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Pardus 2008 – A Linux Switcher’s Review
July 8, 2008, 4:02 pm
Filed under: Computing | Tags: , , ,

Before I start, I want to draw your attention to the title. This is my first Linux distro that I have managed to get working, so some of the points that I make may be true to all flavours of Linux and not just Pardus, but if you know this then you can just skip over it. I am writing this in an attempt to show people what Linux is actually like in general, although Pardus specifically.

Ok, so onto the hardware – since Linux is renowned for it’s ability to run on older hardware, I decided not to give it a partition to itself. Instead I will be using virtual machine software in the form of Parallels Desktop. Parallels assigns the guest OS 256MB of RAM by default, but I felt that that wouldn’t really do any OS justice, so I upped it to 500. It splits my dual-core processor in half so Linux has a single core 2GHz processor to work with. I am also using a GMA950 integrated graphics card and a 1280×800 monitor. The HDD size is set to 31GB as default and I won’t be changing that. I think that this should be enough to run Linux comfortably, although I’ll try not to bash any speed issues as I know it’s not the fastest system in the world.

The Install

Pardus does not come as a Live-CD/DVD, presumably so it can pack all of those packages onto a single CD. I worked my way through the simple setup process, formatting my hard-drive and installing. The main install process took a total of around 30 minutes, although I’d be happy to set aside half an hour to install an OS nowadays. The install finished without a hitch, and by the time I had rebooted I had already set-up an administrator user with it’s own password set to log in automatically. When I first logged in, I was greeted by the Kaptan set-up assistant.

The Kaptan makes the set-up easy

The Kaptan makes the set-up easy

At this point Pardus is running at 800×600, which is a little annoying although more likely down to Parallels than the OS. I worked my way through, changing the mouse to open files/folders with one click, setting a plain background and my network settings. The wizard came to an end and gave me the opportunity to tweak my system further.

The Kaptan\'s further tweaking options
The Kaptan’s further tweaking options

I took this opportunity to spruce up my desktop a bit. Firstly I changed my resolution, so now everything looks sharp and defined. I then fiddled with the panel a bit. I removed the extra desktops button as I wasn’t going to be using it, then I removed the task bar. Oh dear. After a short panic I managed to restore it with a few mouse clicks, which was fortunate. I proceeded to turn transparency on for the panel and added a custom background.

I couldn\'t think of any other background
I couldn’t think of any other background.

I also adjusted the window theme slightly. I’d say this is the main system installed, so let’s move on to the next section, shall we?

Media

Sometimes I like to have a little music bopping while I sit at my computer, so I set off in search of the audio player. A click later, I find Amarok, nicely labeled ‘Audio Player’. Ok, fire it up! I tried a few files to ensure all my songs would work before importing, and I was pleasantly surprised. It could play .wma, .mp3, .mp4 and .m4a straight out of the box. I was surprised it played .m4a, although that may just be me being a noob. In any case, I copied my music collection in and let it play for a while.

Next I tried some videos. I slipped in Peep Show and let that play for a while, but then I would expect an operating system to play DVDs out of the box. I did not expect it, however, to give me the option to rip the DVD. For all of this coming out of the box I was very impressed. I opened up Kaffiene, and had a play with that. It opened every file I threw at it flawlessly, including .swf, which surprised me again. In short, Pardus has so far been the best multimedia OS I have ever used, although a front end like Windows Media Centre or Front Row would have really topped it all off. The subject of out of the box brings me nicely to my next section, Software.

Software

Pardus comes with a massive range of packages pre-installed, from the media applications mentioned earlier to an entire office suite. It includes the latest Firefox web browser, an e-mail client, RSS, IRC, torrents, FTP and a download manager – and thats just the internet subsection. I have never seen an OS come so equipped without downloading a single thing. It also includes a selection of games, the entire office suite, and many other personal management applications. I can really think of no other mainstream application that you would need that isn’t already installed. On other operating systems you would expect to pay for the software that comes included with Pardus for free.

However, if there is software that you can’t find preinstalled or you want to replace an existing application (I, for example, replaced Kopete with Pidgin), simply open the PiSi Package Manager. This is Pardus’s own Package Manager, and I find that it works well. I know that installing things on Linux is always this simple, but I love the fact that installing something new is as easy as searching for it, selecting it and clicking install. It will download all of the packages that it needs to run as well, so you don’t get an annoying error message when you try and open your application. On the other hand, I found that the Package Manager was slow to load and sometimes became laggy mid-use, although as I said I’m in no position to comment due to the hardware it’s running on.

The PiSi Package Manager

The PiSi Package Manager

The PiSi Package Manager contains a massive range of packages that can be downloaded and installed in the blink of an eye, thankfully with a search engine and sections to browse that can really help you find what you’re looking for.

Stability

Since Linux is famous for it’s stability and lack of viruses, I came into Pardus with high expectations. I have never experienced a single error message or crash, and the only slowdown occurs with PiSi, but that could be due to the constant referring to the internet. In any case, I expected Linux to provide me with a rock solid base for whatever I wanted to do, and I was not disappointed. There’s not really a lot more to say, as you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever used Linux, and if not and this sounds good then you definitely should.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I chose Pardus hoping it would provide a good entrance into the Linux world, and I couldn’t have asked for any more. It looks beautiful, it comes with a mass of packages that provide everything you could need at a basic level, and many other packages in the repositories. I have not found it difficult to do a single thing yet, even when I wasn’t sure what to do. The only gripes that I have with Pardus is the lack of fonts and the fact that Compiz-Fusion wouldn’t work, and the window manager that would supposedly fix it wasn’t in the repository. Other than these (very) minor issues, I would highly recommend Pardus, especially if you are just coming into the Linux world.

Further reading: http://bulletspawn.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/pardus-2008-review/