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Some times back I had written a small review on Pardus Linux 2007. I had mentioned that I did not use it for long time, but it is worth to watch this innovative and good performing distro. My production system is Ubuntu based. Before upgrading/installing Ubuntu 7.04, I was trying to use Pardus Linux 2007 as my production system as trial basis. It was a good success. The performance, usability, stability are near comparable with Ubuntu. But it needs more integration of application, polish and better English language support. I was running this system for a month and found very satisified.

But personally I like to work with GNOME than KDE (atleast till KDE4 released). I am interested in GNOME based Pardus. Is there any attempt in this direction? I am eagerly waiting…. 🙂

Great Distro from wonderful Pardus team, thanks and all the best!

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Distrowatch had introduced me Pardus Linux. It says about Pardus as,

Pardus is a GNU/Linux distribution funded and developed by the Scientific & Technological Research Council of Turkey. Pardus has a range of unique features, such as Mudur, a start-up framework of Pardus to speed up the boot process, and PiSi, an efficient package management system with a user-friendly graphical interface.

The official web site of Pardus features the following as highlights of Pardus Linux 2007.

Multilingual installer // It is possible to install Pardus in Turkish, English, Spanish, German or Dutch. It is now much easier to install Pardus 2007, thanks to renewed YALI and Kaptain Desktop…
Smaller packages, faster updates // Thanks to the improvements to the Pardus package manager PiSi, applications use less space on disk and download over internet much faster…
Package manager // The intuitive and cute graphics interface of PiSi makes update and installation of software much easier…..
Fast start-up // The new init system developed using the Pardus configurarion framework ÇOMAR makes the start-up much faster compared to other operating systems….
New and up-to-date applications // More than 640 packages are installed with the CD, and more than 1000 available over the internet. Since Pardus 1.0 more than 770 packages were added to the repo ….
Others // More than 1600 bug fixes since Pardus 1.0, USB start-up, new network-manager, new icons in Tulliana icon set, …

Hardware

PIII 800MHz / 448MB PC133 RAM / 20+10 GB HDD / Intel 82815 Chipset Board

 

Installation

Installation is simple and not much packed with features. Default installation language is Turkish. I realized it when the screen some thing that I could not understand 😦 Then I rebooted again with installation CD and found that there is a language selection option to choose English and a few other languages also. English as default language will be more natural. The installation sequence is as follows:

1. Accepting License

2. Keyboard layout selection

3. Partition management and formatting

4. Installing and configuring packages

5. Creating root and a normal user

6. Grub configuration and installation

7. Reboot

Missing Time Zone selection could have been added. Installation duration was 35 minutes including configuration. It seems to be reasonably faster for a PIII system. Pardus’s installer is called as YALI (Yet Another Linux Installer).

First time login

KDM welcomes us with a nice, clean and professional blue interface with face browser support. I logged in as normal user. In startup there was a wizard called Kaptan Desktop as shown below.

kapton.png

The wizard says Pardus targetted at computer literate user. The following are covered in this wizard.

1. Mouse configuration

2. Desktop style which includes KDE Menu style – traditional or new KDE Kick Off style. This KDE Kick Off style fits very well to the new user to KDE like me (I used with GNOME, still my production system is GNOME only). This is more usable than Novell’s Computer menu for GNOME. In this KDE menu, by just hovering the mouse, we can switch between the tabs in menu. The screenshot is

kdemenu.png

3. Wallpaper selection

4. Network connection wizard – Not able to enter more than one Name Server since only one text box is given.

5. Package management – Automatic update is configured here. Immediately package manager started updating package database and reported that 127 packages need update. I updated them.

update.png

6. TASMA – It is a Pardus Configuration Center tool. It is mostly KDE Control center.

Noticed at first sight

1. Package manager – There are three tabs showing New packages (i.e, packages not available in installation CD), Installed packages and upgradable packages. This is a simple and straight forward tool which works well. I updated all 127 packages through this tool. But the package distribution are all were in Turkish (I guess), not in English. This is important one to take care. Here is the screenshot.

pkg-mgmt.png

It is a front end to PiSi package management tool. The advantage of this tool in my point of view is NO CONFIGURATION DURING INSTALLATION. This is different from debian package management. I installed all 127 packages without any manual intervention, which is most useful during night time. For more information on PiSi system, refer here.

2. When I logout, X too terminated and resulted in console only system. This was rectified after all package update and reboot.

3. Though my hardware is legacy not supporting accelerated graphics I was managed to install Beryl with the help of this wiki page. Installation is very simple if you follow this guide. But for regular use, beryl was not usable in my legacy system which does not have rich Graphics card. The following screenshots shows transparent windows and minimize effect on my low end system with some glitches.

beryl-transp.png beryl-min.png

4. Pardus takes 40 seconds to come to login window which is a bit slower than Ubuntu. But it is reasonably good performance thanks to mudur init system. It is not replacing the existing init system but mudar is called from /etc/inittab. The /etc/init.d/ has only a few scripts, leaving rest of the initialization in /sbin/mudur.py python script. Basic jobs of initialization, i.e. loading modules, starting udev device manager, mounting filesystems, updating system clock are handled by a single Python script as per wiki. Here there is no easy to maintain modularity when compared with /etc/init.d/<scripts>.

5. Mplayer multimedia codecs, Flash-plugin and Java are installed in default installation from CD media. It is a good news for dial-up users and also saves time to do update.

6. More English documentation is needed.

Conclusion

I have not used this Pardus system for my production system. Only a few days I have used this system. I can see a lot of innovation are going on in this project. It is my dare saying that Pardus is worth to watch for further innovation in Desktop Linux.

 

 

 

It is my long pending work to install, experience and review the DreamLinux. Atleast now I have done it. What I expected from DreamLinux screenshots are just eye candy desktop, but in reality? Let us get into the review.

Configuration:

Hardware: PIII 800MHz / 192MB RAM / Intel 82815 Chipset board

Operating System: Dreamlinux 2.1 WORKS Edition (Debian based) with 2.6.14 kernel.

Live CD:

Booted the system through Live CD. GRUB menu presented a lot of options to start the CD. It is a welcoming attempt so that no one should be left with error in booting the CD. I selected default option. It started smoothly. Before starting X, it only asked for preferred resolution (to make sure that X is working properly, DreamLinux’s concern on starting X successfully in some way is obvious here). Then I got a wonderful eyecandy desktop (no login required) with Mac OS X like XFCE launch bar. I tried important applications, they worked very decent speed. I was quite happy. All my hardware were working properly.

Installation:

In Live Cd mode, I opened Firefox. The home page shown was file:///usr/local/share/html/index.html, which is a nice, simple user friendly document. It covers installation, configuration and MKDISTRO tool. As per guide I fired System->Dreamlinux Install. It launched Installer, called Morphix Installer. The installation wizard is breezy, nothing geeky stuff. It has GUI partition tool called Partitionmorpher (cfdisk is available as another option). I created new partition of type ext3. Selected newly created partition as installer. In next step, the installer quit abruptly. I suspected the issue in identifying newly created partition, hence restarted the system again on Live CD. This time it worked. Installer did not ask for Time Zone. It should have been, right? Installer recognized my other linux installations such Arch Linux and Symphony OS properly. They were added in grub menu. Installation took just 12 minutes in my legacy system.

Desktop:

After installation, restarted the system to get nice GDM login. It some way resembles Mac OS X login screen. I logged in with normal user created during installation. Waaaav! wonderful neat and clean eye candy desktop. It has XFCE menu on upper left corner, date and show desktop on right top corner. A very well polished nice XFCE launch bar is on bottom. Though this launch bar occupies some additional screen estate, it is nice to work. Using Settings->Enable Dock, I enabled engage launch bar (I had to delete XFCE launch bar manually, any other way to disable XFCE bar?). engage is a perfectly smooth, fast and shiny launch bar, very similar to Mac OS X launcher. It is a big plus point of Dreamlinux desktop. Thunar handles the desktop icons. Once important thing to mention is nice looking default icon set which you may not tend to change. But one negative aspect is absence of Trash. Since it is available in recent XFCE, we can expect in next Dreamlinux version. Please click the following thumbnail for a screenshot.

dl-21-desktop.png

Performance:

I tested the sytem on continous day to day use for 4 days. All applications responded quickly. I can even compare the responsiveness of applications with my favourite Arch Linux also. This is an aspect I did not expect from Dreamlinux (blaming me to underestimate, now!). It is interesting to note that my system is not shiny, it is a bit legacy system. I realize the power of Debian. If Debian is properly configured, it can be a wonderful desktop system for end users also. Dreamlinux is a good example for that. Startup is also cool with decent speed.

Configuration:

/home/<user>/utilities is a built-in folder with useful GUI based configuration tools. It includes a nice grub configuration tool, ALSA configuration and mixer, services configuration, login screen configuration, Networking tool, Folder sharing and Wireless card windows driver installation tool. The last one is worth noted. ADSL/PPPOE configuration is available at Settings menu. Through this wizard, able to configure Cable modem for internet flawlessly. But pppoe service does not start at boot.

Applications:

One of the impressive thing about Dreamlinux is the default applications selection. It suits my choice around 100%. Most of my favourite applications are available by default. It includes XFCE 4.4 beta2, Firefox 1.5.0.1, Thunderbird, MPlayer, XMMS, Thunar File manager, mousepad, gimpshop, GNumeric etc. Out of box support for proprietory audio/video formats and flash are worth noted.

The huge debian repository is a huge plus point. The great Synaptic is available for application installation. apt-get also works seemlessly. Apart from these for proprietory closed source applications Adobe Reader, Opera, Skype, Google earth & picasa, open source Nvu are available through easy-install application (apt-get install easy-install). This is a nice user friendly tool to install proprietory applications. This tool includes Easy Install icon in utilities folder. Clicking Easy Install displays icons for these applications to be installed. Double clicking the corresponding icon, installs the application by downloading the package through wget tool. The following screenshot depicts this scenario.

dl-installer.png

GTKPod for iPod, MKDISTRO for custom ISO creation and NTFS write support are worth to mention. I am yet to test MKDISTRO tool.

Conclusion:

Is there any distro which is user friendly, eye candy, good speed and stable? Here afterwards, no need to dream for such distro. It is reality which is nothing but Dream Linux. But I have to admit that I have tested it for short duration only, yet to watch for stable long time performance.

Wonders come only from people who dream – It is true for Team Dreamlinux. Thank you Dreamlinux team!

Update on version 2.2 (mutlimedia edition):

Here is a honest and wonderful review on next version 2.2 written by NAyK.

Why Arch Linux?
When the life goes smooth, we get bored. When everything goes smooth we need some challenge to face and conquer. This is applicable for Linux distribution world also. After started admiring with Ubuntu, I did not want to be locked with it. I test a distribution only if it is having some unique feature in it. Zenwalk is one such promising. Here is my review on it. I came to know about Arch, which is optimized for i686 processors, so it is meant for recent generation of processors. So I downloaded base Arch Linux CD. My workstation is bit old with PIII/192MB/Intel-82815-Graphics which is suitable for this i686 optimized system.

Installation:
It is NOT Live CD. Once you boot with base installation CD, you will get a quick and clean shell prompt with basic instruction for installation displayed on console. It is evident that installation is only for power user, not for click and go kind of people. You have to run “/arch/setup”, which is a installation tool. Here is the step by step installation:
1. Selecting installation source between CDROM and network
2. Partitioning of hard disk using cfdisk.
3. Installing base packages from CD (Since mine is just base installation CD)
4. Configuring the system – Here the power user comes. You will be shown /etc/rc.conf, /etc/hosts, /etc/fstab, /etc/mkinitrd.conf, /etc/modprobe.conf, /etc/modules.conf and /etc/resolv.conf files are presented to you through editor. You can apply your real knowledge in linux in this step. No wizard configuration. If you don’t have enough linux experience, it is difficult to understand this step. I did configure /etc/rc.conf, /etc/hosts and /etc/fstab files only which is enough for my system.
6. Kernel selection – I selected 2.6.X kernel
7. GRUB/LILO bootloader selection and you have to manually edit the /boot/grub/menu.lst or /etc/lilo.conf and install.
8. Reboot.

Package management:
Here the package manager is called pacman, which is definitely a apt-get competing tool. Very simple command line options makes it usable by any one. The first thing I did was reading man pacman as directed by installation guide. I updated my system with repository using command pacman -Syu. It updated my kernel, so rebooted. Then installed GNOME desktop. To find out the exact package name, I used pacman -Ss <keyword> which is dead easy. pacman -S <pkg-name> installes package and pacman -R <pkg-name> removes the package. All dependencies are taken care while installing. A few times I faced problem of missing dependenices which I have not faced so far in apt-get in debian/ubuntu. It is rare case, but pacman is really wonderful to use. Though GUI front end for pacman are available, I find pacman command line tool itself more comfortable than any GUI version of pacman.

Performance:
Since I have installed base CD, no bloated applications and services at startup. After reboot I found Arch Linux rocks. No other distribution in my workstation responds to applications as fast as Arch. I can feel the difference very much. I have tried Ubuntu with i686 kernel, but it is not as fast as Arch. In Arch, all applications are also built for i686. There the performance plays. I get this advantage without having the hassles of building from source.
After update I got all latest and greatest applications with the bonus of stability. Though I have latest GNOME 2.16, Firefox 2.0.1, Thunderbird 1.5.0.8, Brasero 0.4.4 (Disk burning), F-Spot 0.2.2, GNumeric 1.6.3, OpenOffice.org 2.0.4, etc. I have not faced any crash in last 2 months of testing period (Yes, I did a lot of work on Arch Linux for 2 months before writing this review). It is rock stable. Click the below thumbnail to see my GNOME 2.16 desktop.

Screenshot of my GNOME 2.16 desktop

Features:
/etc/rc.conf is the master file for system configuration. Here you can configure locale, time zone, key map, module loading and black listing, hostname, network configuration, daemons startup, etc. in this one single file. This BSD kind of startup is really nice.
makepkg tool is also found which takes care of installation from source. It does dependencies check (both runtime and compile time), downloading source package, building and creating <package>-<version>.pkg.tar.gz file. Once it is created you can install it with pacman -A <package>-<version>.pkg.tar.gz command.
A great community is awaiting for you to help for Arch Linux. It has wonderful Wiki page, forum, community repository, etc. Wiki page needs more organized way of compiling the wonderful articles.

Conclusion:
After 2 months of testing and feeling its terrific performance I have moved my production home directory to Arch Linux. Hope that is the right way to appreciate a distro. Great distro has come from great people. Keep it up, Arch guys. You people are doing a wonderful job. Arch Linux is for every one except installation which is only for power user.

The time I spend on distro watching (various linux distributions) has come down a lot after working on Ubuntu for last one year. But I use to revise my soft corner with Ubuntu by testing some other distro also. I am not a linux server guy. I am a programmer who needs good stable home pc with programming environments, a lot of packages, multimedia features, personal management suites and internet applications with reasonably latest release also. Ubuntu fulfills this to good extent. Now I have legacy PC (PIII/192MB), the speed of Ubuntu is not enough for smooth work flow (But still it holds good for all purpose, my favourite distro…). So I am trying to find some other alternative also. There I found Zenwalk. Since I like Slackware, I tried slackware based Zenwalk 3.0.

I am not going to show you variety of screenshots here (BTW: how to take screenshots in Zenwalk? – I don’t find any tool, anyone knows? I used GIMP). Let me test the five point of agenda of Zenwalk.

  • Modern (latest stable software) – YES

Yes, it is modern with latest stable software. XFCE 4.3.99.1 (Xfce 4.4 RC1) with wonderful Thunar file manager works integrated. Desktop’s default look and feel gives unique look to Zenwalk. Latest Firefox, Thunderbird, Abiword and GNumeric are latest and best.

zenwalk.jpg

  • Fast (optimized for performance capabilities) – BIG YES

My legacy PC (PIII/192MB) is doing magic while Zenwalking. It is flying. Boot time is just 30 seconds with nice login screen. XFCE does not take much time to be active. Firefox works faster than the same on Ubuntu. Thunderbird too. Abiword and Gnumeric, no need to say.

  • Rational (one mainstream application for each task) – YES

It is a good approach. I have seen many people complain about the choice of application. Zenwalk makes it easy for beginners to work.

  • Complete (full development/desktop/multimedia environment) – BIG NO

The major issue I find with Zenwalk is the lack of choice of applications for other specific purpose than the normal desktop use. I tried to install OpenOffice.org and mplayer from repository. It works fine. But there is no mplayer plugin for Firefox, that is minimum requirement of an average user nowadays, which is not available in respository also. This is just an example. When I browse for sometimes, I came to know that Flash plugin is not there. It is not in repository also. When I try check for my favourite application on repository, I was disappointed mostly. The repository is very small.

  • Evolutionary (simple network package management tool – netpkg) – BIG NO

The package managers “Netpkg” and “Pkgtool” are just sugar coated slackware tools. As a experienced Linux user, I myself not comfortable with the package manager. Definitely average desktop user will find difficulty in getting things done.

Summary:

Zenwalk walks proudly in the roads of linux distributions except packages availability and package management. I request Zenwalk developers to concentrate on these points also to bring it near Ubuntu. Ubuntu, Keep yourself alert! Hats off to Zenwalk developers, Great software has come from great people!