Pear Linux 6, code-named Bartlett, is the latest release of Pear Linux, or Pear OS, a desktop distribution based on Ubuntu Desktop. Unlike its parent distribution, which uses the Unity Desktop, Pear Linux features a custom GNOME Shell called Pear Shell.
Pear Linux 6 is based on Ubuntu 12.04, and features many new and cool features. In fact, the version of Pear Shell that comes with Pear Linux 6 is a near-complete overhaul of the edition in Pear Linux 5. And by my assessment, it is probably the best GNOME Shell adaptation available. It is most definitely better than the stock GNOME Shell.
But do not just take my word for it, let me show you why I came to that conclusion. But before we come to the desktop itself, where all the fun stuff are, let’s take a look at the installation process, As stated earlier, Pear Linux 6 is based on Ubuntu 12.04, and uses the same Ubiquity installer, the graphical installation of Ubuntu Desktop.
Because the installer is not the same as the edition available on Ubuntu 12.10, it lacks support for automatic LVM partitioning and disk encryption configuration. Those features will likely make it to the Pear Linux installer in the October release.
Though the installer recommends at least 5.1 GB of available disk space, a new installation of Pear Linux 6 takes up just 3.1 GB of disk space, and the installer create two partitions – one for /, the root file system directory, and the other for Swap, disk space that the system may use as memory.
At the login screen, there is only one option in the Session menu – Pear Linux Shell, and for this particular distribution, it’s all you need, considering that there is no other GNOME Shell adaptation that even comes close.
Now to the desktop itself, which is just about as beautiful a desktop interface as I have come across on any distribution that uses the GNOME desktop environment. As stated earlier, it is a major rewrite of the Pear Shell that shipped with Pear Linux 5. The wallpaper (yes, I know, it’s just a wallpaper) is cool to the eyes. Compare that to the default on the latest edition of Chakra (see Chakra 2012.08 review). On the desktop, are two icons – Trash and one for a script called Launch Me First, which is supposed to be a post-install script.
Clicking that Launch Me First icon opens this window, which reveals what the script is about to and will do on the system. The problem is I do not see a need for the tasks it is designed to perform. Is “update the repository” the same thing as running sudo apt-get update? If so, why is that even necessary on first-boot? Appstore is the distribution’s graphical package manager and there is an icon for it in the dock. So what does “set-up Pear Appstore” actually do? And what temporary files need to be cleaned up in a brand new installation – on first-boot? From what little I know about this script, there’s no real need for it. Perhaps an application like Kaptan or Kapudan is what the developer(s) had in mind when they wrote it.
Once the script is done running, you MUST reboot. That is likely to mean that the system will not function properly otherwise, but from the three tasks it is designed to perform, I do not see any reason for a forced-reboot.
Though the dock is at the bottom of the desktop by default, it can be moved, using the point-and-click Pear Dock Config tool, to any of the other three edges of the desktop. It is, however, not a good idea to move it to the top edge, since that will interfere with the panel. This screen shot shows the dock on the right edge of the desktop.
The desktop’s Hot Corner is enabled by default, so sliding the cursor into the top-left corner reveals the Mission Control view, which makes it possible to see open application windows on the current workspace or virtual desktop.
Repeat the cursor-sliding action on the bottom-left corner, and the bottom edge of the desktop magically and smoothly slides upwards, revealing the virtual desktop icons. Slide the cursor out, and the desktop returns to normal. I like features that are cleanly implemented, and this one is.
Pear Linux does not have a traditional menu, but features a full-screen, Mac OS X-like menu. It’s also just like the K Desktop Environment’s Takeoff Launcher and the SimpleWelcome of ROSA Linux and Mandriva. This screen shot shows what it looks like out of the box. It also shows the complete set of graphical applications installed by default. A count of the icons in this screen shot will show that there are 20. That’s a total of 20 applications installed by default. No Office suite and games are installed.
One of those 20 installed applications is Firefox (version 16.0.2). And that is the only Web browser installed. However, with the Pear Browser Manager, you can install three other Web browsers available in the repository. The Pear Browser Manager is represented on the dock by that greenish icon. A screen shot of it is shown below.