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PCLinuxOS 2009.2 Review

Mandriva Linux (formerly known as Mandrake Linux) is an operating system that had so much recognition that various forks were made out of it to further make Linux accessible to enthusiasts and newbies while at the same time overcoming some of its weaknesses.

PCLinuxOS was among these forks and opened up in 2007 with a lot of potential because of its easier installation process and best preserved features of the original OS. From there, a community made 2008 version surfaced having code that is more diverse than Mandriva and Live Install features and then only minor updates were seen.

Now after a couple years of development, PCLinuxOS 2009 arrives and since the previous versions had high success, this latest version had to raise the bar even more and it surely did thanks to the improvements.

PCLinuxOS on a Live CD

Like the 2008 version, PCLinuxOS comes on a standard compact disc and has Live CD capabilities to allow people to preview the OS before installing it. Just from booting from the CD, the biggest changes include the updated KDE desktop environment to 3.5.10, Linux Kernel to 2.6.26.8, and Xorg version to 1.4.

As you may have noticed KDE is still on the 3.x version, not the newer 4.x. The decision was made in the light of the fact that KDE had some more polish to make on the 4.x series before it could be ready for general use.

The default desktop is very nice with some good artwork and theme matching. It is pretty much enough for the average user to keep without customising the different settings if he or she happens to be a futuristic type of person. Regarding the KDE interface, you will notice some positive changes to the speedy KDE 3.5 environment including the new PCLinuxOS logo and better organised menu.

There are five categories that serve as the gateway to the different applications that are available which are "Internet", "Multimedia", "System", "Office", and "More Applications". Each item has other subcategories attached to it. There is also a Gnome version as well, but the KDE deserves a better look and a full look is recommended by going through the installation process.

Installation Process

The installation process of PCLinuxOS continues the simple approach and adds a few perks to ensure that the operating system installs with no major issues. The first step involves a dialog asking if you wish to remove any unneeded drivers from the installation to quicken the install time and save disk space. It is best to say no if you plan to change hardware components.
Remove Drivers

The partitioning step isn't the most newbie-friendly out of the popular Linux distros, mostly because it only knows how to use all the free space or custom partition, but making a mistake is highly unlikely if you know the basics on disk partitioning.
There are a few warnings that tell you to backup your data before any changes take place. If you install this on a clean system, you should be able to get through this process in just two clicks. After that, the rest of the installation will proceed and it should last 15 minutes in the average modern system.

First Glance

The startup time is pretty quick and a bit quicker without the drivers and the password setup is pretty straightforward.
Boot
Boot
In fact, the environment is just like the Live CD save for a few icons, but the login screen does away with the old-fashioned KDE loading process and greets the user instead with some attractive icons that span the PCLinuxOS timeline. The good news is that all the modern hardware components should be detected including wireless devices as well.

KDE Environment

Getting around the KDE control center is rather simple as it sticks to the standards making it easily accessible for new users to jump onto. The Kmenu sees some worthy improvements in the way the items are sorted, but it doesn't change too many things to make the control center complicated. Other improvements include better network, firewall, and proxy handling as well as shared folder management.
KDE Control Center + Kmenu

The KDE environment packs a lot of multimedia power as well as it includes Synaptic, which is excellent for installing any new programs with ease. Firefox is included as well, which isn't a surprise, but the welcome page turned out to be different by showing its confidence that it is the distro that is worth keeping.

Other applications include the highly receptive OpenOffice 3, popular graphics program Gimp 2.6.4, Amarok 1.4.10 as its audio player, and familiar K applications K3B 1.0.5, Kopete 0.12.7, and Kaffeine 0.8.7 for burning media, instant messaging, and media playing respectfully. Compiz is also included, which is perfect for desktop window management, multitasking and getting around the OS much easier.
Various Applications

The performances of each of the applications were decent and didn't take too long to open on the average system. All of the applications integrate fairly well and the KDE 3.5, which is very old for a 2009 distro, gives it better handling on both older and newer systems.

Conclusion

The only hurdle in mastering this operating system involves you familiarising yourself with the PCLinuxOS Control Center. Fortunately, the menus are organised and lots of practice can be done on the Live CD mode anyway. It is completely easy to setup from the start and all the applications mentioned earlier are all ready for launch. The overall environment makes it very appealing to Windows users that never used Linux before thanks to the friendly environment that the KDE 3.5 brings.

Actually, none of the individual features make a huge impact because they are present in many of the other distros. What separates PCLinuxOS from the rest, however, is how well all of the features are packaged, combined with the sleek desktop look. The overall performance doesn't disappoint either even when it is on Live CD mode. It certainly took awhile for this version to come out, but all of the improvements make this worth another look if 2007 and 2008 versions weren't so appealing.

Resources
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Author: John Doe

16 Comments

FYI: PCLinuxOS 2009.1/2 is

Guest says:

FYI: PCLinuxOS 2009.1/2 is just a point release of 2007 (Mandriva2007-based) and is SIMPLY AN 2007 + UPDATES ISO. IT IS NOT A NEW RELEASE!!!

I find PCLOS 2008.2

windmonger says:

I find PCLOS 2008.2 reasonably fast, easy to configure and tastefully designed. Alas, it is somewhat behind the times and pales in comparison with such distros as Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Mandriva in terms of innovation and functionality.

Let me set the record

LinuxLover says:

Let me set the record straight by saying, it is and it isn't new release. PCLinuxOS is a rolling release. That means GCC and related libraries get frozen in time. The only thing not new in the latest release of PCLinuxOS is GCC and the related libraries. The kernel is new, and so are all the packages. With the exception of KDE, which PCLinuxOS took the stance of wait and see because they thought the KDE 4 release was a disaster and not worthy of a production desktop, everything else about PCLinuxOS is relatively new. The kernel, too, is just a hair behind because, apparently, they'll have to upgrade GCC to get the latest and that means a complete rebase. However, no other single package is behind any other distro. As a matter of fact, they use a pre-release version of Inkscape .47, which is newer than any other distro provides.

If you're new to the rolling release concept, it simply freezes GCC and everything is compiled against that GCC release. Therefore, the other poster is right, you can just take your 2007 install and upgrade all the packages and you'll have basically the same thing. I say basically because there are sometimes slight changes on the ISO that aren't reflected in the repositories. This is a great thing to the users of such distros (and there are others such as Arch Linux) because you don't have to wipe and reinstall with every new release. Most distros upgrade GCC with every release, making new packages incompatible with old releases. Therefore, it obsoletes your install. Not so with PCLinuxOS. One install from when 2007 was released in 3/2007 and regular upgrades via Synaptic result in 2009.2. No reinstalling required. Every now and then GCC needs upgrading and PCLinuxOS will upgrade it and rebase the distro, requiring a complete wipe and reinstall. That doesn't happen too often and you won't notice any difference.

KDE 3.5.10 is by choice and the community was behind that choice. Like many who either left KDE or decided to also stick with KDE 3.5.x series, PCLinuxOS simply felt that KDE 4 wasn't ready so they weren't going to move forward with it until it was. That mark has been met with KDE 4.3 and it's coming very soon, followed by another quarterly ISO release with it as the default desktop.

I did say 'somewhat behind.'

windmonger says:

I did say 'somewhat behind.' I should have added, as an example, that PCLOS still does not support the ext4 file system. This is a show-stopper for me although there are plenty of good reasons for people new to Linux to choose PCLOS over other distros - including Ubuntu.

@ Comment #1. PCLinuxOS does

Liarliar says:

@ Comment #1. PCLinuxOS does not contain a single original Mandriva rpm so calling it Mandriva 2007 with updated apps is just a lie.

Not only that but PCLinuxOS

lessbyg says:

Not only that but PCLinuxOS doesn't seem to suffer from the same chinky bugs that are always present in every Mandriva release. I wish Tex would rebase against Fedora and leave the jealous Mandriva fans to their own buggy distro.

LiarLiar, are you sure? I

LinuxLover says:

LiarLiar, are you sure? I believe the GCC and necessary libraries are still Mandriva SRPMs packaged by the Ripper Gang. Everything else, of course, is completely the work of the Gang. When Tex and the Gang did the 2007 rebase, the base itself, including GCC and libraries, was from Mandy, I believe. A lot of the original 2007 release was from Mandy source, as well. Since then, everything has been upgraded using packages built from source. However, since GCC was frozen, it remains the only Mandy sourced packages other than some of the Mandy based tools, which are modified and packaged from source. As a matter of fact, PCLinuxOS 2007 was binary compatible with Mandriva 2007, when it was first released.

PCLinuxOS, like Ubuntu, relies on a "mother" distro, Mandy in PCLinuxOS's case, and Debian in Ubuntu's case. However, what differentiates the two is that Ubuntu continually relies on Debian's work. PCLinuxOS only bases itself from the onset on Mandy, but treads its own path thereafter, often fixing many of the bugs present in Mandriva, and the final product is almost a shell of the Mandriva it started from.

PCLOS is software that works

sampson says:

PCLOS is software that works well. They don't seem to abandon old things that work unless the replacement works just as well.

Evidence is KDE 3, ext3, and the drive identification scheme (hda for a PATA drive). (PCLOS will install no-hassle on a PC that has a PATA boot drive and SATA data drive, and will find itself and all the drives - recently I have had trouble with a variety of Linux distros).

PCLOS is not my personal favorite but is the favorite of others who I personally know value stability highly - I mean really value it.

I find the repository does not include some software that I use, and the moderators seriously caution against installing software any way other than from the repository. If I understand correctly, PCLOS does not want to hear opinions (about what software should be added to the repository) other than the opinion of the people who have regularly posted on their forum. They say to post software requests only to a particular thread and then don't allow access unless you are a forum member with 10 posts - at least that is my interpretation based upon a quick look.

Kinda weird, cause some (me) will not be getting serious enough about PCLOS to post on their forum until they have the software.

IMO, based upon recent comparisons with other distros, for most people who value a stable user-friendly system that uses proven software, PCLOS would meet their expectations.

I used PCLinuxOS for two

Guest says:

I used PCLinuxOS for two years. It is a very good distro. Ultimately I moved to Ubuntu because I could get a few more obscure apps through the myriad of repositories and PPA's that people have made for ubuntu.

The rolling release of PCLinuxOS is something that I miss in ubuntu, and in fact, would miss in nearly every other distro. Almost all of them require a complete reinstallation or a risky "upgrade" which usually leaves something borked. I have experienced fubar'd software upgrading ubuntu and Mint from one release to the next.

Yeah, I agree that the PCLinuxOS forum can seem a little draconian at times as the previous poster intimated.

KDE 4 is not as good as the last revisions of KDE 3.5 by any means. I even installed the very latest Pardus which everyone says has the BEST KDE4 to date. It made me miss 3.5 so I applaud PCLinuxOS and Mepis for keeping the old KDE until the KDE folks get KDE 4 up to speed.

As for the Mandriva vs PClinuxOS arguments as they manifest in many different ways - I dare you to install both and use them for a month and see if you then think that PCLinuxOS is just a rip-off. I have done so and I can say that PCLOS is simply better, more polished, less buggy, has a far better package management system, is more streamlined. It is like Mint to ubuntu if you can relate to the analogy, but probably even more of a stark improvement.

Anyway, it is one of the best distros along with: Mint, Pardus, ubuntu (Super OS, PC/OS, Mint, ultimate) and Mepis.

"They say to post software

Crow says:

"They say to post software requests only to a particular thread and then don't allow access unless you are a forum member with 10 posts - at least that is my interpretation based upon a quick look.

Kinda weird, cause some (me) will not be getting serious enough about PCLOS to post on their forum until they have the software. "

I think is easy to see the reason behind that rule, isn't it?

A good review.

For those of us who are not programmers (final users as some tech guys say) and depend on the system 6 days a week 10 hours each day without facing problem in almost three years now, heck at times even helping the windows coworkers using a live cd... PCLinuxOS is a blessing.

PCLinuxOS just doesn't want

LinuxLover says:

PCLinuxOS just doesn't want users to start coming in and demanding it be more like Ubuntu, or whatever. The 10 post requirement allows new users some time to adjust to the fact that PCLinuxOS is different, and has a different agenda and method than other distros. PCLinuxOS has a specific goal and it achieves it very well.

Us users love the fact that they don't hide the root login or force sudo down your throat. It's long been thought of as a distro easy enough for the very beginner, yet doesn't hold your hand in the way that Mandriva does. It tries to strike a balance. This ideology isn't for everyone, and neither is the ideology that other distros use.

Those that are regular users love the forum. The mods demand that political discussion is kept away and users respect the other users and stay polite. That's it. If you can't do that, then you don't need to be in there.

As far as packages go, you can make the package request once you get the 10 posts, which isn't hard to get, and I've rarely had one denied for me.

Remember that Linux isn't a one size fits all. There are different sizes and styles for everyone. Choose what works best for you.

I personally love PCLinux OS,

I personally love PCLinux OS, I just downloaded the new 2009.2 version and I think if I had a good computer to install it on, that would be my distro of choice.

PCLinuxOS was around for a

Guest says:

PCLinuxOS was around for a few years earlier than 2007.

PCLinuxOS is a decent

Startex says:

PCLinuxOS is a decent "enthusiast" distro, but the full version is a bit bloated and dated. But where PCLinuxOS really shines is their "minime" version, which is the basic version without the added bloat. Personally, I don't see why anyone would use anything other than MiniMe when using PCLinuxOS.

The pros - the stability of the system...very few crashes if installed correctly. That in itself is a huge plus.

The cons - Claiming PCLOS is for beginners is misleading. One of the biggest drawbacks to any Linux based distro is the installation process, and with PCLOS, this is where they fall behind entry level Linux systems such as Ubuntu. The reality is, the "DrakeInstall" isn't for beginners. There are a few steps in the process that can throw a first timer off, causing a faulty install, whereas Ubuntu has an install that is so easy that anyone can do it. And the whole thing with the root vs, sudo....while I can see why some distros use root and user accounts, using such a system during the boot process isn't for the first timers, whereas using sudo is. Thats why Ubuntu uses it.

Startex, I don't believe

LinuxLover says:

Startex, I don't believe Ubuntu is really that good of a distro for beginners. There is simply too much CLI and file hacking to do if the system scripts don't get your hardware right. Distros like Mandriva, PCLinuxOS, and OpenSuse are far better for beginners because of YaST and the Mandriva (PCLinuxOS) Control Center. Now, Ubuntu users may claim that it's good that beginners learn to do that sort of stuff, and I'll bite on that because I learned back in the days of Red Hat 5.2. However, that's talking out of both sides of one's mouth when they claim that the installation process for PCLinuxOS (Mandriva) is too complicated for a beginner. I think that users should learn good partitioning and what a bootloader is and where to put it. I'm not a big fan of the Ubuntu install. It just takes over too much to the point that it does stuff I don't want it to, and I didn't even get a chance to change it.

But, Linux distros are a personal choice thing. I can completely disagree with you on something such as this, but we can both be right. I just see it differently. Linux is about choice and freedom, and we're blessed to have it that way.

Pclinux used to be one of my

JD says:

Pclinux used to be one of my favorite distros texstar the man behind it works hard along with the community but apparently theirs not enough help! while i have no problem with kde 3X i do have a silent sigh of disappointment to see the the linux kernel is only version 2.6.26! thats the oldest ive seen in any recently released distro! it hurts me inside! if you have a shiny new pc you might just be screwed! the latest kernel is 2.6.30! and i find drivers for shiny new pcs ive run only in 2.6.28+ ! still give it a try and i hope texstar getw more funding and support! this is a nice distro! great review as well! i like the new look of this release! but am slightingly disappointed to see such an old kernel!