Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

2Apr/07Off

When Your Time Is Worth More Than Some Geek Points

I used to run Gentoo exclusively on all of my x86 machines but after this job started and other things started distracting me from actually having any fun using computers I slowly started migrating them all back to Debian. I think this is a natural progression for those who just don't have any time to mess around with their computers. The Gentoo install (or lack thereof) is something that is worthwhile a couple of times as you do learn a bit while doing it especially about how system libraries interact with applications that depend on them and other arcana that people are probably not all that interested in. Still, allowing wireless access to the laser printer and other types of administrivia are very much the practical dominion of a distribution like Debian. I trust Debian to just do what I tell it to and sometimes I forget that my desktop machine upstairs even exists. This is good and utilitarian but doesn't make me want to do anything cool with my computer. I need a CUPS server that keeps reliably working but I don't want to hang out with that server.

Sabayon is my fun distribution now because not only is it based on Gentoo but takes a matter of a couple hours to get functional. This includes installing a double handful of packages from portage and beginning to update world and rip out a few things I will never need like man pages in French. Most of the bulk is due to the fact that the CD will do pretty much anything you could think of out of the fucking box. I was a little astonished at how much this CD is capable of with a bare minimum of user input. I fired up the private internet browsing live option and was pretty excited that it started asking me questions about my wireless AP and then just did its thing. There are also some game demo options in the boot list but I'm less interested in those. My limited experience with the live options left me blown away. The hardware detection reminds me of how astonished by Knoppix initially. That my wireless chipset was not only detected but working (other than typing in a WEP key) from the get go. Usually this requires a lot of wangling with ndiswrapper or defaulting to an install of Linuxant before I'm doing anything but wishing that the wireless worked. I'm actually a little curious how that ended up working since I've never seen a distribution handle the wireless without at least stuffing a CD full of Windows drivers into its demand hole.

All of that said, if my initial impression were based on the installer instead of the live CD experience I probably would not have continued with Sabayon. The installer (based on Anaconda) crashed at a couple different crucial points, made me want to howl with frustration, and then just worked. I delete all existing partitions before the last install attempt so that may well be what cleared things up. I'm unsure of this though because I wasn't paying close enough attention the third time around and was pretty amazed that it just took off without further intervention from me. I guess the dev team is working on a package selection interface for future versions which would be nice as there is a lot of software installed in the current method.

The upside of this is that you're going to have pretty much any given piece of software that you might need and the downside to this only comes when you synch portage for the first time and find out that you've got a fearsome number of packages to emerge as well as overlays and whatnot to work around. If you're already familiar with Gentoo and how portage works then this is a pretty easy task to work albeit one that consumes some time. If you're new to the whole concept then get used to watching output stream down a terminal for what will seem like forever. I'm not sure how Kuroo will work under Sabayon when first fired up because I went directly for a terminal and started removing applications I didn't need.

I'm not sure how Sabayon would work out for a user unacquainted with Gentoo entirely. It was, if absolutely nothing else, a huge shortcut towards establishing a functioning Gentoo install without attending to the million and a half little quirks that come along with a fresh install even from Stage Three. It reminds me of how I felt the first time I used Libranet as the quick installer for Debian only without the brokeness inherent in having too many repositories and spending far too much time sorting out apt by messing around with cached packages and arguments to dpkg. They've definitely got something good going here and I'm really curious to see how it evolves over time. The live CD is pretty flawless and the installer can only get better.

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  1. I have this distro’s homepage bookmarked to “go back to later” and it glares at me with angry eyes every time I flash right past it on the way to something else.

    This might be just the push I need to blow away my crappy old kubuntu box and try it out.


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