Review: Pardus Linux 2007.1
Pardus is a relatively unknown release funded and developed by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. It has a range of unique features and clearly has converted some fans on basis I'm sitting here playing with it because readers recommended it. So let's see what this KDE release can do.
Earlier today I played about with DreamLinux and instantly gave it an "F" because it relied on the user setting up the partitions manually - something "usable" distros can't be doing. I'm happy to say this is something that Pardus does well - a nice graphical installer that may look like a Java applet of yester-year but handles the entire process in an intuitive manner.
The installer wasn't particularly swift but it was a nice process. It's worth noting that Pardus doesn't offer a LiveCD environment so there'll be no testing the system before installing. Another thing worth noting is that a couple of the images you're presented with are slightly odd... Indicative of what is to come? Let's put it through it's paces.
While not the most attractive of all distros I feel this is most likely because it's not got a large team of designers sitting behind it like releases like Ubuntu Studio or Gentoo. It's tidy though and certainly handsome enough to live with and that's what's important. The icon design is one of the standout features - fitting of the largest releases. There's only so much I can say about aesthetics; the rest is best left to a healthy screenshot:
While not as obvious as the network detection in Ubuntu it's intuitive enough and around 3 clicks later you have the Internet. It also looks like there's a decent level of Wireless device support too so that's good. Pardus also offers Samba share which works like a dream fortunately. However I did find that it only worked well using "Smb4k" - an application designed for this purpose - the traditional browsing route didn't seem to work properly. However, I was able to grab video files from my pre-existing network without even touching an FTP client - which is good.
As normal I grabbed a video file and threw it onto the desktop ready to be played. As always I place a lot of weight onto the handling of media files because it's fundamental to modern system use. If Linux is going to be taken seriously as a Windows replacement - it needs to handle media files gracefully (in my opinion, obviously).
Playing the video file
As normal a DVD-ripped episode of Family Guy is in question. Things looked promising with Kaffeine explaining that it has codecs and everything all ready for me.
Unfortunately when Family Guy started playing it was clear that the codecs weren't quite up to the job. I decided that now was as good a time as any to grab VLC - the world's greatest open source media player (in my opinion).
I found the package manager difficult to find, hidden a layer deep in TASMA - Pardus' very powerful yet simple configuration utility. The best comparison I can give is that it's almost exactly like the one found in PCLinuxOS. I sat hoping that VLC would solve my codec problems because anything more than this would really jeopardise it's out-of-the-box functionality.
While the package manager wasn't easy to find it was easy to use - following the same paths as Synaptic. Opting to install VLC triggered a massive list of pre-requisits. Opting to play the video in VLC resulted in no video... I'm willing to believe that Pardus will handle media files it just needs a little bit of love.
Applications on offer
While some of the functionality has been a little bit skittish from time to time, there's a lot of good things offered directly post install. All the normal faces are present (GIMP, OpenOffice etc) and there certainly is sufficient to keep any user occupied. Infact if it weren't for Kaffeine not playing the video properly I probably wouldn't have ventured into a package manager for some time. In fact there are at least 2 other media players present besides Kaffeine so Pardus really is aiming for high out-of-the-box functionality.
You literally have 10+ applications on each prong of the menu, offering an impressive diversity of functions for even the most picky of users. I really enjoy out-of-the-box distros because they limit how much "faffing around" you need to do.
Quite a mixed conclusion I'm afraid and it's taken me more than 3 hours to be comfortable with what this release has to offer; some things didn't work correctly and there were some oddities (no UK keyboard option and the occasional error message in Turkish) but it's nothing that a healthy polish wouldn't fix. There's an excellent amount of promise being shown by this release and if they could fix a couple of the preloaded codec issues then it's about there.
Networking was excellent and it managed with Samba shares better than some of the larger releases. The design is tidy, the install obvious and while I couldn't possibly recommend this over a more established distro such as Ubuntu, PCLOS or Mepis I'm definately adding this one to my list of releases to keep an eye on. There's a lot of good in this plucky Turkish release and it has an excellent grounding.
It'll be hard though, Ubuntu is accelerating at astonishing speed but it's smaller releases like this that really amaze me. It handles a lot of things very well and shows promise and I assume this particular one was released in January - so there should be a new and improved version just around the corner. Remember the name "Pardus" because it may be one of the surprise successes of this year.
Please visit the Pardus site and give them your support. It's absolutely worth a look.
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