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PCLinuxOS "So Cool Ice Cubes are Jealous"

PCLinuxOS was born as a set of RPMs for Mandrake Linux. Remember Mandrake Linux? It was one of the first distros to aim for ease-of-use and user-friendliness with nice tools for system administration, a slick graphical installer, and a full complement of drivers and multimedia codecs. My first Linux was Red Hat 5, but Mandrake (initially based on Red Hat) was the first distro that gave me video acceleration and good video quality, and didn't choke on my fancy Promise Ultra66 IDE controller. That's right, 66 screaming megabytes per second transfer speed, which was double the poky 33MB/s of the onboard controllers of that era. Our modern SATA buses deliver gigabytes per second, but back then megabytes were enough, and we liked it that way.

PCLinuxOS desktopMandrake changed its name to Mandriva when they were sued by Hearst Corp. for trademark infringement on their Mandrake the Magician comic book character. Yeah whatever, and rolleyes. Meanwhile, Texstar's RPMs evolved into a fork of Mandrake 9.2, and it is now an independent distribution, though it retains a number of Mandriva elements such as drakconf (the system Control Panel), and a similar appearance. The founder of PCLinuxOS is Bill Reynolds, who is better-known as Texstar. If memory serves me, PCLinuxOS became popular around 2009, and has maintained a steady popularity ever since, with its own legions of devoted fans.

Favorite Features

PCLinuxOS aims to please, and to provide a smooth out-of-the-box experience with everything working and easy to maintain. Every release has been more polished with a better user interface, and the latest release, 2013.04, is impressively sleek and well-organized. I'm partial to the Control Center (see image, below), which contains a useful set of system configuration tools that help you through the complete process of setting up new services. For example, when you go to the Sharing tab and click the Configure Web Server button, it gives you the option to launch the installer and install Apache. Then it runs a wizard to set up a basic Web server. PCLinuxOS sets up a clean separation between system administration and desktop configuration. I prefer a standalone control panel, rather than dealing with the various configuration tools that come with the different desktop environments, because it's consistent and I can actually find things.

Some other nice conveniences are "Open a console as administrator", which opens a root xterm, a services manager, a Network Sharing tab for setting up NFS, Samba, and WebDav shares, and a Windows documents and settings importer. It includes msec, the Mandriva Linux Security package, which manipulates the standard Linux permissions to harden your system. There are six prefab security levels, and you can tweak it with either the nice graphical configurator, or from the command line.

The Control Center also includes both a simple and advanced firewall configurator, name services, and hardware configs, including an actual video configurator with actual resolution and screen settings that you can change. If you're used to Ubuntu and its derivatives and their limited set of graphical configurations, this is a whole new feast of configuration tools.

MiniME, Full Monty, KDE Full Version

PCLinuxOS comes in various editions. MiniME is a stripped-down 550MB image that fits on a live CD. You can run and install it from the CD or a USB stick. (Many Linux distros include unetbootin, which is a super-nice graphical tool for creating bootable USB sticks from .iso images.) MiniME comes with PCLinuxOS's nicely-customized KDE4 implementation, a full set of system and KDE administration tools, multimedia necessities, and the usual other necessities such as a terminal, file manager, and Web browser. The idea with MiniME is to start with the basics, and then you add just what you want.

The KDE full version is a 1661MB image that includes a large set of applications such as LibreOffice, GIMP, Skype, Virtualbox, Okular, digiKam, Inkscape, Choqok, FileZilla, GoogleEarth, rdesktop, Bleachbit, extra drivers, and, as they say, much more.

Full Monty is a 4GB beast that bundles a boatload more applications, and the KDE desktop defaults to Activities. If you're not familiar with KDE Activities, take a look at KDE4 Activities for Fast Efficient Workflow . Activities give you great flexibility to arbitrarily combine widgets and documents, so you can customize each Activity for different workflows. So you could have a development activity, a waste-time-on-the-Web activitiy, an image editing activity... Each activity saves its state, so you can close it, and then PCLinuxOS control centercome back and pick up where you left off.

Not Just KDE

PCLinuxOS is primarily a KDE distro, and I think their KDE implementation is one of the best because it is slimmed-down and well-organized, and less resource-hungry than the stock KDE installation. You also get LXDE and XFCE, which are also nicely setup.

Installer

Installation of any Linux distro is pretty routine, but we might as well take a quick look at the PCLinuxOS installer. Again, I give points for good organization and streamlining. Unlike certain projects that believe simplicity means removing functionality, the PCLinuxOS installer offers an automatic, custom, and expert installation. The custom option starts with the same setup as the automatic option, and it is completely editable. Pretty much all distros offer these same options, but PCLinuxOS arranges them in a logical flow, and they're all exposed so you know they are there.

Some other nice installation options are GRUB or LILO, and remote or local login. The user setup is the traditional separate root and unprivileged user. When the installation is completed and the new system boots, you are greeted with a big warning that PCLinuxOS is a rolling release and should be updated regularly, and displays a Web page with instructions. This is no big deal, just do what it says every couple of days and you'll be fine. It's literally a couple of clicks so it's not a big chore, and you could even set up a cron job to do it.

PCLinuxOS Magazine

Every Linux user should read PCLinuxOS Magazine, because it is a beautiful production full of great articles.

PCLinuxOS is a dependable, high-quality distro that is a pleasure to use. Two thumbs up.

 

Comments

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  • jorge Said:

    yes it's the best distro after look around, rh, mandrake (mandriva), ubuntu, finally texstar make a greta job with mandrake distro, stable are nice specially the rpm like deb package, and videocamara never i got my camara work at rhe first minute, at any the other distros

  • USA Said:

    You run addlocale and it will covert PCLinuxOS to the language of your choice!

  • from Poland Said:

    Now i know, but we need to do it necessarily from the console, i mean write 'apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade' and then later write 'addlocale' also in console as a "root". I know nothing about any OS. But thanks.

  • Gonzalo Said:

    You do it while installing. But if you install the system in English (by mistake or because you wanted) afterward you do as "USA" said: run an addlocale tool and change it all. It's easy (I've done it). Good luck!

  • Crow Said:

    You don't need the command line, Synaptic and addlocale are in the menu. I don't use the command line and I've been using PCLinuxOS for everyday work and at home during the last 6 years.

  • Crow Said:

    No console needed, Synaptic and addlocale are in the menu. I don't use the command line and I'm

  • Erinn Said:

    There is a button in the Control Panel for configuring locales.

  • Matthias Shalom Said:

    You can create your own multilanguage Distribution in PCLOS: Change the locale and run: mylivecd After ~2 Hours, depends on your Hardware, you get a ISO with all your current Settings, Apps and so on: Then you can create a torrent Seed from this ISO (with a Torrent App like KTorrent) and share it :D

  • Matthias Shalom Said:

    One of the best GNU/Linux Distributions i ever try: Just the BSD Family is better ( with not such a good Hardware Support as here) and maybe the upcoming SolusOS 2.

  • DeBaas Said:

    Click on your taskbar's Synaptic, Reload, Mark all Upgrades, Apply. When this is done go to the menu: More Programs > Configuration > Localisationmanager Follow the instructions and after a reboot it's talking.... Dutch or whatever language you want. I setup PCLinuxOS (KDE) in 7 minutes from USB, Update and Localisation an extra 15 or so. Most time spending on forehand resizing The Other OS. Ed

  • quixote Said:

    This is just fan mail, Carla. You write one of the most useful columns on the web. I can't count the number of times I've found something interesting here, checked it, started using it, and it's made my life easier. This column is another one of them. Thanks!

  • Shannon Said:

    One thing you seem to have missed, and forgive me if I am mistaken, is that you also have the option of Gnome DE (although it is beyond me why anyone would want it, but to each their own.) And, after installing, you can install IceWM, Enlightenment and others.

  • ken Said:

    I have used PClos off and on since the .92 days. It has always been well built and easy to use with a fine KDE rendering. I have always been a fan. Lately though I have been disappointed in their forum community. I recently installed the new 64 bit version and had a question about Grub. I accidentally referred to it as GRUB2 and some very snide remarks came my way from community members who have a lot of posts under their belts. "It's Legacy Grub NOT Grub2" Another person made a comment about Ignorance that was pointed my way. NO ONE even attempted to answer my original question. They came off as elitist a-holes.I uninstalled PClos and have not been back. Very disappointing.

  • USA Said:

    Ken, you did not post a question but posted an incorrect observation and someone corrected you. The easy solution would have been to have PCLinuxOS write grub legacy to the installed partition then add it to your existing grub 2 boot manager with your other installed distributions.

  • ken Said:

    Thank you, USA for pointing out the error in my perception of the PClos post. I re-read it and you are indeed correct. Thanks also for the simple solution.. I apologize to the guys on the PCLinuxOS forum. for painting them in a bad light..

  • user Said:

    The magazine is unreachable, it seems. Probably a temporarily problem, too bad it's right when I discovered this interesting distro. Even the Dutch site is down :(

  • MagChief Said:

    The mag site has not been down for quite a while. There are, however, blocks of IP addresses that have been blocked due to the "types of activities" coming from them. Our apologies if yours is among them.

  • Artim Said:

    I'll learn how to write reviews from reading yours, Carla! Very thorough and well thought out. I installed the MiniME effortlessly in a few minutes and, after playing around with the very streamlined KDE desktop environment (which amazed me how well in ran on my old hand-me-down hardware), I've customized it to my own home-brewed rolling-release Xfce mixture. All with very little use of the terminal and with delightful ease and simplicity.

  • kelly Said:

    Could you help me please , I've Two machines on the network , mine with pclinuxos kde installed on it , the other machine comes with windows 7. and I've printer plugged in windows 7 , how can i share the printer from windows 7 to pclinuxos ? I installed the driver for the printer in windows also i configure the printer "enable sharing" but Now I don't know how can i access the the printer over the network in pclinuxos KDE ? any idea

  • Alistair Said:

    Go to pclinuxos control centre, there go to hardware on the left, there click on set up printers and follow the wizard :) usually will pick up networked printers automatically :)

  • european Said:

    i love this distro. it's super easy to install and very user friendly. they could have chosen a better name for their distro...but... hat's a question of taste ;-)

  • BaBa Said:

    Hello! I trying to install PCLinuxOS KDE 64Bit along with windows-7 ( Dual Boot), with USB live, after booting, its require a user name and password, can any body help me out this, what is the password or any thing else for this. please.......

  • Latonia Said:

    I really love this OS. It is very intuitive to learn. And it came with so many wonderful tools that I use and no bloatware that I don't.

  • Ljl1245 Said:

    I was so dissapointed when live cd stalled on my old Dell inspiron 8100 with only 512mb ram. I would have liked to try the mate version. Think the problem could be Nvidia geforce2 go video driver. Kept getting message about x-server configuration, but as I am complete newbie, I could niot get past it. I then tried lxde version, this did load but only small screen, and I could not work out how to set the video properties. So I have opted for linux mint 16 xfce. This seems to have loaded without a problem. But, still think pclinuxos mate would be better if it would recognise my video driver.

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