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Pear OS Review: Polish Of Mac, Power Of Linux

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One of our Facebook fans, Ashwin Dexter Winongo, requested a review of PearOS. That’s how I came to know about Pear OS. Never heard of it before. I headed to the site and found the latest version was released yesterday. I downloaded it, put it on a USB and ran it on my Dell XPS.

Thoughs About Mac Before I Start The Review
I have used Mac before, during my film making days. My wife had a MacBook which I replaced with Google ChomeBook and she is happier than before. The MacBook is rotting in one of my drawers. I don’t use Mac due to their control freak attitude. iTunes. I dispise it. Why should I tell everything about what music I put on my PC? The point is I do have a Mac but I don’t use it. I have Windows 7 as well, I use it once in a year to play the latest version of Crysis, that’s it.

I pefer GNU/Linux. I use GNU/Linux because it gives me the control I need, it gives me the ease of use, and there is no risk of virus or any evil corporate prying on my usage or using my money to kill competition through bogus patent deals of lawsuits. The point is cost is not an issue with me. My hardware is usually as expensive as the Apple Mac. My Android phone is more expensive than the iPhone. I use Linux by choice. So, when I looked at PearOS I smiled. It was Linux wrapped in Mac-like UI. So, having expressed my doubts about the copyright issues, let’s brush them aside and see what is this PearOS.

The installation
Since it is based on Ubuntu the installation process is the same. However, if you chose the Live session from the boot screen you may not find any install button, which is a bit confusing as one may like to install it after testing the live version. You will have to reboot the OS to select the installer. If you want to install PearOS, chose the installer from the boot screen.

Pear OS

The first impression or the default desktop of PearOS is extremely impressive – its clean and inviting.

No Unity Mess, Yet Best Global Menu
It is using Docky instead of Unity’s Launhcer or Gnome 3 Shell’s Favourite bar. The docky does two things – allows you to open a new instance of an application and also allows you to switch between open apps. By default Docky is set to always visible which takes some space from the running app. You can right click on it (on the separator line) and from settings choose the ‘intellihide’ now Docky will automatically hide if any app is open.

PearOS

Dock already has all the important or much needed apps added by default. The first app is ‘Finder’ which is in fact the Nautilus of Gnome 3. The icon set and theme is good and appealing.

PearOS

Launchpad: All The King’s Apps, All The King’s Tools
The second option is Launchpad (the same name that Apple uses) which is similar to the Dash of Ubuntu. However, Launchpad is far more polished and good looking than Dash. It is paginated and you can scroll to the next page just by the click wheel of the mouse. You can also select apps from different categories – Accessories, Games, Graphics, etc. You can as usual start typing the name of the app and open it. It just looks great as icons appear against the wallpaper.

Third option on the Dock is Pear OS AppStore*, which seems to be a modified version of Ubuntu Software Center.

However, some menus are in French, even if you select English as the default languages – PearOS AppStore is an example of such ‘lost in translation’ case. According to the AppStore there are around 55973 packages available. You also have the Synaptic Package Manager installed which you can use to manage repositories. However, there is a tool which you can use to manage PPA with greater ease. We will write about it later.

PearOS

Time Machine vs Back In Time
Back In Time is the fourth option which is a back up tool (we wrote about it recently). It is a very useful tool where you can keep a back-up of your data without worrying about its loss. It seems to offer the same functionality of Apple’s Time Machine.

Next option is Opera, the default browser of PearOS. It might have been better if PearOS team chose some open source web browser such as Chromium or Firefox instead of proprietary Opera. Not an issue you can always install Firefox or Chromium, just the way you would do on Ubuntu.

PearOS

Cool Email Client Sylpheed
PearOS uses Sylpheed as the default email client. Slypheed is light weight and open source email client. I have not used it before but thanks to Pear OS, I tried it and it was amazingly easy to use. Unlike Thunderbird, Evolution or Kmail it gives you the option to select the location where you want to keep your email folder. It loaded fast (in a few seconds), and I was reading my mails. I heavily recommend Sylpheed.

PearOS comes with Shotwell as the default image viewer, Clamentine as the default music player and also offers a ‘contact’ option in the Docky. So, in a nut shell you will get almost everything that you need in the Docky.

So, that was pretty much a preview of PearOS. Since it is based on Ubuntu there is not much to talk about the availability of apps, you get everything that Ubuntu has.

Tools You Never Heard Of But Need
What it does offer which doesn’t come with the default Ubuntu is ‘BleachBit’. BleachBit is a guard of your privacy. BleachBit can free cache, delete cookies, clear Internet history, shred temporary files, delete logs, and discard junk you didn’t know was there.

According to the project page, Bleach Bit wipes clean 90 applications including Firefox, Internet Explorer, Adobe Flash, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari,and more. Beyond simply deleting files, BleachBit includes advanced features such as shredding files to prevent recovery, wiping free disk space to hide traces of files deleted by other applications, and vacuuming Firefox to make it faster. Better than free, BleachBit is open source.

This is a very useful tool in this era or privacy monsters.

It also comes with Y PPA Manager developed by the cool Linux site Webupd8.org. This tool allows a user to manage their PPAs with greater ease. This is a must have app for Ubuntu and Linux Mint. PearOS offers it by default.
The overall impression of PearOS is great. There is no GUI glitch or patch. It just works out of the box. If you compare PearOS with Ubuntu or LinuxMint, then you will find PearOS to be extremely polished and aware of what user wants.

Problem Areas
I am not sure about the potential copyright infringements in PearOS. If David T (the founder of PearOS) can get rid of the names such as Finder and call it Nautilus and use icons not infringing upon Apple’s design it could be a very appealing OS.

PearOS brings the same ease of use and huge selection of application which Ubuntu enjoys (thanks to Debian). It also brings with it the power and new technologies of Gnome 3. But, it is not a Frankenstein’s monster where you are trying to stitch things together to somehow make it work.

I hate to say this but if you don’t have issues with a Linux-based OS which looks like Mac then you will like PearOS. What I do like about PearOS is that it works out of the box. The overall experience is great.

Do try it. You will love it.

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Download PearOS.

Slideshow Image:
Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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