22 Sep 2011

Pardus 2011.2: new version or service pack?

Pardus is very interesting distribution.
  • It is developed in the country not very famous on the IT frontline - Turkey.
  • It is supported by government organisation, and at the same time remains unbiased and free.
  • It uses its own package management tools.
Even having these oddities, this distribution gains popularity. As per recent voting, Pardus got just below 5% of votes for best KDE-based distribution. More than monstrous Mandriva or newborn Mageia. Not bad, isn't it?
Interesting enough, Pardus team makes new releases even more often than Canonical with its Ubuntu. We have seen version 2011 released in spring, than 2011.1 released in summer time. Just 2 months passed away and here it goes! Please meet: Pardus 2011.2.
To be fair, Pardus 2011.2 is not major release, but rather a bugfix update. Release notes tell you about this.
As before, Pardus is distributed as ISO image which "weights" about 1.3Gb. Official Pardus Wiki recommends using either Mandriva seed or dd command to create Live USB. Unfortunately both methods failed for me. After some attempts I dropped an idea of Live USB and burnt DVD-RW.
So, disk is in the optical drive of my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let's go!


Booting

As before, initial screen of Pardus 2011.2 asks you about system language. There are about a dozen languages available. Russian is in the list, as well as English US. But English GB is not an option. So, let's go on with English US.
This was first time when I tried to boot my new Fujitsu-Siemens laptop from DVD. Unfortunately, boot time was rather long for me. I don't know if this is an issue of Pardus, laptop itself or DVD-RW. As I saw later, all the operations requiring reading the DVD were painfully slow. I could have cup of tea, or at least prepare it for myself, before system was ready for use.

First impression

Pardus 2011.2 features KDE 4.6.5. This is not the latest release of this Desktop environment. Instead, it is the same as in Pardus 2011.1. Fair enough for "bugfix release".
Because it is KDE, it was easy enough to measure resources required by Pardus. Freshly booted system takes about 270 Mb of memory, as per KDE memory usage widget. That's far not the lightest system I've ever seen, let's be fair.
As usual in Pardus, I was met by Pardus Kaptan. If you have never heard of it, it is very interesting and useful tool which guides you through basic interface configuration: theme, desktop wallpaper, default keyboard (this time it includes English GB as option) and some more. For example, Pardus Kaptan allows you to choose between 3 menu styles available in KDE: Simple, Advanced and Lancelot. My choice was for simple menu, similar to KDE3 or Windows 95 style.
Taskbar in Pardus 2011.2 does not have many items on it by default: only Kmenu, icon to minimize all windows and show desktop, and virtual desktop switcher. Number of desktops and type of menu can be configured in Kaptan. By default there are 4 virtual desktops. Of course, there is usual set of items on the right side of panel: clocks, Wireless/Network indicator, indicator of USB devices, volume and so on.
Desktop wallpaper itself shows you pair of Red Deer (Cervus Elaphus) laying on the hill. Cervus Elaphus is code name of Pardus 2011.2. Like it was correctly mentioned by Linuxbsdos.com author, the image itself is rather strange, and there surely could be better photos of these wonderful animals. Of course, there are some other wallpapers available, including image from Pardus 2011.1 default wallpaper.
Network connection
It was a surprise for me in March when Pardus 2011 recognised and activated WiFi card Realtek 8191SE on my other Toshiba laptop. So, it was not a big surprise that Pardus 2011.2 easily solved the issue of Intel 3945ABG card. It was recognised and activated without any problem. All I had to do was to select my home network and enter security key. Strange enough, network security key was requested twice before connection was established. That's not a big deal, since it took me to the desired result: I am connected.
When  connection between my laptop running Pardus 2011.2 and network was established, I could easily mount partition on my external network drive using Dolphin built-in tool. It worked perfectly and all the Russian characters in file names were recognised without any additional configuration. Same was true for local partitions - Russian file names on NTFS partition were shown correctly after automatic mounting of them via Dolphin.

What is included in Pardus 2011.2?

I would say that set of applications in Pardus 2011.2 is very similar to 2011.1, so I won't bother you for long, but rather give you a link to that post.
I'll stop by the most important applications here.
Pardus 2011.2 is shipped with Firefox 5.0. Is is not the latest release, and again the same version as in 2011.1.
LibreOffice in Pardus 2011.2 was updated to version 3.4.3 and also received Pardus-branded splash screen. LibreOffice itself is included in full with applications like Draw, Base, Math and of course Calc and Writer.
As before, Pardus 2011.2 includes lots of KDE-specific packages. I was tempted to try Blogilo this time. Blogilo is KDE-specific blogging tool. Unfortunately it refused to connect to this Blogger-based blog.
Anyway, this post was drafted right from Pardus 2011.2 using Firefox and web-based Blogger editor.
I tried to run some system tools like KDE partition manager from Live run of Pardus 2011.2. It would be a reasonable task for Live-enabled distro if, say, I wanted to use it to save my hard disk. Unfortunately, this tool did not start for me. I asked for root password which I didn't know. Neither method described in Pardus Wiki, nor in my review of Pardus 2011 worked for me this time.

Unfortunately, Graphical Package manager is not included into the Pardus 2011.2. Command pisi exists of course, but running it with parameter pisi la (list available packages) brought me zero results. That's why I still cannot say what is available as additional packages for Pardus users.

How does Pardus 2011.2 do with multimedia?

I would say that users of Pardus 2011.2 are fully equipped for usage of modern multimedia tools. To prove this, I made several tests.

  • MP3 file in SMPlayer started straight away if they were on local drive. Both Clementine and SMPlayer copied same files from network drive to local disk for playback. That's not good for me, because my music library resides on network drive. But after copying both application could play the music from MP3 files.
  • YouTube videos also played out of the box.
  • Videos from local drive also started in SMPlayer immediately, including avi and DVD formats.

Hardware specifics of laptop

I have made few complaints already that some control elements of my new laptop do not work properly in Linux. First of all, I mean volume controls which are coded to keyboard combinations Fn-F5 and Fn-F6. Was Pardus 2011.2 better than any other distribution I've tried so far? Unfortunately not.
Looks like Pardus just ignores Fn button when combination is pressed. For example, Fn-F5 refreshes the web page if Firefox is active window. That is usual reaction to F5 button.
So, I was not able to control volume and brightness of my laptop using hardware keys in Pardus. Such a pity!
On the positive side, Pardus correctly configured touchpad of my laptop, and enabled scrolling on touchpad edges. This was a difficult task for Windows (and XFCE-based Salix), but not for Pardus 2011.2.

What is my general opinion of Pardus 2011.2?

To start with, I would not call Pardus 2011.2 "new version" of operating system. Rather, I'd name it set of updates for Pardus 2011.1. Maybe better name would be Pardus 2011.1 SP1.
But leaving this on concious of developers, Pardus 2011.2 still shines with its brilliant interface, functionality and userfriendlines. I would still recommend this system to newbies in Linux world. But for newbies who are not scared by rather modest level of community support (compared to what is available for Ubuntu or Fedora).

8 comments:

  1. @sabri ünal:
    You are welcome! Hope critic is constructive.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree what you write.

    Pardus 2011 was a new release. Version 2011.1 was a sort of SP 1 and 2011.2 a SP 2 so to speak.

    I think thats why it's marked with 1 and 2 behind the 2011. If you initially installed 2011 you will get the newer versions with the normal updates. But when 2012 come you must do a clean installation from the beginning.

    But it have always been so with Pardus:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pardus_%28operating_system%29#Release_history

    When a new line will be released it got a new year. And the next Pardus will probably will be called Pardus 2012. And then it got more new stuff. Like disk encryption.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Anonymous:
    Let me disagree with you.
    Pardus 2011.1 was major release. It contained many new and fresh applications, and was even delayed a week because of that.
    Compared to 2011.1, 2011.2 has still all the same, except for LibreOffice.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous above is right. A major release will be something like 2012, 2013 etc. 2011.x is called a "point release" and it's mainly about software updates and bug fixes. Delays have nothing to do with new features. "Service Pack" is a term that comes from Microsoft's products.

    Gnome 2 is a major release. 2.32 point release. 3 major release, 3.1 / 3.1.1 point releases etc.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_release

    Thanks for the review though :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Looks at Pardus history some time back.

    Major release Pardus 2008
    Updated versions:
    Pardus 2008.1
    Pardus 2008.2

    Major release Pardus 2009
    Updated versions:
    Pardus 2009.1
    Pardus 2009.2
    (No Pardus 2010 because they run the 2009 version a long time)

    Major release Pardus 2011
    Updated versions:
    Pardus 2011.1
    And now Pardus 2011.2

    So I thinks it's logical release names they use.
    The new year marks a new developed line.

    And 1, 2 or 3 behind the year a updated version of it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. There isn't package manager gui and package index in Pardus Live CD, because it works on ram. If you install Pardus on your harddisk, you can use Package manager gui. There are ~4700 binary packages in Pardus 2011 official repository.

    http://packages.pardus.org.tr/info/2011/testing/

    ReplyDelete
  7. @dirigeant (MeW):
    Thanks! That clarifies a lot!

    ReplyDelete