Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pardus 2011 Review

Just a few weeks back the fabulous Turkish distro Pardus released its latest creation, Pardus 2011. It's been quite a while since the last release went live (You may want to check out my review of Pardus 2009 HERE) and the list of upcoming features/enhancements was long and exciting, so I was eager to give Pardus 2011 a spin.

Before I go on with my review, here's a summary of the most important new features/enhancements for this release (an extract from the Official Pardus 2011 Release ANNOUNCEMENT)

Kernel - The latest Linux kernel 2.6.37 provides an up-to-date hardware
support together with a thousand of bug fixes.

Plymouth - The bootsplash technology used in Pardus 2009.2 is completely
dropped and replaced by the new Plymouth engine.

YALI - YALI, the installer of Pardus, gained LVM/RAID and UUID support.

KDE SC - Pardus 2011 comes with the latest KDE Software Compilation, KDE SC
4.5.5. The base packages also contains numerous backports and fixes which will
improve the stability of your desktop experience significantly.

Kaptan - Kaptan, the desktop customization tool of Pardus, now optionally
captures your picture and sets it as your avatar in KDE.

NetworkManager - GNOME NetworkManager 0.8.2 is now the default networking
backend in Pardus 2011. Users are now able to set up their HSPA/CDMA/VPN
networks together with the already supported Ethernet and 802.11 WLAN
networks.

GTK Oxygen style - All GTK applications are now rendered with Oxygen style
thanks to the oxygen-gtk project. This brings a huge improvement to the user
interface consistency.

LibreOffice - LibreOffice, an Open Source personal productivity suite
sponsored by the Document Foundation, is now the default Office Suite in
Pardus 2011.

Firefox - Pardus 2011 comes with Mozilla Firefox 4.0 Beta9 as the default web
browser application. New features of this Firefox release include Firefox
Panorama, application tabs, a redesigned extension manager, Jetpack extensions
support, integration with Firefox Sync, and support for multitouch displays.


An impressive list of features it is, no doubt, but how do they do in practical terms? As far as I am concerned, I like that Pardus developers chose to stick with KDE 4.5 series, specially with its latest patch, as opposed to choosing KDE 4.6 RC. The latter would have probably got more attention from people wanting to get the latest from the K Desktop, but it would have certainly brought lots of instability with it as well. Including the GNOME network manager is a master move, much needed because the network manager in previous releases of Pardus simply didn't cut it. Its integration within the KDE environment is as smooth as it gets, which is also appreciated. Talking about integration, including the fabulous work from the Oxygen-GTK project is also a great thing: Finally a KDE distro that looks consistent regardless of whether the application is native KDE or not. Last but not least, I like to see Pardus embracing LibreOffice, a wise move that others distros (including Ubuntu) are following as well.

INSTALLATION

When I first used Pardus back several months ago, the installation process was one of the things that impressed me the most. I thought it was beautifully put together, good looking, consistent in branding and very easy and intuitive. This time around I was expecting that same quality, but perhaps with a few exciting new features. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed because there was not much to be excited about. Don't get me wrong, YALI is still one of the best installers I have seen in Linux, specially for a KDE distro, but I guess I was expecting better. (By the way, totally subjective, but I think Pardus 2009 Look&Feel and branding was more attractive.)

An interesting (mis)behavior I found when installing Pardus is that it won't install on a USB drive. I tried several times with different devices and under different versions (Beta, RC and Final Release), but it always failed. I am not sure what exactly was not working, because error messages were inconsistent or not even happening. Some may not find this a problem, but with all the testing I do for reviews, having to install a distro on an internal hard drive is a pain. In fact, if it wasn't because I loved Pardus 2009 so much, I probably wouldn't have installed it at all. On a similar note, I don't like how Pardus offers installation media separately from the LiveCD, I find it quite inconvenient.

THE PARDUS DESKTOP

Pardus 2011 is a good customization of the KDE desktop, including own branding, wallpapers, splash screens, KDM themes, even its own set of icons. The latter is a bit incomplete, unfortunately, so users will see applications inside menus that use default Oxygen icons instead of Pardus ones. Considering Pardus developers customized the application catalog, I find this a bit disappointing. Don't get me wrong, I like the Pardus icon set, it adds a bold, original twist to how KDE looks, but I believe consistency is very important.


Click on image to enlarge.

PISI is the package installer, this time around including new features and a lot more packages available for download than the previous version. Activating extra repositories is not required this time around, so users will get most of their favorite apps available for download out of the box.


Click on image to enlarge.

I have to admit I was expecting better from PISI, at least on the GUI department. We are seeing amazing stuff coming from Ubuntu and Linux Mint, installers that include screenshots, long and informative package descriptions, ratings and some other great ideas inspired on other famous application stores out there. PISI still follows more of an old scholl approach in that sense, offering an interface that looks cluttered at a glance. On the bright side, they introduced ratings on this release, but considering the size of Pardus user community and the fact that ratings are merely informational (it's not a field you can order by, for example), I doubt they will add much value.


Click on image to enlarge.

The left column includes package categories, but there are perhaps
too many to make sense out of it. I think this menu would benefit from some restructuring, limiting the top categories to just a handful, then adding subcategories behind them. For example, new Pardus users will probably have a hard time understanding what is inside categories like "Other", "Other Desktops" or "Electronics", to name just a few. I think top categories like "Productivity" or "Entertainment & Games" would probably prove more meaningful and make browsing simpler. Along the same lines, it would help if icons were application related, instead of showing the same package image time and again.


Click on image to enlarge.

I love the look of that installation progress on top, informative and modern looking. Unfortunately, it feels a bit out of place compared to the rest of the interface.


Click on image to enlarge.

All in all, PISI works well and does what it is supposed to do. Coupled with the fact that Pardus repositories now include most popular apps out there, Pardus users will certainly welcome its new features. Personally, I have to admit I was expecting better, perhaps a more radical set of improvements over the previous version of PISI.

One of the most exciting (and much needed) new features in Pardus is the work that has been done around Network management and its corresponding applet. Pardus 2009 suffered from weak Network management, and given how important it is today to go online, that was a major miss. This time around, developers came up with a very ingenious solution: Use the best from GNOME Network Manager, including its support for HSPA/CDMA/VPN devices and networks, then seamlessly integrate it inside the KDE desktop. Fedora KDE implementations have used GNOME Network manager for years, but integration with KDE was horrible. Fortunately for them, Pardus users will not see anything alien on their desktop.


Click on image to enlarge.

LibreOffice makes its debut on Pardus 2011 as the productivity suite of choice, substituting OpenOffice. I believe this is the right move, not only because it guarantees less dependency on whatever ORACLE does with OpenOffice, but also because Pardus users will be able to benefit from the exciting features that will soon come to LibreOffice. For example, many different UI mockups have seen the light lately, giving us an idea of how LibreOffice will look like not long from now. Aside from potentially improving usability, these mockups hint at finally implementing features that have long been missing in OpenOffice, such as native integration with window, control and icon themes. Along with GTK Oxygen project efforts, we should probably enjoy LibreOffice looking like a native application inside KDE and consequently Pardus.


Click on image to enlarge.

Other interesting application changes include ShowFoto instead of the more typically available Gwenview. In this case, I am not sure I understand the driver behind this decision, as ShowFoto does not seem to include many relevant improvements over Gwenview.


Click on image to enlarge.

GIMP returns as the image manipulation application of choice, also showing a custom splash screen. I have to admit I love those custom splash screens, they convey a feeling of something consistent and carefully put together with attention to detail. Unfortunately, they only show up for a few applications.


Click on image to enlarge.

All in all, Pardus comes loaded with a number of attractive applications, quite extensive hardware support and an attractive Look&Feel, all of which translates into a high quality KDE distro release. If you ask me, this is the best release they have ever put together.

Nothing is perfect, though, and betting all your chips on a single hand, KDE in this case, has its low points. KDE is certainly improving lately, but as I mentioned on my recent KDE SC 4.6 REVIEW, it still has some basic areas that are not getting the attention they deserve. As an example, I checked if bluetooth was working fine (I have only seen it happen in Kubuntu 10.10 so far) and I got the good old failure when I was trying to browse my mobile.


Click on image to enlarge.

As you can see from the screenshot above, I wasn't able to browse my mobile contents using Bluetooth, something that has worked reliably in GNOME for ages.

FINAL WORDS

Pardus 2011 is an interesting release with many great things about it. Given the terrific work that was put in place for Pardus 2009, I must admit I was expecting even better. I guess I was expecting tighter branding integration, more modern features in PISI and YALI and a more solid and consistent customization of the KDE desktop.

That's just my opinion, of course, so don't be afraid to give Pardus 2011 a go, I am sure you will like what you see.

25 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great review Chema!
    It is really a good KDE distro, I feel very comfortable using KDE with this distro in comparison to other KDE distros.
    How do you would compare this release with Kubuntu or PCLinuxOS?
    The only thing I dislike are some bad translations, I noticed this with Spanish.

    David

    David

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  2. @David: Thanks, glad you liked the review!

    Pardus is in some ways more solid than Kubuntu, at least when Kubuntu was released (after a few months worth of patches it has improved somehow). In addition, it does better at getting the most out of KDE, being as it is a KDE only distro. On the other hand, I believe Kubuntu is a bit faster in terms of performance and because it belongs to the Ubuntu project, its users can benefit from a huge community that can provide lots of support.

    All in all, I would say they are both great KDE distros, but in my opinion, Kubuntu evolved faster in the past six months, and I believe that trend will continue.

    As for PCLinuxOS, I feel that it was an awesome release last year, but I am eager to see if they can still be a top KDE distro come release date. The problem with PCLinuxOS is that it picks stuff from here and there, but lacks more development of its own. I personally think they need to improve the installation process, make it more user friendly. Similarly, they need to get rid of their Mandriva dependency and introduce a more friendly package manager. Being more selective about their application catalog would also help, in my opinion.

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  3. @David: Actually, forgot to mention that translation is an area where you could definitely give the Pardus project a hand, and it doesn't require super programming skills or anything. If you believe you could help improve those Spanish translations, I encourage you to join the project and help them improve Pardus further.

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  4. I agree with this review. For thoose who want to try Pardus I can recommend this forum:
    http://worldforum.pardus-linux.nl/index.php

    There can english speaking user get help and so on.

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  5. I have used Pardus since 2005. It is enough for my daily office work. I am physician. I want to run a dicom viewer as Osirix for MacOsX. I can use Agfa viewer with vine emulation.
    Thank yo Tubitak.

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  6. @Chema: Thank you for the good comparison, I think I can agree with you. With respect to the translations, I still prefer Gnome and thats the reason why I wont use Pardus on a daily basis, but I will test and play with it.

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  7. Pardus is terrific , but the only problem they seem to have I guess is establishing their presence in the linux world. They can give all top distros a tough competition..

    Only problem I feel is that the distro is still in a way localized to European countries with most of the documentation in Turkish/German or Dutch..

    If they want a wider reach they should look at extensive documentation in English

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  8. Here is the English Wiki:
    http://www.pardus-wiki.org/

    And English forum are:
    Pardus Worldforum.

    So what is the problem?

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  9. Pardus Corporate (business version) will be released at 16 february, so the developers are probably busy with that now.
    When they released Pardus 2009 the updates taking long time to. Around 2 months but then many updates and appplications came at one time. A sort of “servicepack 1″
    So maybe its same with this 2011 version to:
    http://liste.pardus.org.tr/pardus-devel/2011-January/002081.html

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  10. @Chema: I started using MultiSystem to install .iso files to USB. You can use it to simply put one or many. I have found it to work with distributions that failed with Unetbootin.
    http://liveusb.info/dotclear/
    Wait for the page to load and then select your language from the Google Translate dropdown menu in the upper right corner. It installs flawlessly from a Mint 10 Main live session.

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  11. @Travenlinrob: Thanks, but I wasn´t talking about creating a LiveUSB. What I want it is to install Pardus on a USB instead of my main hard drive. In other words, I remove my hard drive and then install on a USB which is essentially SDA1. By doing that, I don´t have to deal with Live images and also avoid GRUB picking up any other OS I may have on my main hard drive.

    For the record, this worked for me on almost any Linux distro I have ever tried. Pardus is a bit weird in that sense.

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  12. @Chema: I get it. I misunderstood.

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  13. If you prefer using KDE, Pardus has been one of the two most stable and user friendly Linux distros for me so far (the other is PCLinuxOS).

    I have been using Pardus and Ubuntu for years, and these two have turned out to be my favorite distro after having tried others. If you have more time to spend on maintenance, then you may also try Debian, Slackware or Mepis.

    I have been using the Pardus 2011 since its release and have had no problem so far. Pretty stable, very practical. Thanks for those who work on this wonderful distro.

    Omer

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  14. Pardus 2011 have released (10 february) the first update packages. So now they will coming more regulary and the software repo will be bigger.
    And that the sign I need to moving over from Pardus 2009.2 to the new 2011.

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  15. Best KDE Distro on the planet! (Hands down)

    Goodbye Linux Mint, hello Pardus 2011!

    It's funny how much Mint 10 KDE tried to copy Pardus, but they have a ways to go... lol

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  16. Pardus 2011 shows us that no one has the monopoly over KDE the developers have done a great job..bravo

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  17. Tonight (23 february) they release the second larger package updates:
    http://liste.pardus.org.tr/pardus-devel/2011-February/002112.html

    So I suppose the issue with a small repo are solved.
    Now it got most of the software/programs as any other Linux distribution.

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  18. I've used almost every Linux (KDE) Distro that's out there, icluding the latest (and worst) Linux Mint 10 KDE. Never have I used a KDE distro that was so thoroughly put together. I'm telling you and it's no exaggeration when I say Pardus 2011 is the best KDE distro available to the public to date. I challenge any Linux user to try Pardus and see if you don't feel the same way after using it for a few days. But I'm willing to bet you'll fall in love with it during the install process. I've tried Mint, OpenSuse, Fedora, Mandriva, Sabayon, Chakra, PCLinuxOS, Zorin, (Not KDE, but similar) Kubuntu and I must say, none of them has impressed me to the level that Pardus did. If you want to have a fully loaded OS that will let you have a full blown media center, with video and audio editing, I'd recommend this Pimp of an OS. If you are using Windows 7 or Vista and you want to try out a Linux Operating system that will work and do everything you can do on Windows right out of the box. (and much more) I suggest using Pardus 2011. This OS walks you through the instal process and there is no way you could screw it up unless you are a drooling vegetable. If you've been using Mint and you think Mint is the best Linux OS for new users, I have news for you guys.... Pardus does Wayyyy more out of the box than Mint will ever do. Why this OS is not well known to the rest of the Linux community is beyond me and frankly, it's a damn shame. I can't stress enough how great Pardus 2011 is, I will never use any other Distro and I think if some of you give it a try, you'll agree...

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  19. Pardus 2011 is absolutely amazing. But it has one fatal flaw I think that keeps people (like me) from switching to it. The software repositories SUCK. Plain and simple.

    I mean come on, Linux Mint is stable,or ubuntu, or Kubuntu, and I can still run Windows stuff with it (via WINE),or use the amazing Picasa.
    Nope, can't get those in Pardus. Its a shame too, because everything else is perfect.

    If they can fix this issue, I think over time, they could topple the Ubuntu and Mint giants in terms of popularity. There would be no reason not to use it then. So please fix it for the love of god. Amen.

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  20. @Anonymous: If you want to test the latest and greatest from KDE I just discovered that PCLinuxOS even has the latest stable KDE 4.6.1 and you can install the newest Kernel also, the stable one.
    The repository is bigger as in Pardus and I have to admit my PCLinuxOS install is really fast, incredibly fast.
    Thanks to Chema again for praising PCLOS once in an older article, it is really a good distro.

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  21. Another review for those who might be interested in:
    http://linuxblog.darkduck.com/2011/03/7-surprises-from-turkey.html

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  22. @David Are you kidding David? PCLinuxOS is garbage and doesn't even come close to the likes of Pardus... you wont find a better KDE distro than Pardus.

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  23. pardus is solid.

    polished much better then the (considered) polished opensuse.

    the most stylish of any any other distro. also it seems to be the only distro with professional icons, they are brilliant and chiс.

    the only shortcoming though is its rather sparse repos.

    the distro definitely should attempt to get more attention and a larger user base which would definitely result in richer repos. and simply because it's so much brilliant in general that just deserves that more users give it a try.

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  24. has anyone come up with a way to install from a usb?

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  25. Great system Pardus 2011.2

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