Review: Sabayon 5.4 KDE

Main Screen
I've already reviews Sabayon 5.2 and 5.3 KDE, so I don't think it's necessary to repeat the history and roots of Sabayon. Suffice it to say that it's an easy-to-use binary variant of Gentoo that includes everything and the kitchen sink.
According to the Sabayon developers, Sabayon 5.4 brings to the table a new theme, many bugs fixed, and a couple changes in the included applications. Follow the jump to see how it fares. I tested this in VirtualBox with 1024 MB of RAM allocated for the guest OS, as this is how much RAM my old computer had when I tested Sabayon 5.2 on it directly (i.e. from a live USB instead of from VirtualBox).
Boot Splash
The boot and startup time are quite fast. As always, Sabayon's default boot option is to boot and play some obscure heavy metal rock music in the background; as always (aside from when I first tested Sabayon 5.0, which I did not formally review on this blog), I opted not to listen to it. Strangely, the panel never loaded when the rest of the desktop loaded; logging out and logging back in fixed this. The wallpaper appears to be the same as in Sabayon 5.2 and 5.3, but the theme seems to hark back to the glossy black theme in Sabayon 5.0.
Mozilla Firefox (Plasma crashed)
As I stated earlier, Sabayon tends to include everything possible in the live CD. The games not only include the standard KDE games, but also a demo version of World of Goo. Awesome! Mozilla Firefox is included, as always, though it doesn't appear to be particularly well-integrated with the system theme; a quick spin on YouTube and some other sites showed that most proprietary codecs are included out-of-the-box, though playing YouTube caused Plasma to crash, which is bad. OpenOffice.org is included and is well-integrated theme-wise, though starting both Writer and Calc (to demonstrate tabbed windows) caused Plasma to crash again. This is getting really bad.
OpenOffice.org + Tabbed Windows (Plasma crashed
Amarok is dropped in favor of Clementine, the Qt 4 port of Amarok 1.4. Interestingly enough, this is the first KDE distribution in which I have not been able to find Konqueror at all; Mozilla Firefox is the only web browser, and Dolphin is the only file manager. KDE purists probably aren't going to be too happy about that, and I'm a little surprised that they didn't leave Konqueror in considering all the other applications that are present.
Kickoff Menu and Clementine
I also saw in the boot menu options for Sabayon Media Center and Sabayon Netbook Edition, so I restarted in the hopes of booting into Sabayon Media Center. Unfortunately, here I encountered yet another bug, as restarting Sabayon yielded a fatal error upon boot. I used VirtualBox to force-kill the OS and manually restarted it, which then allowed me to boot into Sabayon Media Center. Instead of using KDE, Sabayon Media Center uses XBMC (formerly "XBox Media Center"), which is a desktop environment that is purpose-built for media center usage. As there are no pictures and videos included in the home folder, I found little use for it as a live environment, though it could certainly be useful once installed; also, it's meant for large screens more than 10 feet away from the user, so using it on a 13" laptop doesn't make sense, though weirdly enough, there is a Sabayon Netbook Media Center Edition also in the boot menu. (I tried that as well, and it's just the regular Sabayon Media Center edition at a lower resolution to better fit a smaller screen.) XBMC seems quite slow, so I think it's meant for machines with more processing and display power.
Sabayon Media Center (XBMC)
I then tried Sabayon Netbook Edition, fully expecting to boot into KDE's new Plasma Netbook Workspace. Instead, I got a regular Sabayon KDE environment at a lower resolution (so it'll fit netbook screens better). I fail to see how this will help, as Sabayon is still (relatively speaking) a resource hog. Color me a little disappointed and cheated.
I guess Sabayon 5.4 hasn't really changed much from version 5.3, which had many of the same bugs that I experienced today. I simultaneously love it for its vast collection of applications included out-of-the-box and hate it for its stability issues, which still haven't been resolved despite using the extremely stable KDE 4.5. I guess this is going to get a solid "meh" from me. (That said, don't be surprised to see me testing the next version of Sabayon when it comes out.)


  1. Ive been a user of Sabayon Gnome for some time....I'm sorry to see you having problems with its KDE brother since I have been very impressed with 5.3/4 when I moved from Wolvix...

    and I must challenge you about the rock music!!! its great!! ;)

    Kind regards


  2. @openbytes: With regard to the rock music, to each to his/her own, I guess. I've never tried Sabayon GNOME, but the reviews I've read in the past say it's nearly as resource-intensive as its KDE sibling meaning there's no good reason to use the GNOME version over the KDE version. Thanks for the comment!

  3. OK, hang on here.

    Sabayon 5.4 has basically the same kernel and Xorg parts as Ubuntu Maverick - and those pieces (esp. Xorg) are currently having problems with the latest Virtualbox.

    So if you're getting video-related crashes, it's very unfair to blame them on Sabayon when you're testing in a Vbox VM. You can't judge OS stability that way, esp. not in this case...and I can make a good argument to the effect of "not in ANY case". An OS needs to be judged on the real metal if you're looking at stability issues, otherwise you have to judge the combination of the guest OS, the virtual machine manager guest driver, the virtual machine host software AND the host OS all at the same time.

    You can look at a distro's feature set in a vm. Not it's stability...esp. not it's video/3D stability.

    This review fails on that basis.

  4. Fully agree with Jim March.
    That's exactly what I thought of when reading about plasma crashes.
    And another thing - you can't reliably speak of boot/startup times when testing in VM, because you are then speaking about guest filesytem & drivers + host filesystem & drivers.

    People are getting really lazy these days. They want to "test" a distro and write about it, but are too lazy to do it properly and install it on real hardware.

  5. @Jim March: Thanks for the correction. Unfortunately, I still say this COULD be a Sabayon issue because I also (separately) tested version 5.3 (not the latest one) through a live USB, and it experienced the aforementioned Plasma crashes and desktop disappearances. Anyway, if there are desktop stability issues in future reviews, I'll be more cautious when I'm choosing what to blame.
    @Anonymous: Yes, I am guilty of laziness. I also simply don't have the time to do full installations on my laptop (also because I don't have a machine that I've dedicated to trying out Linux, so I don't want to accidentally mess up data on the one and only computer I have right now). That said, how do the host filesystem & drivers change the boot and startup times of the guest OS if I'm using the exact same host environment and generally the same amount of allocated RAM, et cetera for the guest OS? Just curious.
    Thanks for the comments!

  6. The only problem with the music is that it uses the F-word, which is not the way to introduce an operating system to strangers.

    2nd. KDE is the resource hog, I don't think any part of that can be blamed on Sabayon specifically. I have the same problem with Kubuntu on low memory machines.

  7. @decentralist: Wow, I didn't actually notice that. Thanks for letting me know (and thank you for not spelling it out in full). Also, even for a KDE-based distribution (at least 1 GB of RAM and 10 GB of hard drive space), Sabayon's hardware requirements are fairly hefty (though part of it is probably because of the vast array of preinstalled programs). Thanks for the comment!

  8. I have been experimenting with Sabayon on an extra hard drive since at least 5.0. It is a very cool distribution that I would love to use on production computers. However, there are too many frustrating problems. Twice, including the recent update, when updating when near the time of a new version, my os is rendered inoperable. Only reformating and reinstalling works. Installing printers that are not in the cups standard drivers in absurdly difficult and certainly beyond the tollerance of normal users. KDE, the implementation of which is my real reason to use this distribution, in 5.4 turned out to be a mess with double phantom icons on the desktop and file sharing to be apparently impossible. File sharing seems to be bug ridden in KDE now, but in openSuse, for example, there are elaborate work-arounds that are effective. This does not seem to be the case in Sabayon.

    So, Sabayon has much potential, but I have even abandoned it on my experimental drive.

  9. @William: Yeah, I was excited by Sabayon 5.2 and installed it, but it didn't go too well and I eventually had to remove it; thankfully, my other partitions were left untouched. Thanks for the comment!

  10. Hi all
    i tried the 5.4 but faced problem in keyboard detecting for notebook and huawei e1550 wireless broadband. Then i faced another problem that it says minimum diskspace requirement for usb is slightly more than 4 gb diskspace and it refused to install in my 4 gb usb stick !!!

    However, everything went smooth under maverick ubuntu 10.10 and it takes a 2.6 gb usb diskspace. Everything teste perfect !!! its a fact !

    Hope sabayon 5.4 update with a better auto detect usb wireless broadband sensor and allow somewhat similar 2.6 gb usb space whaT ubuntu offered.

    Disappointed testing sabayon5.4

  11. Hi guys out there !

    i really have no problem with ubuntu 10.10,being mine first choice, linux mint 10 my second choice and 3rd choice is pclinuxos 2010 !

    3 os proven stable and fastest distro is pclinuxOS 2010 !


  12. @Anonymous: Given that Sabayon comes from Gentoo (which is very much a DIY distribution), it's entirely possible that it doesn't detect your keyboard out-of-the-box and you'll need to either do a bit of configuration yourself or use another keyboard for the time being at least. Also, because Sabayon has such a feature-packed live session, it will naturally take up more hard drive space than most other distributions when installed, and unfortunately for you, that's not likely to change anytime soon. Thanks for the comment!

  13. "The only problem with the music is that it uses the F-word, which is not the way to introduce an operating system to strangers."

    Boo-fucking-hoo... I could list tons of songs (even entire bands) that have nothing *but* F-bombs and loads of other so-called "bad language," and you're whining about a song that says "fuck," what, once? Grow up, and everyone else afraid of a word needs to grow up as well.

  14. @Anonymous: I'm not scared of the word. I'm concerned that for including it Sabayon will get a bad reputation/will be seen as amateurish/unprofessional. Thanks for the comment though.

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