After sorting out the Desktop Environment it was time to tackle the nitty-gritty of making Pardus productive. This is made all the more simple by Pardus offering to install propriety graphics drivers during the installation process, simpler than Ubuntu. Flash is installed and working so flash games and video work out of the box. It seems like every distro has to select one of those bloated, all singing all dancing, media management applications, I was a little disappointed to see Clementine again, but Rhythmbox would've been much worse.
As bloat goes Clementine is by no means the worst, but in the past I would always rip Amarok out of SUSE and install the tiny Beep Media Player, which is now sadly gone. I thought I'd give Clementine a proper go. Hmmm...sound is working but my mp3s (or Oggs) aren't playing. Yeah, that's my fault for using such a lame compression format (pun intended). The 'NVIDIA version' reboot (see below) also resolved this codec issue and Ogg files played fine (as did mp3s).
Once I actually got to using Clementine properly I actually started to like its functionality, the drag and drop interface was quite as flexible as a Windows application. It was nice to be able to drag folders and single tracks into the playlist at will, but relying on metadata always leaves a library view a bit of a mess. I will always prefer a folder view as my organisation of my collection within the filesystem is always better the generation of metadata which is not always under my control. I like this media player it's better than many of its ilk, Audacious is still my app of choice.
I found LibreOffice 3.3.2 installed and an update later I had the new icons and not a rogue OOo set. Kwrite is still here, but where is Kate? I think I read something about Kate going to the wall, but Kopete is still here. Kopete hasn't changed at all from the last time I used it and why should it,it was always perfect? I've used a lot of multi-protocol IM applications on Linux and Windows and Kopete and Pidgin both stand head and shoulders above most. One word developers, one word: simple. Both these apps do exactly what I expect and require of an IM application, anything else is redundant.
Like many commentators I'm both weary and suspicious of anyone who talks about Linux' Year On The Desktop. It just isn't going to happen. Linux does nothing compelling to make the average user (or even an enthusiast) move from Windows. I'm not deriding Linux in any sense, but all the fanboyism you see in community fora lambasting Windows is absurd. Hate Microsoft and all its questionable business practices by all means, but it has reached it's position partly due to the quality of Windows, like it or not, it's a fantastic Operating System. Hardware manufacturers focus their attention on supporting this platform with good reason, Windows is the PC for most users. This is slowly changing, Linux has excellent hardware support almost a match for the Redmond leviathan and when it comes to high quality and free applications, Linux has no shortage in any category, except one.
There is one very significant respect in which Windows looms large over the upstart OS: gaming. Whether or not you are a gamer yourself, gaming has been at the cutting edge of innovation since the introduction of the IBM PC platform. Without gaming and its constant pressure for new hardware, to fuel it's drive toward ever more complex and more immersive gaming environments, I wonder how much longer we'd be waiting for Compiz et al and the current shift to 3D desktop. Gaming's effects touch all our lives, gamer or not.
If Linux seriously wants to challenge Windows in any meaningful way it has to be able to compete with Windows in any side by side comparison. One large cross in the Linux column is always going to be gaming. Linux fanboys will jump up and down telling you gaming on Linux is easily as good, if not better, than on Windows. Sure, there are some fantastic games out there that run natively on the Linux platform. I'll throw out two examples for them: Machinarium and World of Goo. The incredible replication of the Windows API that allows Linux users to run many Windows applications and games, WINE, delivers many more options. World of Warcraft runs flawlessly in Linux. If it gets very graphically intensive as it does, for instance, in 25 man raid instances then the amount of graphical processing required is encumbered by first translating the Windows API calls. Frame rates often fall to 1 and unplayable for several seconds, on my PC. I reboot to Windows where I get smooth and high frame rates with the same hardware. Wine is fantastic, but...
If Linux really wants to take a sizable chunk out of the Windows market it has to be able to run the latest cutting edge games. Not World of Warcraft, which graphically is beautiful, but old hat and my four year old workhorse desktop copes fine, even running it in Linux. The newest games releases make Windows owners look at their six months old graphics hardware and hit the internet to price up a new one. To cope with these games with the performance those gamers need requires a much better alternative to filtering Windows API calls through the WINE layer first: it requires native Linux games. Some of the main players in Linux are capable of making Linux an attractive proposition to games developers. Attractive enough to justify the development costs involved in coding games on the Linux platform. Canonical I'm looking at you. Twenty million desktop users...native games like LA Noir would really help.
I fired up the Package Manager and searched for wine. Tellico was the only result, Tellico is a reasonable Collections Manager...it can help you organise your collection of anything, even wines. Not what I was looking for. I tried a search for WINE. Same result. This required a more aggressive approach I decided, so I reached for the Konsole:
sudo pisi it wine
Issuing this command worked, I had found a error message that referred me to the pisi command and I applied my tiny knowledge and used pisi, in exactly the way I would apt-get, with it option, instead of install. On a side note I always forget to type install when when using apt-get first time any day. It's the command syntax: apt-get yeah go on apt go get that software. Oh no, that's not right: apt-get install, meh. I wonder how many other people do this day in, day out knowing the apt-get syntax perfectly well. Get and install seems redundant to me. Must think: go get it and install it, maybe that'll work. First time play 'n' break Pardus didn't get a sudo pisi up out of the box after updating in this manner Kate was still unavailable but Wine installed. Wine version 1.3.13 was installed, much better than the ancient Ubuntu version. However the Ubuntu version had one distinct advantage...it worked. Wow crashed out with application errors. Running from the command line pointed out a version mismatch of the nVidia modules...an update hangover, I should've been advised to restart. One reboot later and World of Warcraft was running sweet as nut in Pardus. Right the Ergodex drivers and the underlying USB architecture.
Ergodex works out-of-box. I had this with my first Debian install and then the last (current) one. As soon as I launched the Ergodex drivers the DX1 started working immediately which means the USB dependencies are already installed. Great. Your mileage may vary.
Freeguide is a challenge as only Ubuntu seems to ship this superb TV guide builder by default. You're always left compiling from source which I like as it give me the heads on whether make et al are installed. I succeeded in building the Freeguide source but failed to pull any listing as xmltv wasn't installed. It wasn't available from the repositories and building it from source was a nightmarish failure. Oh well.
Browsing the software list was an interesting and revealing experience. There are some very functional apps bundled into the distro and available in the repos. However the breadth and deepth of choice is missing. This can only improve over time but for someone who likes to fiddle and test, while still enjoying the use of their apps of choice, this is a potential dealbreaker.
Deciding to broaden my testing, since most things irritatingly (for a fiddler like myself) worked right out of the box, I tried to install KAudioCreator to rip some of my CDs. I should've known it would be pre-installed. Disturbingly set up to rip Lame mp3s as standard though. I like KAudioCreator, the interface is simple and pleasant and you can configure it to auto-rip any inserted CD after a successful CDDB lookup. That's intelligent as if the CDDB lookup fails you are probably going to want to label your files before you rip them.
Overall KDE 4 has better parity with Gnome Panels, which leaves it in a close second place when considering the big Desktop Environments. I find elements of KDE to be a touch clunky and perhaps over done, no wonder it's such a resource hog. Which makes me think that I should roll out Lubuntu next. I really like Lubuntu on my netbook and the interface has the feel of full Desktop while Lxde is even lighter than xfce.
Pardus was starting to grow on me. However, when I switched wallpaper to take a screen shot of the default interface my KDE panel scrambled itself again. I do like to mess about with an interface and get it how I like it then leave it alone and forget about. This irritating little niggle was added to another much larger problem to turn me away from the distro altogether. It is a very impressive distro...just not niggle free. The biggest problem Pardus have at this stage is range of software in their repositories. Coming from Ubuntu/Debian where being overwhelmed with choice is more of and issue this is a deal breaker.
I will be watching the development of Pardus Linux because it already has a solid base to build on. For the time being Pardus is making way for other distros to test and my KDE distro of choice is openSUSE. KDE distro, not distro period. My next review considers openSUSE and why I love it but don't find myself booting to it very much. My distro of choice remains Debian which just keeps growing in stature the longer I use it.