Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sabayon 11 KDE Review: Great aesthetics and stable performance

To begin with, Sabayon 11 release is not be missed. At least that is the evidence I got post using the Sabayon 11 XFCE release. Hardware support is better than ever with complete EFI/UEFI and UEFI SecureBoot support, greatly improved NVIDIA Optimus support through Bumblebee, a selection of MySQL flavors, including Google MySQL and MariaDB, up to 14000 packages now available in the repositories per architecture, and much, much more. I already reviewed the XFCE release and found it to be really really good. Next in line is the KDE version.

From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Sabayon 11 KDE 32-bit ISO is about 2.1 GB, almost the same size as Sabyon 10 KDE. It comes with KDE 4.9.5 (last release had 4.9.2) and KDE 4.10.1 is expected soon. Linux kernel is 3.7.0. The ISO supports live-boot and I used my Asus K54C with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM. It doesn't have NVIDIA graphics for the test. Using Unetbootin, I created a live USB. I used it to live boot on the laptop mentioned above followed by installation to a 16 GB hard drive.
Sabayon 11 has a dark blue themed attractive interface integrated to the KDE plasma interface. As before, Sabayon developers have given ample attention to minute details starting from the boot splash to application interface to integrate with the theme. Even the LibreOffice start splash (which is green colored normally and a total misfit to the overall distro theme) has been modified to integrate with Sabayon theme. Other Linux distros should take a leaf or two from Sabayon in terms of giving users a highly polished interface and integrating applications to the overall distro theme. It is at times missing even in supposedly good distros.

From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Hardware detection
Hardware detection of Sabyon 11 KDE is not as good as the XFCE release. It is here I faced the main issues. First it wasn't able to detect my sound card and I had to manually adjust. Second, touchpad was detected but tap and double tap wasn't set up. After I set it up manually from Settings, it worked as expected.

From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Wifi and LAN worked perfect and without any issue. In the XFCE version, everything worked automatic without any manual intervention.

Application list is the same as Sabayon 10 KDE with a couple of additions here and there, viz.

  • Office: LibreOffice suite, Okular Document viewer, Korganizer, Kontact
  • Internet: Chromium, Akregator, Kopete IM, KPPP, Konversation, Konqueror, Blue Devil
  • Graphics: Acquireimages, DNGconverter, Gwenview, Photo layout editor, Ksnapshot
  • Multimedia: Clementine music player, K3b, VLC 2, XBMC Media center, TiMiDity ++ MiDi Sequencer
  • Accessories: Ark Archiving tool, Klipper, KGpg encryption tool, Kjots notes, Knotes, Kalarm, Kcalc, Kwrite, Nepomuk backup, Konsole, Kwallet management
  • Others: Wine
Multimedia codecs and Adobe flashplugin are provided by default. I was able to watch my favorite movies and online videos even from the live boot. I really like the choice of the applications here - it is not loaded with all KDE softwares but presents a judicial mix of KDE and non-KDE applications. Office and Multimedia sections are pretty strong and complete whereas graphics could have been better with the inclusion of GIMP 2.8.4.

From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Wine is provided in the distro which is good. However, I am more comfortable using wine with PlayonLinux. Users like me can download PlayonLinux from the repository and set up their favorite Windows programs like MS Office 2010.

From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Installation is pretty simple with queries on installation and keyboard language, location to install, time zone, root password and user ID creation. I didn't face any issue there and got it right in the first attempt itself. Pretty simple as easy as Ubuntu or Linux Mint installation.

From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Post Installation Update Issue
Unlike XFCE version, where Magneto update notifier downloaded the repository links and notified me of the impending updates, somehow the KDE one malfunctioned. Even I opened the Rigo Application browser and tried to check for updates, but no success there as well. So, I tried the easier way out - opened the terminal and entered:
$ sudo equo update (to download repository)
$ sudo equo upgrade (to update the system)

It took about 15 minutes to upgrade the system. Post upgrading, Magneto update notifier and Rigo, both worked fine and as expected. There might be a minor bug in the KDE 32-bit distro I guess or is it only me who faced this problem?

Rigo application browser is the default GUI to search and install applications. Backend repository is of Gentoo Linux which has about 14000 apps. I found Rigo quite easy to use and helpful to new users. Especially the notification of "working hard" while downloading applications is too good!

From Sabayon 11 KDE http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
I downloaded Firefox and Conky using Rigo. It was quick and things worked as expected. Using conky-lua settings and changing the logo inside the clock, I created a nice looking conky for Sabayon!

Sabayon 11 KDE felt a bit heavier to use than Sabayon 10 KDE. In my earlier test with Sabayon 10 KDE, it consumed about 270 MB RAM & 1-10% CPU to boot the default desktop with task manager running. Under similar conditions, Sabayon 11 KDE consumed about 50 MB more RAM. If I compare it with other KDE distros, Sabayon 11 KDE lies somewhere in the bottom half in terms of performance.

Distro DE Linux kernel CPU RAM
Mageia 2 KDE KDE 4.8.5 3.3.6 1-10% 221 MB
Kororaa 17 KDE 4.8.4 3.4.4 1-5% 247 MB
PCLinuxOS 2013.02 KDE KDE 4.9.5 3.2.18 1-10% 250 MB
Fedora 17 KDE KDE 4.8.3 '3.3.4-5 1-5% 255 MB
Mint 14 KDE KDE 4.9.2 3.5.0-17 1-5% 255 MB
Mint 13 KDE KDE 4.8.3 3.2.0-29 1-5% 270 MB
Fedora 18 KDE KDE 4.9.5 3.7.2 1-10% 300 MB
Kubuntu 13.04RC KDE 4.10 3.8.0-5 2-10% 300 MB
Slackel 14 KDE KDE 4.8.4 3.2.29 1-10% 300 MB
Chakra Archimedes 2012.07 KDE 4.8.3 '3.4.3 1-10% 310 MB
Kubuntu 12.04.1 LTS KDE 4.8.4 3.2.0-29 2-10% 310 MB
Kubuntu 12.10 KDE 4.9.2 3.5.0-17 2-10% 314 MB
Sabayon 11 KDE KDE 4.9.5 3.7.0 1-10% 320 MB
Bridge KDE KDE 4.9.3 3.6.7 1-10% 330 MB
Manjaro 0.8.3 KDE KDE 4.9.4 3.4.24 1-10% 335 MB
PCLinuxOS 2012.08 KDE KDE 4.8.3 3.2.18 1-10% 340 MB
ROSA 2012 Marathon KDE KDE 4.8.3 3.0.38 1-10% 340 MB
Slackel KDE 4.9.2 KDE 4.9.2 3.2.29 1-10% 355 MB
OpenSUSE 12.2 KDE KDE 4.8.4 3.4.6 1-10% 366 MB

In overall, Sabayon 11 is a distro worth trying out because of quite a few advantages it offer, namely:
  • Superb artwork and high level of integration of application interface with the default theme
  • Mostly applications work out of the box and it provides good multimedia support
  • Sabayon has a rolling release and that means you get the latest applications, desktop environments and Linux kernels without having to undergo the pain of reinstalling a new Linux every 6 months.
  • Stability, I found Sabayon quite stable over my use
I know Ubuntu, Fedora and Linux Mint users will know the pain of reinstalling their favorite settings every 6 months and if you stick to the LTS versions (in case of Ubuntu/Linux Mint) you don't get the latest applications. Upgrading is definitely an option in Ubuntu or Linux Mint but my experience is pretty bad while upgrading and every time I ended up with a broken distro. So, operating systems like Sabayon or PCLinuxOS are saving grace there.

I faced a certain minor issues in Sabayon 11 KDE like inability to do automatic update, manual adjustment to make touchpad work and not detecting my sound settings properly; but these are not issues which cannot be resolved easily. I give Sabayon 11 KDE 8.5/10 - 9/10 in applications, 7/10 in performance and 10/10 in aesthetics for the wonderful integration of the Sabayon theme to every part of the distro and amazing attention to details.

Sabayon 11 KDE is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions and you can download them from here.


  1. I absolutely agree with you regarding Sabayon's theming. It's really top notch unlike even some of the big name distros out there. Nice write up and thanks for the read :)

    1. Thanks for reading my article. Sabayon has perhaps the best artwork among all the Linux distros I have used, including ROSA.

  2. sabayon is great, 1 of the best distro out here. and very stable.

    1. Agree. Very stable with awesome aesthetics.

    2. i agree. and 1 thing i love about sabayon, its that skype and spotify work right out of the box. no athor distro have that.

  3. i cant install and config conky. i need some help please. i run sabayon 11 mate 64 bit.

    1. I installed conky from the repository. Let me understand the issue you are facing. Is it you are unable to download and install conky? or is it the config? For config, please create a .conkyrc file in your home folder and then manipulate it. I did the same with Conky lua and you can see the snapshots in my Sabayon 11 Mate review.


      Please let me know the details of the issue you are facing.


  4. I've been fooling myself all these years using Debian. Gonna use debian only for a servers from now on, while for a desktop Sabayon is my choice - anytime ! Thank you for the review.

    1. Sabayon is a good choice as a distro. It is stable, has a rolling release and looks extremely professional. Thanks for liking my review of Sabayon 11 KDE.