Review: Sabayon 7 KDE + GNOME + Xfce

I've reviewed Sabayon here enough that I don't need to introduce it here anymore. Let's just say that version 7 was released recently, so I'm reviewing it.

KDE: Main Screen
But usually, I only review the KDE edition, so why am I reviewing the GNOME and Xfce editions too this time? Well, GNOME is now at version 3.2, and the Xfce edition is now considered to be stable enough to not be "experimental" anymore, so I think both of those things warrant reviews. Of course, I'm going to be reviewing the KDE edition as well, and KDE is now at version 4.7, which I haven't had much experience with as most recent KDE distributions I've tried have included KDE only at version 4.6.

I tested all 3 editions using live USBs made with UnetBootin. I did not test the installation procedures, because I didn't see anything in the release notes about improvements to the installer, so I don't really anticipate any changes from last time. Follow the jump to see what each edition is like.


After getting past the boot menu, I got to the boot splash, which hasn't changed at all. The boot time seemed faster than normal which is nice. Also, the music which was supposed to play during the boot time only started playing as the boot process was finishing up and leading into the KDE splash screen; that aside, it seems to be dramatic movie music instead of heavy metal rock, which is pretty nice. That led into the desktop, which looks identical to before save two differences: the Plasma "cashew" icon at the top-right corner has moved very slightly to the left, so it's a little bit of a bigger button now, and there is now a button on the panel to create new Activities. In addition, I was annoyed by the fact that even if the desktop wasn't in focus because some other window was open, hovering over a Plasmoid would bring up its tooltip, which takes up a lot of space and takes a little time to disappear. Otherwise, it's the same familiar Sabayon KDE desktop.

KDE: Chromium + LibreOffice Writer
Chromium is again the default browser, and it comes with most codecs included, which is nice. Everything I said in the earlier review of Sabayon 6 KDE still holds, including but not limited to the volume keyboard shortcuts, and the fact that Chromium is for some reason not a "favorite" in the Kickoff main menu.
Other applications are the same as before, so I won't go over those. I will say that LibreOffice feels even more well-integrated with KDE, which is always a good thing.

According to the KDE System Monitor, Sabayon used about 410 MB of RAM at idle with desktop effects on; though that is about par for a fully-fledged KDE distribution, it is certainly a marked improvement over version 6.
Desktop effects all worked well. They also seem faster than before, which is great too.

KDE: Entropy Store + Dolphin + Desktop Cube
Last time, the graphical Entropy Store [package manager] got hung up on me, and this time, that happened again once. Thankfully, that was an isolated occurrence, and after that I was able to use it fine. It basically seems like any other package manager; the only confusing thing is the similarity between the "Install" and "Commit Changes" buttons, and this is further complicated by the fact that the latter button (which is what actually makes an installation happen) is smaller and in a weird corner, whereas the former is large and placed front and center. I was able to use the Entropy Store to install Skype directly from the repositories. One interesting thing is that it asked me to accept the license agreement before installation, and that is odd because usually Skype just puts forth the license agreement before the first run after installation. The one unfortunate thing is that the Entropy Store got hung up again when cleaning up some temporary files after Skype had been installed. Anyway, Skype worked fine, though do note that it asked me to accept the license agreement again before starting up.

After that, I tried installing the Google Talk plugin. This was quite a bit more difficult, and it was further complicated by the fact that the browser was Chromium, but the plugin has been made for Mozilla Firefox. I looked in the forums and basically tried to extract and install the DEB files as instructed, but this made Chromium refuse to start. That's quite bad, and that's where my time with the KDE edition ended.


After the boot menu, I was greeted by the same boot splash and music as in the KDE edition, and the boot time was about the same too. After that came the GNOME desktop.

GNOME: Main Screen
The Sabayon developers have really only made two tweak to the GNOME 3 Shell desktop: the first is adding back the default desktop icon and right-click functionality, and the second is adding back the window buttons to minimize and maximize windows. Otherwise, it's pretty standard GNOME 3.2. The GTK+ and Mutter themes are Adwaita, while the icon theme is Elementary. It's a pretty nice combination, though my only lingering issue is that some icons, especially in the menu in Activities, look a little ugly when they're expanded to larger sizes.
All the applications were either the same as or equivalent to the counterparts in the KDE edition, so I won't repeat that here.

GNOME used 460 MB of RAM at idle, according to the GNOME System Monitor. That's even more than KDE 4, and I'm starting to notice a trend that GNOME 3 tends to use more RAM than KDE 4 at idle, which is strange considering that historically KDE has been the most resource-hungry DE. In general, too, GNOME 3 felt less snappy than KDE 4. I also tried suspending; that didn't work, but I won't fault Sabayon for that.

GNOME: Chromium + LibreOffice Writer
There are 3 new things in GNOME 3.2 versus GNOME 3.0. The first two are the Sushi file previewer and GNOME Documents. Sushi is basically like Gloobus Preview but now built into GNOME; I had to install it using the CLI Equo package manager, and it worked well, though for images it was a little slower than using the image viewer, which kind of defeats the purpose in that sense. GNOME Documents is supposed to be a better way to browse for documents and also integrates well with Google Docs; unfortunately, although I was able to find it online in Sabayon's package list, Equo claimed it didn't exist in the repositories, so I couldn't install it at all. The third is the much nicer-looking GDM login screen, and I agree that it does look and work a lot smoother than the old GDM 3.

Nautilus is the default file browser, of course, and here too it lacks breadcrumb navigation. There again appears to be no way to change that, and using even GConf-Editor and DConf-Editor doesn't help in that regard, which is quite bad.

I tried again to install the Google Talk plugin by extracting the DEB, and this time I could confirm that its extraction was what was causing Chromium to refuse to start ever again. After that (and after a reboot), I tried installing the Ebuild package as detailed later on in the forums, and that failed miserably for some unknown reason. It was here that my time with the GNOME edition ended.


The boot process was the same as with the other editions, except that there was no music. After the booting finished, the desktop did load much quicker.

Xfce: Main Screen
The desktop is Xfce made to look a lot more like GNOME 2, which should help Sabayon retain users miffed at the transition of GNOME from version 2 to version 3. Xfce is at version 4.8, which means that it's basically on par with GNOME 2 in terms of features, and it can have fully transparent panels, which Sabayon 7 Xfce does. In fact, the whole 2-panel setup, with separate "Applications" and "Places" menus should make any GNOME 2 user feel right at home. The default theme is fairly bland, with a generic Xfwm titlebar theme, the Adwaita GTK+ theme, and the standard GNOME 3 icon theme. All in all, it feels quite well-done, certainly not "experimental", and way more palatable than GNOME 3 (for me at least).

Midori is the default browser. Yes, Midori is sort of the de facto Xfce browser, but I feel like it would have been better if Chromium were present instead. Midori does work well enough, but it still seems a little bare-bones compared to the other major browsers.
Other applications are mostly carried over or are equivalents, so there's not much to see in that regard. I have noticed that more Xfce-specific applications, like Ristretto and Squeeze instead of Eye Of GNOME and File Roller, are being used, which I guess is a good thing.

Xfce was far more responsive than either GNOME or KDE. The numbers bore that out: I had to use the command "free -m" to see how much RAM was being used at idle, because the Xfce Task Manager only showed percentage RAM consumption, and I found that only 200 MB of RAM was being used at idle. That's a little higher than I'd like for Xfce, but it's still way lower than either GNOME 3 or KDE 4. That's basically where my time ended, because I just wanted to get a feel for what using the Xfce desktop would be like, generally speaking.

That's where my time with Sabayon ended. The fact that I couldn't get the Google Talk plugin to work after so much effort makes me continue to not recommend that newbies install and use Sabayon on a daily basis. I mean, do it if you want, because I can't stop you, but do it at your own risk, and have an expert friend at hand. That said, Sabayon has become a far better live distribution, and I'm happy to see that the Xfce edition has basically become officially supported. Though the ISO files are a bit big, the live experience is really quite good now, and that certainly counts for something.
You can get Sabayon here.