Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sabayon Linux: Awesome [MOSTLY: (REVISED)]

[Sabayon has since been abandoned, after a bad experience with EmacsEmacs choked on a file I have to be able to edit, apparently due to an issue of text  coding.  This only became apparent when I booted Fedora 20 to attempt to edit the same file---and a message appeared about the three characters involved.  Since then I have not had this problem.  I have also been able to configure GoogleEarth 7 to run almost 100% reliably on Fedora.  (By hook or by crook.)---December 11, AED]

I woke up on a recent morning with the revelation about my linux distro-hopping: Gentoo has been the best ever since I first tried it---except for a few points.  For one, the constant updating / upgrading cycle.  My laptop---an HP Pavilion g6, 2.4 GHz faux quad core Intel i3, with Intel graphics and a depressing keyboard---has been a pretty much faithful companion for 2-1/2 years.  If not a jackrabbit, it's speed is manageable if I don't try to bog it down with Gnome.  KDE is even almost tolerable.

I've been running Arch Linux,. which I like quite a lot, installed from Antergos.  Like the perfect seasoning, Antergos stays out of the way of the most important flavors---it is an amazing way to install Archlinux, which has been difficult, at least for me.  This may not be so much the case anymore.   Antergos is the (forgive the metaphor) the Knoppix of the Archlinux world.

However, my Archlinux laptop is not able to run Googleearth reliably.  I like Google Earth alot, and I want and need it now, as I explore a possible move to another part of the country.   Therefore, I have spent massive amounts of energy and time distro-hopping.  Every distro I have tried has had some deficiency that caused me to walk away, even if it ran Google Earch ok (Korara ran it fine, for example.  I don't know why I quit Korara).   I kept running back to Archlinux, perfect for me in many respects.

What drove to toward Archlinux is it's roots in Gentoo.

What drove me away from Gentoo was the long compile times of packages.  Probably if I were not installing a dozen desktops, and programs from every desktop manager library (gnome, qt, e17, etc.) I would not have so many recompiles at every update.  Recently Gentoo has been, in one respect, a shadow of its former self: the documentation was the pinnacle of GNU/Linux documentation of a time, about 5-6 years ago.  I am not the only one with this opinion.  Recently Gentoo Linux has suffered from political aspirations of some, as Danial Robbins, who made Gentoo at the beginning, and was the genius that kept it running well, ran away to M$, for unknown reasons.  He's back, with Funtoo, which is pretty stable, and I recently enjoyed running that setup.   But, once again, the long compile times on my measly system, and---as stable as Funtoo was---eventually my tendency to mix libraries seems to have gotten the best of me.  It starts with long compiles of libkde and qt, almost everytime.  And, let's face it, I am not the hacker that many users of Gentoo are, and while I can solve problems by a brute force reasoned approach, I have to cut and paste and google to keep things running.

My Revelation: Wasn't Sabayon a binary version of Gentoo?   Maybe I could run Sabayon Linux, and avoid the long compile times.  And get the goodness at the same time.  Maybe the fine points of Gentoo weren't for me, but it was always the most stable.  Absolutely.  Incontrovertably.  The best.

So, guess what!?  I downloaded the most recent Sabayon 64 bit DVD image, copied it by using dd to my Flash Drive, and booted it.  People talk about the beauty of Sabayon, and it's tru, it's really pretty.  But I am running the XFCE4 desktop, to keep the speed and mass to acceptable levels.

And Googleearth runs fine.  It's included in the repo.  As I type, I am copying over my important files from the home directory of my Arch/Antergos system.  Another positive about using a separate /home partition.  Mine is now almost 200GB, and has home directories for a dozen or 15 different installs.  I think I could use the same /home directory for all the different installs, but back in the early days of Ubuntu, when Goliath walked the Earth oblivious of the damage, I had lost large partitions and home directories due to Ubuntu's sloppy installation mechanism.  To be brief, at times when I tried to use the same user name on a second Ubuntu install, the data of the user, from the previous install, disappeared.

Anymore, that problem hasn't bothered me, because I use a different user name each time I install a new GNU/Linux setup, on the same, somewhat generous, /home partition.  Then, when I am "Joe" on my new system, I set my UserID number as 1010, so I have automatic access to all the home directories I have used this UID on.  Including my old /home/hawkeye directory.  It is short work to either cp or mv files to my new directory, or back again.

While I am at it, I should mention my ~/WORKBENCH subdirectory.  Almost all of my work, ongoing whatever, important files, is located in this directory.  I use git to clone copies of this directory to a flash drive.  If these are up to date, I don't even have to copy this directory to my new /home/Joe/WORKBENCH: I just use git and clone it from the flash drive.  Having the Same Group and User ID of 1010 makes it easy, from the standpoint of git.   It's time to weed out this directory, however, as it's gotten too big to clone.

Things seem to be moving in a good direction. Sabayon is stable enough that the googleearth 7 version from the repo works well (well, except panoramio images don't display, but this is a long standing problem for other distros as well); emacs is up to date and easy to install.

The huge collection of almost all available Free Software applications I need is a huge advantage for me. Most distros pick and choose.  Archlinux is missing some utilities I need.  Fedora likewise.  openSUSE is crazy, and not to my taste---not to mention I have been avoiding it since the Microsoft leaning tendencies of SUSE came to light a few years ago.   Hardly any distros seem to have cb2bib---Sabayon does.

Why don't most mainstream distros ship with Emacs installed?

Just asking.

4 December 2013
Oakland, CA



What was it said "everything has something"?   After a couple of days, I got stuck on Sabayon, and cleaned up the install of Fedora 20, catching it up (I think) with the Beta edition recently released.  I am not a Fedora guy, up to now.  One of the Parents at WIlliam's school has had good success with it.  I'll try it.  (I am also preparing to try gNewSense in the near future).

So here was the problem I couldn't fiture out how to recover from, and a few further notes about the experience with Sabayon.

After a few hours, I had already added various libraries and software, and made some tweaks.  By this time, I had some erratic behavior from GoogleEarth.   Once it is running, it seems to be solid.  But in about 3 out of 10 starts, it fails.   That's no biggie.  The next one *is*.

Emacs.  I started editing my tide graph programs.  Emacs choked on these files.  This has NEVER happened, and I edit these several times a week.  I think I finally have a clue, but I tried a lot of things:

  1. Reinstalled Sabayon.  No change.
  2. Reinstalled emacs twice.  No change.
  3. I tried to edit other files, no problem.  
Then, I tried Fedora.  It's a pretty smooth piece of work.  No problem, with the files in question.  But the file in question elicited a response from emacs in Fedora that was not in evidence in Sabayon: emacs posted a warning of sorts about three different characters in the file that were not recognized.

Now I'm not a font guru.  I do not get it about encoding, but can follow instructions.  I think this is a matter of a character being out of character.  I will check another time,  so maybe Sabayon can be saved.

I also did have to compile a couple of programs by hand.  That's no unusual, but more of them: xtide and gri in particular.   This seems to be evidence of an understandable lack of comprehensive coverage of software by a smaller team.

I also have a sneaky feeling that there is more handwork required in Sabayon, which is ok, if I have time.  

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