How to install Sabayon Linux via the command line using the ‘text installer’

If you have trouble installing Sabayon Linux from one of the ISOs that include KDE, GNOME or Xfce, you could try installing from the ‘SpinBase’ ISO or ‘Minimal’ ISO instead and add a desktop environment later.

And sometimes the Sabayon Linux installer is unable to install the distribution correctly for the GPU or IGP in your machine, so installing the distribution to use the X.Org VESA video driver then later trying another video driver can also be a way to get you to a working installation.

Whichever ‘spin’ of Sabayon Linux I try to install, I find my success varies considerably with the release of ISO. So, if you end up with a blank screen when you reboot after installing the distribution, try installing it again with a different ISO, such as a Monthly release instead of a Daily release. If none of the current ISOs result in a working installation, you may have to wait a few days for a new Daily release to be uploaded. Despite the name, the Daily ISOs are not necessarily released daily.

I recommend you practice installation in VirtualBox before trying with an actual HDD. You can do this on a PC running VirtualBox under Windows, Mac OS or Linux. N.B. If the console goes black at any time in VirtualBox, press Enter to refresh the contents.

The steps below worked for me with a Sabayon Linux ISO dated 14 September 2014 in VirtualBox running under Windows 8.1 on a machine with Intel HD Graphics IGP. In the steps below I configure the installation for the time zone in which São Paulo is situated and specify British English and Brazilian Portuguese as the languages to be used. Obviously you should choose instead the time zone and language that you want in your installation.

1. Download the Daily SpinBase ISO (Sabayon_Linux_DAILY_x86_SpinBase.iso) from one of the ISO repositories (see the Download link on the distribution’s Web site).

2. Create a LiveDVD from the ISO (see my post Help for Windows users: How to create a Linux LiveCD, LiveDVD or LivePenDrive from an ISO file if you don’t know how to do that).

3. Boot the LiveDVD.

4. You have two choices here, really. Try (a) first and, if the LiveDVD will not continue to load the OS or it will but you end up with an installation that does not work, then re-boot the LiveDVD and perform (b) instead.


a) Press ‘Enter‘ at the Sabayon Linux boot menu, to start the OS from the LiveDVD.


b) Press F5 at the Sabayon Linux boot menu, then Esc to close the pop-up list of boot parameters. Then delete the “---” at the end of the list of kernel boot parameters, delete the “vga=791“, add “xdriver=vesa” to the end of the list and press ‘Enter‘ to start the OS from the LiveDVD. Note that, unlike the other Sabayon Linux ISO releases, the SpinBase ISO does not include video drivers for X Windows. However, by booting the LiveDVD with xdriver=vesa the installation on the HDD will include that parameter in /etc/default/sabayon-grub and /boot/grub/grub.cfg.

In either case, Sabayon Linux on the LiveDVD should start in text mode and you should see a root user prompt:

sabayon ~ #

5. Enter the following command and follow the prompts to enter the relevant information to install Sabayon to your HDD:

# installer

Select 2) 'Use text mode' then work your way through steps 1 to 5, answering the installer’s prompts:

1) Timezone settings
2) Set root password
3) Create user
4) Network settings
5) Install Destination

When you select Step 5 (Install Destination) you will be presented with three ‘Autopartitioning Options’ (Replace Existing Linux System(s); Use All Space; Use Free Space). When you make your choice from those three options, you will then be presented with the options for partitioning:

Partition Scheme Options

[ ] 1) Standard Partition

[x] 2) LVM

[ ] 3) BTRFS

Select a partition scheme configuration.

Please make your choice from above ['q' to quit | 'c' to continue | 'r' to refresh]:

You may find that the installer crashes if you have selected either the default LVM partition scheme or the BTRFS partition scheme. If it does crash, run the installer again but select Option 1 instead (Standard Partition), which will create standard ext4 partitions. Actually, I prefer this option.

Quite a few Python-related error messages may be displayed towards the end of the installation process. I just ignore them.

6. Once the installer has completed installation, press Enter to quit, and you will see a root user prompt again.

7. Enter the following command to reboot (If you installed using VirtualBox, make sure you remove the ISO from the virtual CD/DVD drive, or you will just reboot from the ISO instead of the virtual HDD):

systemctl reboot

If you still have the LiveDVD in the drive, select ‘Boot from first hard drive’ in the LiveDVD’s boot menu.

8. You will see a log-in prompt:

sabayon login:

Log-in as user ‘root’ with the root user’s password you specified during installation.

9. List the available time zones:

# timedatectl list-timezones

(Press the Space Bar to page through the list, and the Q key to exit the list.)

10. Specify the timezone you want:

# timedatectl set-timezone America/Sao_Paulo

11. List the current locale:

# localectl list-locales

12. If you want to change the current locale or add a locale, edit the locale.gen file:

# nano /etc/locale.gen

I wanted to have just British English and Brazilian Portuguese, so I made the file contain only the following:

en_GB.UTF-8 UTF-8
en_GB ISO-8859-1
pt_BR.UTF-8 UTF-8
pt_BR ISO-8859-1

If I only wanted one language (I’ll use Brazilian Portuguese as an example), I would have made it contain the following instead:

pt_BR.UTF-8 UTF-8
pt_BR ISO-8859-1

13. Generate the locale(s) you want:

# locale-gen
* Generating 4 locales (this might take a while) with 1 jobs
* (1/4) Generating en_GB.UTF-8 ... [ ok ]
* (2/4) Generating en_GB.ISO-8859-1 ... [ ok ]
* (3/4) Generating pt_BR.UTF-8 ... [ ok ]
* (4/4) Generating pt_BR.ISO-8859-1 ... [ ok ]
* Generation complete

14. List the locales you have configured, just to be sure:

# localectl list-locales

15. Set the language you want to use:

# localectl set-locale LANG=pt_BR.UTF-8

16. List the console keymaps available:

# localectl list-keymaps

17. Chose the console keymap you wish to use:

# localectl set-keymap br-abnt2

N.B. The above systemd command does not change the console keymap specified in /boot/grub/grub.cfg, which remains as “vconsole.keymap=us“. You will have to fix that later by editing /etc/default/sabayon-grub and running grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg, as I show further on.

18. List the X11 keymaps available:

# localectl list-x11-keymap-layouts

19. Chose the X11 keymap you wish to use:

# localectl set-x11-keymap br

20. Update the environment variables and profile to adopt what you specified:

# env-update && source /etc/profile

21. Reboot (Remove the LiveDVD if still have not already done so):

# systemctl reboot

22. Log-in as the root user.

23. Fix the console keymap specified in grub.cfg:

# nano /etc/default/sabayon-grub

and replace “vconsole.keymap=us” with “vconsole.keymap=br-abnt2“.

# grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

24. Make sure the Entropy package database in your installation is up to date:

# equo update

25. Roll (upgrade) all installed packages to their latest version:

# equo upgrade

If you are prompted regarding any package licences, just accept them.

26. Update any superseded configuration files:

# equo conf update

27. Check if there are any missing/incorrect dependencies:

# equo deptest

28. Check if there are any missing/incorrect libraries:

# equo libtest

29. Install the X.Org VESA video driver:

# equo install xf86-video-vesa

This is needed because the VESA video driver does not get installed even if you specify “xdriver=vesa” initially in the kernel boot parameter list when booting a LiveDVD using SpinBase.

30. Install the desktop environment of your choice (I’ll choose KDE):

# equo install kde-meta

31. If you are installing KDE, also install the KDE language pack(s) for the locale(s) configured earlier:

# equo install kde-l10n-en_GB kde-l10n-pt_BR

32. Install the Sabayon Linux theme for KDE and KDM (I find this package is not installed automatically, and stops KDM from working if it is not present):

# equo install sabayon-artwork-kde

33. Reboot:

# systemctl reboot

34. Log-in as the root user and, if you installed KDE, enable KDM as the display manager (log-in screen):

# systemctl enable kdm

35. Then reboot:

# systemctl reboot

The installation on your HDD should now boot to the KDM log-in screen. You should be able to enter your user name and password, and the installation should launch the Desktop Environment and display the Desktop. From here you will be able to open a Konsole/Terminal window and install other packages. If you want to change the video driver from the X.Org VESA driver to a driver for an AMD, Intel or NVIDIA GPU/IGP, you will need to install the relevant driver package and edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and /etc/default/sabayon-grub accordingly (and regenerate grub.cfg). Post in the Sabayon Linux Forums to ask for help if you need it. Good luck!

About Fitzcarraldo
A Linux user with an interest in all things technical.

16 Responses to How to install Sabayon Linux via the command line using the ‘text installer’

  1. Pingback: Synchronising the clock using NTP in Sabayon Linux | Fitzcarraldo's Blog

  2. james says:


    Thanks a lot for the steps showing how to install Sabayon Linux using the command line. Appreciated. I am a big Linux fan, although not an IT person in any sense of the world, but here is my blog on various Linux commands, that you might like to be listed in a certain order of your choice.

    I have downloaded the latest version of both the daily as well as monthly iso for Gnome desktop version so that I can later on write them to DVDs and use them to install on my as well some of my friends pcs. But as luck would have it, despite successful downloads on both occasions, with the passing of the md5sum, whenever I tried to install Sabayon (after writing the iso to separate DVDs), the DVD will freeze after a certain point for ever. I tried DVDs of different brand thinking a certain brand of DVD might be an issue at times, but to no avail. I have ended up wasting 5-6 DVDs already.

    Here are the 2 different Gnome based iso images of the latest Sabayon distro that I have downloaded and failed to install to my pc.
    Sabayon_Linux_15.04_amd64_GNOME.iso 28-Mar-2015 01:36 1.6G


    Sabayon_Linux_DAILY_amd64_GNOME.iso 18-Apr-2015 04:11 1.6G

    I am really fed up with Sabayon now. I have installed so many Linux distributions even from command line with great success, although at times I had to seek help from online forums, but my efforts did succeed in the end no matter what. But these successes do not seem to apply to Sabayon for some weird reason.

    Now after reading your blog, I am feeling like downloading all the iso of all the other variants of the latest Sabayon Linux ie XFCE, KDE, Minimal, MATE, SpinBase and try to install using the GUI.

    I am sorry to write such a long reply, but I am sure that you will help me out, thanks. Please guide me ASAP.

  3. Yoli says:

    Hello first congratulations on the blog.
    I have a question, I have to install the Xorg graphical server or install xf86-video-intel and would have graphical environment.
    Thank you very much in advance.

    • Fitzcarraldo says:

      If you have installed SL to the HDD, try the following:

      # equo install xf86-video-intel xorg-server
      # eselect opengl set xorg-x11

      If the file /etc/X11/xorg.conf exists, check which video driver is specified in it. If a different video driver is specified in xorg.conf, change it to “intel”. If the file xorg.conf does not exist, then do not bother to create it.

      Check the contents of /boot/grub/grub.cfg. If the kernel boot line contains ‘xdriver=vesa’, remove the ‘xdriver=vesa’. If /etc/default/sabayon-grub also contains ‘xdriver=vesa’ then remove the ‘xdriver=vesa’ from GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX and run the command ‘grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg’ in order to remove ‘xdriver=vesa’ from the kernel boot line in /boot/grub/grub.cfg.

  4. yoli says:

    Ok thank you very much for responding.
    I imagine that for serious graphics ati xf86-video-ati xorg-server.
    Since I was wrong and I put intel when in fact it is ati.
    A greeting.

    • Fitzcarraldo says:

      The situation with ATI GPUs is more complicated than with Intel GPUs because there is the closed-source driver ati-drivers (a.k.a. the ‘FGLRX’ or ‘Catalyst’ driver) and the open-source driver xf86-video-ati (a.k.a. the ‘Radeon’ driver). Furthermore, older models of ATI GPU do not work with the closed-source driver.

      I suggest you search the Sabayon Linux Forums for the many posts on installing these drivers, and also search the Sabayon Linux Wiki for articles such as HOWTO: Get AMD/ATI or Nvidia Video Cards working in Sabayon.

  5. yoli says:

    Ok thank you very much, I plan to use free drivers.
    A greeting.

  6. yoli says:

    Hi good morning, at the end after three attempts have not been able to install it, I’m not very expert in Linux and I installed sabayon minimal, I have a question saves if you can remove the graph start and put the boot messages ?.
    As always thank you very much for your help and patience.
    I forgive my English but I am using google translator.

    • Fitzcarraldo says:

      I don’t understand your question, I’m afraid. If you are asking how to suppress the graphical display while the PC is booting, remove the parameter “quiet” from the kernel boot line in /boot/grub/grub.cfg. To see the X Windows messages, look in the file /var/log/Xorg.0.log, and to look at the systemd log use the command ‘journalctl‘. A blog post that might help you in your quest to install the open-source Radeon driver is Getting rid of Catalyst. Your best bet is to post in the Sabayon Linux Forums, giving precise details of your hardware (especially the GPU) and what you are trying to install.

  7. yoli says:

    Hi good afternoon, I removed the quiet parameter but keeps coming sabayon logo when you start the system can not get the log out of the start, I also desistalado plymouth and nothing.
    Any ideas?
    Thank you very much for your help.

    • Fitzcarraldo says:

      I’m sorry, but I have no idea. I recommend you ask for help in the Sabayon Linux Forums. There is a Spanish-language forum there. To improve your chances of getting assistance there, make sure you post details of your specific hardware (especially the GPU).

  8. yoli says:

    Ok thank you very much.

    • Fitzcarraldo says:

      I had a little time yesterday to play around in Sabayon Linux to see if I could disable the splash screen at boot, and I posted my findings in your thread in the Sabayon Linux Forums, yoli. I got rid of all the graphical stuff at boot by removing ‘quiet‘ and ‘splash‘ from the linux boot line in /boot/grub/grub.cfg. If you also want to get rid of the GRUB background image, you can comment out the relevant line in /boot/grub/grub.cfg too.

      sabayon fitzcarraldo # diff /boot/grub/grub.cfg /boot/grub/grub.cfg.bak
      < #background_image -m stretch /grub/default-splash.png
      > background_image -m stretch /grub/default-splash.png
      <       linux   /kernel-genkernel-x86_64-4.0.0-sabayon root=UUID=8cbf8ea3-2a7e-4dd7-829e-460978b7ef59 ro dolvm resume=/dev/sda2 vconsole.font=latarcyrheb-sun16 vga=791 vconsole.keymap=us
      >       linux   /kernel-genkernel-x86_64-4.0.0-sabayon root=UUID=8cbf8ea3-2a7e-4dd7-829e-460978b7ef59 ro dolvm resume=/dev/sda2 vconsole.font=latarcyrheb-sun16 vga=791 splash vconsole.keymap=us quiet

      If I make the above-mentioned changes, I see console output until the Display Manager log-in screen appears for me to log-in to the Desktop Environment.

      You can make it more permanent by editing the files /etc/default/sabayon-grub and /etc/default/grub accordingly.

  9. Pingback: Contornando os Erros do Instalador do Sabayon. Atualização | Mundo GNU

  10. yoli says:

    Ok thank you very much it is already solved.
    A greeting.

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