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Parsix 3.0r2 review

ParsixParsix is a Linux distribution based on Kanotix and Debian. It is purely a desktop-focused distribution. The last major release was Parsix 3.0r0 (aka Kev). This review is of Parsix 3.0r2, the second update release of Kev.

Installation – Parsix is the second distribution reviewed and listed on this site with a menu-type installer (the other one is Zenwalk). It’s not the most user-friendly and inituitive installer that you’ll ever come across. It lacks support for disk encryption, LVM and RAID configuration. The default journaling filesystem is ext4, with ext3, reiserfs, xfs and jfs as the other options. GRUB 2 (version 1.97 beta3) is the bootloader.

The best physical security rating you can get with this Parsix is an incomplete 2 star rating. Incomplete because you cannot implement password aging with the graphical user management utility.

If you want to install Parsix on a computer with no pre-existing partitions, the screenshot below is the first one you’ll see. Choosing “Partition Partition the hard disk” and clicking on the “OK” button will take you to the GParted window below it. This means that in order to install Parsix on a computer with no pre-existing partitions, you’ve got to be familiar with disk partitioning on Linux.

Installer

The installer window when there are no existing partitions in the system

GParted window

GParted

GParted, the disk partitioning utility

If your computer has usable partitions, this is the main installation screen you’ll see. Like I wrote earlier, this is not a very user-friendly installer

Main installation window

This is Parsix's main installation window when there are existing partitions in the system

Desktop – GNOME is the default desktop environment on Parsix. GNOME 2.26.3 is the latest version available on Parsix. (the latest version of GNOME available for download is GNOME 2.28). The default desktop background is as drab and as dull as I’ve come across. I think it’s worse than Ubuntu’s. If your computer has the necessary hardware for it, Compiz-Fusion, a 3D compositing window manager, will be configured out of the box.

Parsix desktop

Administration and Software Management – Unlike Ubuntu and it’s many knock-offs, Parsix uses the traditional root user account system. The graphical administrative tools are the stock tools you’ll find on any GNOME desktop. Aside from the installer, I have not seen any attempt by this distro’s developers to introduce custom-coded graphical administrative tools. As a Debian-based distribution, APT is the package manager, with Synaptic as the graphical package manager.

Synaptic

Synaptic, the graphical package manager

Default Installed Applications – Aside from the usual cast of GNOME games, desktop accessories and system utilities, here are some of the applications installed on Parsix:

  • OpenOffice.org 3.1.1
  • Iceweasel Web browser
  • The GIMP
  • VLC media player
  • Exaile music player
  • Gwibber microblogging client
  • Grisbi Accountung, a personal money management application
  • Pidgin Internet Messenger
  • Liferea Feed Reader
  • Virtualbox OSE

There are lots more in the repositories. XBMC, a media center application, is there, but not Moovida, the other media center application.

Browsers and Browser plugins – The only browser installed is Iceweasel, a re-branded Mozilla Firefox. The only other Web browser in the repo is Epiphany. Aside from being able to render Flash content, there is not much that you can view with Iceweasel. The Sun Java JRE package is in the repo, but because it is not installed, Iceweasel is unable to “speak” Java.

Security tools and Network Manager – Aside from IPTables, which is not even enabled, there is no other security tool that I can find protecting this box. Neither SELinux nor Tomoyo, the mandatory access control systems in the Linux kernel, are enabled. There is Firestarter, a graphical firewall manager installed, but you’ll have to enable and configure it yourself. OpenSSH server is running straight out of the box. Unlike other distros listed on this site that disallow all local network or remote connections to the OpenSSH server by default, Parsix allows connections to the SSH server from the local network. Does it also allow remote connections to the SSH server? NetworkManager is the network management application on Parsix.

Media and Hardware Detection – Media and hardware detection on Parsix 3.0r2 is pitiful. At this stage in the development of desktop operating systems, its default behavior is an embarrassment. Take a printer, for example. What do you expect when you connect a printer to a computer? Most distro’s I’ve reviewed will auto-configure it. A few will just detect it, in which case you will have to configure it yourself. But how does Parsix respond? It launches Exaile, the music player. Yep, connect a printer to a machine running the very latest edition of Parsix Linux, and the system responds by starting up a music player.

So what happens when you insert an audio CD into the optical drive? The system assumes that you want to copy the disc. Same happens when you insert a video DVD (see the next two screenshot below).

Audio

Dialog prompt when an audio CD is in the system

Dialog prompt when a video DVD is in the system

If you want to play a video DVD, launch VLC it separately and open the DVD. With libdvdcss installed, VLC will play any commercial or encrypted video DVD.

What needs to improve? Plenty. For starters, I’ll recommend that development of the current installer cease. The developers should start developing an installer with a true, point and click graphical interface. I know it’s not an easy task, but other developers have done it.

The system application defaults should make sense. IPTables should be running and the graphical firewall manager should be configured straight out of the box.

This is clearly a negative review, and at some level, I’m hoping that someone will prove to me that this review is completely off the mark. I’m waiting.

ResourcesHome page. Download iso images for 32-bit and 64-bit platforms.

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9 Comments

  1. 5_/\/\ says:

    Great

    I use two distribution of Linux, Parsix and Ubuntu.
    Parsix has so mush usable for me, because it install any package that i need by default. (like GStreams codec)
    Please release Parsix 4.0 as soon as possible! MUST WANTED!

  2. mandog says:

    Firsty I’m a Parsix user for 2years.
    This is taken from the Parsix home page (Our annual release cycle consists of two major and four minor versions.) Parsix 3 was released (Oct 15, 2009) The minor versions consist of all the updates 3.0r1 to (Dec 20, 2009), 3.0r2 (Feb 07, 2010). This in my mind saves Joe public from installing Parsix mid term and then doing a 500mb update, That to me makes sense download Mint download Ubuntu 9.10 then update you will then see the logic. Parsix is based on Debian testing so v3.0 was based loosely on lenny testing +?. The next version is based on Squeeze testing + and hopefully be released late March. But if you did your research you would already know this?. You can not do a just revue of something that is near relacement and find fault like you have. The Parsix theme is its own Theme coming from Irainian roots it is based on their ideals and is one of the best dark themes available its very usable. The installer is very logical I’m dyslexic and the 1st time I used it found it very simple, the Ubuntu installer with all its bling also confuses lots of people see their forums. As for home partition that is a matter of choice it is optional? I prefer a single partition (the biggest operating system on the planet only uses one partition and only recently started using a boot partition). Parsix is not perfect it does not claim to be! It gives a good balance of stability and ease of use. I also use Arch Linux by the way so do know cutting edge and its problems well in advance.
    That is my opinion for what its worth.

  3. mandog says:

    This is the most pathetic review I have seen in 4 years.
    parsix is simple to install is very stable when I insert a cd it mounts and opens sound-juicer starts up, insert DVD and VLC starts up. It support all my hardware. Parsix as does Debian/ Sidux complies with free software under Debian.
    People like should mention these things in your biased reviews.

  4. MacLone says:

    I have used earlier versions of parsix and the installer was even worst. Many time detroyed my windows partition and had no no way to configure /home.
    It has potential but it’s true, the installer sucks.

  5. Saladshooter says:

    Parsix is one of the few distros that correctly identifies and activates my Broadcom wireless card without intervention and my Brother wireless printer is detected without problem.

    DVDs, MP3s, and Flash all work out of the box….. something not true of most the major distributions.

    Yes, the installer could be better but it works for me on all my machines.

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