There’s been much discussion about the positives and negatives when it comes to Linux‘s distribution fragmentation. Although it’s horrible strategy when it comes to marketing and increasing Linux’s desktop market share because of the lack of universally-applicable support, it’s good when it comes to catering to specific needs.
As such, there are thousands of Linux distributions out in the wild which address certain needs a user may have, while others want to improve on other distributions. Whatever the case may be for a distribution’s existence, no one can deny that there are plenty of choices for everyone. For those who are familiar with Macs or would like to use a system which works like one, they may be interested in a distribution called Pear Linux.
About Pear Linux
Pear Linux is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution which sets to mimic the mechanics and appearance of Apple’s Mac OS X. As such, it aims to achieve a similar interface, recognizable tools, and general ease of use. For those who are curious, the latest release which I’ll be talking about, Pear Linux 6 “Bartlett”, is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, and uses the Gnome Shell desktop environment instead of Unity.
If you’re like me, you might be impressed when you use the desktop for the first time. The setup is very clean and simple — a transparent panel at the top, a few desktop icons on the left side, and a dock at the bottom. If you look at the items on the dock, you’ll see that a number of changes have been imposed on a usual Gnome desktop to make the system more like a Mac. For example, you’ll see a button for Finder, although it’ll actually be a themed version of Nautilus which is launched.
There’s also a custom Pear App Store in replacement of the Ubuntu Software Center, the Pear Browser Manager which lets you choose which browser(s) you’d like on your system, and the Pear System Settings, which simply leads to Gnome’s System Settings window.
There’s also a button for Launchpad, which will simply launch Gnome Shell’s “Activities” screen, but because of the theme that Gnome Shell is using, it does look a lot like the actual Launchpad in Mac OS X.
While Pear Linux does look pretty and offers some nice Mac-like accommodations, there are a few things that I would like to see the developers improve on. For example, the global menu system found in Ubuntu and Mac OS X isn’t present in Pear Linux, most likely because it uses Gnome Shell instead of Unity and such functionality hasn’t been developed for Gnome Shell yet.
Additionally, there aren’t very many applications installed, such as LibreOffice. Instead, there’s only Firefox (by default, but it can be changed using the Pear Browser Manager) and a few system related tools — nothing else. The distribution’s ISO image file is already too large to fit on a CD, but it’s quite far away from reaching the limits of the DVD. Additionally, Ubuntu is no longer restricting itself to the limits of a CD, so I don’t see much reason to not include more software by default.
Download and Install
Pear Linux can be downloaded from this website. The site offers both regular HTTP downloads as well as .torrent files for use in a Torrent client. Once you have finished downloading the ISO image file, you’ll need to burn it to a DVD with capable software, or write it onto a USB drive. Once complete, you can change your BIOS to boot from the DVD/USB, and then choose to either load the live environment or go straight to the installer.
Please note that if you choose to load the live environment, you will probably need to go into the System Settings first and change the default keyboard layout to whichever you use. For whatever reason, the default when you load the live environment is not the English language but the French keyboard layout.
Besides the few minor issues that I have with it, it’s fantastic to see a project like Pear Linux exist. Any Mac users who have been looking at switching to Linux will probably feel most comfortable with either Ubuntu or Pear Linux, while a Windows user looking to switch may feel more comfortable with Ubuntu or Linux Mint. In any case, Pear Linux is a great choice as it stems off from a well-supported distribution. If you have the time, I definitely recommend checking it out!
What’s your opinion of Pear Linux? Is it good for some distributions to look similar to a proprietary operating system? Let us know in the comments!