How does this work? [Solved]

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How does this work? [Solved]

Postby Shibblet » Fri May 22, 2009 22:58

I am an avid Ubuntu supporter, and love the OS in general. After using Ubuntu, I thought I'd try a different flavor of Linux, one that had better performance. I did some searching around the internet and found that Gentoo is one of the best linux distros because it compiles everything at install. But Gentoo is a pain in the butt for anyone who isn't well versed in Linux. So after some research into performance, I found Sabayon. I ordered a DVD of Sabayon 4.1 x86_64 Gnome and it's not quite here yet, in the mean time...

I have a few questions about Sabayon.

As this is a mostly source based distro, are the binaries necessary?
Does it compile all drivers upon installation, like Gentoo?
Does it compile the kernel on installation?
Are all programs in the installer available as source?

Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Re: How does this work?

Postby Fitzcarraldo » Sat May 23, 2009 1:41

The following post may help you understand the concepts: viewtopic.php?f=86&t=17051#p97623.

1. Not sure what you mean by your first question. If you mean can you choose to use the source package manager (Portage) instead of the binary package manager (Entropy) then the answer is "yes". But a "mostly source based distro" just means that you compile the source code on your computer to create "binaries" locally, rather than downloading the pre-compiled applications ("binaries"). "Binaries" are always necessary. In e.g. Ubuntu they're generated for you and stored in a remote repository until you install them on your PC; in Sabayon Linux the same applies if you use the Entropy binary package manager. In Gentoo (and Sabayon Linux if you use the Portage source package manager) you generate the binaries on your PC by compiling the source code on your PC. The scripts to do the compiling are also downloaded from a repository, and these scripts in turn download the application's source code from the repository used by the author of the applicable package, and then compile it on your PC.

2. No. They're already compiled. The Anaconda installer installs them onto the HDD from the LiveDVD. If you want you can recompile them after installation (which would be pointless if you have made no changes to any configuration files).

3. No. The kernel is already compiled. The Anaconda installer installs it onto the HDD from the LiveDVD. If you want you can recompile it after installation (which would be pointless if you have made no changes to any configuration files).

4. All the applications are available in the form of source code if they are open-source applications. The source code is in a remote repository used by the author of the application. The Gentoo ebuild script to download the source code and compile that application is in a Gentoo repository or third-party repository ('overlay'), and/or 'local overlay' if you have created one on you HDD. Closed-source applications and closed-source drivers are pre-compiled by the manufacturer (the term 'closed source' means what it says). If you use the Gentoo/Sabayon Linux source package manager then the source is downloaded to your HDD by the installation script ('ebuild') and compiled. If you use the Sabayon Linux binary package manager then the pre-compiled application is downloaded to your HDD by the equo command.

See the SL Wiki for further details of Portage and Entropy. and the commands they use.
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Re: How does this work?

Postby Shibblet » Sat May 23, 2009 2:09

Thanks for the info! That did bring up another question.

Would I benefit from recompiling the kernel? And after that, would I have to compile all new software, or would binaries still work?

From what I understand, the idea of Sabayon (or Gentoo) is to have an OS compiled specifically for your system.
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Re: How does this work?

Postby Fitzcarraldo » Sat May 23, 2009 2:50

Well, the stock Sabayon kernel contains everything including the kitchen sink selected, to maximise the chance of it working with any hardware. For example it has just about every wireless controller selected. Once you have enough experience, you can go through the kernel configuration and switch off all the selections for hardware that you don't have installed. Or you may want to change the I/O scheduler or CPU scheduler to one of the other options available. So you can tune your kernel to your hardware (and make it leaner, too).

When you read the other thread I referenced in my previous post, you'll see that you can tune applications too, in some cases for functionality, in others for hardware. For example, you could rebuild the ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) firmware for your specific sound card only, switching off support for all other manufacturers' sound cards: there's no point compiling the ALSA stuff for hardware you don't have. So, bottom line is that Gentoo (and Sabayon Linux if using the Portage package manager) allows you to tune your system.

However, in practice, in 99.9% of cases you won't notice a difference. For example, I installed OpenOffice a few times from source using the Portage ebuild (called "openoffice"). It took around 6 hours to build on my laptop and worked OK. I then installed OpenOffice from Portage using the pre-compiled Portage package (called "openoffice-bin") and it was slightly faster (and looked better!).

So it very much depends how much time you have to fiddle with things and how far under the hood you want to go. If you are prepared to accept that you may break your installation and like to tinker for hours if necessary then Portage is the way to go. You certainly learn a heck of a lot about Linux using Gentoo and Portage. And, to really understand how Entropy works, a knowledge of how Portage works is essential. If you want to install and use Linux and applications, and are not interested in what makes the OS tick, then Entropy is the way to go. OK, I'm exaggerating a bit, but it is definitely easier to break your installation using Portage. For newcomers to Linux, Entropy is definitely the better choice. Then you can start dipping your toe in the water with Portage once you have some experience under your belt.

Recompiling the kernel usually necessitates recompiling the graphics driver. And certain other packages are tied to a certain kernel release (typically X.Org stuff), which is no different from the situation with Ubuntu or any other distribution. In the case of Entropy this is easy to spot because the package file name includes the kernel version number. Here are a couple of examples: x11-drivers/ati-drivers-8.600-r10#2.6.28-sabayon and x11-drivers/ati-drivers-8.593-r11#2.6.29-sabayon. You can see that version 8.600-r10 of the ATI closed-source driver is compiled for Sabayon kernel version 2.6.28, whereas version 8.593-r11 of the driver is compiled for version 2.6.29 of the Sabayon kernel. (If using Portage, though, you could build either driver for either kernel.) But for the vast majority of packages you don't need to rebuild them if you upgrade the kernel, they just carry on working as normal.
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Re: How does this work?

Postby Shibblet » Mon May 25, 2009 19:24

So, in essence.... building programs from source isn't always the better idea.

But if you have a recompiled kernel, don't you have to compile everything from source?
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Re: How does this work?

Postby Fitzcarraldo » Mon May 25, 2009 19:47

Shibblet wrote:But if you have a recompiled kernel, don't you have to compile everything from source?


If you recompile the kernel, you recompile it (from source, obviously, because that's what "compiling" means) plus a few modules from source (see the article in the SL Wiki regarding upgrading the kernel using genkernel for how to find out which modules need to be recompiled when you build a kernel).

But, the kernel is only a part of the operating system. As I wrote in my previous post, there are a shed load of other packages in the operating system -- which is properly referred to as "GNU/Linux" -- other than the kernel, and the vast majority of those do not need recompiling if you re-compile (upgrade) the kernel.
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Re: How does this work?

Postby Shibblet » Mon May 25, 2009 19:51

Understandable, but then if it's not necessary to build from source all the time, what would be the reason for me to use Sabayon over Ubuntu? (no offense, it's a logical question.)

Or is it preferable to build only drivers for the best performance?
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Re: How dwhich oes this work?

Postby Fitzcarraldo » Mon May 25, 2009 20:37

It is indeed a logical question, and no offence taken. Personally I moved from Ubuntu to Sabayon because of the following, in no particular order:

1. I prefer KDE 3.5.* to GNOME 2.*.
2. Browsing of Samba shares with Nautilus in Ubuntu stopped working after an automatic update and, whatever I tried, I never got it to work again, whereas it worked out of the box with Sabayon. The Ubuntu forums are littered with threads about the problem. I don't know if the latest Ubuntu releases are better but I got fed up with it in the end.
3. All the hardware on my laptops work out of the box with Sabayon, but not with Ubuntu. Even the built-in memory card reader works. For example, I recently installed the latest version of Ubuntu on one of my laptops and wireless did not work. I installed Sabayon and, bingo, I was browsing the Web.
4. Sabayon's look and feel is gorgeous, in my opinion.
5. The fact that Sabayon does allow me to build packages using a source package manager (Portage) so that I can, if I wish, try to optimise applications or select certain options that a binary package maintainer may not have included in a pre-compiled package. And even try to create my own ebuilds, or modify other people's, in a local overlay for packages that are not available.
6. The fact that Sabayon is based on Gentoo, which has excellent documentation (see the Gentoo Handbook for an example of how good it is), extensive forums with lots of useful material from some seriously knowledgeable people (people well-known in the Linux world, such as Greg Kroah-Hartman, Roy Marples and so on) and a Bugzilla full of useful information and third-party ebuilds. I find the third-party ebuilds in the Gentoo Bugzilla very handy indeed, plus it has helped me solve several problems. To give just one example, it was easier for me to get a Canon printer working with Sabayon than with Ubuntu (you can find posts from me in both the distributions' forums about that).
7. A relatively small but dedicated bunch of users on the Sabayon Forum, some of whom are very knowledgeable.
8. When I moved to Sabayon over two years ago, Beryl (a predecessor of Compiz-Fusion) was installed by default, worked beautifully, and looked wonderful. In contrast, installing Compiz or Beryl on Ubuntu was something you had to do yourself and was complicated. I expect things have changed these days, but Sabayon was, and still is, more bleeding edge than Ubuntu. Back in early 2007, Sabayon 3.26 was just so much better than Ubuntu 6.06.
9. Gentoo/Sabayon has enabled me to learn more about how Linux works than Ubuntu did. Gentoo is sometimes referred to as a "ricer's distro" or a "geek's distro". Well, I enjoy tinkering with Linux (see a SL forum thread of mine on tuning performance and messing with the I/O and CPU scheduler, for example) as well as using it at home and for work, so I wanted a distro that would enable me to get under the hood. Some people want to install an OS and just use it (well, I do on some of my PCs, which is why I use Entropy on another laptop and PCLinuxOS on another). But my main PC has had Sabayon on it for over two years and I'm not considering changing to any other distro.

Personally, I use Entropy very little on my main laptop. I just prefer Portage (the total flexibility, including the ability to build packages that are not in the Entropy repository, and the fact that some packages are more up to date than in the Entropy repository). But on another of my laptops which I have set up for one of my children, the ease of use, the speed and robustness of Entropy has meant that Entropy is used on that laptop).

At the end of the day you have to try the distros and make your own comparison and choice.
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Re: How does this work?

Postby Shibblet » Tue May 26, 2009 10:41

Well, I have finally installed Sabayon 4.1 Gnome x86_64.

It's initial install isn't really that impressive over Ubuntu, but from what I understand, if you optimize, this is one of the most impressive Linux distro's available.

But I have spent the last 6 hours playing "search the internet and the forums" for how to do that. I am completely lost. I am pretty good at figuring things out, but I don't even know where to start.

Recompile the kernel for my Athlon X2? Download the Nvidia Drivers? Get the newest GCC?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: How does this work?

Postby wolfden » Fri Jun 05, 2009 18:49

the gentoo handbook is where you want to start, but if you are going to do all that, I would recommend a core install method and build up, but the gentoo handbook is your bible for what u want to do.
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