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.
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.
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,
The alert message was (at least I tried to help):
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.