Review: Sabayon 5.5 KDE

Main Screen
If you are a regular reader of this blog, Sabayon needs no introduction. Suffice it to say that version 5.5 has been released, and as has become tradition for me (so to speak), I am testing the KDE version of this new release.
It seems like there aren't really a whole lot of new heavily-advertised features in this release; it mostly consists of bugfixes. Let's see how true that turns out.
I tested this as a live USB made with UnetBootin. I did not test the installation.
Follow the jump to see how this version of Sabayon stacks up in terms of making Gentoo friendly (or, at least, friendlier) to newbies.
After the boot menu, the boot process was fairly quick. This time, I elected to listen to the heavy metal rock music, but ironically enough, the one time I wanted to listen to it, it didn't work. This led me to believe that the sound card wasn't being properly detected or the wrong channel was selected as the master channel — more on that later. After the boot splash came the KDE splash screen, which quickly led into the desktop.
The desktop, at first glance, seems virtually unchanged from the previous (5.4) release, except that there are a couple fewer desktop icons present. The default icon theme is the standard KDE Oxygen theme, as is the default KWin window border theme; that said, the default Qt widget theme is Plastik (from KDE 3.5), which doesn't mesh as well as the Oxygen Qt widget theme with the rest of the desktop. Furthermore, the Oxygen widget theme isn't even present as an option; I'm not at all sure why this is so.
As I was testing Sabayon as a live USB as opposed to inside a virtual machine, it performed much better. However, as you will see shortly, there are still issues.
Mozilla Firefox + OpenOffice.org + Kickoff Menu
Mozilla Firefox is still the default browser (at version 3.6), and it integrates very well with the default KDE theme. Furthermore, it seems like all relevant codecs are included out-of-the-box.
Speaking of which, the sound problem was in fact due to the sound card not being recognized. Unfortunately, the only fix was a long list of commands at the terminal. Thankfully, typing just the first one (after "su" to gain root privileges) fixed the problem. I hope that on installed systems, this is a one-time occurrence and not a recurring issue.
OpenOffice.org is also included and also integrates well with the default KDE theme.
However, it was at this point that I encountered a stability issue. When I had both Mozilla Firefox and OpenOffice.org Writer open side-by-side along with KSnapShot to take a screenshot, the desktop just locked up on me. The only solution was to hold the power button down long enough to bring up the KDE shutdown prompt (but not long enough to force a cold shutdown). That's unfortunate.
Other than that, the application list is almost entirely unchanged from Sabayon 5.4 KDE. The one notable omission is the demo of World of Goo. It seems like the Sabayon developers want to make it a more serious/business-oriented distribution (maybe?), but in that case, why include KDE Games? I was a little disappointed by the lack of World of Goo.
Desktop cube effect + Dolphin + KDE System Settings
Desktop effects worked smoothly and without any hitches. That's good. Also, my webcam and mic were recognized out-of-the-box (once the initial sound card problem was resolved).
At this point, I wanted to see if I could install Skype (because I use that on a regular basis) so I headed to Sulfur, the graphical package manager. This was the source of my other two large gripes with Sabayon, one of which I don't consider to be such an issue any more. That concerns the issue of naming; the names Sulfur, Entropy, Equo, Portage, and Emerge seem to be thrown around all the time in Sabayon, and they're certainly going to confuse a new user. As far as I know, Entropy is the basic package management system while Portage is the Gentoo project providing programs' source code (for users to compile and then install); Sulfur is the GUI package manager, while Equo and Emerge are CLI package managers. In that sense, I guess either Entropy or Portage is analogous to Debian's APT, while Sulfur is analogous to Synaptic Package Manager and Emerge and Equo are analogous to Aptitude and apt-get. In any case, it's just confusing. All that aside, my bigger concern is that Sulfur seems to still be fundamentally broken. After I loaded Sulfur, it took a long time to load and update the repositories, and after that, it claimed it was doing something, but it seemed to have frozen up. After holding down the power button to unfreeze the desktop, I killed Sulfur and loaded up the terminal to type (after "su") "equo update && equo install skype". It's easy enough for me to do that, but for the newbies to which Sabayon is supposedly catering, it'll be tough.
After that little fiasco, Skype worked just fine and recognized my webcam and mic out-of-the-box.
Sabayon uses KDE 4.5.5, though it is possible to start using KDE 4.6 (which was released a few days ago and which I hope to review relatively soon) through updates. No part of KDE ever crashed, which is great news. I think it's safe to say that the issues I had with Sabayon 5.4 KDE were due to VirtualBox, not due to either Sabayon or KDE.
Overall, I think Sabayon has made a good deal of progress since version 5.4. I could probably see myself using Sabayon on a semi-regular basis, but I'm hesitant to replace Linux Mint. Similarly, I'm hesitant to recommend it to new users because of the basically nonfunctional GUI package manager. I'd rather recommend it to Linux users who at least know how to manage packages via the command line and wouldn't be too scared of typing in a few other commands here and there.