After months of developing and testing, on March 23 David T has finally released Comice OS 4, the last version of Pear OS, a Linux distro that is based on Ubuntu and has the look and feel of Mac OS. Although I've tried the former versions of Pear OS and found them not very usable then, Comice OS 4 is totally different and it really impresses me this time. I downloaded Comice OS yesterday and tried it on my laptop, and here is my review for Comice OS 4.
Update: for the newer release, here is my review for Pear Linux 6
Downloading and Installation
The iso image of Comice OS is bigger than that of Ubuntu, around 1.1 GB for the 32 bit version, 1.3 GB for the 64 bit so you need to burn a DVD or create a bootable USB to install it. Also, I dont like it when there is no torrent option to download the iso images. If you want to download, make sure you use a download manager or use the Opera browser so you wont have to start again if the downloading is interrupted.
To download Comice OS 4, please check here
Since Comice OS is based on Ubuntu, the installing process is identical to that of Ubuntu or Linux Mint. However, one negative point of Comice OS is that there is no Wubi option for you to try it inside Windows, so if you want a full experience with Comice OS, you need to install it as a dedicated OS. But from my experience, the installing is very fast, it took me only around 15 minutes to get Comice OS fully installed in my laptop. Here are some screenshots of the installing process of Comice OS.
Look and feel
The first good thing about Comice OS 4 is that unlike the former versions, this time the default language is English instead of French so it will appeal more users. And since Comice OS is inspired of Mac OS, you shouldnt be surprised to know Comice OS looks really like Mac OS. Comice OS 04 uses Gnome3 as the window manager, but unlike Linux Mint, there is only one silver panel at the top of the screen. On this panel, you will find the common indicators that also appear on the panel of Ubuntu and Linux Mint. Comice OS uses docky as the launcher, and put it at the bottom of the screen. Docky helps you to launch applications and switch between applications. By default, Docky in Comice OS 04 is set to be always visible so it will consume some vertical space. You can change the behavior of Docky by right-clicking on the seperator line ( next to the trash icon), the setting window of Docky will appear and you can choose the "intellhide" option to make Docky hide when you open apps. When you open the setting window of Docky, you can also drag the Docky panel to other places other than the bottom of the screen. One bad thing is that the default wallpaper is too bright so it's really hard to see the indicator spot on the Docky panel. The default settings of Docky here will perhaps suit better with a dark wallpaper.
The theme and icon set make Comice OS look similar to Mac OS but if you dont like its look, you can change the theme and icons easily. Just like Mac OS and Ubuntu, the window buttons of Comice OS are located on the left side by default
The first three applications on Docky
There are some applications already pinned on the dock by default. The first application is called "Finder" which is the Nautilus file manager of Gnome 3.
Next to Finder is Launchpad that functions like Dash of Unity, but in my opinion, Launchpad of Comice OS is more beautiful than Dash, you can browse around Launchpad to find applications by using the arrow keys or the scroll wheel of the mouse. Launchpad also has categories for you to find apps, ie Accessories, Internet, Office ... Here is how Launchpad of Comice OS looks:
The third application that is pinned on Docky by default is the Software center of Comice OS, which is called " Pear Appstore". But unlike the Ubuntu Software center, to access Pear Appstore, you have to enter your password first.
There are 5 pages on the Pear Appstore, the Home page is to introduce applications in general. To search for apps more deeply, you need to check the Repository page, in which you can select many categories for apps like Internet, Games, Office ... You can also sort apps by recommendation, by rate or by how many times they got downloaded.
The third and fourth pages are Upgrade and Uninstall, which I like a lot. With these two pages, you can choose which applications to upgrade ( when possible) or to remove. The fifth page is Download, which shows the downloading and installing process when you install a new app.
Distinctive default applications of Comice OS
Comice OS comes with many nice applications that are not preinstalled in Ubuntu. The first to be mentioned is Skype, which is extremely handy for many people. The second is Bleachbit, a tool to protect your privacy. BleachBit can clean cache, delete cookies, clear Internet history, shred temporary files, delete logs, and discard junk you didn't know was there. And not just simply deleting files, BleachBit has many 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.
Y PPA manager is another nice app of Comice OS, it is a GUI tool to add PPAs. With Y PPA Manager, new Linux users dont need to use the command line to add PPAs.
Clementine is the default music player, I myself only use simplistic music players so I dont have anything to comment on Clementine. However, unlike Banshee on Ubuntu, there is no music indicator on the top panel when Clementine is running.
Applications that also appear on Ubuntu
Comice OS uses many applications that are also used on Ubuntu. The default web browser of Comice OS is the good old Firefox, Empathy is the default chat client, Evince is the document viewer. Other apps are Brasero, Shotwell, Movie Player and LibreOffice. So Ubuntu users will still feel at home if they decide to switch to Comice OS.
Comice OS 04 provides a nice alternative for Ubuntu users who dislike Unity. It is also a very newbie-friendly Linux distro because it brings the look and feel of Mac OS and share with Ubuntu the ease of use and some application choices. In my opinion, if you want a Linux distro that works out of the box and you have no problem with a distro that is inspired by the look and feel of Mac OS, you will probably like Comice OS. And who knows if someday Comice OS can surpass both Ubuntu and Linux Mint to be the widest-used Linux distro around ?