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Ubuntu, Mint, Elementary, Fedora, OpenSUSE… the list of user friendly distros can feel like a never-ending story. They all provide preconfigured desktop environments and easy to use settings managers, making it tricky to decide which distribution is right for you.
One distro you will probably never be recommended to install as a new Linux user is Gentoo, and for good reason: Gentoo has long been one of the most difficult distros to install and maintain, usually relegated to advanced Linux users.
Sabayon aims to change that by providing an easy way to install a user friendly, Gentoo based operating system. This guide will show you how to install Sabayon.
What is Gentoo?
Linux distributions generally fall into two categories: those which rely on precompiled binaries to install services and programs, and those which rely on the user compiling source code on their system to install services and programs. Gentoo falls into the latter category, relying on the Portage package management system to compile all the software the user wants to run.
The main benefit of compiling software instead of installing pre-built software is optimization — each program, and the operating system itself, is compiled specifically for the user’s system, making your system run more efficiently when compared to the “one-size-fits-all” precompiled binaries. On the flip side, large programs, and even the base operating system itself, can take quite some time to compile, even on newer hardware. For some users, this is an acceptable tradeoff; Android, for example, is built on Gentoo to ensure a highly optimized system capable of running on low spec devices such as phones and Chromebooks.
What is Sabayon?
Sabayon is a Gentoo derivative which aims to provide an easy to install, preconfigured operating system at the expense of some speed and efficiency when compared to a pure Gentoo installation. Sabayon gives the user the ability to utilize both Gentoo’s Portage to compile software, and Sabayon’s Entropy package management system, with the GUI based Rigo application manager to install precompiled binary software. The idea behind utilizing both package management systems is to give both new and experienced Linux users the capability to manage their system in whichever manner they choose.
You could say it is the best of both Linux worlds!
Additionally, Sabayon includes official Nvidia and AMD video card drivers out of the box; a stark contrast to most Linux distributions which only include the open source drivers for most hardware. Note: there is an additional step required to load AMD drivers at boot. Instructions can be found on the Sabayon wiki.
Sabayon has many installation files available, providing users with most of the big name desktop environments ready to go out of the box. You may prefer GNOME, MATE, KDE, or even LXQt, but this tutorial uses XFCE4, so your mileage may vary. Head to the download page (this is a US based mirror, but other worldwide mirrors are available), and choose your preferred .ISO.
Once downloaded, you can either burn this image to DVD, or use any of the tools here, to create a bootable USB file. To boot your system from the installation media in Windows 8 or 8.1, follow these instructions from Microsoft. For Windows 10, try these instead. On a Mac, reboot the computer and hold down the Option key when you hear the chime, before the screen turns on. In all cases, select the option to boot from the USB stick.
Sabayon provides an attractive text-based menu. We here at MakeUseOf always suggest to test out the live environment before actually installing to ensure your hardware works properly, so choose the option to Start Sabayon 16.07.
Test it out to make sure your hardware works properly. When thoroughly satisfied with the live Sabayon experience, double click the Install to Hard Disk icon on the desktop. The installer will give you four options. If you are connected to the Internet, your time zone should auto-populate, and you can set your keyboard layout if it does not look correct.
You can also configure your network connection if you are not already connected to the Internet. If you do change any options, click Done in the upper left corner when complete.
The most important thing on this screen, and you will not be able to begin your installation without doing so, is to decide where you will be installing Sabayon, so click on the Installation Destination option.
You will be presented with all the hard disks connected to your system. One will most likely be selected with a check mark, but you can change this by clicking whichever disk you want to install to.
After clicking Done, another screen will prompt you to choose your partitioning method.
Automatic is usually the best option, but experienced users can manually configure their partition scheme if they choose. It is always a good idea to secure your data by encrypting the hard disk, and if you decide to do so, you will set your encryption password after clicking Continue.
Sabayon will begin installing your system. While this happens, two options sit above the Sabayon features slideshow. Click the Root Password option and enter a password for the Root user, then click Done. Keep your Root password safe! Your Root password gives complete access to your underlying system and all your personal files.
Next, create your user account and password by clicking the User Creation option. Your user account will be an administrator account, allowing you to make changes to your system and install software, but if you ever forget your password or log into your system using a non-administrator account, you can use the Root account to make changes or reset your password.
After a few minutes, the installer will complete, and inform you it is ready to be rebooted. Click the Sabayon button in the lower left of your screen and choose Logout, then Reboot from the popup screen. Remove your installation media when the screen goes black, and wait for your new Sabayon system to reboot.
The boot screen will load up and initiate a countdown to auto-boot your system. You can also select the option to perform an advanced boot, which allows you to boot to a terminal or load specific drivers (AMD users, take note) at runtime. You can let the timer run out, or you can choose the Sabayon/GNU Linux option.
After logging in with your user account password (never login as Root unless you know what you’re doing!), your desktop will load, and you can go about your computing business…
That’s it! You now have the ability to install super speedy and efficient programs using Gentoo’s Portage system, or you can install precompiled binaries using Entropy or the Rigo application manager. As the Sabayon wiki states, you are well on your way to improving the economy, reducing global warming and saving the environment, promoting world peace, and stopping alien invasions!
How do you like your new Sabayon system? Which package management system do you prefer, compiling from source or installing binaries? Which desktop environment did you choose? Let us know in the comments below!