Parsix is one of those desktop distributions that I had a lot of hope for back when I started reviewing distributions for this site. But since, Parsix 3.7 (see Parsix 3.7 review), which was released back in mid-August of 2011, I lost any interest in it.
Simple because I did not see any point in it. The distribution wasn’t bringing anything new to the table, and the custom-coded installer was several steps removed (in the wrong direction) from that of its parent distribution. But that was back in 2011, which for a distribution with a 6-month release cycle, is a long time.
Now that a new edition has been released, I decided to take another look at it to see if it has gotten better, from the perspective of an inexperienced user, or from the perspective of someone who just wants to get stuff done without learning how the operating systems.
So this article is a review of Parsix 5.0, which was released just a few days ago, August 17 to be exact. It is code-named Lombardo and is based on Debian Wheezy, or Debian 7.0.
One of the features of Parsix that I did not like is The Installer:. Even though Parsix is based on Debian, it does not use the Debian Installer. Instead the installer is a custom-coded application. However, it is not one of those installers that I can describe as new user-friendly, because it is not. I’m of the opinion that if you must do something different, it has to be better or as good as the one you are replacing it with, otherwise what’s the point?
An argument I’ve heard from one or two developers whose distribution is based on Debian is that the Debian Installer is difficult to adapt to their distribution, so they look for other options, which usually ends up being coding one from scratch that lacks all the features available on their parent distribution’s installer. I don’t know how difficult it is to use the Debian Installer, but it shouldn’t be that difficult because Kali Linux, a security-focused distribution that’s also based on Debian, uses the original Debian installer, which has support for full disk encryption, LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager, and RAID. I don’t really care about RAID on the desktop, but full disk encryption is a must-have feature on the installer of a modern operating system.
This screen shot shows the window that opens after I clicked on the installer’s icon on the desktop of the Live environment. It is the same as the installer on the 2011 edition, so there has been no progress in this area. The “requirements” that “are not fulfilled yet” is a reference to the fact that the hard disk has not been partitioned. The only choice is to click OK.
Which brings up this step of the installer shown in this screen shot. The task now is to partition the disk. And that is the major problem I have with this installer. It has no automated disk partitioning option.
Clicking OK in the previous step opens this window, which is that of GParted, the GNOME Partition Editor. So if you are new to Linux and to disk partitioning in Linux, this is something you’ll have to deal with just to install Parsix 5. Granted, it is not a difficult task, for people like you and I, but is this the type of effort we want new users to expend, just to install a Linux distribution? Even the Windows installer does not expect users to know anything about disk partitioning.
After creating partitions with GParted, this is the window of the installer that opens. Now the installer can begin.
This screen shot shows the list of file systems supported by the installer. Aside from lacking support for LVM and full disk encryption, the installer also lacks support for boot loader password protection, though it is possible to configure one on a running system. Like full disk encryption, configuring a password to protect the boot loader is a physical security feature.
The Parsix Desktop is powered by GNOME 3.8.4. Shown here is the login screen.
And this, is the default desktop. I’ve always found the default desktop background on any version of Parsix to be too bright for my eyes. However, that is a very minor problem – changing it takes just 6 mouse-clicks. So compared to all other issues, it is really nothing to complain about. It’s a case of beauty being in the eyes of the beholder.
What you get on Parsix 5 is a default GNOME Shell, which is shown in the image below. Not exactly how I like a GNOME 3 desktop with GNOME Shell to be, but I can change the default configuration by installing a few extensions. I wrote about two of my favorite GNOME Shell extensions in 2 productivity-boosting extensions for GNOME Shell.