Many Linux users really love Ubuntu because of its huge software repositories, its familiar system, the community ... But when the guys in Canonical decided to use Unity on Ubuntu, it caused a discontentment to many users and that created an opportunity to thrive for other Ubuntu-based distros that still have the advantages of Ubuntu but dont use Unity.
Pear Linux was first created just right after Ubuntu totally switched to Unity. But unlike Linux Mint that aims for the users who love the traditionally-featured desktop, the aim of Pear Linux is to created a Linux distro that has the nice features of Ubuntu and looks and behaves similarly to MacOS.
Pear Linux 6 was released some days ago. It is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with several new and nice features.
Download and installation
The ISO of Pear Linux (for both 32bit and 64bit) is around 800MB, just a normal size in today's standard. You can choose to download Pear Linux directly or use the torrent option.
The installation process of Pear Linux is totally identical to that of Ubuntu. You just need to burn the ISO to a DVD or create a bootable USB to install. But unlike Ubuntu and Mint, Pear Linux doesnt have the Wubi option.
One thing you should notice when using the LiveCD of Pear Linux is that it uses the French keyboard layout as default so it will display funny letters and symbols when you type.
After finishing the installation process, when you reboot and log in the first time, there is a "Launch me first" icon on the top of the desktop. When you click on that icon, it will run a script to automatically update the system and you will have to reboot once again and this icon will disappear.
Look and feel
The desktop environment of Pear is called Pear shell, which is a modified version of Gnome shell.
One thing I noticed is that the wallpaper is distorted. It happened because all the default wallpapers are in 16:9 scale when my laptop screen is a 4:3.
On the right side of the top panel is the Pear Linux 6 button, which is to launch the menu, in which you can search for applications and setting options. The menu and the application icons look quite nice in my opinion.
At the bottom of the screen is the Pear dock, which replaces Docky of the older versions of Pear Linux. There are several icons on the dock by default: Nautilus launcher, Launchpad - to launch the menu, Appstore - to launch the software center, a button to install several web browsers, Firefox and the System Settings button. The new Pear Dock looks nice, clean and simple in my opinion. To add new launchers to the dock, you need to launch the apps from the Menu first and select the "keep in dock" option in the right-click menu.
To customize the theme and settings of the Pear Dock, you need to go to System Settings then click on the "Pear Dock config" button:
Nautilus is the file manager, the window buttons are located on the left side like in Ubuntu and Mac OS. And like Ubuntu, Pear uses the overlay scrollbar.
Pear Linux also has a tool called "Pear Linux Tweak", which is somewhat similar to UbuntuTweak although with less options. You can use Pear Linux Tweak to clean the system and customize several options:
Overall, the desktop of Pear Linux is quite clean and elegant in my opinion. It should be good enough for those who dont like messing around with the default settings of a distro.
There are only a few basic pre-installed applications in Pear Linux. You have Firefox 16.0.1 to browse the internet. Flash is pre-installed so you can watch youtube videos out of the box. And unlike Ubuntu and Mint, Firefox of Pear Linux still uses the default Google search.
On the dock, there is the "Pear Browser Manager" button that allow you to install/ uninstall other browsers like Chrome, Opera and Midori.
You also find several social network bookmarks for Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus in the menu. When you click on these buttons, it will launch fogger, a desktop webapp and open the social network sites.
The other pre-installed apps are Bleachbit - to clean your system, Evince - to read pdf and Empathy - a chat client. Other than these apps, you dont have anything else for graphic, multimedia and office works. Therefore you will eventually have to take a look at the Software Center of Pear Linux.
When Pear Linux 6 is quite frugal with the pre-installed applications, it however has a very nice software center, which is called "Pear appstore". Since Pear Linux 6 is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, the software repositories is obviously very large. The design of Pear appstore makes it easy to search for apps by categories. The auto-suggestion features when you search for apps by names is very nice too.
One improvement I notice in Pear Linux 6 is that it runs lighter than the previous versions. At idle, it consumes around 200MB of RAM. Although it's not as light as Bodhi, Puppy and other distros that use Openbox or LXDE but it's still enough for almost all computers nowadays.
And after 2 days of using Pear Linux 6 on my HP laptop, I can conclude that Pear Linux 6 works well and is stable. The sound and system upgrading work without any problems. I've installed several apps ( VLC, Deadbeef, Libre Office, Shotwell ...) and everything went fine.
All in all, Pear Linux 6 is a quite nice distro. In my opinion, it is very suitable for those who are new to Linux and just want a simple, good-looking distro. I just installed it for my little sister and she really loves it. It really looks like MacOS to her.
And when Im pretty sure that many Linux users will sneer at the idea of a Linux distro that tries to mimic Mac OS, the constant rising in popularity of Pear Linux proves that it does offer some serious value to the users. However the creator of Pear Linux may get some trouble with Apple in the future. Since Apple is known for suing everything, from the behemoth Samsung to a grocery store in Poland, I really hope Pear Linux can live in peace.