Monday, June 7, 2010

Final Review: Pardus 2009.2

Not long ago I wrote an ARTICLE on Pardus 2009.2 Release Candidate, which I used as a preview for the latest release of this Turkey based Linux distro. As I mentioned then, that release candidate was very well rounded, so the preview already had a bit of review feel to it. I have now installed the final version and today I would like to share my final thoughts on this very interesting distro.

NO SURPRISES

As expected, there was not much in this final release that has changed from the release candidate. Pardus still sports a wonderful installation process, great desktop aids for new users (Kaptan is a fantastic introductory tool) and an overall fabulous KDE integration. In fact, as I already covered some of those areas already, let's now see some new things I found after I had more time to put the final release down to good use.

Boot up and shutdown

The boot up process is very well designed, almost exclusively displaying a graphical interface. In terms of speed, it is not one of the fastest out there, but it's fast enough. The shutdown process does show some text based screens, but is also predominantly GUI based. Once again, nothing out of the ordinary in terms of speed.

Overall, the boot up and shutdown processes in Pardus are a pleasant and tasty experience, reasonable in terms of speed.

Standard desktop usage

When I tested it the first time, the Pardus 2009.2 desktop felt great, working smoothly with no unexpected behaviors. Once I had more time to work with it, I started to find some strange things going on.


My current Pardus 2009.2 desktop

The lack of Compiz effects was a bit of a let down. I am aware that KWIN effects are available, but in my opinion, they are nowhere near what Compiz achieves in terms of variety, flexibility and power. In fact, starting KWIN effects ended up messing with my screen resolution, so I decided to use my desktop without effects. This is no big problem per se, desktop effects are mostly a nice to have, but I must admit I love using them.

On a different note, I started customizing my desktop, changing icons, setting up launchers, etc. One of the things I like to do is to set up custom keyboard shortcuts for my favorite applications. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get those custom shortcuts to work, even if I was setting them up in the same way I successfully had in PCLinuxOS 2010, Fedora 13 KDE, etc. In fact, it's because I have been using these shortcuts for a while in other KDE distros that I find it difficult to consider this a KDE problem.

All in all, Pardus 2009.2 provides a nice, solid and smooth desktop experience. I did find some minor rough edges that could benefit from a little polishing, though.

Performance

Like I said already, Pardus is a great KDE implementation. What I mean by that is that the work the developers have done seems to complement the KDE desktop, not get in its way. It definitely does not feel like it is adding any overhead, so performance feels snappy all around.

Pardus 2009.2 benefits from implementing the latest KDE and QT releases (KDE SC 4.4.4 and Qt 4.6.2), both of which are noticeably more solid and better performing than previous releases.


Pardus 2009.2 brings you the latest and greatest, KDE SC 4.4.4 and QT 4.6.2 included

In terms of standard desktop usage, Pardus feels quick, almost as much as PCLinuxOS 2010. Opening applications is fairly quick, there is no noticeable lag when opening menus, or even when handling many open applications at once. All in all, I am pretty sure Pardus 2009.2 would meet expectations from almost any kind of user in terms of performance.

Hardware management

I have installed Pardus 2009.2 on a USB drive and have tested it on a number of laptops/tablets. In general, it did pretty well, recognizing all pieces of hardware on the fly. On the other hand, it was not able to manage the Intel HD video card in my HP2740p, but I must admit almost no other distro did.

I wanted to run a quick printing test on my HP 2600N laser printer. As expected, Pardus did a good job at finding the right model automatically, and registered a new default printer for that specific model. Unfortunately, the printing tests didn't work, apparently because "hpcups" failed. The printing problem aside, other tests on different laptops, tablets and even a couple webcam models were seamless and working fine out of the box. It almost feels as if the printing problem was a weird one off, but I can't really tell, as that's the only printer I can test with.

Pardus Hardware support feels rich and robust in general, and should be able to cope with any standard user need.

Applications and repositories

As I mentioned on my preview, Pardus 2009.2 does include a very rich application catalog. It is not only rich and diverse, but I personally find it right as well. Many of the applications included are "blockbusters" in the Linux universe today, so I believe most users should find their needs covered out of the box. In fact, there are so many applications that I think a new user who wouldn't know about them could eventually get lost.


My favorite Linux CD burning tool, K3B is preinstalled in Pardus 2009.2


The great GIMP also made it into Pardus 2009.2

After a few days of use, I found that such rich catalog of preinstalled applications could be the result of the evident limitations in Pardus repositories. I used both the package manager GUI tool as well as PiSi, both simple to use and working reasonably well, but the amount of applications available was disappointingly low.


The package manager is fine, but very few applications available to choose from.

Taking into account the large application catalog already included on the Pardus 2009.2 installation, I think many users should be just fine, even with the limitations in its repositories. If you are the kind of user who likes to investigate and try different applications all the time, or if you simply do not like the set of preinstalled applications in Pardus 2009.2, you should think twice before using it as your main distro.

Security

As expected, Pardus incorporates all security enhancements from KDE SC 4.4.4, but also includes a remarkably good Firewall interface. Not only is it the easiest and most clear I have used in Linux, but it also works very well.

Pardus 2009.2 sports the great security features that are standard in Linux. Including a great firewall graphical tool, it rates slightly above average. If anything, I would only recommend putting a launcher on the desktop as part of the default installation. That would work as a convenient reminder for anybody to start the firewall. An alternative method would involve adding an extra step in the Kaptan wizard so users start the firewall as part of those initial configuration.

NOTE: Remember that the firewall is "dormant" in desktop Linux after installation. It is essentially not working by default, but it is not listening on any ports either, so Linux desktop users are fairly secure out of the box. However, it is good practice to start the firewall anyways so that the right policies are set up.

FINAL THOUGHTS

When I found about Pardus some weeks ago, I was surprised to find a distro which is not among the most popular ones, but an impressive piece of work nevertheless. I personally believe the Pardus developers have a very good understanding of their users needs, specially those users who may not have any experience in Linux or KDE. I think they have done a superb job at removing "obstacles" where it matters, joining other great distributions like PCLinuxOS 2010 or Linux Mint 9 in making the Linux desktop more accessible than ever.

Pardus 2009.2 is obviously not perfect, though. I found several minor things that could use some polishing, but the main shortcoming comes from its limited repository support. This is probably only impacting home users, for corporations and state facilities would most likely lock application installation anyways, but still a significant obstacle towards Pardus evolution.

When all is said and done, I still consider Pardus 2009.2 a very good release and distro. I hope it will quickly get the community support it deserves, which should help it evolve faster and better.

If you haven't already, DOWNLOAD Pardus 2009.2 (International version, unless you are from Turkey, of course) and have some fun!

Thanks for reading!

58 comments:

  1. Before you get all the program-repositories in Pardus 2009.2 you must include "Contrib" during the Kaptan process.

    And in next step you must run a "Pisi" update. I think many users forget to do the update process in Pardus directly after the installation. Then many programs are not included if you start looking in the Pisi/program handler.
    It not same as Ubuntu for example, there you got the full repositories from start.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice review. But It would be interesting to know what specific programs you missing in the software-repository?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi, thanks for your posts!

    @henrik: Thanks for the tip, I will give that a try. Any reason why those repositories are not enabled by default?

    @john3: Using the default setup (no contrib repos enabled) I can't find Amarok, GIMP, Chromium, Compiz, dropbox, gnome-system-monitor, etc. In fact, except for Amarok, the contrib repos don't do much better.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It sound that something wrong have gone wrong done during the installation process, or the update process?

    I got the programs like Amarok and Gimp in my Pardus 2009.2 exept Chromium.
    You can get Chromium, Google Earth and some extra programs from this:
    http://en.pardus-wiki.org/HOWTO:Google_Earth

    If any problem or questions with Pardus this is a good Pardus forum:
    http://worldforum.pardus-linux.nl/

    This is a good help to:
    http://pardus-wiki.org/

    Best would be if you got all repositories from start of course. I guess they can answer in the forum why its not?

    In my own installation I have 941 packages installed.

    And if look how many I can choose to install it are:
    2589 packages.

    160 games
    120 multimedia programs
    Office 181 packages and so on..

    I will not write all here but Pardus 2009.2 have a lot more packages than any previous Pardus version. I have used it since version 2008.

    ReplyDelete
  5. They write about this issue in Pardus World Forum:

    http://worldforum.pardus-linux.nl/index.php?topic=3355.msg16991;topicseen#msg16991

    Maybe can be of some help.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I find a list of the program who are included in Pardus.
    But I am not sure how updated it is:
    http://packages.pardus.org.tr/info/2009/stable/sources.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. And this is the "Contrib" packages:

    http://packages.pardus.org.tr/info/contrib/2009/stable/sources.html

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey, thanks a lot for taking the time to bring all that info in, much appreciated!

    @johnh3: Sorry, I think I didn't explain myself. I do have GIMP and Amarok as well in my installation, but could not find them in the repositories by default. In other words, if a user uninstalls them and needs to install them again, it could be complicated.

    The best news is that you guys are confirming that the repositories keep growing for Pardus!

    ReplyDelete
  9. So... what you're trying to say is that if i want to install gimp (which is already installed) i can't find in the software-repository? well you should try take another look, if a package is installed it won't show up 'Packages Manager > Show Installable Packages' but you will find it in 'Packages Manager > Show Installed Packages' (you get it) ... and now try to uninstall Gimp [goto 'Packages Manager > Show Installed Packages' search & select gimp and click Remove], after you have gimp no more try searching again in 'Packages Manager > Show Installable Packages' ... or you could't just use 'pisi sr gimp' to find it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Amarok and Gimp should be there by default in the Pisi/program handler if it workin correct. You uninstall them and install them from the same place.

    If you click at the right button on the pisi meny where it says:
    "show packages with updates" then it start downloading software repos even if it show no updates at all.

    Then you restart the PC and go to the left Pisi meny where it says:
    "Show instable packages"

    Look there after the restart of the computer and you probaly will notice that it be more software programs there than before.

    In the old 2009 version you had no programs for the webcam for example before you had done it.So people was thinking they was not any to Pardus.

    If you click on the middle option in the pisi
    you see what programs are installed. And its there you remove them to.

    But I think Pardus would have write this important thing in the official homepage.Or maybe had put the updates in the last step of the "kaptan" process.

    Then this would not be a problem.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks guys, I see there is a way to get those packages. I still think it is a bit too complicated, not intuitive, so it should probably be worked out differently in my opinion.

    Hope your responses help other Pardus users who may be reading this as well!

    ReplyDelete
  12. It are some bug reports about this problem. So the Pardus developers are aware of that, I suppose they read reviews to. I guess the next Pardus version will have some kind of changes in Pisi/program handler.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Pardus is the best KDE distro IMO!

    ReplyDelete
  14. David said...
    great review apart from some nasty feedback from some

    ReplyDelete
  15. nice to know you man (good to know there are linux fan and also guitar freak :D )
    nice review on pardus btw .. If You have time, please review zencafe and Blankon. it's new release distro from indonesia

    ReplyDelete
  16. After testing 10 distros, I went with Pardus 2 years ago. It has the cleanest desktop, it detected very old as well as new hardware. It was the only one to correctly create a boot for multiple distros on the same disk. It was the only one to enable multiple monitors. It seems to be very fast in updating it's repositories. All these features are very important to me. The second place, PCLOS, still isn't nearly as good.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wonderful review. You have given me every reason to try out Pardus despite my aversion to KDE.

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  21. new realese is on the net now, Pardus 2011 as a dvd...
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    ReplyDelete
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