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Feature: Parsix

Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

By Susan Linton on February 25, 2008 (4:00:00 PM)

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Last month the Parsix Linux distribution made its 1.0 release after almost a year of development. Parsix is a GNOME-based distro based on the testing branch of Debian GNU/Linux with elements from Kanotix. It makes an attractive alternative to Ubuntu.

Parsix comes as an installable live CD and features GNOME 2.20.3 as the desktop. It hails from Persia, but the language and keyboard default to en_US. When you first boot the live CD, Parsix provides two handy boot options for wide-screen display resolutions. Many distros auto-detect the optimal resolution, but many don't. This approach is a great compromise, and assured that I was able to boot into my desired resolution.

Parsix's hard drive installer is one of the elements it adapted from Kanotix. When you launch it, it displays a menu with entries to Configure Installation, Start Installation, Update Installation, Partition, Load Config, Save Config, and Quit. Choose Partition if you need to set up your disks, but otherwise click Configure Installation to begin. The first screen lets you choose the install partition. The next lets you choose a preferred filesystem. The next few are for setting up user accounts and passwords, including a root password. Finally, you specify the hostname and bootloader placement. Once you finish the configuration phase you're taken back to the main menu. All that's left is to click Start Installation. My installation presented no problems and installed the bootloader as desired. It detected and included a few other operating systems installed on my machine, but not all.

After the install, I was taken to a tidy and uncluttered graphical login screen. The desktop features an unobtrusive and pretty background, attractive theme, charming sounds, hip icons, cute screensaver, and handsome fonts, all of which make for a pleasant user experience.

Hardware

Parsix's hardware support for my Hewlett-Packard Pavilion dv6000 laptop was a mixed bag. Choosing the widescreen 1280x800 boot option worked as I hoped, and it transferred to become the default resolution for the hard drive install as well. My sound and volume buttons worked upon boot of both the live CD and hard drive install, but I had to do a bit of work to get a wireless network connection. CPU scaling was activated by default, and suspend worked with the proprietary Nvidia graphic drivers, sort of. My laptop would suspend and wake up as it should, but the net connection would be lost and difficult to bring back up. Hibernate didn't work at all for me.

Parsix comes with some graphical configuration tools, such as the CUPS browser configuration utility, PPP Configuration Utility, Network Configuration, and Wireless Net Card Config. It was the last two that I was most concerned with, since my Broadcom 4311 (often identified as Broadcom Dell 1390) isn't natively supported by Linux.

I first tried the Wireless Net Card Config. It displayed a dialog to find and select the Setup information file (the driver *inf file found on a Windows partition), then shot an error stating that my *inf file wasn't an *inf file. Fortunately I was able to use Ndiswrapper at the command line to install the needed drivers.

Out of force of habit, I next attempted to use wpa_supplicant to negotiate the passkey for my Wi-Fi Protected Access network -- unsuccessfully. Remembering that I needed to test Parsix Network Configuration, I opened that utility. It asked some detailed questions that similar utilities I've tested usually don't, such as the MAC address, frequency, and bit rate of the router. Most of these I left blank, but I did fill in the ESSID, MAC address, and WPA passphrase. To my surprise, it then made the wireless connection available upon boot. This is the first time I've seen WPA negotiation fail at the command line yet work through a graphical tool.

For better or worse, all detected media is automounted and receives an icon on the desktop for easy browsing. This includes any new removable media inserted, including CDs. When you click on the icon for an audio CD, Parsix opens Sound Juicer. When you click on a movie DVD icon, it open VLC.

Software

Under the hood Parsix runs Linux kernel 2.6.23, Xorg 7.2, and GCC 4.23. It includes system tools such as System Monitor, File Browser, and Disk Usage Analyzer, among several others.

The Internet menu contains the unbranded version of Firefox, Iceweasel 2.0.0.11, as the Web browser, Balsa for an email client, and Liferea as a news feed reader. Firestarter helps you set up and implement a firewall. You can transfer files using BitTornado, gFTP, and Gwget; access IRC with XChat; and exchange instant messages with Pidgin.

OpenOffice.org, Grisbi accounting, and Efax-gtk are available for routine office tasks.

Multimedia applications appear in the menu under Sound and Video. The apps include Brasero for disc burning, GNOME CD Player, Exaile music player, Sound Juicer, XawTV TV Viewer, and VLC media player. I wasn't able to test the TV Viewer, but all the other apps functioned as designed. I was able to view any video file or listen to music files and disks with the Parsix applications. VLC did the best job of playing DVDs I've experienced in a while. Not only did it play an encrypted movie, but I was treated to a navigation menu as well as the extra DVD features included, such as subtitles, alternative languages, and jump-to-scene. I usually consider myself lucky if I can just watch the movie.

In the Graphics menu you'll find Camarama webcam viewer, Evince PDF Viewer, the GIMP 2.4.3, GQview Image Viewer, Inkscape Illustrator, and XSane scanning program. When you click on an image file, Parsix opens GQview, its default image viewer.

Adobe Flash wasn't included, but Iceweasel auto-installed it. However, I wasn't able to watch any Apple.com movie trailers even after installing available QuickTime libraries and utilities. In fact, after installing the QuickTime files from the Debian repository, Apple.com began crashing Iceweasel.

Parsix includes accessories such as xFarDic (a multilingual dictionary and translator), GnoCHM (a viewer for Compressed HTML help archives), Qemu Launcher (graphical front end for the QEMU emulator), and gedit. It also comes with several small games, such as Gnometris, Same GNOME, Mines, Sudoku, and SuperTux.

If you'd like something not found in your installed Parsix system, you can use Synaptic Package Manager to install anything found in the Debian testing repositories. These, as well as some Parsix repositories, are configured for use when you run the operating system. Parsix doesn't include an applet for update alerts, but you can use Synaptic effectively for checking. With Parsix being based on the testing branch of Debian there were 133 updates available at the time of my review, approximately a week after the distro's release. The upgrade process finished smoothly with no errors or resulting problems.

Conclusion

Overall Parsix is a wonderful Debian derivative and alternative to Ubuntu. Like Ubuntu it is based on Debian and as such uses APT and Synaptic. It uses the GNOME desktop with similar panel placement. However, it comes with more software and better choices, with the exception of Iceweasel, which tends to be a bit more finicky than Firefox. The out-of-the-box multimedia support is a definite plus, but the iffy power-saving features detract from the overall usability. Parsix does not subscribe to the "sudo philosophy" of allowing users to perform tasks as root, as found in Ubuntu, and for me that is an advantage. The Kanotix tools and installer might not be as technically sharp and polished as those found with Ubuntu, but most are capable and not hard to use. On the down side, you must install proprietary graphic drivers manually when using Parsix, which might intimidate new users.

Despite the drawbacks, I liked Parsix. Its beautiful implementation of GNOME and attention to detail make it a solid contender. If you like Debian, Ubuntu, or GNOME but want an alternative choice, you will probably like Parsix.

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on Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 194.209.141.131] on February 25, 2008 04:18 PM
That's impossible

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 151.203.164.44] on February 25, 2008 04:34 PM
Black with the Ubuntu human icons...umm..beautiful isn't quite the right verb for it.

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.111.147.72] on February 25, 2008 05:17 PM
So... what does this actually offer? All the review says is that it preinstalls more software than ubuntu. All the site shows is that the Gnome default theme is different, and all the site says is that a persian keymap is included.

I'm not even sure why I'm writing this. There's nothing here to actually respond to.

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.61.136.210] on February 25, 2008 05:55 PM
Parsix is based on Debian Testing, which Ubuntu is NOT. Debian is a rolling distribution, which Ubuntu is NOT. Parsix offers more choices and more software than Ubuntu. Parsix is as different from Ubuntu as Red Hat. If you don't like Ubuntu's release-and-forget-about-it mentality or frozen repositories; if you value computability with pure Debian then you'll like Parsix. As for the comments about the default theme...come on guys, it's a theme. Ubuntu is as ugly as it gets yet you Ubuntu fanbois seem to overlook it time and time again.

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Iceweasel

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 128.141.37.84] on February 25, 2008 06:50 PM
"Iceweasel, which tends to be a bit more finicky than Firefox"
That's a real expert talking here

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.123.249.30] on February 25, 2008 06:55 PM
Susan,

You should have put it in a simpler way: Parsix = Debian testing + selected Ubuntu 8.04 backports + some extra tools (e.g. from Kanotix), adapted + a newer kernel + own theme + debian-multimedia.org repositories added by default.

This is why Parsix had to update its kernel independently of Debian testing (and it did, watch for Bug #84).

The advantages: "rolling-release Debian testing", reasonably stable and with newer packages than Etch (Etch doesn't even have Claws Mail), even newer packages in a few selected cases (because of rebuilding from an unreleased yet Ubuntu Hardy), a good default selection of packages, some extra advantages for Iranian users.

Disadvantages: theoretically less stable than Etch, theoretically less stable than Debian testing, possible inherited issues from Ununtu Hardy. (In my case, I had to forcefully downgrade Brasero from 0.7.1 to 0.6.1 from Debian testing.)

As for "Parsix doesn't include an applet for update alerts", this is ridiculous: what prevents you to install and run update-notifier? You should have made clear that this is only about the selection on the CD.

Also, you can't prove the assertion with regards to "Iceweasel, which tends to be a bit more finicky than Firefox": simply put, it uses Debian Lenny's Iceweasel (already 2.0.0.12, should you update it).

All the best,
BĂ©ranger

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 90.184.132.230] on February 25, 2008 07:07 PM
"Parsix = Debian testing + selected Ubuntu 8.04 backports + some extra tools (e.g. from Kanotix), adapted + a newer kernel + own theme + debian-multimedia.org repositories added by default."

Wow, now THAT was a simpler way... *cough*

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 213.207.216.249] on February 25, 2008 08:46 PM
It took three years to release Parsix Ramon (1.0r0):
http://parsix.org/html/News-article-sid-3.html

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.213.2.152] on February 25, 2008 09:25 PM
The only reason to use this over Debian or Ubuntu would be if you need the Persian keyboard support. How can Iceweasel be more finicky than Firefox when it *IS* Firefox with just some new artwork to comply better with the gpl.

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.192.188.127] on February 25, 2008 10:24 PM
Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

<< It Does? Looks like a bad haloween accident >>

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.192.188.127] on February 25, 2008 10:37 PM
i will never understand you Linux noobs, Linux was not designed to be simple.....then they made it simple for you, but you still cry. anyone from old school Linux understands that CLI is your best friend, take the time to learn it, and you won't ever have to dual boot with win-doze again. Ubuntu is o.k...... but it is restricting you from learning about the finest aspects of Linux. get out of your parents basement and get a life! put down the beer and drugs and get a grip on life!

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.205.61.99] on February 26, 2008 02:10 AM
Man, that is one ugly default theme. Even uglier than default Ubuntu.

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.191.10.164] on February 26, 2008 07:23 AM
Parsix sound like a good idea. I use (k)ubuntu most of the time but I sometimes wish the packages installed was less polished and closer to the default configuration, like we see in Debian. We use Ubuntu in our lab classes and I feel we often need to google some obscure tweaks to get our Linux assignments working. Maybe I'll try Parsix some time, thanks.

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Take it from a KDE partisan --

Posted by: eco2geek on February 26, 2008 08:42 AM
This is one of the prettiest default GNOME desktops I've ever seen. (And, if you've got a bland-looking Xfce 4.2 desktop, you can spice it up to look pretty close to Parsix by using the same wallpaper, the same theme engine, and the same icon set.) By the way, if you install the "w32codecs" and "mozilla-mplayer" packages from the debian-multimedia repository, you won't have problems with Quicktime in Iceweasel.

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 10.51.0.246] on February 26, 2008 09:12 AM
The Dreamlinux also is based on Debian and has a good looking and polished GNOME desktop. Furthermore, it has its own installer and some extra features.

In my opinion if such distributions want to compete with Ubuntu, their Developers should work together in order to bring new quality to the Linux users. This approach has a lot of advantages not only for the Devs, but also for the USERS. The bigger Community, the better distribution.

The most important problem with Linux is that the world of Linux is too much divided.

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Live CD is very, very good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 212.84.104.1] on February 26, 2008 09:40 AM
I tried Parsix solely as a live cd. It detected all the drives on my main machine, I had access to them all without having to do anything plus I was able to browse my networked machines as well. The live cd played mp3s from a Debian partition in exaile, and a movie from the same place in VLC without the slightest qualms. As for the default Gnome desktop (I'm a KDE man, myself), I think it's lovely - much better than the default Ubuntu style (oh heck... here we go again... incoming!). Once I work out a partition for Parsix, it's getting installed.

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.198.49.104] on February 27, 2008 05:58 PM
parsix is very good

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.121.60.122] on February 27, 2008 10:32 PM
I have installed Parsix over Ubuntu, and I am pretty much satisfied with it. The most significant feature I noticed in Parsix is its incredible speed. Larger Ubunto community does not necessarily prove a better disto. In fact after having Parsix for three weeks, I can say that Ubuntu is not even close to it. Really nice distro, and congratulations to its developers and users.

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 84.250.41.68] on February 28, 2008 01:06 PM
Is ugly the new good now?

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 217.219.63.10] on February 28, 2008 01:27 PM
yes we have speed with Parsix

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.185.37.3] on February 29, 2008 08:08 PM
wonderful
very very good.
this is my favorite distro.

test it then post.
this over than only one theme or pretty configureation.
on ubuntu fire man and gnome ppp dosnt work truth.
but in parsix all app is work fine.very well.
only test it.

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Parsix: Persian distro makes GNOME look good

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.185.37.3] on February 29, 2008 08:12 PM
parsix kernel have good path.
i test ver disro but this speed and stability and... is unique

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