|Review: Pardus Linux
by Marcel Gommans
In this review, Marcel Gommans describes installing and using Pardus Linux. Clearly a user and fan as well as a reviewer, Gommans wonders why the distribution is not better-known outside of Turkey, given its outstanding usability for beginning and advanced users alike.
Pardus -- ready for the major league
by Marcel Gommans
Pardus has been around for quite a while, but never got much attention, perhaps because its developers focus on giving people from Turkey a distribution in their native language. But Pardus is a multi-language distribution, so it can be used by many people without a Turkish background. You can install Pardus in Catalan, German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Portugese and of course Turkish.
Time to take a good look at this distro that might suprise you!
After downloading it here and booting the CD, I see a nice orange screen with the Pardus logo and three boot options... in Turkish. Using the F2 button I can change the language to English. I select the "Pardus 2008" option. The Pardus installer Yali (Yet Another Linux Installer) comes with a few nice features, like a graphical partition manager and a build-in CD verification option. All the packages on the CD are installed by default, so you cannot make your own selection. Installing takes approximately 30 minutes, depending on your hardware. I have seen faster installers, but 30 minutes is acceptable. Pardus uses Grub as it's bootloader. When Windows is available on the system, a menu option for it is provided automatically.
As soon as Pardus has booted, I see the K Desktop Environment (KDE), where Kaptan Desktop greets me. Kaptan Desktop is an application aimed at helping you set up your Pardus environment.
Kaptan Desktop, to the reskue
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I select the transparent panel and the "Circus -- Flying balls" wallpaper to replace the default KDE settings. But Kaptan does much more. Your network can be configured here. A migration tool is available to import your files and setting from Windows. You also setup the Package Manager here. Make sure you select the contrib repository, so you have more packages to choose from! Kaptan is a great tool to get started with Pardus. For people who prefer other desktop environments, Pardus comes with packages for Gnome and Xfce too.
Pardus does a great job here. My system has a Nvidia Geforce 7900 GS video card. It isn't configured automatically during the installation, because some people do not like the commercial Nvidia drivers. But when you try to configure the video card, Pardus tells you what drivers to install and automatically sets up your X configuration. My Dell monitor is recognized and the resolution is configured correctly.
Kaptan recognizes my RT2501 USB wireless adapter immediately and supports WPA without problems. My Canon Pixma IP 4200 printer is automatically configured during the install. Pardus is the first distro I tried that recognizes my Dell multimedia keyboard and makes the volume button work out of the box. I gave Pardus a spin on a few other systems as well, and all the hardware was recognized without problems. So I consider the Pardus hardware recognition to be excellent.
Now it is time to get Pardus up-to-date. I selected the option to show the package manager in my system tray when I was setting up my system with Kaptan Desktop. Now all I have to do is right-click the package manager icon and select "update" and " all." The Package manager, a graphical frond-end for Pardus's own package management system PISI (Packages Installed Successfully, as Intended), updates the package information and gives me the option to select all the upgradeable packages. During the download it shows me how long it would take to complete the download. PISI handles dependencies automatically.
Pardus Package Manager
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After updating my system I try to install a few programs I like to have on my machines. This goes well too. During my test-drive, I discovered no issues with PISI. The speed of the application is good, and it is easy to use.
Pardus has almost 3,000 packages available for use, so you can find all the 'common' packages there. Where possible, they come with a custom splash screen. During the few weeks that I played with Pardus, there were hundreds of updates, so the pardus package maintenance is good.
I noticed that the mplayer-version was a Turkish version. Apparently the current translation system used with mplayer makes it difficult to deliver a mult-language version. Fortunately I found the smplayer package, a nice front-end for mplayer, that solved my problem.
If you have kids or if you like to play games yourself, I suggest you give Pardus a try. My kids forget their Windows games when they see how far Linux gaming has come. They play on-line with fantastic first person shooters like Sauerbraten, Urban Terror, or World of Padman. Or they enjoy great race games like Torcs, Trigger, and Mania Drive. The times when Linux offered no more than a nice game of Mahjongg are long gone and Pardus has a big collection of games where everyone can find something he or she likes.
To change settings, Pardus comes with Tasma, the configuration center.
Here you can manage things like your user-accounts, your TV card, your firewall and network, and set your printers, your digital camera, and your keyboard layout. A great feature here is the History Manager, that enables you to undo system and package updates. Tasma also has a boot manager. Here you can edit your grub settings. In the so called Service Management Interface you can decide which services you like to run at start-up. I like distros that offer all this functionality in one application. It helps people new to Linux to do the transition faster. Pardus makes it possible to configure your distribution the way you want it without having to edit config-files. Although other people might disagree with me, I believe that to be essential for Linux to gain more market share on the desktop.
Pardus is ready for use out of the box. I was able to play DVD's, watch Divx-movies, and listen to MP3 and Ogg music-files. Watching videos on Youtube works as well. Very userfriendly in my opinion. No need to search the internet for codecs because your distribution does not deliver them to you.
If you have installed Pardus, there are several places where you can find help.
The website points you to mailing lists, a jabber server, the Bugzilla bugtracking service of Pardus, and the IRC channel. I would advise English speaking users to visit both #pardus and #pardus-en on Freenode to get help. Although the people on #pardus usually speak Turkish, they are very friendly and always try to help you in English if they can.
The forum is a great source of information and a good place to look for help when you need it. Pardus also has a wiki.
I wonder why Pardus is such an unknown distribution. It is easy to install, has a great configuration center, and a good package management system with plenty of packages to fulfill most peoples needs. The people behind Pardus have spent a lot of time to create a distro that looks good and is stable. I believe my granny can work with Pardus without problems. No messing with config-files in any way, just install it and start working with it. I will continue to use Pardus and have advised others to give it a try.
Good job, Pardus team!
About the author -- Marcel Gommans is an IT manager from The Netherlands who has been using Linux both professionally and at home for many years.
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