Pear Linux is a desktop distribution based on Ubuntu, but unlike its parent distribution, which uses the Unity desktop interface, Pear Linux features a modified GNOME Shell called Pear Shell decked out to look like a MacOS X desktop. Not that it is a succeeded, but it is good attempt. Apple has nothing to worry about. The latest edition is Pear Linux 5. Code-named Sunsprite, it is based on Ubuntu 12.04, using (Linux) kernel 3.2.
Like virtually all desktop Linux distributions in use today, Pear Linux 5 is made available as an installable Live CD. The boot menu is shown below.
And like all desktop distributions derived from Ubuntu Desktop, it uses the Ubiquity installation program, a very user-friendly, but limited-in-features graphical installation program. The screen shot below shows the disk partitioning methods. While the current version of Ubiquity lacks support for LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager, and full disk encryption, the pre-release version of Ubiquity has partial support for both. So we should expect complete support for both features in Ubuntu 12.10, and, by extension, Pear Linux 6.
And this shows the Advanced Partitioning Tool. This is the interface to use when you want to create partitions manually. In the pre-release version of Ubiquity, support for LVM and disk encryption have not been implemented in this tool.
The Pear Shell offers a desktop interface with a Docky-powered dock at the bottom of the desktop. The dock is nothing compared to the MacOS X dock, but it works. At least it provides access to some of the most commonly used applications out of the box. What does not work is access to System Settings from the user indicator. Any attempt to launch it fails, without even a feedback error message. Luckily, there is an icon for System Settings on the dock, that works.
In Pear Linux, there is no traditional menu. Rather, the whole desktop becomes your menu when you click on the Launchpad icon on the dock. It is not exactly like the Takeoff Launcher or Mandriva and ROSA Linux‘s SimpleWelcome, but the effect and functionality are similar.
One of the Docklets (widget in Docky-speak) that you can add to the dock offers two virtual desktops or workspaces, but there is Mission Control, which offers easy access to open application windows. While I am not particularly crazy about Pear Shell, it is definitely much better than the default interface of GNOME 3 and even Unity desktop. The main issue with the desktop is that there is a noticeable lag after you click Launchpad before the application icons appear.
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