REVIEW: PCLinuxOS 2009.2

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Written by Chips B Malroy

Welcome to my review of PCLinuxOS 2009.2.  This is a 32 bit KDE desktop based on Mandriva, and as some like to call it, the better Mandriva.  Myself, I cannot say that, because I have not had the pleasure of testing Mandriva of late.   PCLinuxOS is also a live CD which makes testing easy to check to see if all your hardware works with it, before installing.  Myself, distro’s like this with their Live CD’s, have spoiled me, and I resist trying anything that is not a Live Cd.

PCLinuxOS - reviewed by Chips.  Hopefully one of many he will submit in the future!
PCLinuxOS - reviewed by Chips. Hopefully one of many he will submit in the future!

PCLinuxOS is currently at number 7 on the Distrowatch list, which means its a very popular distro indeed.  Being based on Mandriva it uses RPM’s, but still has Synaptic Package Manager to install software post-install.  This is one of the features that, in my opinion, that new users need, not that more advanced users would not use it also.   Texstar and the Ripper gang, are the ones who put out PCLinuxOS.  Texstar, can sometimes be found actually commenting on the forum, and answering questions.  Which is unusual for a distro’s maker, or founder, to do often, but I find it refreshing.  The users forum is one of the most friendly around, with lots of good advice.  They the PCLinuxOS community have done a great job of documentation.  User forum is at:
http://www.pclinuxos.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=58

One nice small feature that I noticed right away during the live cd bootup, was the graphical log-in screen.  Unlike some distros, PCLinuxOS actually has the usernames and passwords for the live cd log-in on the upper left hand corner.  Now most distro’s usually use the same password as the user name, but occasionally I have found some that I had to go hunt it down in their forums, so this small feature, is a nice feature for New Users.    PCLinuxOS uses su instead of sudo, which is effident on the log-in screen.  My preference is su, yours may not be.

Abiword is what is installed, although with most distro’s you can post install OpenOffice or Koffice.  While I can use any of these, I actually like Abiword as its quicker to bring up and does 99% of what I want to do.   There is even an “get OpenOffice” item on the menu.  KDE 3.5.10 is the default window manager,  which will be the last version to use this before 4x.  Its just my personal preference he, but I prefer KDE version 3.5.10 at this point in time, and can wait for the next version of PCLinuxOS to come out with the KDE4x then.   Again, just my opinion, but I think Tex did it right to keep KDE3 with this release, for now.

Setting up the wireless card was not as straight forward as I would have liked it.   But then I did not read the documentation or visit the user forum.  I still muddled through it, and soon had it working.  It was a combination of right clicking on the network icon on the task bar, and somehow detecting the card, and then scanning for the available network.  It wasn’t really hard, just different than the ways I have done on the distro I use.  After being a dummy and going through that, I later found a folder on the desktop called Utilities, that had a very simple to use “network setup” in it that practically would have held my hand and walked me through the setup.  I just wasn’t expecting it to be this easy.  So I had to try it again, and can confirm it was that easy to setup.    The install to hard disk, another easy setup.

Firefox 3.0.11 web  browser came installed as well as Konqueror.   I liked the default selection of programs on the live cd, Gimp, Kaffeine, KMPlayer, DeVeDe, K3B to name a few.  But what impressed me the most was Make LiveCD menu selection.  While I don’t have time to try this right now, I do have plans to try it later.  It also has a Make LiveUSB menu selection as well.  It also had a nice video driver for ATI and Nvidia cards in the Utilities folder as well.  Mostly, this distro would hold  your hand at each and every step of the way, truly impressive, and it does everything but bark and fetch for you.   Its also a nice looking distro, very easy on the eyes.

In the past I have actually used PCLinuxOS version 93a for while on a spare laptop.  So its been awhile since I used it.  Back then there was about 5000 packages that could be post installed, now there is 11,000.  While this number might not compare with what is in the Debain repo’s, its still an impressive amount, and even back in the 93a version days, I noticed that Tex and the community did a great job of getting the best programs in the repo’s.  Also, they all seemed to just install was what I noticed back then too.

Final Opinion on PCLinuxOS

This might actually be the very best distro available for new users, and has features that make it a great distro for the rest of us as well.  Another distro that is similar to PCLinuxOS, are Mepis even though its Debian based.  Really, I can’t say I liked this distro, but I would say I loved it, that it exceeded what I thought possible that a Linux could do.   I would recommend PCLinuxOS to anyone, its made me a fan.  Now, on a negative note, what did I find that was wrong with PCLinuxOS?  You know I have to find something, even if its picky.  So don’t take it wrong PCLinuxOS community, but the number one thing I found wrong, is no 64 bit version.   Other than that its truly an outstanding job folks, please continue the hard work!    The polish and attention to detail in this distro is the best I have ever seen.

For those of you reading this who want to download this, here is the link:

http://distrowatch.com/5560

This article was written by Chips B Malroy who will hopefully be a regular contributor to Openbytes!

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Chips B Malroy says:

    Thanks Goblin,
    I purposely picked on this distro to review, because I knew it would be an “easy” one to review. Heck the whole distro is about “easy.” Easy as in making the user experience as easy as possible that is. But its not for Newbies alone, just because its so easy does not mean its not powerful, or you will grow out of it.

    While PCLinuxOS does not have an 64 bit version as of yet, I should point out that it does have a Gnome version, which you Goblin, might like. It also has distro’s based on it like SAM. And they have just come out with PCLinuxOS LXDE-2009.4 which is based on a light weight window manager, might be good for older machines as well. Perhaps another day to review those as well.

  2. openbytes says:

    Great article! If/when it gets picked up on Distro watch the distro reviews are very popular, it seems that there are not as many distro hoppers as I thought…

    BTW do you have a picture or an image you want to use? I think you need a wanted poster like mine on the right hand side of the screen!

  3. LinuxLover says:

    PCLinuxOS 2009.3 is just around the corner with KDE 4.3 (yes the devs and community actually finally find KDE 4 good enough to use everyday)…

  4. openbytes says:

    Im personally not a fan of KDE and have said so on numerous occasions, I wish I could put into words what my issue is that makes me dislike it. Personally I will always favor Gnome/XFCE….KDE…not for me.

  5. LinuxLover says:

    There is PCLinuxOS Gnome Edition for people like you, Openbytes.

    1. Chips B Malroy says:

      @LinuxLover,
      That is the only way I will know if I wrote a good enough review of PCLinuxOS, if openbytes (Goblin) tries the Gnome version. Otherwise, I failed. His review of Wolvix did get me curious enough so when I have the time I intend to try it. Also, thanks for the information about the impending release of a KDE 4.3 version of PCLinuxOS, sure many folks will be waiting for that one, including me.

    1. LinuxLover says:

      Yes, many in the community have complained about the lack of a 64 bit version. I, too, would like to see a 64 bit PCLinuxOS, but you know there are those that still just beat the drum claiming there’s no need for 64 bit Linux when 32 bit works just fine. However, I have 6GB of RAM and would love to see it all. I work on images in Gimp and that extra RAM would come in handy.

      1. Jenna says:

        Recompile the kernel with the K8 processor flag enabled and make sure you say yes you large memory (64MB) when asked during the RPM build …or just enable PAE (in make menuconfig). This will enable all your memory. I have 8 gigs of ram and won’t use anything but PCLOS. I just don’t understand how this distro is so good in every aspect and all others just lack in one area or another. Almost every computer sold today is 64bit, so what the heck – make a crosscompiled 32/64 bit kernel!

        I have never compiled a kernel before and it took maybe 30 minutes of reading/searching and about two hours to do so I had all my memory show up. google compiling the kernel the mandriva way and follow the steps.

        I’m looking into crosscomiling and the ARCH flag in order to simply recompile the kernel so it is in 64 bit mode and can handle both 32/64 bit drivers, but it’s a slow process because I don’t have any experience. I’ve tried a few times but the ARCH=x86-64 flag seems to be ignored.

  6. openbytes says:

    I will be trying the Gnome version shortly! I think its true to say that you cant really go wrong with any Linux distro.

    I hope my KDE dislike is not misinterpretted. It is simply my personal choice and something which I simply cannot put my finger on.

    Its ironic that in my circle of friends KDE is far more popular and is championed by many more people than Gnome/Xfce.

    1. LinuxLover says:

      I’m a KDE guy, myself, but Linux Mint’s Gnome is ridiculously awesome. I can’t stand to use Ubuntu’s or Fedora’s Gnome, but Linux Mint works great for me. I’m half attempted to make it my main distro…

  7. LinuxLover says:

    Hey, Linux is Linux when it comes to the desktop user. If you’re someone that likes the CLI and you get your hands dirty, there’s definitely a difference between Fedora and Debian, but nothing that can’t be adapted to. Any Linux is better than using Windows, IMO.

    Bottom line is respect the next users choice of Linux and realize we have a lot to be thankful for. Let’s not go after each other over our preference for our distros, but concentrate our energy in making the public aware that they have a choice, and that choice is more than just viable.

  8. openbytes says:

    Chips for your info your article has been posted on Tuxmachines.

  9. openbytes says:

    Linuxlover:

    Spot on.

    For example: regardless of what MONO is or is not, I think its threat lies soley with the divsion of opinion it can cause in Linux users and a spliting of community in the FOSS world.

    IF this was its intention then I believe its failed, if its not then it doesn’t matter since you either use it or don’t. I don’t see critical apps being developed on MONO to the detriment of people who choose not to use it, so I think the best thing in regards to it is let it drift along with indifference. Use it, don’t use it….end of story.

    Going back to “distro elitism” I think that exists in all facets of IT, be it low-level languages V High-level….CLI v GUI etc etc… At the end of the day any Linux distro can run the same packages as everyone else and whilst my backdrop may say Wolvix and yours something else it really matters not. We use our computers because they perform the tasks we require…

    Linux is an umbrella which covers many different distros…”many brands of petrol yet they all run your car” that is its strength, not a weakness.

    Regards
    Goblin.

  10. Marco says:

    Congratulations Chips !!
    I hope this one is simply the beginning.

  11. Azazello says:

    Your English is very good for a non-native speaker.

  12. lowoijo says:

    i already use PClinuxOS 2007 and i like this distro because this distro is similar with windows OS. Now i use 2 OS in my computer Windows XP and PClinuxOS 2007, all conected to internet.

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