Back on December 17 2011, I published a review of a new Linux distribution named Pear Linux OS Panther 3 (see Pear OS Linux Panther 3 review). It is based on Ubuntu Desktop and has a desktop interface fashioned after Apple’s Mac OS X. It had its faults, but it was a refreshing take on the Linux desktop, especially for one powered by GNOME 3.
That first release was code-named Panther, after Mac OS X 10.3. Subsequent releases were supposed to be code-named after the corresponding Mac OS X version. So the next version, Pear Linux OS 4, would have been code-named Tiger, after Mac OS X 10.4. But that was last year. This year, things have changed – slightly.
The distribution now goes by a slightly different name – Pear Linux Comice OS, and the latest version is Pear Linux Comice OS 4. Pear, we all know, is a fruit, and Comice is a variety of pear, a European pear. The interesting thing about Comice OS 4 is that it was announced (via email) on February 9. Then on February 10, an update was hurriedly pushed out after several bugs were discovered in the first release. That update was called Pear Linux Comice OS 4-b. The next day, February 11, it was announced on Distrowatch as Pear Linux Comice OS 4 Beta 1. That is the brief account of how Comice OS 4 became Comice OS 4 Beta 1. It is like walking backwards, but you have to give the developer credit for an error and going back to the drawing table.
Since what we currently have is a beta release, and I do not normally review non-stable releases of distributions, consider this article not a full review (it is not), but a preview review. Does that make sense? Even if it does not make sense, please continue reading. At least you will have an idea of what to look forward to in the final stable release, that is, the real Comice OS 4.
Comice OS 4 beta 1 uses the same installation program as Ubuntu Desktop, the distribution it is based on. So, there is nothing new to report there other than the fact the minimum recommended disk space for installation is 7.2 GB, and that a new installation takes up a little bit more than 6.1 GB of disk space. For a distribution that uses the GNOME 3 desktop environment, that is huge. But disk space is cheap, so that is nothing to fret about.
At the login screen, you have the option of logging in to Comice OS 4 or Comice OS 4 Classic. What is the difference? Well, Comice OS 4 Classic (I do not know why it is called “Classic”) is the one you want to choose (it is actually the default). And that is because it works. It gives you the desktop experience that you expect from a desktop operating system. This screen shot shows the default desktop. Though it is GNOME 3, it is a highly customized GNOME 3, offering a better experience than the un-customized GNOME 3.
This is a screen shot of the desktop when you select Comice OS 4 from the login screen’s session menu. Notice that there is no top panel and the dock does not have the animated icons of the Classic desktop. The desktop is barely usable. Luckily, it is not the default.
This one is of the desktop showing the Launchpad, a menu just like that of Mac OS X. Other than that duplicate entry for Evince Document Viewer, which you can see in the middle of the screen shot, it looks cool, though, I think Takeoff Launcher is better.
Comice OS 4 beta 1 comes with just enough applications that most people would need. The rest you can install from the Pear Appstore. This is a screen shot of the Appstore’s main view. If you intend to download and test this release, be prepared for frequent crashes of the Appstore.
This is a screen shot from the lower half of the same view above. Though based on Ubuntu, Comice’s Appstore, like most of its interface, seems to have been inspired by Mac OS X’s, and I actually like it more than Ubuntu’s Software Center.
Listing of applications by category.