Pros: Improved installer and package manager, numerous tiny but important tweaks, the latest version of Firefox and LibreOffice.
Cons: Currently a limited number of packages in the official software repository.
Using the same distro for a prolonged period of time is like eating at the same restaurant every day. Sure the food is fine, but sooner or later you’d want to try something different. If you’ve reached that point with your favourite distro, the latest beta of Pardus may whet your appetite. While this Turkish-born KDE-based distro may not (yet) enjoy the same popularity as Ubuntu or Fedora, it has all the qualities required to enter the exclusive club of mainstream Linux distributions. And if the latest beta of the up-and-coming Linux distro is anything to go by, Pardus 2011 is ready for admission.
So what does the beta release of Pardus 2011 have to offer? Quite a lot, actually. The first thing you notice when booting the installable version of Pardus 2011 is the revamped YALI (a.k.a Yet Another Linux Installer) tool which makes the installation process rather trivial. The installation process itself is a lengthy affair (it took about 30 minutes to install Pardus 2011 on our test machine) compared to Ubuntu, but there is an explanation for that: Pardus comes with a broader range of bundled software which, obviously, takes longer to install. Also, unlike Ubuntu, YALI automatically detects and installs proprietary hardware drivers, as well as multimedia codecs, a Java runtime environment, the Flash software, and other useful stuff. This may not please open source purists, but will definitely appeal to users who want everything working right out of the box.
Upon the first boot, the system launches the Kaptan configuration tool which walks you through the process of configuring your system. Kaptan lets you select the desired KDE menu (you can choose between Kick-off, Lancelot, and Simple menu), pick a desktop theme and wallpaper, add a picture to your user account, and enable the smolt tool (it sends your system’s configuration data to Pardus’ smoon server).