(You can read from DAY 1 here.)

Day Four. Wow this has been a whirlwind series for us, and after today THREE MORE DAYS! (Plus maybe a few extras – we’ll see…)

Today we give Sabayon Five-Oh a run. Three of the four distros we reviewed this week have been using LXDE as its desktop environment.

Sabayon is the first distro we are having a look at that have not been Ubuntu based or a variant of Ubuntu.

Is different better?


Sabayon. I have never personally used it. Always wanted to, Stephen from the office has used it and he liked it and I looked at it with a bit of suspicion – it is Gentoo based. I equate gentoo with “complicated.”

I am very pleased to report that it is not as complicated as expected. I was thinking of using Sabayon as one of my KDE distros for THE KDE SERIES, and looked forward to giving it a spin in this one.

Two things stand out – it is possibly the quickest distro we’ve tried so far, consistently using about ten megs or so less RAM than the other two LXDE candidates, and it is also the least user friendly of all the tested distros.

Package management is… different. You need to install codecs and flash, and the HOW of doind it is a bit harder than with the other two.

I would not recommend this one for any grandma.

Installing FLASH failed first up, and then I had to download it manually. Being a Gentoo based distro I needed to download the TAR based one.

Off to the command-line. Do you see how this could get ugly for a family ‘guy who knows computers’?

Once that was done I discovered that there are no suggested packages for dealing with tar files. Sulfur, the Sabayon package manager also managed to thrash the CPU while doing its thing. I had to kill it eventually…

You need to run Sulfur on first boot to download your repositories, if you don’t you wont be able to install any packages.

Sabayon is aimed at the power user who does not want to build Gentoo from scratch.


This might seem picky but the default wallpaper does not work for me. That light in the middle feels like a flashlight shining in my eyes. Of all the options the Sabayon 5 in water is the best one for me. I would replace the wallpaper as soon as I could.

No office tools? Makes this distro useless for me.

Complicated does not work for me.

There is no battery indicator on the taskbar – on a laptop that would be a major problem.

Living with it is basically the same as with the other LXDE distros after the major problems like no youtube until we could figure out how to get flash running.

Questions and Answers

  1. Is it reasonably quick?
    Very much so. Say what you will of Ubuntu based distros and the effort made to slim them down, there is something to be said for a purposed built slimmed down distro.
  2. Can You Use the Internet With Ease?
    Yes and no. Flash installation would take some more expertise than with the average distro. Something to keep in mind if you want to pass this on to a family member – make sure ALL the configs are done, this isn’t a distro to troubleshoot over the phone while you are trying to watch the cricket.
  3. Can You Edit Documents and Spreadsheets with ease?
    No. No office suite is installed by default. You will need to install it yourself.
  4. How Easy is Email use?
    It uses CLAWS mail. Very minimalistic. Rather install Thunderbird while you are busy installing openoffice.
  5. Are Codecs Available for all common formats?
    You might find a few that are not in the repositories. Be prepared to do some extracting of tar archives along the way.
  6. How Hard is it to Join Networks?
    As simple with all the other lightweight distros we have used so far.
  7. Is it a Swap In for a higher ended distro?
    No, unless you are using Gentoo or Sabayon already this one will not feel familiar at all. This is perfect for the power user though. In the right hands this will be an awesome tool after a week or so of setting up the first time around.


Sabayon is not newbie friendly. If you want to learn Linux it is for you – we use Gentoo servers at work and these teach you some Linux fu pretty quick!

Also, there are no indications of what the various panel icons do, once I added the battery status application I did not realise at first what it was. Same with the CPU status monitor, even when you hover over that one you get no indication of what it does.

There is no spell check in Firefox either – if you happen to read this and find tons of spelling mistakes be gentle, I simply have not gotten around to checking the spelling in another distro…

I would never recommend giving this to grandma or the wife to use, if you have lots of time on your hands you might consider it. My mom is never coming near this.

Sabayon – different, and good in it’s own way…

Oh, and I am glad to report no loud rock song complete with swearing…

Get the version of Sabayon Linux We Used at this MIRROR PAGE.

(After a slight delay DAY 5 is HERE featuring DREAMLINUX)

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