Another neat feature of the desktop is Launchpad, a full-screen menu that is similar to the Takeoff Launcher and Mandriva’s ROSA Launcher. A minor problem I observed with Launchpad, which is visible in the screen shot below, is that it gets truncated on the right side if the screen resolution is at 1024×768 or lower. (Hint: The search box should be wider that is visible in the screen shot.) Other that that, Launchpad is usable.
With regards to installed applications, the latest available edition of Opera for Linux (version 11.60), is the default browser, and Sylpheed is the default email client. A glaring omission in installed applications is that there is no installed office suite. If you need one, LibreOffice and OpenOffice are available for installation. Also, there are no games installed.
By default, Pear OS ships with Adobe Flash plugin and a Java JRE installed, so Opera has no problem rendering Flash content and in passing the Java test. Device notification works. However, the default action for audio CDs is to make a copy with Brasero (it should be to play with Clementine, the installed music player), and because the library required to play encrypted video DVDs is not installed, you will get the error message shown below if you attempt to play an encrypted video DVD with Totem, the installed movie player.
A minor issue I observed, “minor” because I do not mind a sprinkling of french on my desktop, is that two main applications are partly or entirely in French. Clementine, for example, is entirely in French, and the graphical application manager displays some text in French. Those are the only two installed applications I observed that have some localization issues.
Software Management: There are two installed graphical applications managers – an old version of Ubuntu’s Software Center, and Synaptic Package Manager. The former is the one with localization issues. Synaptic has no such problems.
By default the system is configured to check for updates daily, but only report the availability of non-security-related updates weekly. I do not like that setting because if a newer version of an application is available, I want to know pronto. But that is just me. Some might be satisfied with the default setting.
System Management Applications: Almost all the graphical management applications are accessible from GNOME 3’s System Settings, but the two I will highlight here are not in System Settings. They are the PPA manager, and Back In Time. The screen shot below shows the main interface of Y PPA, the PPA (Personal Package Archive) manager. It makes managing repositories a bit easier. With this tool, you would not need to use the command line to add a repository or perform other PPA-related management tasks on the system.
Back In Time, is a graphical interface combining the capabilities of three separate Linux applications – “rsync (take snapshots and restore), diff (check if something changed) and cp (make hardlinks)”. Using it, it is easy to take manual or automated snapshots of the system. You may also restore the system to a previous state. This is just about the same thing you can do with the Time Slider application in OpenIndiana. On a test system from which this screen shot was taken, I configured Back In Time to take hourly snapshots just to see if it really works. As you can see, taking the snapshots worked, but I have not tried the restoration aspect yet.
Physical and Network Security Posture: Like Ubuntu, Pear OS Linux Panther 3 comes with the firewall activated, but a graphical firewall client for managing it is not installed. Aside from the firewall, AppArmor, one of 3 application firewalls for Linux distributions, is loaded, with 12 profiles and three processes in enforce mode. Because it is based on Ubuntu Desktop with the graphical installer, Pear OS lacks support for any physical security feature during installation.
Final Thoughts: Despite of the (minor) issues I found in this distribution’s latest release, it is the best distribution powered by the GNOME 3 desktop environment that I have reviewed so far. And I do not particularly care that it is fashioned after Mac OS X. After all, if you want to base your distribution on another operating system, why base it on something but the best. It is a new distribution, and the developer seems to have the right ideas. All he needs to do now is to tweak it a little bit more, make it as smooth as OS X.
Resources: This is the only GNOME 3 distribution that I feel very comfortable recommending to any user, even a newbie. If you want to take it for a spin yourself, download a 32- or 64-bit installation image from here. Post support questions here and at Questions & Answers.
Screen Shots: There is just one more screen shot to share here. You may view additional screen shots at Pear OS Linux Panther 3 screenshot preview.