Parsix Linux 3.0

The very first review I wrote for Desktop Linux Reviews was Parsix Linux 2.0. Well I’m pleased to note that Parsix Linux 3.0 has just been released and I couldn’t resist doing a review of this update.

When I first launched DLR I had no idea how well the blog would be received or if it would really amount to anything. Well 30 reviews later here we are and I’m happy to see how things turned out and it’s fun to be able to take a look at another version of the first DLR review.

If you missed the first review, here’s a snippet that explains what Parsix Linux is:

Parsix Linux is a Gnome-centric distribution created in Iran and based on KANOTIX and Debian. I downloaded it a while back but never quite had time to get a review done for ExtremeTech while I was working there. Distrowatch had a good interview with him recently where he talks about why and how Parsix Linux was born and how it differs from KANOTIX. The developer of Parsix is Alan Baghumian, a native Iranian.

For more information about Iran, see this list of books.

What’s New In This Release
There’s some good stuff in this release and here’s some of what you’ll find:

GNOME 2.26.3
Brand new kernel based on Linux 2.6.29.6 with extra patches and drivers
Updated installer system that supports separate /home partition
ext4 file system
GRUB 2
NetworkManager is finally default networking stack
AuFS and UnionFS support
SquashFS+Lzma compression for live-CD
GNU Iceweasel 3.5.3
GParted 0.4.6
Pidgin 2.6.2
OpenOffice.org 3.1.1
Compiz-Fusion 0.8.2

Parsix Linux features a somewhat bland but very functional Gnome desktop.

Parsix Linux features a somewhat bland but very functional Gnome desktop.

Requirements & Installation
Here’s a list of hardware requirements from the Parsix Linux install guide:

The minimum required hardware is a 500MHz processor and at least 512MB of RAM. For better performance, 1GB of RAM is recommended. At least a root partition with 5 GB free space and a swap partition is required for the installation. Swap partition’s capacity should be about twice as your RAM’s. Since Parsix GNU/Linux 3.0r0, its officialy possible to use an extra partition as /home.

One of the problems I had last time with Parsix was that I could not get the install to finish. I’m happy to note that I had no problems with it this time around, I was able to get it successfully installed.

Please note that Parsix Linux is a Live CD distro so you can simply boot into the CD and play with it without having to do an actual install. I recommend that particularly for Linux beginners that might not be comfortable with the Parsix Linux install (more on that in the problems section).

The install took about 12 minutes. The install itself is not particularly difficult if you’re an experienced Linux user and can be done via the Live CD desktop. Note that there is some partitioning required via GParted.

The Parsix Linux 3 install menu.

The Parsix Linux 3 install menu.

Use GParted to partition your hard disk as part of the Parsix Linux install.

Use GParted to partition your hard disk as part of the Parsix Linux install.


Virtual Machine Configuration
I’ve gotten a bit of flak from some folks for using virtual machines to do my Linux reviews. While I intend to continue doing that I thought it might also be interesting to include some information here about the virtual machine product I’m using and how I have the virtual machine configured. At some point I think I will write an FAQ that explains why I use virtual machines and that should help educate folks on how useful virtualization can be.

In this case I’m using VirtualBox and the configuration is below. I hope that this proves somewhat interesting or helpful to everybody. If not please let me know in the comments and I’ll skip doing it in future reviews.

Desktop & Apps

The Parsix Linux desktop is reasonably attractive and quite reminiscent of Ubuntu. That’s not particularly surprising given that it uses Gnome for its desktop environment.

Here’s some of what you’ll find in terms of default software:

Games
Mahjongg
Mines
Nibbles
Robots
Sudoku
Chess
Blackjack

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb Image Viewer
OpenOffice.org Draw
XSane

Internet
Gnome FTP Client
Balsa Email
Iceweasel Web Browser
Liferea Feed Reader
Pidgin IM
Transmission BitTorrent Client

Multimedia
Audio CD Extractor
Brasero Disc Burner
Cheese Webcam
TV Viewer
VLC Media Player

Office
OpenOffice.org
Grisbi Accounting
Fax Manager


The default installation provides a pretty good range of software. I didn’t find it lacking much as far as doing most of my basic computing tasks.

Adding & Removing Software
To update your system simply click System then Administration then choose Update Manager. You’ll need to type in your password and then the update manager will load. There were three updates available and I had no problem installing them to upgrade my system.

To install additional software or manage installed packages simply click System then Administration then Synaptic Package Manager. There’s quite a bit of additional software available via Synaptic so I urge you to check it out and see if there’s stuff there that you might want to keep on your system. I had no problems installing additional packages or removing ones that were already installed.

Use the Update Manager to update your system.

Use the Update Manager to update your system.

Use Synaptic to add or remove softare on your system.

Use Synaptic to add or remove softare on your system.


Sound and Multimedia
The only app appropriate for DVDs was VLC but it crashed each time I tried to play my Superman test DVD. I generally don’t use VLC for playing DVDs so I’m not sure how reliable it is for that. Note that the Parsix Linux documentation includes instructions on how to download additional multimedia codecs.

I had no problem with sound as the default desktop sounds loaded when I booted into my Parsix Linux desktop and I had no problem with sound while playing YouTube videos.

Networking worked fine and I didn’t need to do anything to configure my system to connect to the Internet.

What I Liked Most
I love the idea that this distro comes from Iran. Given all of the negative media coverage of that country recently, I think it’s nice that there’s something positive being done by Iranians that puts their nation in a more positive light internationally.

I also liked the additional software available via Synaptic in Parsix Linux.

Problems & Headaches
I’d like to see a more original theme used in future releases. Something that would set Parsix Linux apart. The wallpaper is attractive but it’s not really enough. It would be ideal if perhaps some sort of theme highlighting Iranian culture in a non-political, non-religious way might add some additional aesthetic value to this distro.

I know that harping about aesthetics probably doesn’t matter to a lot of people but it is one of the things I always notice when I first boot into a distro. I’m always hoping to see some breathtaking new theme or wallpaper that I haven’t seen before.

While I had no problem with installing Parsix Linux this time around, I view the install routine with a dubious eye for newbies because it requires using GParted to partition the hard disk before the actual install. Experienced Linux users won’t bat an eyelash at having to do this but somebody brand new who has never partitioned a hard disk or used GParted might be very confused. I’d like to see a more automated install routine that is easier for potential newcomers to Parsix Linux.

Sound and video worked perfectly while playing YouTube videos.

Sound and video worked perfectly while playing YouTube videos.

Where To Get Help
You can always post a note in the Desktop Linux Reviews Forum and we’ll do our best to offer feedback or at least point you in the right direction. You might also want to check out the Parsix Linux Install Guide, Wiki and User Guide. You might also want to check out the Parsix Linux Forum. Don’t worry if you don’t read Persian as there is an English section as well.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Parsix Linux is definitely worth taking a look at if you’re an intermediate or advanced Linux user.

Beginners are certainly welcome to check out the Live CD but the partitioning required to install Parsix Linux might be a bit much depending on the person’s experience with such things.

I enjoyed using Parsix Linux. While some might consider it a bit on the obscure side, I found it to be a pretty good desktop distro. The developers have done a good job with the documentation and seem to provide some good support in their forum and on the rest of their site.

I think it’s well worth a download.


Summary Table:

Product: Parsix Linux 3.0
Web Site: http://www.parsix.org
Price: Free
Pros: Live CD, slightly better install. Good selection of software.
Cons: While the install has gotten a bit better, it’s still cumbersome and could be difficult for newer Linux users.
Suitable For: Intermediate to advanced Linux users. Beginners are encouraged to try the Live CD but may find the installation confusing or difficult if they don’t have disk partitioning experience.
Summary: Parsix Linux is an attractive desktop distro that works pretty well for the most part. It’s worth taking a look at if you’re an intermediate or advanced Linux user.
Rating: 3/5


Parsix Linux 2.0

With dramatic events in Iran moving at light speed, I thought it might be interesting to kick off the new blog with a look at Parsix Linux. Parsix Linux is a Gnome-centric distribution created in Iran and based on KANOTIX and Debian. I downloaded it a while back but never quite had time to get a review done for ExtremeTech while I was working there.

Alan Baghumian

Alan Baghumian

The developer of Parsix is Alan Baghumian, a native Iranian. Distrowatch had a good interview with him recently where he talks about why and how Parsix Linux was born and how it differs from KANOTIX:

DW: Parsix has been in development for over a year. How does it differ from KANOTIX and what are its main features? Who is the target market?

AB: Parsix and KANOTIX are very similar. Both of them are based on Debian “sid” and Parsix GNU/Linux uses KANOTIX’s configuration scripts and kernel in live mode. Our aim is to provide a simple, stable, clean and up-to-date desktop operating system for “newbie” users. The main differences are:

* KANOTIX is a KDE-centric distribution, while Parsix uses GNOME.
* They use different installation systems. KANOTIX’s installation system is a QT-based application, while Parsix uses a classic installation system written in Bash.
* A completely different package selection.
* Documentation. We try to provide documentation for new users. Currently, the starter and installation guides have been completed and the English edition of the starter guide will be ready soon. We are planning to add much more Persian and English documentation in the future.
* Parsix GNU/Linux uses Debian’s standard kernels as the default kernel after hard disk installation. It is optimised for i686 or K7, depending on system’s CPU.
* Parsix GNU/Linux is optimised to be used on the i686 processors family. This gives better performance for desktop usage.
* Pre-configured applications for Persian language, such as text input, OpenOffice.org, UTF-8 locale, etc.
* KANOTIX has editions for 32-bit and 64-bit processors. Currently, Parsix offers a 32-bit edition only.
* We try to minimise the use non-free software in Parsix.

It’s well worth a read and it seems clear that Alan is doing some great things in Iran by bringing Linux to the Iranian people.

Installation
Parsix Linux is a Live CD so you have the option whether or not to install it. I figured I’d try it in VMWare just for the heck of it and, unfortunately, I could not get it to install. It’s install routine seems somewhat primitive in comparison to other distributions. I got stuck trying to get the disk partition to work via GParted.

While it’s unfortunate the install didn’t work properly, I was still able to run Parsix as a Live CD with no problems. The default language is english not persian. So there was no problem reading anything while using Parsix. If I’d been installing on an actual computer instead of a virtual machine I might have had better luck with it.

And just to clarify for those who might be wondering, Parsix Linux is not an Islamic distribution. It does not contain overt religious imagery, prayer apps or anything similar to what you’d find in the Muslim edition of Ubuntu (Sabily). I just wanted to mention that since some might assume otherwise because it’s made in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Parsix Desktop & Apps
Since Parsix uses Gnome you’ll feel right at home if you’re a Gnome person. The desktop comes with wallpaper of a rather attractive orange-ish flower. I am not sure if this some kind of Iranian flower or something. It’s not clear what it’s supposed to be or if there if there is some kind of symbolism to it. It may just be a pretty flower but after doing my last review for ET about Ubuntu Satanic Edition, I’m seeing potential symbolism everywhere. Heh, heh.

Parsix Desktop
In terms of apps, Parsix provides a pretty good range and you can also install more if you want. Here’s a list of some of what you’ll find with this distribution:

Gnome FTP Client
Gwget Download Manager
Iceweasel Web Browser
Pidgin IM
Transmission BitTorrent Client
XChat IRC
Firestarter Firewall
Balsa Email Client
Liferea Feed Reader
OpenOffice.org
The Gimp
VLC Media Player
Exaile Music Player
Brasero Disc Burner
TV Viewer
Grisbi Accounting

Problems & Headaches
The install problem aside, I didn’t notice any other issues while running Parsix as a Live CD. The performance was fine running in VMWare and I had no problems connecting to my network or otherwise just generally using this distribution. I encountered no bugs with the Live CD and had no problems running any of the included apps.

The Verdict About Parsix Linux
I like what Alan is trying to do with this distribution. But there simply must be a better install process than what it currently has. Right now the install just isn’t designed for casual desktop users. That is a real shame because Parsix Linux has so much potential. I found myself liking it after spending just a few minutes with it.

Still, what he is trying to do in Iran is admirable. So I’ll be rooting for Parsix Linux to get better with each new release. If you do decide to play with Parsix Linux be sure to read the excellent user’s guide. There’s quite a bit of very helpful information there for anybody who wants to try this distribution.

Who Should Try It?
I can definitely recommend it as a Live CD for tinkerers who just want to see what it is like. But I can’t recommend it to casual desktop users when there are so many other distributions that have install routines that are much easier and much less of a headache.

Summary Table:

Product: Parsix Linux 2.0
Web Site: http://www.parsix.org
Price: Free
Pros: Attractive looking distro, good selection of apps. Created in Iran to help facilitate the use of open source software in that nation.
Cons: Primitive install routine, lags way behind other desktop distributions.
Summary: A distro with a lot of promise that stumbles badly because of a poor install routine. It’s attractive, performs well as a Live CD and comes with a decent selection of applications.
Rating: 2.5/5