A Look at Gentoo based distribution Sabayon

Mike Turcotte-McCusker
Aug 7, 2017
Updated • Aug 2, 2017

So, I’ve mentioned in a previous article that I have been known to distrohop (read: change distributions often) and I decided that I wanted to try something different; again.

I’ve used Sabayon many years ago, probably around eight, and so I thought perhaps it was time to revisit it and see how it goes.

What is Sabayon?

Sabayon is a binary based distribution based on the source based distribution Gentoo. In English that means that the developers of Sabayon built a distribution off of Gentoo that no longer has a primary focus of building packages strictly from source, but rather, has it’s own repositories of packages that have been precompiled and are available for download through a new package manager they call Entropy; so even users who are new to GNU/Linux can use Sabayon without the steep learning curve of Gentoo.

Why would they use Gentoo for a base?

Why not? Google did when they made their Chrome OS for Chromebooks. Gentoo is a very powerful system, and behind the scenes the Entropy package manager still deals with the Portage package manager through some overlays,

  • “Overlay: We have our own Portage overlay for ebuilds. Ebuilds are script files that contain instructions for the Portage package manager on how to install the package from its source code
  • Performance: We have modified the Portage make.conf file in order to ensure that our distribution will run at higher speed on newer computers and as fast as possible on older computers.
  • Variability: Again, we have modified make.conf in order to cater to a wide spectrum of hardware, using the x86 and amd64 (x86_64) processor architectures.
  • Entropy: We have a binary manager that can be used as the one, unique package manager. It functions also with Portage so that you can use them both if you are an experienced user. The Entropy binary packages are ready-built and can be installed immediately without the need to compile anything from the source code.
  • The main branch of Gentoo is considered Gentoo stable. Sabayon is based on Gentoo's testing branch.
  • Sabayon has different versions ready for quick and pain free installation. The Gentoo installation is done from the ground up, relying on you to make all the configuration choices.
  • Gentoo has use flags. Sabayon will ignore use flags when using Entropy, but will apply the use flags when using portage.

Users of Sabayon have the option of using it as a binary based distribution, or opting to make use of the Portage source system and essentially just have a Gentoo build. You also CAN mix and match and create a hybrid, but it’s not generally recommended and there are specific steps you must follow, as read on the wiki.

The installation

The installation of Sabayon is pretty straightforward. If you’ve installed any normal binary distribution before, you can install Sabayon.

Also good to note that full disk encryption worked flawlessly in the installation process, and I had absolutely no issues whatsoever during any of the installation process on my machine.

The system
Sabayon Update

I opted for installing the KDE flavour of Sabayon, so upon booting up and logging in I was presented with the typical KDE 5 Plasma desktop. After connecting to my WiFi I loaded up the system update software and started to update the system....Which took forever. My WiFi usually gives me about 120Mbps (roughly 15MB/s) connection speeds, but my Hard Disk is 5400RPM. That said, the update took around two hours.

Once updating was finished, I needed to install a couple things that I use regularly, namely Firefox, optipng (a small CLI based application that optimizes png files to lower filesize), and Shutter, my screenshot application of choice.

Something to note about the ways Sabayon installs software using Entropy, is that not only does it install the application you want, but also the dependencies and usually most optional packages as well. For example, Shutter has a built in editor that I use to edit screenshots I take for articles, this editor requires libgoo-canvas or other similarly named packages to be installed in order to use it. Generally with most distributions I have to install shutter and install the needed dependencies for the editor manually; Sabayon installed it automatically for me, which was a very nice change of pace I must say.

I did notice however that my KDE system locked up once and basically had to reset itself. It wasn’t a huge issue, but something to note.

Sabayon unfortunately (in my opinion) comes with a LOT of bloat. For example, it comes with the entire KDE games selection when you install the KDE flavour. I have absolutely no interest in playing simple KDE games on my machine, and so at some point I’m going to need to remove them.

I’m not sure how much bloat comes with the other flavours of Sabayon, but at least be aware that with the installation of KDE you will get ALL the standard KDE packages, including likely a bunch of things you will never use. It does however come with everything you need essentially, from LibreOffice to Clementine, Google Chrome as the default browser, VLC, Atom editor etc.

A noteworthy feature is that Sabayon included a Sandbox (aptly named “Sandbox”) that when launched, gave me a terminal window locked inside a sandbox. I like this inclusion greatly.

Otherwise, Sabayon seems to be running fairly well. A little slower, but I attribute most of that to KDE to be frank, KDE running on this Hard Disk was probably not my best choice when thinking in terms of optimal speed; perhaps I will switch to MATE down the road; albeit KDE does have some lovely features.

Final Thoughts

So far I’m impressed with Sabayon, and I think it definitely deserves a good shot at becoming my daily driver. I dislike that the KDE flavour was preinstalled with so much bloat, but I can’t speak for the other flavours of the distro yet. Overall the system seems fairly stable minus the one KDE hiccup, and the Entropy package manager seems powerful and intuitive; a pleasure to use really.

A Look at Gentoo based distribution Sabayon
Article Name
A Look at Gentoo based distribution Sabayon
Sabayon is a binary based Linux/GNU distribution based on the source based distribution Gentoo with it’s own repositories of packages.
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  1. Fitzcarraldo said on August 10, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    “Variability: Again, we have modified make.conf in order to cater to a wide spectrum of hardware, using the x86 and amd64 (x86_64) processor architectures.”

    Since 2014 Sabayon Linux does not releases editions for 32-bit CPUs, only 64-bit (amd64).

  2. eowruiteoriu said on August 8, 2017 at 10:23 pm


    why don’t you troll elsewhere. M$ shills are awake, it seems.

  3. Mike Turcotte said on August 8, 2017 at 10:06 pm


    My enthusiasm for arch is still there, however when I write articles about a distro I prefer to install it directly to my system rather than make persistent USB installs, that way I can see exactly how the system runs with all of my hardware including speed of use on my 5400rpm hard disk.

    I’ll probably be back to arch in the near future as it’s my preferred system for the most part,currently.

    If Sabayon has caught your eye I recommend you to try it :)

  4. Grow up guys said on August 8, 2017 at 11:12 am

    @jasray & KL
    No , what this tells everybody is that you don’t or can’t think , before you write! What STUPID comments , smart bums!
    Please do enlighten us all as to how Mike is to write about various distros , if he doesn’t “distrohop” ??? How about instead you show some respect for the time & effort that he puts in !!!

  5. Jozsef said on August 8, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Mike, this is good timing because I was thinking about Sabayon just a few days ago. Thank you! Is there a reason your enthusiasm for Arch has diminished?

    Note to Martin: I don’t think mean and illogical personal attacks are interesting or useful as comments. I will not be offended if you weed them out.

  6. jasray said on August 8, 2017 at 3:36 am

    What this tells me is that users of Linux who “hop around” are constantly dissatisfied with the “next distro that promises everything.” Such a waste of time. It also tells me that Windows is far superior because techs and users who do jump off the Windows club find themselves returning quite soon.

    As a general rule, an IT Department doesn’t have the time or patience of users to constantly be switching from one flavor of Linux to another; hence, the adoption of the Windows OS as the commercial and household base. The server side of things is a different topic.

    You sound like the young man who tried and rejected lover after lover only to grow old and have nothing but empty promises and hopes upon which to reflect. And maybe some bastard children.

    1. MdN said on August 8, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      Most distros can do everything (but have different desktops and default apps, which can be changed), some people are just curious and some are testing for, guess what, IT websites. Very few people hop around.
      Very few return to Windows. Can you back your claim with some data? Most of us just use our computers and forget Windows and certainly don’t go to Windows articles to insult the sheep.
      Your mythical IT departments choose one well known. stable distro and stick with it. Why change when your software can work on any?
      You sound like an old man who married a girl who has been with everyone else in the city thinking that it must mean she’s good, and girls with personality and brains who didn’t want him must be evil, so let’s talk nonsense about them.

    2. Jason said on August 8, 2017 at 9:48 am

      “techs and users who do jump off the Windows club find themselves returning quite soon.”

      What kind of argument is this? If that were true, there wouldn’t be anyone using Linux today. Most Linux users come from Windows. On a more general note, you are mistaken to think that distro hopping is the norm in Linux. There are lots of IT departments running Linux, and I assure you they do not distro hop. Seriously, I don’t know what you’re talking about. It just sounds like you wanted to troll Linux a bit.

      1. Bob Stockdale said on November 13, 2019 at 3:56 pm

        I left Windoze back in 1998 and have never looked back. After a house fire destroyed everything, I had to compile a content list for the insurance claim. To replace all the software and books to learn the software it would have cost over $50k. I cut my linux teeth on Caldera 2.2. I have used many distros over the last 21 years but have used Sabayon for at least the last 4 years. I like the fact that it is a rolling release and use a cron job to automatically keep it up to date. Saybaon Mate is what I currently use on 2 laptops and a home built 8 core AMD workstation with 32 gig ram.
        My latest install is on a recently purchased Acer Predator Helios 500 laptop with 8 core Ryzen 7 2700 processor and 16 gig of ram. It came with Windoze 10 which I won’t use. However, with 13 grandchildren that need Windoze for school and use our computers, I made this dual boot.
        This semi-techie/user will never return to Windoze!

    3. RichardT said on August 8, 2017 at 9:36 am

      @jasray “You sound like the young man who tried and rejected lover after lover only to grow old and have nothing but empty promises and hopes upon which to reflect. And maybe some bastard children.”

      What a mean, offensive statement!

    4. Anonymous said on August 8, 2017 at 5:35 am

      Funny I dont see this at all. What I do see jasray is someone who either is having a bad day or has a very narrow and twisted view of the world. Someone who is looking for the company of misery in which you live.

      Good luck with that.

      1. jasray said on August 22, 2017 at 1:47 am

        The perfect Linux distribution doesn’t exist. Take it from someone that does a lot of distro-hopping — you will find yourself searching forever. Instead, it is wise to find a Linux-based operating system that meets your needs and try to stick with it. After all, constantly fiddling with various distributions will just drain your energy and steal your time.


        Here’s another hop for all those in favor of distro-hopping.

        All is well in my world, thank you very much!

      2. TianlanSha said on August 8, 2017 at 10:31 am

        Jasray needs to change his hemorrhoid treatment. xD

        I don’t use Linux at this point, because I play lots of games, some important ones with anticheat, and we well know that anticheat games don’t run on Linux. If I have to switch to Linux after 2020 when Windows 7 stops being supported and games and popular software also drop support for it, it will be a Debian-based distro, it’s something I’m accustomed to and can navigate easier than something completely new. As long as I find drivers, I will be fine, even if it means not playing some of my favorite games, it’s a good price to pay for not having to taint my computer with Shitdows 10.

    5. KL said on August 8, 2017 at 4:38 am

      my thoughts exactly.

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