Review: Pardus Linux 2007 Kurulan RC2
I first investigated Pardus in the middle of May where I reviewed Pardus Linux 2007.1. I concluded "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".
Pardus is a relatively unknown release funded and developed by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey and I was rather impressed with it last time, so let's give it another go and see what improvements have been made. NOTE: I appreciate this is a Release Candidate so it's not a final release, but I'm going to give it a preliminary review anyway.
Excellent! There are some lovely touches present and I particulary like the "Transparent" theme that offers a PCLOS-esque contemporary KDE feel. It looks and feels like a popular distro should - lovely icon design, professional animations and generally an excellent level of polish. See the below screenshot (click it for a full 1280x1024 desktop screenshot).
The installation progress was largely the same was it was in 2007.1, rather slow but well explained, clear and unsurprising. It's sometimes clear that the distro's first language isn't English but that doesn't detract away from the clean user experience. It offers a sensible level of information most of the time but sometimes spends a minute or two doing *something* without offering too many hints. Either way, installation was nice and straight forward and shouldn't be a problem for the majority of users.
Network detection was slightly less intuitive than some of the major players (Ubuntu, PCLOS etc) but again, it was clear enough to get through - although it could probably use a little more explanation - the icons were clear and it didn't take much for a technological user to get through.
The familiar faces are all present, GIMP and OpenOffice to be precise but there really is a full suite of applications available. Suddenly Pardus falls into the "out of the box experience" category that I love so much. So with a full complement of applications available, let's see how it copes with more "out of the box" tasks.
My main gripe is that the Pisi package manager is too hard to find. Normally I like something like Synaptic directly off the menu but Pardus hides it within the "Tasma" configuration utility (more on that in a minute). It's quite easy to use but frustrating in equal measures. Why it loads the "Upgradable Packages" tab by default is beyond me - I'll normally load it up if I'm after something new. Never mind, it works really well - it's just hidden too far away from the user; which is a shame considering it's relative strength.
The Control centre (Tasma) is excellent, picture the configuration utilty in PCLinuxOS and you're mostly there - they are a little different but both are very powerful and helpful in equal measures.
Picking up the network was nice and fast but it's how it copes with my current Windows network that's important. Crucially it copes beautifully (as it did in 2007.1) and allowed me to pull across an episode of Family Guy to test the preloaded codecs (if it has any).
This actually surprised me and that doesn't happen terribly often while reviewing distros. My DVD-Rip of Family Guy played perfectly in Kaffeine - something that didn't happen last time. While it's not a big deal if it doesn't (given most people should probably download VLC anyway) but it's excellent for "user experience" that things just "work" straight out of the box.
Out of the box media handling is something I really weight highly and Pardus manages wonderfully - surprising but most welcome.
I've suddenly become an advocate for Pardus Linux. I've thoroughly enjoyed playing with this "Kurulan" RC2 release and actually find it as capable as some of the much bigger players that I tend to toy with. It may not have the biggest English community of all the distros but I hope that situation changes because this is actually an excellent release.
Things I recommend changing
The Pisi package manager is a really strong feature - especially for "popular" Linux distros. Regular users will like to see that whatever they want is so quick and simple to obtain and that's hard when the package manger is hidden 2 levels deep inside the powerful control panel.
Pardus Linux is about to be one of the releases I recommend to confident Linux users as something to try. It may not be quite ready to take on the likes of PCLinuxOS or Kubuntu but for a release that sits so far down the Distrowatch popularity list. It's really very usable, user friendly and excellent out of the box - this might just be one release worth watching. Go try Pardus Linux and you really shouldn't be disappointed.
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