Pear OS, Reviews

Pear OS Linux Panther 3 review

Pear OS is a new Linux desktop distribution based on Ubuntu Desktop with the graphical installer. Its development started in early August 2011 by David Tavares (from France), and on August 15 2011, Pear OS 1.0, the first version marked “stable,” was released. The latest edition, release on December 14 2011, is Pear OS Linux Panther 3.

Though a Linux distribution running the GNOME 3 desktop, Pear OS’s desktop is fashioned after Apple’s Mac OS X, and each major version’s code name is taken from the Mac OS release with a corresponding version number. So, “Panther,” the code name of Pear OS Linux 3, is taken from the code name of Mac OS 10.3. If you have not been following Apple’s flagship operating system, each Mac OS edition is named after a big cat. Like all reviews published on this website, this one is based on test installations of the 32-bit edition of Pear OS Linux Panther 3 (a 64-bit edition is available too) in virtual environments and on real hardware.

The screen shot below shows the installer’s boot options. Selecting any one of the first two options caused the system to boot into the Live Desktop. From there, you may start the installation by clicking on the “Install Pear OS” icon on the desktop. And that icon is on the desktop whether you choose the first or second boot menu option. So, do not expect that selecting the second option will boot straight into the installation program. That was the first minor bug I encountered while testing Pear OS Linux Panther 3. “Minor” means that the bug did not affect the functionality of the system in any significant manner.
Pear OS Linux Panther 3 Boot Menu

Another minor bug or error I encountered is shown in this screen shot. It always happens while booting into a Live Desktop or an installed system. Like the bug reported above, it did not affect the functioning of the system.
Pear OS Screen Resolution Error

The third minor bug surfaced after I clicked on the “Install Pear OS” icon on the desktop. When I attempted to file a bug report by clicking Report Problem,
Pear OS light dm error

The alert message was (at least I tried to help):
Pear OS Bug error

Since Pear OS is based on Ubuntu Desktop, they share the same installer (Ubiquity Installer) and installation routine. And, of course, the same shortcomings at that level. For example, while attempting to install it on a real computer with a target hard drive already playing host to a default installation of Fedora 16 KDE, the installer did not detect the presence of that Fedora Spin on the hard drive. This is because by default, a Fedora system is installed on a partitioning scheme based on LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager. The Ubiquity Installer is not capable of detecting such a system. That is why the message in this screen shot incorrectly states that, “This computer currently contains no detected operating systems.”
Pear OS Panther 3 Auto-partition

Even the Advanced partitioning tool does not help. This is a known issue with the installer. Ok, enough about the installer. Let us see what the the installed system has to offer.
Pear OS Advanced Installation Tool

Logging In And Using The System: The login screen is almost the same as that of Ubuntu 11.10 and Linux Mint 12. One major difference, other than the “leafy” wallpaper, is that the guest session is disabled by default. Also, there are only two options in the login’s menu. In Pear OS, there is no GNOME 3 Fallback mode, so booting into “Pear OS Panther (No effects)” drops you into the same desktop that booting into “Pear OS Panther” gets you.
Pear OS Linux Panther 3 Login

The desktop shows where Pear OS takes a different direction from that taken by any other distributions that use the GNOME 3 desktop environment. The distribution’s motto is Think Totally Different, which is apt because the Mac OS-like dock and other features of the desktop, shows that David Tavares is thinking outside (of) the box that most Linux developers are in. It is a much better desktop than the dual-headed apparition named Linux Mint 12. This is not saying that Pear OS is perfect because it is not, but the minor issues I noticed in the course of putting this review together are nothing compared to the almost torturous task of using Ubuntu 11.10, Linux Mint 12 or any other distribution that uses GNOME 3. While the top panel is fixed, the dock is configurable.
Pear OS Linux Panther Default Desktop

This is a screen shot of the Docklets tab of the dock’s settings manager. By default, there are, aside from several applications icons, two docklets on the dock. These are for the Trash and Battery Monitor. The Battery Monitor is, of course, not visible on a desktop computer, but Trash is (you cannot miss it in any of the screen shots). After about five minutes of using the system, I quickly came to the conclusion that I could use a few more very important Docklets. The way I use a computer, a Workspace Switcher makes it much funner. Luckily, there is a docklet for that. So, I added it to the dock.
Pear OS Panther 3 Dock Settings

But a problem with the Workspace Switcher is, it shows just one workspace. What happened to the others? Unless there is a configuration option that I overlooked, that is one more bug. If it is, then it is not minor, but more of the medium importance variety.
Pear OS 3 Workspace  Docklet

Like all good docks, Pear OS’s dock can be configured to auto-hide, so it does not eat into available desktop real estate when an application whose window requires much (vertical) space is open.
Pear OS 3 Desktop Auto-hide Dock

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  1. Backup

  2. Here i another Pear OS review that might be worth looking at 🙂

  3. Neil McCabe

    I have just installed Pear Linux 3 on my main pc. Yes the language problem is a bit of pain, also I have noticed the dock will disappear for no aparent reason, not in the hide sense more of an invisible appearance if you hover the mouseover the dock all you see is the text headers then double clicking below the text on the application you want to load fails. Thirdly when I set up a user account for my wife her desktop had no top panel and the dock was completely un hideable in the settings. Maybe it should be reclassed as a Beta version until the bugs are ironed out.

  4. I downloaded Pear OS 3.0 Panther onto an older Compaq Presario M2000. I agree that it looks nice. Besides a few quirks, it was an enjoyable experience. With Pear, I found it immediately frustrating that the top panel, like all panels in the Current Ubuntu & Mint Distros are not customizable by default. The author is right that some system apps, like Launchpad and others start speaking French, when I specifically told the OS to speak English! The clock, even when set to AM/PM format, still shows 24 hour/Military format. I am glad that this distro is here, because I can only modify Ubuntu to “look like a Mac” with Mac4Lin from 11.04 back. I have several problems with the most popular Linux distros out now. Having to hack my computer to do the things I used to enjoy with just a few clicks is a “no-win” for me. I have worked with Ubuntu for several years now, and not being able to change, modify or delete a panel by right clicking it, is a big turn off for me. I feel that if the OSS/Ubuntu community doesn’t fix these issues soon, more people will consider Linux as unusable on the private sector desktop, and will feel that they have only one of two options: Mac OS X, or Windblows. Pear OS is now my last stand on the Gnome platform. I am seriously considering switching over to a KDE distro at this point, or giving up on Open Source, and switching to a MAC.

  5. Pear is a good os with a couple of bugs to be expected. I modified my Mint 12 to mimic Pear after using it for a week.

  6. Nice looking and okay for a new distro, but not special new. I was doing the same thing and doing it better with Unity back in the spring. Any desktop can be made to do what you want it to if you take time to learn it.

  7. Pingback: Links 19/12/2011: Linux Kernel 3.2 RC 6, Razor-qt 0.4.0 | Techrights

  8. Thanks for the review. The idea of an OSX-style linux has a morbid fascination for me, since I use a Mac for work and find its appearance attractive but its work flow management terrible. Might still give it a try though.

  9. StillAgnomeThing

    IMHO, people releasing stuff with have no excuse for doing so.
    Tried Pear OS and I was faced with the same frustrations I encountered with Linux Mint 12. It is basically a Gnome 3 problem. Frequently the mouse (touchpad) becomes unresponsive. To regain control I must jump through hoops.
    My question is how can people feel justified to release stuff with such severe shortcomings?

    BTW am happily using Kubuntu Oneiric

    Thats All Folks!!!

  10. For a stable release, Pear Os sure has it share of bugs. Sure this isn’t a “show stoper” per se, but the image transmitted to the users may be of a crippled, unpolished piece of software, even if this is far from the truth. Of course i fully understand that, this being a newborn operanting system, may lack a fully stablished and organized community and users to provide useful feedback.
    Continue the awesome work on Gnome 3 that you guys have been doing. I hope this and al future releases to be successful.

  11. Is it possible to install launchpad in XFCE?

    • If it is in the repository of the distro your are using, I guess you can.

      • swarfendor437

        I found similar problems in respect of the language issues but was able to sort out the clementine language issue by installing locale languages and applying system-wide. Found similar issues regarding touchpad. Was impressed with the speed of boot but that is more than possibly due to lack of software present – no wine, no office suite and no Assistive Technology – orca has to be downloaded after install – not good – this should be addressed in future releases – even Macs have an inbuilt screenreader VoiceOver. Being French I would have hoped they could have utilised mbrola voices patched to Orca as reported by ‘Thoughts of a Dragon’!

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