who’s this new pardus in town?

Thanks to the ever-growing success of Pardus 2007 around the globe, we were somewhat pushed into forming an English-speaking planet under pardus.org.tr. I thought it might be a wise idea to toss in a semi-official history of Pardus project for general use. It, inevitably, includes some side info regarding the goals of the project and such. Here it goes…

First, some taxonomy:

  • TÜBİTAK is The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Ankara, TÜBİTAK has both funding (à la NSF) and research (à la Max Planck Institue) duties. Housing more than one thousand researchers in 15 institues, TÜBİTAK is one of the leading organizations in Turkish R&D.
  • UEKAE, a.k.a. NRIEC, is The National Research Institute of Electronics and Cryptology. Established in early 70s, and functioned under different names in TÜBİTAK Gebze campus (50 kms to İstanbul), NRIEC became what it is now in late 90s. As the name implies, there is not much we can tell about it, we already did 🙂
  • Panthera Pardus Tulliana is a subspecies of leopard, ruled the forests and hills of Anatolia till 70s, but almost or have becmae extinct due to extensive hunting. Recent sightings have been reported, but not confirmed, so it is not possible to tell wheter it is extinct or not.

Pardus project started in Fall 2003 under the auspices of TÜBİTAK UEKAE. This was when I joined the project and UEKAE. The initial drive for Pardus was preparing a feasibility report and project plan for a possible “national operating system” project. The founders of the project were not Linux hackers, so there was no imminent distro in sight by then.

The first hackers joined the project in January 2004, as the project takes a twist, such that we were aiming at a Linux distro, and no more interested in the feasibility and planning thing…

The project has a triad of goals: Developing Linux distribution for widespread use in Turkey and elsewhere, to have some sound financial sustainability even though the mother organization is a not-for-profit, and finally to develop a free software ecosystem in Turkey and elsewhere to innovate in Linux and related technologies. Pardus, the distribution, is the main tool to achive these goals, and has, in turn, three fundamental requirements: Having full Turkish (i.e. mostly UTF-8) support, ease of use and installation, and a human-centric and task-based design approach (instead of a technology-centric and tool-based one).

The first product of the project was Pardus Live CD 1.0, which was available in February 2005, just 5 months after the kick-off of the systematic development. Live CD 1.0 has some of the current Pardus technologies in their prototype form (Comar, automatic Xorg configuration, Zemberek, etc.). Still that was just a demo product, and was missing one of the main components, namely the package manager PiSi. Development of these and refactoring and in some cases recoding of the others took almost a year and the first installable version Pardus 1.0 has been available in late December 2005. This was a much more refined product, but still had some bugs and missing features for big time, and work for the 1.1 version started just afterward. The uphaul was so impressive that it took another year, and we decided to drop the 1.1 version no and go with year label instead, so born Pardus 2007.

Pardus 2007 is the second stable version of the system and since the first month is over after the release 120.000+ copies has already been distributed by three Turkish copies of monthly IT magazines (Chip, PC Magazine, PCNet) besides 120.000+ downloads. Many NGOs including Chamber of Electrical Engineers distributed more than 10.000 copies to their members. We already have deals for February and March issues of some magazines, so there will be a steady channle for distribution. Pardus (and henceforth Linux and free software) covered in national press for approximately 500 times in the last year.

At the moment Pardus has 15 paid developers in UEKAE, besides numerous volunteering developers and hundreds of “dedicated” users who report bugs and test patches, new packages etc. We also have non-Turkish-speaking volunteers from countries such as India, Netherlands, USA, Spain, Poland etc.

We are planning to have major version releases annually for the existing desktop system. In addition, we are working on a server edition, the preview versions of which will be available in the first half of 2007, which will have a release cycle of 18 months. We are planning to support the older versions as customers requested, not being longer than 3 years following the release of the next major version.

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