A speedily-evolving Linux distribution – with updates arriving regularly – and one that used to be known as RR4 Linux, Sabayon Linux is quickly garnering strong word-of-mouth support among the open source community, and with good reason.
Up to version 3.4 at the time of writing, Sabayon Linux is based on a Gentoo core and, as is pretty much the norm, can be fired up initially as a live distribution, allowing you to trial the OS without installing. Should you wish to take the plunge, a simple click or two will then do the job of putting it on your hard drive.
It’s a quick installation, too, whichever route you take, and one that by default provides you with an expansive selection of applications ready installed. This doesn’t just cover the tools you’re likely to need: the likes of Google Earth are also on the desktop from the moment you boot up. This is a real differential between many Linux alternatives, and explains why the full version of Sabayon requires a DVD to house it.
This all makes it a genuine option for the less experienced Linux user, and while there’s still a compelling argument that perhaps Ubuntu is the more logical starting point for a novice, there’s a lot to commend within Sabayon. For instance, graphics driver support is strong, so for those who simply want to get going and have little – if any – interaction with the command line, it could be just the job.
It’s also – and this is likely to endear it to less confident users – a distribution with a striking, consistent and confident look. It looks friendly and, on the whole, that’s just what it is. That’s not to say there aren’t more powerful features under the bonnet, and seasoned Linux veterans will know just where to find them.
The trick that Sabayon pulls off, though, is to straddle both novice and experienced users and keep them both interested. The cake is iced by the healthy speed that the OS zips along at, easily deposing the Vista installation that had previously sat on our test machine. Throw in almost perfect stability and there’s much that’s gone right here.
It’s not faultless, of course, although no Linux distributions are. Much though advanced users are likely to be endeared, there are one or two confusions in the way it does its business, and some may view the amount of software included as bloat.
But we’re impressed. If this is the current poster child for the Linux movement then it’s an attractive one, and one that at the very least is well worth taking for a test run with that aforementioned live disc.