Spotlight on Linux: Parsix 3.6 (RC)
Parsix GNU/Linux is a great little distro hailing from the exotic lands of Persia. It features a lovely customized GNOME desktop and lots of handy applications. It reminds folks of Ubuntu in many ways and is often described as a nice alternative to Ubuntu.
Parsix made its debut soon after the first release of Ubuntu and long before Ubuntu reached any measurable level of popularity. This is why its resemblance to Ubuntu may be coincidental, but this resemblance is so strong that one can't help but think its intentional. Regardless, earlier incarnations featured the same orangy-brown theming and later, around version 1.0, it looked very much like Ubuntu Studio. These days, with version 3.6rc, it looks like Ubuntu again and their attempt to slightly mimic Mac OS X. Whatever the developers' intentions, Parsix always appears polished and unobtrusive.
Appearance speculation aside, Parsix offers a full selection of software. Linux 126.96.36.199 with TuxOnIce suspension/hibernation and Kon Kolivas's BFS patches, X.Org 7.5 (server 1.7.7), GCC 4.4.4, and GNOME 2.30.2 form the 3.6 RC foundations. Some of the software includes Compiz 0.8.4, OpenOffice.org 3.2.1, GIMP 2.6.8, Iceweasel 3.5.1, Evolution, Empathy, Liferea, XawTV, VLC, Exaile, Brasero, and several GNOME games. It also comes with a varied selection of handy system tools and utilities. Parsix uses Synaptic and APT for package management with Parsix official and multimedia repositories enabled. Debian Testing and Parsix security is available and can be enabled if desired.
Parsix is based on Debian Testing with elements of Kanotix and Knoppix still around here and there. It defaults to English, but supports several other languages such as Finnish, French, German, Italian, and, of course, Persian. The image ships as an installable live DVD and versions are available for 32-bit or 64-bit systems. The installer is easy-to-use, fast, and reliable. Handy but perhaps slightly outdated documentation is available such as the User's Guide and an Installation walkthrough. There is also an online Forum for chatting or seeking assistance.
Parsix isn't perfect. Wireless Ethernet can require manual configuration, some NVIDIA chips might be problematic, and Iceweasel can be a bit finicky. But Parsix ships with a nice selection of applications and most multimedia works out of box. This release candidate still has a few issues, but stable releases usually perform very well. Parsix would be a good distribution for new users, those looking for an alternative to Ubuntu, or anyone who enjoys distro hoppin'.