Pardus 2009.1 Review
Having tried the Pardus 2009 review, I was excited to try this upgrade (2009.1) since the previous one simply blew me away. They make this 2009.1 version on the year 2010 which is kind of odd, but I guess the changes were not worthy enough to make it a whole new version, or it was probably intended to come out a bit earlier.
Pardus is the official operating system of Turkey, and it is sponsored by the turkish government. It was made from scratch, that is, it is not based on another distribution like Debian or Slackware, which of course demands a lot of more work but it gives more freedom to customize it on every aspect desired. I wonder how those Turkish geeks managed to get the funding because as you will see later on, the result is remarkable, turks really know their Linux.
Pardus comes either on a live cd version or on a standard installation version. I tried the livecd version first, but the language was turkish all around and I didn’t understand a thing, I didn’t see an option to change language at the start but I could have missed it.
So I popped in the standard installation cd. They say first impressions matter, and Pardus really listened to that because the installation interface is really really nice, it is very clean and well arranged plus it has a very nice wine-ish theme.
It first makes you agree to a GNU/GPL license, which is odd to me, I’m not used to agreeing to these very often. When I tried to right click a dialog comes up and asks you if you are a lefty so it can swap the mouse buttons, very nice. It has it’s own partition editor built which is nice though It feels a bit rudimentary.
After all is done, Pardus tells you to chill and read the messages while it installs the system, promising an average of 20 minutes of waiting depending on hardware, mine took about 20 minutes indeed. One thing I like about these messages is that they actually loop when they are all displayed, unlike Ubuntu (9.10) that says the installation is about to finish when it’s not and stops to show messages.
It then tells you installation was successful and asks you to reboot the system.
Boot Screen + Login Screen:
What can I say, beautiful.
As soon as you login for the first time, you are greeted by Kaptan, a nice old man that will help you customize your desktop just the way you like it. It covers probably all the necessary tweaks that have to be done to have your system just right for you. I think every distro that tries to be solid out of the box should have this type of application.
Very nice wallpapers, including what seems to be a turkish communist plaza, and a wide selection of Anthropoides Virgo pictures, which I guess is the scientific name for awesome weird bird, and which happens to be the codename of Pardus 2009.1
Sadly all of them are ruined by the copyright markings on the bottom right.
It comes with KDE 4.3 and it is basically the standard KDE 4 layout. It has small leave and lock screen buttons on the far right like some other distros do. It includes klipper by default, which is nice. A tiger faced icon on the far left represents the kickoff menu, which is just like any other kickoff menu…. annoying. I’m not sure if I’ll ever like this menu, I think my major concern with it is how poorly the Computer section is arranged, but anyway that’s a KDE issue. Also like most KDE distros nowadays it includes the folder view widget on the desktop, which I still don’t like.
It comes with the basic set of KDE applications, including The Gimp, OpenOffice, Google Gadgets (ewww), Firefox, DigiCam, Java, a lot of multimedia players, their own (I think) boot menu editor which is an addition that should be considered essential these days yet it’s a rare and pleasant surprise. Surprisingly enough it doesn’t have Amarok preinstalled, even though it mentions it in the install process.
A lot of the applications have been customized to fit the Pardus theme, looking very sexy I must say.
It may be hard at first to find the package manager since it is not so explicit like in other distros that disgracefully put the link everywhere they can, they do just like I like it, a link in Applications → System. Now the package manager is something Pardus should be really proud of, the user interface is very good. I might say it has something that some may consider a flaw, and some may consider a plus, it separates the searches in Installable, Installed and Upgradeable applications, unlike other package managers like Synaptic that will show you all of them on a single search, unless of course you filter them. If you select installed applications all of the applications that are installed will be unchecked, so when you check an application it is because you mean to uninstall it. Something I immediately loved, a single click checks the checkbox, something that for some reason many package managers yet fail to achieve.
As you go checking applications the status bar in the bottom will get updated, showing how many applications you have chosen, including the size of installation/uninstallation. Then when you want to install/uninstall you click the Install (or Uninstall) button on the top, just like Synaptic it will show you the overview of the upcoming process, you confirm it and a password prompt appears, yes, unlike other package managers that ask for your password at the mere beginning.
Now this feature is amazing, when you finish installing the applications, it shows a pop up box with links to the applications you have just installed so you can open them easily.
(I’m still intrigued about what wiimote is, and why it was installed)
The only problem are the quantity of packages, although it has a good selection of essential packages including a lot of development tools like Eclipse, phpMyAdmin and games like Nexuiz and Tremulous it doesn’t include for example Netbeans , Gnome-Do or even Xchat.
Pardus comes with a network manager called …. Network Manger. Not to be confused with networkmanager. It has a nice icon on the panel but not as intuitive as the networkmanager icons. One of the annoying things about this manager is that a profile must be created before you can connect to a network, but once that process is accomplished getting connected is quite easy. I like that it gets connected automatically with the profile I created, unlike others that obscure options need to be found to activate automatic connection. Anyway, it works fine.
Non surprisingly, Pardus uses Dolphin as it’s main file manager, though it still keeps Konqueror, I don’t know why. The home folder is arranged on a peculiar way, it has a Documents and a Downloads folder. The Documents folder has Music, Pictures and Videos folders, I must say I actually like that arrangement. The icons used are very nice too, and of course you can’t miss the red navigation buttons. On a personal note I must say I’m liking Dolphin more and more everyday.
A lot of distributions proudly describe how they can play youtube videos, wma’s, mpeg’s, mp3’s etc out of the box. Well Pardus does this. I went to youtube and clicked on some bizarre football video with a midget and it played well, including the audio. Then I downloaded wma, mpg AND quicktime (.mov) videos about some strange programming framework, they all played well. At first the wma wouldn’t play on smplayer, but dragonplayer played it just fine.
I remember when I checked Pardus 2009 back in the day, I went straight to their IRC channel in Freenode to congratulate them. There were just like 20 people in the room. I congratulate them and tell them how I was amazed by Pardus, they were obviously flattered but they told me they were sad about one thing, I asked them what could that be, they said “Pardus” wouldn’t allow the creation of a community. Without a community based development cycle they can make changes more freely and as long as the head of the project has good ideas (apparently he/she does) it’s all good. On the downside, not having a community plus not being compatible with other distributions like Debian, their package collection indeed stays limited. I just went to the irc room again and although I didn’t get news about a community forming I discovered Turkey has actually a very solid democratic government.
All in all, Pardus is an excellent distribution, a pleasant surprise to people like me who like to pick random distros on distrowatch and try them. I almost had a religious experience with it, amazed at how well a distribution could be made at great detail. Back in the Pardus 2009 days, I remember all linux distros failed to bring an out of the box stable KDE 4 system that looked nice, but Pardus did that, and now with KDE 4.3 it’s even better. Unfortunately their lack of packages made me switch to another distribution after a couple of days, but it is perfect for people who don’t demand a big collection of packages, the everyday man/woman who just want to work using the usual tools. If you want to recommend a very nice, stable and functional KDE distribution you should really take Pardus into consideration.
Edit: Apparently Pardus does have a community on the rise. An evidence of that is this messageboard http://worldforum.pardus-linux.nl/