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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!