Monday, November 12, 2007

Sabayon 3.4f boots, still has problems

Well, I did what I said I'd do, and downloaded Sabayon 3.4f and booted it on the Gateway M680. Just as before with 3.4e I booted Sabayon into a Compiz-enabled graphic desktop. This time the keyboard worked, but other problems led to a less than ideal user experience.

Gateway M680

  1. The Compiz 3D effects interfere with the KDE Kickoff menu.
  2. The Compiz 3D effects interfere with (some) USB devices.
  1. Boot Sabayon without Compiz enabled. When the system boots into the first selection menu simply choose to boot without Compiz enabled. If you must boot with the eye candy, then when you get to the desktop right-click immediately on the menu button on the lower panel and select the older KDE menu. It works with the older menu. However, switching from the KDE Kickoff menu to the older KDE menu creates a new problem. Look at the screen shot above. Note how the applets in the upper panel (upper right) are little tiny windows immediately beneath the positions they had on the upper panel. Because they're no longer on the upper panel they show up in the task bar. This occurred simply by switching the menus.
  2. The only way I could use my Kingston 4GB thumb drive was to boot Sabayon without the eye candy.

I booted up in europa just to see if anything would work on even older hardware. Fortunately for Sabayon it did - up to a point. The biggest problem booting on europa apparently was the ATI X1950 Pro video card. The best Sabayon could do resolution-wise was 1024 x 768. But it did come up with Compiz enabled.

As you can see in the screen shot above I opened up Google Earth, which is conveniently on the desktop. That's great if you're trying to create a first impression, but problems dog Google Earth just like everything else within this distribution. First problem is the version. Sabayon ships with 4.0. The current version since June has been 4.2. The big difference between 4.0 and 4.2 is that 4.2 includes the star-field view. The other problem is the eternal conflict with Xgl/Compiz and OpenGL on ATI graphics hardware. The problem manifested itself this time in rendering text on an OpenGL canvas. Those long white and yellow rectangles on the Google Earth map are supposed to be text boxes identifying locations on the map.

After shutting down Google Earth I decided to start Second Life. I have a Second Life avatar named Galactic Condor. I was trying for Galactic Condom but Lindon Labs has no sense of humor. Whatever. The only problem here, as with Google Earth, is the version of the application. In the case of Second Life it won't run unless you have a high-enough version. Oh well.

I'm sure that if I were to install Sabayon on europa I could update to the latest versions, hopefully via a repository, by hand if necessary. This is no way, however, to impress the first-time casual user. Sabayon has got some serious problems to address in the area of its graphic desktop and in the choice of applications. And somebody really needs to be testing these releases just to make sure everything works as intended. Given a choice between Sabayon and Mint, I'd definitely choose Mint.

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