Easy downgrades with the Sabayon Weekly Entropy Repository

Here’s interesting. The Sabayon team have introduces a sabayon-weekly Entropy repository that will only be updates once a week – on Sunday. The aim is to offer a painless way to downgrade packages.

I’m not in a position to play around with this just yet, but am intending to take a look at it when I get home this evening.

I am guessing, however, that you would need to put a little thought into when you run your normal upgrades but – theoretically – anything you upgrade between Monday and Saturday can now be easily rolled back to the state it was in on Sunday.

I’m looking forward to having a play with this.

Update

Well that was easy.

Adding the weekly repository to /etc/entropy/repositories.conf is a simple copy and paste
Then I started up Sulphur to see if everything looked okay and it told me that I needed to download the repository before I could use it.

One click later…

Entropy

Now I just need to find an excuse to downgrade something.

Microphone volume drops when Skyping from Sabayon

Although Skype is proprietary software, it is available in the Sabayon repositories which makes installing it and keeping it up to date as easy as any other Linux based application. However, I did encounter one issue when I started it up yesterday.

When calling someone, my microphone level drops. Repeatedly. This makes it pretty much impossible to hold any sort of conversation. Fortunately, it’s very easy to fix.

The problem is caused when Skype tries to automatically adjust mixer levels. It only does this downwards, though, effectively ratcheting the microphone volume towards zero.

The solution can be found in the Skype menu. Select the Sound Devices tab and uncheck the ‘Allow Skype to automatically adjust my mixer levels’ box.

Skypeshot

I’ve just tried it again today and it’s all sounding rather lovely.

And we’re done

One of the nicest things about a Linux upgrade is that I can leave it running while I wander off to fetch myself a pizza. And now that the food is eaten, I have a lovely looking and fully up to date desktop.

Screenshot

Tomorrow, I shall be mainly installing all of the other applications that I usually use.

Installed!

The Sabayon team have certainly done a good job with the install process. They are using the Anaconda installer which, I believe, comes from Fedora and it’s an excellent tool. After a short internal debate (do I want to keep the Windows partition, have I ever felt the need to use Windows?) I went with the default options and everything went incredibly smoothly.

Now it’s updating time. There are 365 updates to get through, starting with Entropy.

A new laptop and time to try a new distro

I have already mentioned that my PC is getting on a bit, and that the CD/DVD drive is pretty shaky these days. A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to thinking about a replacement and, yesterday, it turned up making me the proud owner of a shiny blue Dell Inspiron 17R.

With the new hardware, I am also intending to take another look at Sabayon. This is a distro I played around with earlier this year and one that has a lot to like. It’s a solid – and gorgeous looking – distro that does a great job of handling whatever media you throw at it. This media-orientation is highlighted by the fact that the distro integrates the XBMC media centre very nicely – and this is something I do want to spend more time with.

I did run into some issues with the distro and, due to a combination of lack of time and only having one PC, eventually re-installed Ubuntu. Now, though, strikes me as being a good time to see if I can put together a laptop environment that fits what I want to do.

The first step was to squish Windows – or resize the Windows partition as small as it will go. And some credit should go to Microsoft here as Windows 7 does make it very easy to resize your OS partition. I still have the Dell Recovery partition to deal with but am intending to get rid of that when I am ready to start installing Sabayon.

The ISO is downloaded and has been burned to a DVD. So here goes…

Getting a Sabayon system up and running

This may be a bit out of date now that Sabayon 5.2 is out but, having borked my system to the point that I needed to re-install from my 5.1 DVD, here are the post-install steps in one handy location.

Bring the package list for the package manager up to date. There are several steps to be done and some of them take a while, but it’s a one-time deal (unless, like me, you keep breaking things).

Reboot.

The update notifier should now inform you that there are lots of updates to install. Start Sulfur and install them. It would probably be quicker if I did this from the command line, but I do like the fact that Sulfur tells me what I’m installing.

This, as far as I can see, brings you right up to the current release so there is no need to make any changes to repositories.conf. Instead, you can go ahead and start installing all of the normally used applications. There is a minor ‘gotcha’ to bear in mind here – Spam Assasin isn’t installed by default so it needs to be manually installed before you start Evolution.

On the whole, I do like Sabayon. When it works it’s a stable and reliable distro but, when compared to Ubuntu, if can be a bit too easy to break.

I have (very briefly) looked at a few other distros but the only two I have so far installed are Ubuntu and Sabayon. Ubuntu does do a great job of shielding the end-user from the complexities of the OS and, as such, makes for a great first distro. Sabayon, on the other hand, does expect you to have some idea of what you are doing. And I want to gain a better idea of what I am doing, what is generic, what is good practice and a better understanding of how the various distros compare.

I am planning to stick with Sabayon for now, not least because of its visual appeal, but it is also entirely possible that I will give another distro a spin at some point.

Sabayon 5.1: An open mind is a beautiful mind

I noticed on Wolfden’s Blog that Sabayon 5.1 comes with some major changes to the Entropy package management system and that, if I wanted to keep my system up to day I needed to point my repositories.conf to the current URLs.

Which is easy enough:

1. as user type su and enter root password
2. cd /etc/entropy/
3. mv /etc/entropy/repositories.conf /etc/entropy/repositories.old
4. wget http://wolf911.us/sabayon/files/repositories.conf
5. equo update –force

And then I started installing the updates. This all went smoothly – even when my internet connection broke halfway through due to a completely unrelated issue (an unplugged wireless router, if you must know).

My first thought was: Lordy, that’s a nice desktop. They really have excelled themselves with the artwork this time around.

Sabayon 5.1

No configuration changes were needed, so I started looking at the updated applications. I should probably insert a disclaimer here as I haven’t updated everything yet. There are a number of applications installed by default that I don’t use, so I shall be uninstalling some of these rather than upgrading them. That said, my most commonly used apps are now at the latest and greatest version, and some of the differences are quite noticable.

Gwibber, the Gnome microblogging client is now up to version 2.29.92.1. This is an application that, when it was first released, I really liked. It managed a near perfect balance between being lightweight, unobtrusive and functional – I could leave ir running on the right hand side of my screen and see all the updates and only the updates. Those days, unfortunately, appear to be on the way out and the application is taking up ever more of my screen. I will continue to stick with it, however, because there is nothing else in Gnomeland to touch it for functionality – and I have come to really like the fact that I can follow and post multiple accounts from a single window.

Liferea, the Linux Feed Reader is now at 1.7.3 and is still far and away the best news aggregator out there. I haven’t noticed any obvious changes, but the software is still as powerful and flexible as ever.

Grisbi, on the other hand, dows look very different. This home finance management system is at 0.6.0rc2 and the good folks behind it have really tidied up the interface. Everything is so much easier to find now.

I do, of course, use plenty of other applications but for the rest I either haven’t played around with them yet or the changes weren’t immediately obvious to me.

Overall, though, Sabayon is looking very nice, and very stable, indeed. The provisional release date for 5.2 is end of March or early April and I’m looking forward to it.

Update: And now Sabayon 5.2 has rolled along. Everything is installed and is still looking very nice indeed.

tracker-store ate my memory

Sabayon, the distro I’m currently using, recently started grinding to a halt. The cause of this was the tracker-store which, when it starts indexing my hard drive, sucks up resources (mainly memory) until nothing is left for any other application.

Killing the process solves the immediate issue but, to prevent it recurring, my first thought was to go to the Tracker settings (System > Preferences > Search and Indexing) and disable the indexing options.

Screenshot: Tracker Preferences

This failed, so I turned to the Start Up applications (System > Preferences > Startup Applications) and switched off all of the Beagle and Tracker Applications. This, of course, means that nothing is being indexed, which is fine since I don’t use this functionality.

It would be better to remove the app altogether, but Sulfur tells me that there are a fair few dependencies on this and I want to avoid breaking anything else. That said, if it the workaround fails, uninstalling the Tracker will be my next option.