Pardus is a Linux distribution developed in Turkey. To be specific, it is developed and maintained by the Turkish National Research Institute of Electronics and Cryptology (UEKAE), an arm of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK). It is a desktop-oriented distribution based on KDE, the K Desktop Environment.
This article presents a review of the latest stable release, Pardus 2011.1, which was made available for download on July 12, 2011. It is the second this year and judging from the distribution’s recent release history, there should be one more before the end of the year.
Installation Program and Installation Process: New to the boot menu of Pardus is a rescue mode, and a “nolvm” kernel parameter, which is used to instruct YALI, the installer, to not use an LVM-based partitioning scheme is any of its automated disk partitioning methods. Type “yali=nolvm” as shown below at boot time, if you do not want to use LVM. Though I do not know of any good reason to not use LVM, especially if the installer supports it.
LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager, is the default disk partitioning scheme, and by default, the installer creates separate logical volumes for / – the root directory, Swap and /home. The only drawback with the default LVM scheme is that the installer allocates all available disk space to the logical volumes.
The recommended disk allotment scheme when using LVM is to assign just enough disk space needed to install the system because the logical volumes can always be resized at any time. On the Alternate text installer edition of Ubuntu, for example, the installer will give you the option to choose what percentage of the available disk space to allocate to the Logical Volumes. After installation, the unused disk space in the Volume Group will be used to resize any Logical Volume that needs the extra disk space. On YALI, it appears that the default disk space for the root Logical Volume is 50 GB because on two test installations, one in a virtual environment with 100 GB of disk space, and the other on real hardware with a 320 GB hard drive, the disk space allocated to / is just that – 50 GB. And this is true whether LVM is used or not.
I think assigning 50 GB to the root Logical Volume is mostly a waste of space because even if you run the same system for the next ten years, I doubt that you will even approach 50% disk usage on that Logical Volume. How to configure LVM on Pardus 2011 gives a step-by-step guide on the proper configuration of LVM (on Pardus).
If you pass the “yali=nolvm” kernel parameter at boot time, and you choose of the automated disk partitioning methods on a disk with no existing operating system on it, the installer will create three primary partitions and one extended partition. The file system, disk space allocated and usage on such an installation is shown on the image below. Other Linux distributions that I have reviewed tend to create the first partition as a primary one, then create the other partitions as logical, leaving two primary partitions unused, in case you need to install another operating system that will not boot from a logical partition.
Other than ext4, the other Linux journaling file system supported by the installer is ext3. Btrfs and nilfs2 have not yet come to YALI. A new installation of Pardus 2011.1 takes up a little bit more than 4 GB of disk space and GRUB Legacy (version 0.97) is the boot loader used.
While YALI supports LVM and RAID, it lacks support for disk encryption. A check box at the disk partitioning methods step similar to what I added to the image below I think will be the best method of adding that feature to the installer. Also, it would be a good idea to give users the option to review (and modify, if necessary) the default partitions. Presently, once you select one of the automated disk partitioning methods, you have no chance to review the partitions. These two ideas were borrowed from Anaconda, the Fedora system installer. How Fedora protects your data with disk encryption shows how disk encryption and partition layout review are implemented in Anaconda.
At the user account setup step, you have the option to add the user to the wheel group. This is the same feature that made its debut on Anaconda with Fedora 15. (See Fedora 15 KDE review for a screenshot of this feature in Anaconda.) A user in the wheel group can perform system-wide administrative tasks by authenticating with that account’s password rather than with roots password.
Desktop: Pardus 2011.1 is powered by KDE 4.6.5. At first boot, the first application window you will see, other than a message prompt telling you something about synchronizing the contact address book, is Kaptan’s start page. Kaptan, Turkish for captain, is the desktop settings application for Pardus. It is the best of its kind, but it is not perfect. The main issue with it is that it does not keep state. By that I mean that the selected options will not remain selected the next time kaptan is run. And it can be run at any time, not just at first boot. Screenshots of the steps in Kaptan may be viewed here.
This screenshot does not show the default desktop wallpaper and menu, but just what I chose while running Kaptan. If you failed to run Kaptan on first boot, the default wallpapper is pitch black, and it does not look good. The menu shown here is called Lancelot, one of three menu styles available from Kaptan. It is obviously better than Classic menu, but also the Kickoff style because menu entries are not buried out of sight with each mouse click.
Lancelot is highly configurable, and one option makes it possible for subcategories to open in a popup column. A screenshot of how the popup opens when you click on a sub-subcategory is shown here. If you must choose to use Lancelot, be aware that newly installed applications will not show until after a reboot. I do not think that I have observed that with Lancelot on any other distribution. But that is what happens with Lancelot on Pardus 2011.1.
There is an entry for the Package Manager is all but three (Utilities, Settings, Education) of the application categories, so that when you type the search string shown in the image below, you get these cute little icons staring back at you. With an entry for the Package Manager in the Favorites column, is it really that necessary to have one in almost all the application categories?