It’s often said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. If that’s the case then the developer of Pear OS 8 truly loves Apple and its products. Pear OS 8 is probably the closest thing any Linux user will ever come to getting a Linux distribution from Apple.
Pear OS 8 blends the look and feel of Mac OS X and iOS 7 into Ubuntu. I know that the very idea of this will probably shock some Linux users. Apple is probably the exact opposite of Linux in terms of openness and so making a Linux distribution that essentially mimics Apple’s products might be considered over the top, to say the least. Some might even think that the Pear OS 8 developer jumped the shark in a big way.
But there might also be folks out there who would appreciate a desktop Linux distribution molded in the likeness of OS X and iOS 7. So Pear OS 8 might be very appealing indeed to them.
What’s New in Pear OS 8
I was not able to locate a list of new features for Pear OS 8. The closest I could come was this page on the Pear OS site. If you have a full list of new features, please post it in the comments below. Thanks.
System Requirements for Pear OS 8
I also could not find a defined list of system requirements for Pear OS 8. This, along with a complete list of new features, is something that the Pear OS developer should consider adding to their site.
Linux Mint is an excellent model for this, the Linux Mint developers always make it very easy for users and reviewers to know what’s new and what is required to run the new distribution.
Since Pear OS 8 is based on Ubuntu, use that as a baseline for system requirements for this release.
Pear OS 8 Download
You can download Pear OS 8 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 1.13 GB. Pear OS 8 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I used the 64-bit version for this review.
Pear OS 8 Installation
Pear OS 8 uses the Ubuntu installer, so it’s quite easy and fast to install it. You can download updates and add third party software during your install.
Pear OS 8 is also a live distribution, so you can run it off a disc before actually doing an install on your computer.
The Pear OS 8 Desktop
The Pear OS 8 desktop looks like a blend of iOS 7 and OS X since it seems to contain icons from both of Apple’s operating systems. If you’ve used OS X or iOS 7, you’ll be able to spot the icon similarities right away.
As soon as I saw the desktop I started wondering when Apple’s lawyers would be sending the Pear OS 8 developer a letter expressing their displeasure. Apple has never taken kindly to those who…er…borrow their intellectual property so it would not surprise me if the Pear OS 8 developer ended up in hot water with their legal department at some point.
At the bottom of the desktop is a Dock that is very similar to what you see in OS X Mavericks. You’ll see application icons, system settings, the trash can, the Finder, and even a Launchpad for applications.
At the top is a menu bar that also resembles the one in OS X. It even has a similar notifications icon to the far right. The wallpaper also bears an eery similarity to something that Apple would include in its desktop operating system.
Pear OS 8 also includes a desktop configuration tool called My Pear 6. It lets you easily change the Dock, Notifications, Hot Corners and Desktop. The Theme tab wasn’t functional when I looked at it, but it had a “coming soon” message on it, so no doubt we’ll eventually see that added to Pear OS.
You will also find an icon for Clean My Pear, a tool designed to help you clean up your Pear OS 8 system when needed. It offers an automatic cleanup, internet cleanup, system cleanup and trash cleanup.
Linux Software Included in Pear OS 8
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.
Available in the Pear Software Center
Brasero Disc Burner
VLC Media Player
Linux Software Management Tools in Pear OS 8
Pear OS 8 comes with the Ubuntu Software Center as its software management tool. There are thousands and thousands of applications in the software center, and everything is broken down into the proper categories. You can also search for applications, and you can see a Top Rated list for each category and at the top level of the Software Center.
To add or remove an application, just find it and click the Install or Remove button.
Pear OS 8 also comes with a PPA Manager that can be accessed from an icon on the Dock.
Problems & Headaches Found in Pear OS 8
One thing I didn’t like about Pear OS 8 is that the Pear Software Center (the Ubuntu Software Center) icon is hidden away in the Launchpad. Why isn’t it on the Dock? A user unfamiliar with Pear OS 8 is probably going to be frustrated trying to figure out how to install or remove software. So putting the icon for the software center on the Dock should be a priority in an update to Pear OS 8.
One of the big problems with Pear OS 8 is the accessibility of installed software. In OS X you can access applications in the Applications section of the Finder. But Pear OS 8 does not have an applications category in its equivalent of the Finder. There is also no drop down menu of application categories when you click on the pear icon in the menu bar (OS X doesn’t have this either but many Linux desktops such as Xfce do).
So if you want to see all of the applications installed in Pear OS 8, you have to go into the Pear Software Center and click on Installed. This makes no sense to me. Who (except a Linux reviewer like me) is going to bother to do this?
VLC, for example, is a hugely important multimedia application. But it doesn’t appear in the Launchpad or on the Dock. So how is a user even going to know it’s installed by default in Pear OS 8? Most simply won’t and will wonder how to play multimedia files.
I even searched for VLC in the Launchpad, but nothing came up for a result. And yet the Pear Software Center says that it is installed so where is the icon to access it? Sure, you can launch it via the terminal application. But can you imagine Apple requiring users to launch an application via a terminal window? If Pear OS 8 is the Linux version of OS X then accessing installed applications should be a no-brainer.
I didn’t see any overt issues with Pear OS 8 in terms of stability or speed. The installer worked fine, and the distro itself seems fast and stable when using it.
If you’ve seen any problems or issues with Pear OS 8, please share them in the comments below for the benefit of other readers. Thanks in advance.
Where To Get Help for Pear OS 8
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Pear OS forum and blog.
If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.
Final Thoughts About Pear OS 8
Pear OS 8 does a very good job of copying the look and feel of Apple’s operating system. And it comes about the closest I’ve ever seen to providing a Mac-like experience in Linux (it even offers its own version of Apple’s iCloud service). It stumbles a bit though when it comes to software accessibility and organization, and that clearly needs to be fixed in an update or future release.
At the beginning of the review I mentioned the old saying that imitation is the most since form of flattery. But something else popped into my mind as I was using Pear OS 8. In the Lord of the Rings there is a description of Isengard – the fortress of the wizard Saruman – that seemed oddly appropriate to Pear OS 8.
In this case Linux is Isengard, and Saruman is the developer of Pear OS 8. Apple, of course, is Barad-dur, the Dark Tower in Mordor.
Here is the quote from the Lord of the Rings:
“A strong place and wonderful was Isengard, and long it had been beautiful [...]. But Saruman had slowly shaped it to his shifting purposes, and made it better, as he thought, being deceived – for all those arts and subtle devices, for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which fondly he imagined were his own, came but from Mordor; so that what he made was naught, only a little copy, a child’s model or a slave’s flattery, of that vast fortress, armoury, prison, furnace of great power, Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, which suffered no rival, and laughed at flattery, biding its time, secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength.”
Pear OS 8 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
What’s your take on Pear OS 8? Tell me in the comments below.