Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Making the switch to Sabayon

For those readers who had read my old blog, or from elsewhere on the net you know that I am a huge fan of Debian. However I have become more and more disenchanted with it as time goes on. It started when I was doing a laptop installation and finished with a recent battle with my desktop.

Laptop issue:
Cpu frequency scaling (also an issue with my desktop). Its not enabled by default even if I selected laptop during the install. Come on guys every other distro out there enables scaling by default, and even when its not fully supported it defaults to the highest cpu speed not the lowest. Hell, even the Ubuntoids got that part right.

Desktop issues:
1: AM2 64x2 4600+ with either a abit AN9 32X or a Gigabyte M61P-S3 motherboard. CPU scaling AGAIN!!! With either board. Trying to get scaling to work on multiple installs fell on its face. Why you ask? It needs sysfs loaded, guess what didnt get loaded because my processor was misdetected on every install with either mobo and the wrong damn kernel got installed ... even using expert install.

2: CPU detection and kernel installation. Even though supposedly Debian now releases all the kernels with SMP support every time I install I get no SMP, I have to go and pick the kernel I want out of synaptic. Up to and including the testing (Lenny) net install as of 2 days ago.

These are things that arent just an annoyance for a desktop user, its a show stopper for anyone even thinking of deploying a server. If you cant get what every other distro in the world can get then your useless, wait let me say that again, useless, worthless, self absorbed, prissy prima donas. Debian used to have the reputation of being the best, you dont keep a reputation like that guys, you work at keeping it, and right now your loosing it.

PCLinuxOS, I love you guys even if you have a jerk or two doing forum moderation. Dig through my posts at LXer for that story. This is the distro that I have on my laptop, I installed on my 58 year old mothers laptop, and that I keep a couple of LiveCD's kicking around to hand out to people. Good job and well done. However there are things that I want to do that I cant with it. The documentation is SOOO wonderful that it took me 2 days to manage to get wine to compile from source correctly.

Back to the desktop, I ruled out Debian as the distro to go into it. So I went with Ubuntu 7.04, 6.10 worked well for me when I used it so what the heck I'll spin up the new one. That lasted less than 2 days, I cant even begin to describe just how clunky it felt. The speed wasnt there, the configuration options are worse not better. It just felt and acted wrong and after several lockups where I couldnt even 'ctrl alt f1' to get to a terminal to find and kill the offending culprit I decided it was as stable as a fart in high winds.

Enter Sabayon, a Gentoo derivative. Gentoo is NOT newbie friendly, I have tried it a couple of times and wandered off muttering "I'm not that big a geek". However when I first heard of Sabayon I went out and snagged the LiveCD and was suitably impressed. I liked its look and feel, as well as the overall approach to things. First off it loaded the nVidia drivers from the CD and also brought my wireless networking up (bcm4306) so all I had to do was enter the hex code I use for my router. Thats 2 really big pluses for it right there.

That test was a few months ago, so I decided to give their 3.3 livecd a look. On top of both the other pluses it came right up with KDE and Beryl working flawlessly (except I usually use fluxbox, so neither KDE or Beryl mean much to me. Except I hadnt seen Beryl work right out of the box before). I poked and prodded a bit (checked for cpu scaling) the decided to take the plunge. I knew just enough about source based distro's to know that I just entered into another steep learning curve. However 2 days later and the curve isnt as steep as I thought it would be. No real gotcha's so far ... well one, the user accounts I created during the live CD install never created the home folders so I had a little fixing to do once I figured out what happened.

All I can say is that 2 days in and Sabayon is fast, has taken my every little tweak without so much a cough, and blows the doors off of any other distro I have used before. I hope that it continues to do so, I'll get back later on that though. For the time being PCLOS is still staying on my laptop and will continue to be my newbie recomendation of choice.


No comments: