Xfce's Application Finder in Pardus 2011.2

Pardus 2011.2 review

Pardus is a Linux distribution developed by the Turkish National Research Institute of Electronics and Cryptology (UEKAE), an arm of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK). Unlike most distributions, it is not based on another; an original, in the same sense that Debian is an original Linux distribution.

This article presents a review of Pardus 2011.2, the latest stable version, which was released on September 19 2011. It is the third release this year and judging from the distribution’s release history, Cervus elaphus, as it is also known, should be the last for the year.

Pardus 2011.2 is available for 32- and 64-bit architectures in DVD-sized ISO images. There are separate installation and Live DVD ISO images for both architectures. The Live DVD images are not installable. Test installations, on real hardware and in virtual environments, used for this review, were all made using a 32-bit DVD image. The boot menu is shown below.
Pardus 2011.2 Boot Menu

Installation: If you read Pardus 2011.1 review and On a tour of YALI, there is nothing new in this section, other than a video that shows all the steps involved during installation. No new features were introduced in YALI, Pardus’ graphical installation program.

However, if you have never read a review of a recent release of Pardus on this website, here is what if has to offer during installation: A slick, very user-friendly, point-and-click interface, with the ability to be restarted without rebooting the computer, if there is an error. That feature is not available on any other Linux installation program that has been reviewed on this website. The default disk partitioning scheme is based on LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager, with an automated non-LVM mode also supported. RAID is also supported, but disk encryption is not. GRUB Legacy (version 0.97) is the boot loader and a new installation takes up just about 4GB of disk space. Aside from test installations I made on internal hard drives, several attempts to install Pardus 2011.2 to an external hard drive, just like the one with Ubuntu, failed. The cause must have something to do with the boot loader, but I did not bother to troubleshoot it.

The installation, like that of Fedora, is a 2-stage process. The first stage covers disk partitioning and installation of packages, while the second stage is where the default user account is created and the root password specified. The image below shows the user account setup step, and right after it, is where the root password is specified.
Pardus 2011.2 User Setup

If you have never installed a recent release of Pardus, you may watch this video to see the steps involved in the installation process. It starts from just after the boot screen and ends at the login screen. Friendly warning; this a silent video.
[youtube width=”540″ height=”350″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_gRKCgSezM[/youtube]

Desktop: Pardus is a KDE distribution and surprisingly, Pardus 2011.2 ships with KDE 4.6.5, the same version that shipped with Pardus 2011.1, the previous stable release (see Pardus 2011.1 review). As you will read in the next section, that is not the only thing both releases have in common.

This is view of the desktop with the Lancelot menu, one of three menu styles available for the KDE desktop. Because the menu style is chosen by the user from Kaptan, the desktop customization application that is run on first boot, Pardus, unlike other distributions, does not have a default menu style. You get to choose from three available – Lancelot, Kickoff and Classic.
Pardus 2011.2 with Lancelot Menu

Aside from being able to use the traditional desktop in KDE, you can also switch to the KDE Plasma Netbook interface, one of several such interfaces targeted for use in computing devices with small screens, but that are just as usable on regular computer displays. This screenshot shows the main interface of KDE Plasma Netbook in Pardus 2011.2. The wallpaper, by the way, is not the default.
Pardus 2011.2 KDE Plasma Netbook

Almost everything I expected to work out of the box, did, except device notification when an audio CD is inserted. For some reason (likely a bug), device notification does not work when an audio CD is inserted. This does not seem to be unique to Pardus, but a KDE issue because I made the same observation in a review of Mandriva Desktop 2011.

Since the device notifier does not launch when an audio CD is inserted, attempting to play tracks from an audio CD using Clementine, one of four music players installed by default, generates the warning message shown in this image. Using any of the other three media players does not generate the “Remote files not accepted” warning. More about those other media players in the next section.
Clementine Music Player

There are hardware devices that I could not test in this release of Pardus, but the ones I did, worked as advertised. For example, connecting a digital camera caused the system to start digiKam automatically, and a connected printer was automatically configured. Printer auto-configuration works for those with a compatible driver in the systems printer driver database. Most common printers, especially HP models, have an entry in the printer driver database.

Installed and Available Applications: Pardus comes with a full suite of applications. Besides standard KDE system utilities and desktop accessories, the following is a listing of the major applications installed by default:

  • SMPlayer, a media player
  • GNOME MPlayer, another media player
  • Clementine, a music player
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • digiKam, a photo management application
  • showFoto, an image viewer and editor and the embedded image editor in digiKam
  • The GNU Image Manipulation Program, GIMP
  • Kopete, a multi-protocol chat application for KDE, similar to jitsi
  • Kdenlive, a video editor
  • LibreOffice

Where the latest stable version of Firefox, the popular Web browser from the Mozilla Foundation, is Firefox 6.0.2, Pardus 2011.2 ships with Firefox 5, the same version that shipped with Pardus 2011.1 in mid-July (2011). Aside from Firefox, the latest stable versions of Opera (version 11.51) and Chromium (version 13), are in the repository, so if you feel more comfortable using the latest version of a Web browser, you can always install Chromium or Opera, using the Package Manager.

The latest version of LibreOffice (version 3.4.3), a fully-featured office suite, is included in the default installation. The latest stable version of KOffice (KOffice 2.3.3), the native office application for the K Desktop Environment, is in the repository, but OpenOffice, is not.

Clementine, KsCD, SMPlayer and GNOME MPlayer, are the media players installed by default. Aside from Clementine, the others could play audio CDs and GNOME MPlayer and SMPlayer, two, with video playback capabilities, could play encrypted video DVDs, thanks to the inclusion of libdvdcss in the default installation. Several games are installed, with many more available for installation.

While KDE is the default desktop environment on Pardus, Xfce (version 4.8) and GNOME (version 2.32) desktop packages are available for installation. I installed both desktop environments, but could only login in to Xfce. For some reason that I could not determine, GNOME was not an option in the Session menu. You may view three screenshots of an Xfce-powered Pardus 2011.2 desktop here.

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