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


Comments

  1. says

    Jim, I had always heard good things about Parsix. You may remember Melloe from WAY back. He tried it out not too long ago and had very good results – he has all kinds of hardware from his days running "The Club". Anyway, I've tried it once or twice over the years, but since it is GNOME based and I prefer KDE and XFCE, and also since I already have a good collection of Debian based distributions, I passed on this one. I do have reason to believe that installing it through convention means would be likely to achieve different and more positive results.

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