The last time I looked at PCLinuxOS was back in 2009 when I was working full-time for ExtremeTech. There’s a new release out and it’s a good time for a review of it here on DLR. I’ve also gotten some requests for it in the Request A Review page and I’m always happy to try and fulfill those requests.
PCLinuxOS comes available in a number of different desktop environments:
For this review I decided to use the main KDE version.
There is also a “MiniMe” version that contains the desktop only, without all of the extra applications. If you are the type that wants total control over what applications are put onto your system, the MiniMe version is definitely for you. I, being somewhat lazy and not much of a control freak, simply opted for the regular version.
What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of what’s new in this release:
Kernel 184.108.40.206-bfs kernel for maximum desktop performance.
Full KDE 4.4.2 Desktop.
Nvidia and ATI fglrx driver support.
Multimedia playback support for many popular formats.
Wireless support for many network devices.
Printer support for many local and networked printer devices.
Addlocale allows you to convert PCLinuxOS into over 60 languages.
GetOpenOffice can install Open Office supporting over 100 languages.
MyLiveCD allows you to take a snapshot of your installation and burn it to a LiveCD/DVD.
Parental Controls to keep your kids away from those naughty websites.
I don’t have kids so I don’t usually bother with parental controls. I took a quick peek at the ones in PCLinuxOS though and found them somewhat limited.
If you want to access the parental controls for PCLinuxOS, click the Configure Your Computer icon on the panel. Type in your root password then click the Security link after the PCLinuxOSControlCenter. From there choose Parental Controls.
You can blacklist or whitelist sites and you can also set time limits on use. You’ll have to type in each site you want blocked in the controls though, there doesn’t seem to be a list you can easily import into the parental controls to block known nasty sites automatically.
Hardware Requirements & Installation
Here’s a list of system requirements necessary to run PCLinuxOS:
Modern Intel or AMD processor.
RAM : 512 MB minimum, 1 GB recommended.
Hard disk : 3 GB minimum, 10 GB ore more recommended if you plan to install additional software from our repository.
Video card: nVidia, ATI, Intel, SiS, Matrox, VIA.
3D desktop support requires a 3D instructions set compatible card.
Any Sound Blaster, AC97 or HDA compatible card.
CD/DVD drive required.
When you first boot PCLinuxOS up, there’s a bit of a delay before a keyboard selection screen comes up. After that the Live CD desktop loads and you can begin exploring or you can start the install right away. The information for the root and guest accounts appears right on the Live CD desktop.
This is a good idea and one I’d like to see other distros adopt if they require a root login to do an install, etc. In the past I have seen a few distros that don’t make it easy to find this information and that could be a real irritant to a newbie.
You don’t need to set up a root password of your own until after the install. When you first boot into your desktop, a menu will popup asking you to pick a root password and also offering you the opportunity to customize the authentication method. After that another menu comes up that lets you pick a regular user name and password for using your system as a non-root user.
Here’s a breakdown of the install, with screenshots:
Step 1: Start the install wizard.
Step 2: Disk partitioning.
Step 3: Installation.
Step 4: Bootloader Customization.
Step 5: Reboot.
Step 6: Choose root password.
Step 7: Choose user name and password.
The install routine was reasonably speedy and I didn’t encounter any significant problems with it. Experienced Linux users should not have a problem and newbies just need to follow the menu prompts to install PCLinuxOS.
Booting & Login
The bootsplash screen features the PCLinuxOS logo of a bull. You can opt to boot regularly or boot into safe mode. At the bottom of the screen are help, language and kernel option choices.