was able to install from the liveDVD in roughly 30min including creating new partitions and setting up grub for dual boot with winXP Pro.
The default setting for the GUI is KDE and if you have a powerful enough system it will configure beryl to run at the same time.
The liveDVD includes many 3rd party drivers for hardware such as wifi, ATI and Nvidia, plus much much more so for the pure linux enthusist this is NOT your distro of choice.
MY system specs are as follows:
Asus A8N-SLI Premium MB
AMD 939 X2 3800+ CPU
2G PC3200 ram
multiple sATA drives
2x Nvidia 7600GS PCI-e SLI configured vid cards
CD/DVD combo drive
side note on the nvidia configuration on a default install. SLI was NOT configured. I had to edit the xorg.conf by hand but that is a simple task as it is only 2 entries to make it work. even with just a single card configured the FPS in games both native Linux and via Cedega was GREAT and better now with SLI configured and running.
This distro is an out of the box full system. It comes with "a lot of bloat" but for me that bloat is exactly what I would install anyways. It has OpenOffice, KDE, Beryl, FireFox, Thunderbird, Kaffiene, Noatun, and many other multi-media applications, office production suite, some games and it all JUST WORKS out of the box.
It is also a fully functional Linux distro unlike the *buntu line that gimps a lot of powerful features of linux like file sharing, print sharing, etc... everything works as you would expect of any linux distro. Sadly it does not come installed with vi or vim, so i had to emerge (install) vim, but meh that is nothing to worry about.
Prior to installing Sabayon linux on my system i had tried all of the following with zero luck due to my hardware.
all with the exact same issues. the GUI would not work or if it would the 3D would never work. More often then not the system would hard lock and hang to the point that i had to pull the power cord just to reset the system.
I was finnaly able to get Debian testing semi running, but the problem still was the GUI. i had to reinstall the nvidia drivers every time i logged in or rebooted the system and even then it was a 50/50 shot at working. so my rig was stuck with winXP Pro for a long time. I was not a happy camper, but meh i stuck to playing WoW or CnC3 and doing my video editing on this system and did all of the rest of my work on my old old laptop.
The real great thing about Sabayon is that is it gentoo based. I have wanted to play around with gentoo, but the bloody 7 day full install and configuration was just way to long for me. I do not have that kind of free time to WAIST on installing an OS on a computer when in 45min i can have Debian installed and fully working the EXACT way i want with GUI and all office tools, multi-media set etc.
So why should I WAIST 7 days when i can do the exact same thing in 45min? I never bothered with it after a few tries of taking 4hours to install FireFox and that on a fairly fast rig with a 6000/512Kb/sec aDSL connection.
with Sabayon you get 100% of the benifits of all of the great make scripts and the power of emerge to customize the installation of the software to your hardware WITHOUT the 7 day wait. It takes an average of 30 min. to do a full install. Yes 30 min. Even if you have an older rig it should not take much more then 45min - 1 hour to fully install Sabayon Linux from either the LiveCD (mini vs does not have 100% of the tools pre-installed for you) or the LiveDVD (full version with all tools etc.).
Then as you learn more about emerge and the gentoo way you can start tweaking your make files and get better performance out of your system to match a full Gentoo install WITHOUT the 7 day wait.
Top it off with Gentoo having, IMHO, the best HOWTO and wiki of any distro on the market. The instructions are written well enough for both a newbie, a semi-newbie like myself, or for an expert or master of Linux to glean all they need in order to get things up and running. Sabayon also has a very wonderful group of people in their live IRC chat that are more then willing to give aid when and were they can.
on the down side:
most of the down side comes from the bleeding edge technologies used in this distro.
1. rather system heavy. nothing like Vista, but still much more hardware is required then say Debian.
2. still not great support for ATI powered laptops, but then you can still blame that on ATI and now AMD more then any linux distro. Yes AMD has claimed they will be producing Linux drivers for ATI cards, but who knows when that will happen and what quality will be supported.
3. Even on "minimal" hardware it may or may NOT work at all. I could not even get the MiniCD to run live on my kids older AMD Athlon slotA rig with 512M ram and an older 5200 Nvidia card.
So for those looking for the power of gentoo but are not willing to wait the time required to install gentoo this may be something you check out.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 8
Excellent for highend hardware, excellent hardware recognition, made for linux gamers
Software selection fixed, not recommended for older systems, not as user friendly in some aspects, not really for people who like to do things themselves.
Right from the start I was amazed with Sabayon. On the live dvd, I ran beryl immediately from the start with no hitches, and also played Sauerbraten using the live cd ;-)
The live dvd is good for installing, and there is even a mini edition out with limited software for less space.
The installer is relatively painless, I was able to install in about the time of an hour or two. In fact, it was probably less time than other distros because I didn't have to configure as much.
By default, the system runs on KDE, and if you can get your gfx working (good chance of it), it'll install beryl hands free for you.
For older pc users, this may/may not run as said in the description, but it might just be better to choose something a little less memory extensive.
The software selection is fixed and bloated, but it *is* an excellent selection of software. The only thing I couldn't find was a decent game other than Sauerbraten, so I went scouring the internet for that. It has loads of multimedia, developer, system tools, utilities, games, and all sorts of other little goodies I can't remember.
Something some people might dislike about Sabayon is that it includes alot of 3rd party software you would normally have to hunt down yourself. For an amateur like me, this saves me alot of trouble, but for other people it's a real pain to uninstall all the bloat.
Since this distro is Gentoo-based, it includes emerge. This is pretty much the means of installing or uninstalling most of the system software, otherwise you have to do it the normal way like every other good linux box owner.
AS a side note, I even managed to get UT2K4 running the first time when I installed it. (waves a flag)
This distro is all about ease of use and getting everything to run from the get-go. Unless you're experienced or have to rip through your conf files due to a hardware/software conflict, it's better that you leave Sabayon the way it is out of the dvd, as everything should be working. You can have your updated stuff when the next release comes out ;-)
Updates are difficult as everything is done through emerge and it can get quite tedious. Almost impossible to do an easy world update, as you have to rip through each and every package that fails to install. Good for little things you have to update like Firefox and OpenOffice, bad for big things like a world update.
Overall, this distro I recommend to amateurs who want a linux box they can grind through games on, and others who want a solid highend system distro.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10
Sabayon Linux aims to give users all the bleeding edge software of SimplyMEPIS and PCLinuxOS but is based on Gentoo and uses Portage as its package management system. I havenít used Gentoo for a couple of years now, but Sabayonís popularity is continually increasing and with a new release itís now time to give it a try.