Pardus 2011

It’s been a while since I last took a look at Pardus and much has changed since then. The distro has been upgraded to Pardus 2011. Pardus is a KDE distribution created in Turkey by the National Research Institute of Electronics and Cryptology (UEKAE). The word “pardus” is actually derived from the Latin name for a leopard that lives in Turkey. This is why you’ll see leopard/kitty graphics in the distribution at times.

Pardus is not as well known as some other distributions and that’s a real shame because it has much to offer desktop Linux users. Even if you’re a die-hard GNOME user, you might find yourself very impressed with Pardus 2011. It’s one of the best KDE-based distros available right now.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

YALI (Yet Another Linux Installer) updates
Kaptan (desktop configuration tool) updates
Package Manager updates
Linux Kernel 2.6.37
Plymouth now included
Perl 5.12.2
X.org 1.9.4 RC1
KDE SC 4.5.5
GTK applications rendered with Oxygen style
GNOME Network Manager default networking backend
Improved KDE network management tool
Firefox 4.0 Beta 9
Panda (driver change tool)
Bluetooth, tablets and touchpads can now be setup via System Settings
LibreOffice is the new default office suite
Board and logic games included

YALI now features LVM/RAID and UUID support. YALI also has an improved user interface and you can choose between open source and proprietary drivers. See the install section of the review for a complete visual walk-through of the Pardus 2011 install routine. I was quite pleased with it, with one small exception.

Kaptan can now optionally take your picture to use as your avatar in KIDE. You can also select your icon theme for KDE, and Kaptan also has a better interface. I’ll have more to stay about Kaptan in the desktop section of the review. Suffice to say that it’s a great tool for configuring your Pardus 2011 desktop the way that you want it.

The package manager now lets you vote for packages and you can also see screenshots of some applications. The interface has also been tweaked and speed has been enhanced. While I was glad to see the star ratings included, I’d like to see user reviews of applications available as well at some point.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice

I was very happy to see the inclusion of LibreOffice in this release. The sooner OpenOffice is retired in all distros, the better (given Oracle’s involvement in it). Pardus seems to be out ahead of some other distros on this issue. Kudos to the developers for getting LibreOffice available ASAP.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

System memory (RAM)
System memory (RAM) requirements of Pardus 2011 depends heavily on your daily workflow so it is very hard to define upper and lower bounds, but we recommend at least 1GB of memory for a smooth desktop experience.

Hard disk space requirements
Minimum requirements
Pardus 2011 requires at least 4GB of free hard disk space for a successful installation. As we don’t offer custom package selection during the installation, this minimum size constraint applies to all installations.

Recommended requirements
In order to effectively use Pardus 2011 on your system without running low on disk space during your daily workflow, we recommend at least 10GB of free hard disk space.
Note on Swap space
Swap space is used whenever your operating system runs out of physical memory. If you think that your physical memory is big enough for your daily usage, you may skip creating a swap space during installation.
Note that a disk partition reserved for swap space is required if you want to hibernate (Suspend to disk) Pardus. Otherwise the functionality will be disabled.

Installation
I love the Pardus 2011 installer YALI (Yet Another Linux Installer). It’s very slick and makes it easy to install Pardus. I wish certain other distributions would take a clue from Pardus and use YALI since it’s great for those new to Linux.

The install is quick and you can view a slideshow while the install completes. The slideshow will show you some of the features Pardus has to offer.

Note though that after the install finishes, you’ll still need to set up your user and admin accounts. I actually dislike this since setting these things up should really happen during the install process itself. However, some distros don’t function that way so just bear in mind that you’ll have to do a couple of additional things after the install is complete.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end, and show you the user/admin setup screens that appear after the install.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

Install 10

Install 10

Install 11

Install 11

Install 12

Install 12

Booting & Login
Here’s a look at the boot menu and login screens.

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop
The first thing you’ll see when you go to boot into your desktop is Kaptan. Kaptan lets you customize your desktop settings including your wallpaper, theme, mouse behavior and other things. You can even have Kaptan take your picture to use as your KDE avatar.

I think Kaptan is a terrific tool. I loved booting into a desktop that looked the way I wanted it to look, rather than just getting some blase default desktop created by the developers. I particularly enjoyed being able to choose my menu style rather than simply have it default to the usual sliding KDE menus.

The screenshots below show you each step of the Kaptan’s customization process. Please note that the screenshot labeled “configure 4” was a duplicate so I’ve removed it.

Configure 1

Configure 1

Configure 2

Configure 2

Configure 3

Configure 3

Configure 5

Configure 5

Configure 6

Configure 6

Configure 7

Configure 7

Configure 8

Configure 8

Configure 9

Configure 9

Configure 10

Configure 10

Configure 11

Configure 11

Here’s what my configured desktop ended up looking like. I used the Pardus icons and a different default wallpaper.

Desktop

Desktop

Themes
You’ll find 6 different themes available by default, and you can get more by clicking the Get New Themes button.

Themes

Themes

Wallpaper
There are about 18 different wallpapers available by default. You can get more by clicking the Get More Wallpaper button on the wallpaper menu.

Wallpaper

Wallpaper

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Bovo
Kajongg
KBlackbox
KFourInLine
Kigo
Kiriki
KMahjongg
Knights
Logic Games
Toys

Graphics
digiKam
DjView
DNGConverter
ExpoBlending
GIMP
Gwenview
KFax
KolourPaint
KSnapshot
Okular
showFoto
Skanlite

Internet
Akregator
Blogilo
bluedevil
Choqok
Chromium
Firefox
KGet
KMail
KNode
Konqueror
Konversation
Kopete
KTorrent

Multimedia
GNOME MPlayer
K3b
KAudioCreator
Kdenlive
KMix
KsCD
paprefs
pavucontrol
SMPLayer

Office
KAddressBook
KOrganizer
KTimeTracker
LibreOffice
Okular

Others
Akonadi Console
D-Feet
Marble

Software Management
Pardus’ package manager is pretty decent and should be easy to use for all users. It lags a bit behind the Ubuntu Software Center and Linux Mint’s Software Manager, but it’s still pretty good. As I noted earlier, I’d like to see user reviews of applications available in the package manager. It’s nice to see what other people think if an application before taking the time to download and install it.

Package Manager

Package Manager

Package List Update

Package List Update

Downloading Chromium

Downloading Chromium

Start Chromium

Start Chromium

Adding & Removing Software
To install or remove a piece of software, first find it in the package manager then click the check box. After that click the Select Operation button at the bottom of the package manager and choose Install Packages or Remove Packages. This isn’t quite as intuitive as some other software management tools but it works well. Experienced Linux users obviously won’t have a problem with this, but some newer folks might be looking for a quick “install” button instead of the Select Operation button.

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
Flash is installed by default so I had no problems doing the usual YouTube video tests.

Multimedia

Multimedia

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
There’s a pretty good default selection of multimedia software in Pardus 2011 including various KDE applications, GNOME MPlayer, Clementine and a few other things. The package manager has a total of 268 packages in the multimedia section. So there’s plenty to choose from if you find the default selection lacking.

Clementine

Clementine

Problems & Headaches
Live DVD Versus the Install DVD?
One thing that confused me when I first downloaded Pardus is that the Live DVD version doesn’t seem to have an installer (or at least one I could find). So I ended up downloading the installable version after futzing around with the Live DVD version. I am not sure why you can’t do an install from the Live DVD version, or perhaps I just didn’t notice the installer somewhere? Anyway, this has the potential to confuse some users. So if you want to do an install of Pardus, be sure to get the installable version rather than the Live DVD version.

Beyond that, I didn’t run into any noticeable issues while running Pardus 2011. Applications opened quickly and the distro itself seemed quite stable. I didn’t encounter any noticeable burps or headaches while running it, even when I had quite a lot of applications opening and running at the same time. It seemed quite solid and reliable to me while using it.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Pardus support page, including the forum, mailing list, bug tracker and encyclopedia.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
My experience with Pardus 2011 was quite positive. It’s a distro that really deserves to get more attention than it has in the past, and hopefully this release will help it catch the eye of desktop users that might not have been aware of it before. The improvements to YALI and the Package Manager plus the inclusion of Kaptan & LibreOffice have all helped make the Pardus desktop experience excellent.

Pardus 2011 is slick, it’s very polished and it’s definitely worth a download; especially if KDE is your preferred desktop environment. It’s undoubtedly one of the best KDE distributions available right now so check it out if you are a KDE user or if you’re somebody thinking about switching to KDE.

I feel comfortable recommending Pardus 2011 to beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Pardus 2011
Web Site: http://www.pardus.org.tr/eng/
Price: Free
Pros: YALI updated with better interface & other updates; Kaptan desktop customization tool; package manager now includes screenshots & application ratings; LibreOffice is now the default office suite.
Cons: Package manager still doesn’t include user reviews of applications; Live DVD and Install DVD are separate downloads.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4.5/5

 



Pardus Linux 2009

One of the nice things about Linux is that anybody can create a Linux distribution and sometimes the better distros come from the most unlikely of places. Pardus Linux 2009 is a Turkish distribution. Pardus Linux was created and maintained by The National Research Institute of Electronics and Cryptology (UEKAE), an affiliate of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey.

The word “pardus” comes from the latin name for a leopard native to Turkey. And Pardus uses a package manager called “PiSi” which is a Turkish word for kitty. Hey, aside from Apple, how many people name their products after kitties? A unique and humorous naming scheme, to be sure.

What’s New In This Release
There’s quite a bit of new stuff in this release of Pardus Linux and here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

KDE 4.2.4
Linux kernel version 2.6.30.1
OpenOffice.org office applications suite 3.1
Mozillla Firefox web browser 3.5.1
Gimp 2.6.6
Xorg 1.6.2
Python 2.6.2
Texlive 2008
Ext4
GCC 4.3.3
GLIBC 2.9

This version of Pardus also includes updates to YALI (Yet Another Linux Installer) as well as the PiSi package manager. The PiSi package manager updates are geared toward making it faster and to use less bandwidth (since it now only downloads parts of package updates as opposed to downloading entire replacement packages). This version of PiSi also has the potential to use up to 20% less disk space. The YALI improvements are designed to speed up the install.

Optimized.softwareupdate

Boot Up & Installation
As of the date of the writing of this review, the Live CD version of Pardus had not been released. So that means you have to install it to your hard disk to check it out. The Live CD version is promised soon on the Pardus site though so stay tuned for that.

As I noted above, Pardus uses the YALI installer. Using YALI doesn’t require a lot of experience as the install is broken down pretty much into the following steps:

Welcome
Check Media
Set Users
Set Administrator
Choose Partitioning
Bootloader Choice
Install Summary
Install
Goodbye From YALI

I found the installation to be quite easy. If you’ve done an Ubuntu installation you shouldn’t have a problem with installing Pardus Linux. My install took about 15 minutes or so and I didn’t encounter any problems with it.

Desktop & Apps
One of the first things you’ll notice after booting into your Pardus desktop is Kaptan Desktop, a configuration app that automatically loads with the desktop. Kaptan makes it very easy for you to customize your Pardus system. Just click Next (or Back if you need to) and you can easily progress through the Kaptan Desktop app while changing your system’s settings.

Here’s a list of what you can configure using Kaptan Desktop:

Mouse
Themes
Menu
Wallpaper
Desktop Search
Network
Smolt
Package

Here’s a sample of what you’ll find in terms of apps:

Graphics
digiKam Photo Management
DjView4 DjVu Viewer
DNGConverter DNG Image Converter
GIMP
KolourPaint
Okular Document Viewer

Internet
Firefox 3.51
Akregator Feed Reader
Google Gadgets
KMail
Konqueror Browser
Kopete IM
KTorrent
KGet Download Manager
Konversation IRC

Multimedia
Amarok Audio Player
Dragon Player Video Player
Gnome MPlayer
Juk Music Player
K3B CD & DVD Burning
MPlayer Multimedia
KAudioCreator CD Ripper

Office
OpenOffice.org
KAddressBook
Kontct PIM
KOrganizer

Others
Akonadi Console
Marble Desktop Globe

You’ll find plenty of other software in Pardus’ Package Manager too. Probably far more than you’ll actually ever need to run. Pardus does a good job in covering most of the desktop app bases by default though. So don’t expect to have to install a lot of apps to do all of the usual computing tasks.

Optimized.kaptan

Problems & Headaches
When the Pardus Linux 2009 install menu first loads be sure to remember to hit the F2 key to change the language to English. Otherwise it will be in Turkish. I think it would be helpful if there was some kind of menu that first asks which language users want rather than sticking it at the bottom of screen. Some people might miss it and then think that Pardus Linux 2009 is only available in Turkish.

The lack of a Live CD is somewhat annoying but it appears that it’s on the way. Bear in mind though that until it’s available you will have to install Pardus to check it out.

I highly recommend changing the default KDE menu settings via Kaptan Desktop so you aren’t stuck with the heinous KDE 4 menus that move around. They are truly awful to navigate and add no utility value whatsoever. Ugh. I despise them. KDE itself isn’t too bad but those default menus are simply annoying. What sadist came up with them anyway?

It would certainly be nice if there were an option to use Gnome or a light-weight window manager with Pardus instead of KDE. I’m not going to harp on it too much but some choice in desktop environments would add additional value to Pardus.

Beyond that I didn’t have any real problems with Pardus Linux 2009.

Getting Help for Pardus Linux 2009
If you run into a problem or issue you can post on the Pardus Discussion List or read the List Archives. You can also pick the brains of the DLR Forum members.

You can also get additional info on Pardus development by reading the Pardus Development List. Note that the development list should not be used for support questions.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Pardus is surprisingly good and is certainly well worth a download for anybody in the market for an off-the-beaten path desktop distribution. Beginners can certainly give Pardus a whirl and intermediate and advanced Linux users might also enjoy it.

If you aren’t sure about trying Pardus 2009 then hold off until the Live CD version is ready so you don’t have to install it to check it out.

Summary Table:

Product: Pardus Linux 2009
Web Site: http://www.pardus.org.tr/eng/
Price: Free
Pros: Easy to install, provides a great range of desktop apps. Kaptan Desktop application helps new users easily customize their Pardus system.
Cons: Default lanuage is Turkish so it’s necessary to hit F2 on the first bootup screen to change the language to English before the install starts.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Summary: An unexpectedly good distribution from Turkey.
Rating: 3.5/5

Optimized.Picture20