Parsix is a Linux distribution based on Debian Testing. It is a community distribution with roots in Iran. It is not as popular as other community distributions, but development is active and well. The only previous review of Parsix on this website was of Parsix 3.2, which was more than a year ago. This article provides a detailed review of the latest stable version, Parsix 3.7, which was released on August 14, 2011. It is code-named Raul, after a character in Happy Feet, a computer-animated family film.
Parsix comes as installable live DVD ISO images for 32- and 64-bit architectures. Some of the images used in this review were taken from a test installation in a virtual environment, with the rest coming from a test installation on an external hard drive connected to an all-in-one, Intel-powered computer. The image below shows the boot menu.
Installer and Installation Process: Parsix’s installation program is its weakest feature. When the installer is started, you are dutifully warned that it is still a beta program, and to report any bugs. However, its problem goes beyond bugs. It is the most user-unfriendly installation program I have ever seen on any Linux or BSD desktop distribution. New users will find it especially difficult to use.
This is the installer’s main view. It is similar to that of Zenwalk, a Linux distribution based on Slackware. While Zenwalk’s has an automated partitioning option, this one does not.
So, if you choose the first installation option (New Installation), it will suggest to use the largest available disk partition.
And if there are more than one, as in a test installation I carried out on real hardware, it will list them for you to decide. The problem here is the installer is unable to detect other distributions on the disk (partitions). And if wish to replace the existing distributions or other operating system, there is no option to use the entire disk. Which means that to install Parsix 3.7, you actually have to choose the third option (Partition) from the main installation window.
And that, of course, means using GParted to partition the disk. GParted is fairly easy to use, but it does require a fundamental understanding of disk partitioning in Linux.
After all the partitioning has been completed, you may choose to install the system on one partition, or with your home directory on a separate partition. By default, the installer does not create a separate boot partition. Also, the installer does not require a Swap partition.
Supported file systems are shown in the image below. Disk encryption, RAID and LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager, are not supported.
GRUB 2 is the boot loader used, and by default, it is installed in the Master Boot Record (MBR) of the hard disk. If there are more than one hard drives attached to the computer, and the system is being installed to the second disk, GRUB will still be installed in the MBR of the first disk. Something to be aware of, if you wish to install Parsix 3.7, as I did, on a computer with two hard drives. The installer does not give you the choice of the MBR to install GRUB in.
Desktop: Parsix is a GNOME-based distribution, and Parsix 3.7 ships with GNOME 2.32. Components of GNOME 3 desktop are in the repository, but GNOME Shell is not, so GNOME 3 is not installable. Shown below is the default desktop. This is a subjective matter, but I find the default wallpaper painful, visually. It can be changed with a few mouse clicks, so this is not a big issue. Other screenshots showing more visually appealing wallpapers are available here. If you have the required hardware for 3D desktop, CompizFusion is installed out of the box.
Installed and Available Applications: Parsix 3.7 ships with a full suite of applications that will meet the daily computing requirements of most users. All the standard GNOME system tools and desktop accessories, are installed. The list of major installed applications include:
- The GNU Image Manipulation Program, a Photoshop-like application
- Inkscape Vector Graphics Editor
- Empathy IM client
- Iceweasel Web Browser (version 5.0)
- Evolution Mail and Calendar
- Grisbi, a personal accounting application
- VLC Media Player
Aside from the installed Iceweasel Web browser, Chromium 11 is in the repository (the latest version is Chromium 12). Out of the box, the installed Web browser will render Flash and Java content; the required plugins and libraries are installed. The stock selection of GNOME games are installed, and there are dozens more available for installation. And Wine, PlayonLinux, and other applications and libraries required to run Windows games and other Windows applications, are in the repository.
Though Parsix is a GNOME-based distribution, KDE and Xfce desktop environments are available for installation. However, the available versions for KDE (4.4) and Xfce (4.6) are at least two revisions behind the latest stable for both. XFCE 4.8 has been released since mid January, and KDE 4.7 was released on July 26, 2011.
Package Management: As a Debian-derived distribution, the Advanced Packaging Tool, APT, is the software management framework on Parsix. And apt-get is the most common component, used for managing applications at the command line, with Synaptic Package Manager as the graphical interface. When I first launched it, the search box on Synaptic was unusable because the apt-xapian-index was not installed. Only after installing it was I able to use the search box. Xapian is the search engine library used in Synaptic.
An old version of Ubuntu’s Software Center (version 2.0.7), one that was released soon after Ubuntu 10.04, is available for installation, but after installing it, it would not start. Several attempts to start it from a shell terminal generated the errors shown in the image below.