YALI installation progress

Pisi Linux 1.1 review

Pisi is a desktop Linux distribution forked from the old Pardus, a distribution that was developed by the Turkish National Research Institute of Electronics and Cryptology (UEKAE), an arm of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK).

The old Pardus was an original distribution. Original, because it, unlike most distributions, was not based on another distribution. Examples of original distributions are Debian, Red Hat, Gentoo and Arch Linux.

Development of the old Pardus ceased for some time because of financial and political reasons that caused the main developers to quit. Development of Pardus, under new hands, has since been restarted. However, the new Pardus is based on Debian Testing.

So the old Pardus, which was actually one of my favorite distributions, has been reborn as Pisi by some or most of the developers of the old Pardus. This article is a review of Pisi 1.1. It was released just last week (November 4 to be exact).

Installing Pisi 1.1: Pisi is named after pisi (Packages Installed Successfully, as Intended), the distribution’s package manager. Figure 1 shows the boot menu of Pisi 1.1. The installation image does not boot into a Live desktop, but straight into the installer.

Pisi Boot menu

Figure 1: Boot menu of Pisi 1.1

And the installer is YALI (Yet Another Linux Installer). YALI, a beautiful graphical installation program, is one of the better designed graphical installation programs around. It has support for LVM, RAID, but not for disk encryption. Lack of support for disk encryption is a major drawback for an installation program of a modern operating system. And it is a feature that I hoped the developers of the old Pardus would implement before its development ceased. Now that those same developers are working on Pisi, I’m looking forward to support for disk encryption being added to a near-future release of Pisi.

YALI has a feature, shown in Figure 2, that makes it possible, in the event of an installation error, to restart it without having to reboot the computer. I’ve never had YALI crash on me, but a feature like that is nice to have. For the record, YALI is the only graphical installation program with that feature.

YALI graphical installer

Figure 2: YALI is the graphical installation program of Pisi Linux

Click on this gallery to view other aspects of YALI.

Pisi 1.1 Desktop: Like the old Pardus, Pisi is a KDE-centric distribution. Pisi 1.1 comes with KDE 4.14.2 and Linux kernel 3.17.1. Figure 3 shows the login screen.

Pisi 1.1 login screen

Figure 3: Login screen on Pisi 1.1

And Figure 4 shows the desktop, as customized by moi.

Pisi KDE desktop

Figure 4: Default KDE desktop on Pisi 1.1

Customizing a Pisi Linux desktop is made easy and user-friendly by Kaptan, the distribution’s greeter application. Kaptan is the first program that runs when you boot into a new installation of Pisi, and it can be run at any other time. Kaptan was the inspiration for Chakra‘s Kapudan (see Every distribution should have its own Kapudan) and possibly Mageia‘s Mageia Welcome. Click on this gallery to view some of the different aspects of Kaptan.

The Lancelot menu is one of the menu options that you may choose from Kaptan. The others are Kickoff and the Classic menu. If you prefer a fullscreen menu, Homerun launcher is in the repository. Install it from the graphical package manager or from the command line using pisi install homerun. Figure 4 shows the desktop with the main view of the Lancelot menu.

Lancelot on Pisi 1.1

Figure 5: Lancelot menu on KDE desktop of Pisi 1.1

Search for installed applications using Lancelot’s search feature.

Lancelot menu search

Figure 6: Search in Lancelot menu on KDE desktop of Pisi 1.1

Figure 5 shows the Dolphin file manager on Pisi 1.1. Like ROSA Desktop, Pisi comes with a custom icon theme, though it’s not as visually appealing as ROSA’s. Pisi 1.1 is the first recent distribution that I’ve reviewed where Dolphin is pre-configured to show the menubar and a complete toolbar.

Dolphin on Pisi 1.1

Figure 5: KDE Dolphin file manager on Pisi 1.1

Pisi 1.1 Management Applications: Aside from the native KDE management applications, most of which are available as modules in System Settings, Pisi comes a few custom graphical applications. And yes, they were inherited from the old Pardus.

Firewall Manager is one of those custom applications. The main interface is shown in Figure 6. That also shows the firewall’s default state – inactive. Activating the firewall would be the first thing I do after logging into a new installation of Pisi 1.1. I think activating/deactivating the firewall should be an option in Kaptan.

Pisi Firewall Manager

Figure 6: Firewall Manager on Pisi 1.1

Firewall Manager allows granular management of incoming and outgoing ports, but not for networks.

Firewall Pisi 1.1

Figure 7: Ports can be Activated Firewall Manager on Pisi 1.1

The Package Manager is the graphical interface for pisi. Pisi is easy to use from the command line, but for those who don’t want to learn how to use another package manager’s command line syntax, Package Manager provides a point-and-click alternative. The live search feature is pretty slick too.

Pisi 1.1 Package Manager

Figure 9: Pisi 1.1 Package Manager

Figure 10 shows options in the General tab of Package Manager’s settings. By default, it is set to check for updates by the hour. That setting is also configurable from Kaptan. The problem is that the update interval set in Kaptan is not reflected here. I’ll call that a bug.

Package Manager Settings

Figure 10: Pisi 1.1 Package Manager Settings

The developers of Pisi have not switched to systemd yet, and I’m not even certain that they will. For managing services using the init system, Service Manager offers a user-friendly interface.

Pisi 1.1 Service Manager

Figure 11: Pisi 1.1 Service Manager

Another custom graphical interface available in Pisi, is User Manager.

Pisi 1.1 User Manager

Figure 12: Pisi 1.1 User Manager

User Manager makes it easy to configure granular access control rights for each user, including who gets administrator privileges.

Pisi 1.1 User Manager Settings

Figure 13: Pisi 1.1 User Manager Settings

It’s good to see a revival of the old Pardus, something I’m sure the Turkish free software/open source community has been waiting for. All the developers (of Pisi) have to do now is start addressing the features that were missing in the old Pardus, like disk encryption in YALI and encouraging the development of third party repositories. That last one is a major drawback because there are many applications that are not yet in Pisi’s official repository.

Care to take Pisi 1.1 out for a spin? ISO installation images are available for download here.

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