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PCLinuxOS 2010 (KDE)

April 20, 2010
By

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:

KDE
Gnome
Gnome ZenMini
LXDE
XFCE
Openbox

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 2.6.32.11-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.

After booting into the Live CD desktop, you can explore or start the install.

Hardware Requirements & Installation
Hardware Requirements
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.

Installation Steps
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.

Click the install icon on your desktop to launch the install wizard.

You can opt to use the free space on your disk or choose the custom disk partitioning option.

After you choose your disk partitioning, the install begins.

You can customize your bootloader.

You can customize your bootloader.

After the install is complete, boot into your new desktop and choose a root password.

After picking a root password, choose your user name and password for non-root use.

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

Bootsplash
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.

Login Screen
The login screen lets you choose to login as yourself or as root. At the bottom of the screen you’ll find session and menu options. You can restart X, shutdown, console login, remote login or switch user.

The bootsplash screen offers help, language and kernel options.

The login screen offers session and login options.

The desktop after PCLinuxOS is installed.

The Desktop
One thing I have never liked about KDE is the crazy scroll-to-the-side desktop menus. I was very pleased to notice that the PCLinuxOS developers wisely decided to default back to the older KDE 3 menus. These are much easier and faster to navigate. I know that some people probably think the menus that scroll to the side are cool or whatever but I am not among them. I find them irritating to use and I truly wish the KDE developers would get rid of them altogether.

That said, the PCLinuxOS desktop is pretty well designed. The panel contains the “PC” button that lets you pull up a list of application categories, actions, etc. You’ll also find configuration icons for the desktop, your computer, the Synaptic package manager and the Dolphin file manager. Application categories are setup pretty well, it’s easy to find things.

The desktop comes with the following icons on it:

Home
Add Locale
Firewall Setup
Get OpenOffice
Network Center
Trash

Generally I don’t like a lot of icons on my default desktop but I didn’t mind the ones setup in PCLinuxOS. It’s certainly a good idea to make OpenOffice.org easily available to new users who might not know to look for it in the applications menu.

The PCLinuxOS Control Center
Click the Configure Your Computer button on the panel and you can change settings for the following:

Sharing
Network Services
Hardware
Network & Internet
System
Network Sharing
Local Disks
Security
Boot

Note that you’ll need to use your root password to access the PCLinuxOS Control Center.

Desktop Settings
You won’t need to use your root password though if you just want to change your desktop settings. Just click the Configure Your Desktop icon on the panel and the desktop config menu will load. From there you can change the Look and Feel, Desktop, Notifications, Window Behavior and lots of other things to customize your experience.

Use the control center to configure your system.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Breakout
Mahjongg Solitaire
Patience
Sudoku
Sokoban
Minesweeper

Graphics
GIMP
digiKam
KSnapshot
Wally
Okular
XSane
Gwenview

Internet
Firefox
Konqueror
DropBox
KGet
Choqok
KTorrent
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird
XChat
Umtsmon
Smb4k

Multimedia
Imagination
SMPlayer
TVtime
Amarok
Floola
KMix
KsCD

Office
OpenOffice (must be downloaded)

Software Management
PCLinuxOS uses Synaptic as its software manager. To start Synaptic just click on the Synaptic icon on your panel and type in your root password. From there you can browse applications via categories (sections) or you can search for a particular application. There’s a lot of software available via Synaptic, probably far more than your average desktop user would ever want or need. But it’s fun to poke around and check things out anyway.

One neat thing in the Software Center menu is a the repository speed test. This helps you to find the fastest mirror to add software to Synaptic. While this isn’t something I’d worry too much about, it’s a nice touch for the speed-crazed software addicts out there who want their software and who want it NOW! It takes just a couple of minutes to run the test and the results are displayed from fastest to slowest.

Use the Synaptic package manager to manage your software.

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
I checked out a video of Colt McCoy on YouTube and it played great. No problems with sound or video and I didn’t have to install flash. My Firefox browser was already set up and ready to go after installing PCLinuxOS.

DVDs
PCLinuxOS does not come with the libdvdcss2 needed to run DVDs. However, you can choose to install it yourself later if you want to run DVDs on your system. Just pull up Synaptic and do a search for libdvdcss2.

YouTube looked great in PCLinuxOS.

Problems & Headaches
One thing that I found somewhat odd was setting up the root password and non-root user ID and password after the install. Most other distros seem to do this during or before the install itself. It seems to me that that’s probably a better way to handle it so that when a user actually boots into his or her desktop, everything is set up and ready to go. This is a minor nitpick but it might be something for the PCLinuxOS developers to consider.

I was also slightly annoyed that I had to download OpenOffice.org. I prefer to have it pre-installed to save me the time of downloading it. However, it was quite easy and simple to download it so I can’t complain about this too much. Still, my preference is to have it ready to go after I boot into my desktop.

The other thing that struck me was how ugly Synaptic looked in this release. Ubuntu’s Software Center is much more attractive and, for newer users, easier to use. I’d like to see the PCLinuxOS developers create and adopt something similar in future releases. Synaptic gets the job done but it lacks elegance and contrasts poorly with the PCLinuxOS Control Center, for example. Synaptic is functional but that’s about all I can say for it.

Beyond these minor issues, I didn’t encounter any particularly difficult problems. PCLinuxOS works pretty well and didn’t give me any real headaches while using it.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the PCLinuxOS forum and the PCLinuxOS Wiki. You can also get information about IRC and mailing lists from the PCLinuxOS support page.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
My experience with PCLinuxOS was quite positive, for the most part. It’s very easy to install and use, and there is a robust community ready to assist newcomers.

PCLinuxOS should definitely be at the top of anybody’s desktop distro list. There’s a version of it for pretty much everybody, from desktop eye-candy addicts to extreme minimalists that want total control over what applications go on their system. It provides a great alternative to Ubuntu, Fedora and some of the other prominent desktop distros.

If you’ve never tried it, find a version that appeals to you and give it a download. I suspect you’ll be pleased with what you find.

What’s your take on PCLinuxOS 2010? Tell me in the comments below. Looking for opinion columns and other articles by Jim Lynch? Visit JimLynch.com.

Summary Table:

Product: PCLinuxOS
Web Site: http://pclinuxos.com/
Price: Free
Pros: Excellent control center, decent selection of software. Comes with an easy to use script to download OpenOffice.org. Doesn’t use KDE’s sliding menus by default.
Cons: OpenOffice.org not installed by default. You have to set up the root password and your non-root user ID and password after the system installation.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced users.
Summary: PCLinuxOS 2010 updates KDE and the Linux kernel. It also adds support for additional wireless devices and includes a repository speed test (among other things).
Rating: 4/5

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36 Responses to PCLinuxOS 2010 (KDE)

  1. Vivekanandhan G on April 9, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Please dont try PCLinuxOS. I tried it 3 years back. Still I could not come out of it. Earlier I was a happy distro hopper, trying fedora, ubuntu, mint, vector, mandriva… I was able to successfully change my distro within 3-4 months. But after trying PCLinuxOS, I could not come out as on today. So Please never ever try this one.

  2. Vivekanandhan G on January 28, 2011 at 5:18 am

    I have used about 6/7 distros as main distro in the past 5 years. As I could not stick to a single distro even if it worked ( Actually I had to kame it work for me) for more than 6 months. Ever since I started using PCLinuxOS, Still I could not change my main distro. This one is very addictive. I am trying other cool distros as additional. But I dont find the comfort of PCLinux in any other distro. It is designed exactly the way I want. I can just use it after fresh install (Just need to install Open Office).

    More than its features, I like the forum members and the community. We can make package request (And that is added within few days.), Always there are helping hands in the forum in case somebody needs help.

    According to me, this is the best of all distros.

  3. Brian Masinick on May 14, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    @Rita:

    The IPV6 setting is not inherently the fault of distribution vendors, it is the way that networks operate. Here's the deal: Network address space has been running out on the Internet for some time. Quite a while ago now, IPV6 was invented to resolve that problem. There is no issue with IPV6 at all, except one: VERY FEW, if any, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have implemented IPV6. What does that mean? Well, if you have IPV6 and the classic IPV4 implemented on your system, the network address searching algorithms will first look for an IPV6 address and if found, use it, otherwise continue to search. This lengthens the time when 6 is searched first, especially since so few IPV6 addresses are out there. Searching IPV4 first would be faster.

    It turns out that you can disable IPV6. I think it would be a good idea if it were turned off by default until it becomes prevalent. That would speed up network access. It is not a bug at all, though, simply a convention – one day we'll see that it is a good one.

  4. momentum on May 7, 2010 at 3:01 am

    It is fast as hell om my amd athlon 1600 xp with radeon 9600 pro, much faster than kubuntu for example, so if someone is looking for easy to use distro with kde 4, pclinuxos is great choise.

  5. Joshua W. Harris on May 3, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Well I've tried out PClinuxOS 2010 KDE….everything is great as long as you dont enable a 3D desktop. I've tried numerous configurations of the graphics server and kde settings but got nowhere near the performance of Kubuntu 10.04. Good package management and selection, great theme, and otherwise decent distro ruined (at least for me and many others) due to slow graphics performance. Kubuntu, Suse, Pardus and others get it right. I'd have to recommend one of these over the latest PCLinuxOS.

  6. tlmck on April 25, 2010 at 4:58 am

    @ Jordan Clarke:

    I should have mentioned if you do a search for "task" in Synaptic, all of the various desktop environments will show up. Th exception would be fluxbox which is listed simply as fluxbox.

  7. Paul Mienuo on April 24, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Gnome version runs beautifully on my 900A EeePC. Will be on there a long time! Amazing!

  8. house cleaning your on April 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    it would be the Linux distro for me if it were only 64 bit.

    But it's not so I use others. That is just my opinion and of course not necessarily the opinion of others

  9. Wil on April 23, 2010 at 7:57 am

    @ Rita:

    I have run 2010 kde minime on 8 separate modernish systems A64 X2 to Core 2) and 2 ancient (P3) machines and a mini ITX celeron 220 board with no problems. I am using IDE to Sata (150-300) devices and mostly Nvidia cards. Why don't you post the specs of your system since most problems I've read have been from esoteric hardware. Firefox has never given me problems even with the IPV6 problems VERY few others have experienced.

  10. Jordan Clarke on April 23, 2010 at 7:43 am

    @ tlmck:

    :) I'd happily try all of the desktop environments for PCLinuxOS 2010! I'm particularly curious about PCLinuxOS 2010 E17 though (especially after Elive demanded payment for an installation – requesting donations is fine, but demanding payment isn't reasonable, considering distro-hoppers are the most likely people to try it). However, I can only download so much before overdoing the usage limit, slowing the connection and getting into trouble with my (Window$ using) parents! :D And seeing as I've been wanting to try a KDE 4.4 installation for a while now (frustrated glare at openSUSE 11.3 Milestones 1-5), I thought this would be the way to do it. Needless to say, I've had a pretty good experience with it (I'm happily typing this message on it right now in fact), but there have still been a couple of issues. I hope my comments have come across as nothing other than constructive criticisms… :)

  11. tlmck on April 23, 2010 at 5:53 am

    @ Jordan Clarke:

    If you are a Gnome fan, download it from the repositories and then select it at the login screen. It is definitely not "off the rack" Gnome.

  12. tlmck on April 23, 2010 at 5:48 am
  13. tlmck on April 23, 2010 at 5:37 am

    @ Eddie Wilson:

    As I stated in my post above, there are alternate kernels that essentially make this a 64 bit version. I do agree PCLOS should adopt the 32 and 64 bit version scenario used by most other distros.

    You can save some download time by getting just the Gnome desktop in Synaptic. The alternate kernels are there as well.

  14. nks on April 22, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    One thing I noticed yesterday while testing this (KDE) release is automatic detection and configuration of network printer on windows network, which I think is not possible in most distros. On others distros you will have to first enter/browse your device location and then choose from the list of printer for correct driver. But in PCLOS 2010, I just enabled detection of windows printers and upon clicking next, all the printers on network was listed. Then the next screen suggested the correct printer driver (no list of plethora of drivers to select from). Pretty nice. Also the list of open applications is now shown in taskbar similar to Win7. Preview of open applications is now good (app name used to make it look bad). Horrible battery icon has changed. Many changes (visual as well as functional) are very nice.

  15. Jordan Clarke on April 22, 2010 at 7:51 am

    I'm running PCLinuxOS 2010 as my main laptop OS as of today, and so far it's been pretty good stability-wise. However, there are a few noteworthy niggles:

    Sound isn't working properly for me. Headphones are fine, but speakers aren't working. I'm not sure, but I suspect it may have something to do with me having had headphones plugged in during the install…

    The device notifier sometimes displays the devices above the "Devices recently plugged in:" message, almost entirely out of the pop-up.

    To me, Amarok is awkward! So I downloaded VLC, which works as normal. However, after working with Rhythmbox, I feel disappointed.

    I had a little trouble with time zone configuration, but got there eventually… this should be part of the installer (which really should be more like Ubuntu's).

    Having been using GNOME 2.30 (i.e. Ubuntu 10.04 and Fedora 13) for a while now, I'm having a harder time navigating. However, I expect Windows users will feel quite comfortable here. (Oddly, I haven't forgotten how to use WXP yet…)

    All this said, there's plenty to like:

    A breathtaking implementation of KDE, with lost of gorgeous screensavers! :D

    Get OpenOffice. I much prefer this idea to having OpenOffice on the LiveCD – it saves LiveCD space; it gets all the apps; and it shows the terminal in action for newbies (not sure why I think that's good, but nonetheless I like it).

    Flash pre-installed. Really, this is something that appeals to newbies too much for any beginners distribution to ignore. Especially if you occasionally like working off LiveCDs and decide to watch YouTube.

    Classic Menu! This really is worth it for newcomers, even if the difference is merely a right-click away.

    The Control Center is excellent! A simple, attractive layout with sensible options.

    It's PCLinuxOS! Therefore, you'll become part of perhaps the friendliest and most helpful online Linux community!

    It's more stable than Ubuntu. For example, Ubuntu currently has a bug suggesting kernel panics just one week from the official release! Canonical had better get onto it quick-smart!

    Did I mention that PCLinuxOS 2010 is absolutely beautiful? :D

  16. Ola on April 22, 2010 at 3:30 am

    @ Gnobuddy: Gnobuddy's remarks reflect most of what I feel. I loved PCLOS 2007 and 2009 (based on KDE 3.5) and used them as an alternative desktop on my notebook. When KDE 4 came out, I tried very hard to like it – on PCLOS and every other distro using it. I hated it, so much so that I am hesitant to try out PCLOS 2010, where – under normal circumstances, I would have been one of the first to try out. I will eventually try it out, but the spontaneity with which I took to PCLOS 2007 is not there anymore. A pity!

  17. evervigilant on April 21, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    With regard to its similarity to Mandriva, Texstar said in an interview, "PCLinuxOS 2010 was built from the ground up using the packages in our repository… it is similar to Mandriva due to some ported packages and different in that we create our own packages, import packages from other distributions and patches as needed." [http://www.osnews.com/story/23176/Introducing_PCLinuxOS_2010/]

    If PCLinuxOS 2010 is anything like my experience with the previous versions of PCLOS, it will be generally quicker and more stable than Mandriva (and several other well known distros). I haven't had a chance to try it out thoroughly myself yet, since I'm slow to roll out big changes onto my production machines and only test on spare equipment, but I'm pretty hopeful based on what I've seen thus far.

  18. whichkde on April 21, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Wanted to know which theme/kicker panel background is used by PCLinuxOS. Can someone knowledgeable help? I love kicker to be this way. the default AIR theme panel is too much non-transparent and also shows some idiotic patterns. I love the way PCLinuxOS kicker panel at the bottom shows. Does anyone how/where to get that kicker theme from or what setting can I do on my existing non-pclinuxos linux?

    Thanks.

  19. Johan on April 21, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    davecs, if PCLinuxOS was built from the ground up, why then is the Control Center and drakinstall neary identical to the one on Mandriva ?

  20. davecs on April 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Not having OpenOffice pre-installed means that you can install your native language version rather than the default English(USA). Add Locale enables you to set the general desktop to your area's language.

    Provided you have a fast internet connection, this means you have a truly international distro on a single CD.

    As for 64-bit, the advantage (potentially) is speed. However, I think Texstar has succeeded in getting this baby to go faster than many 64-bit distros. I'm glad he and the guys worked out how to build the distro from the ground up instead of using another distro as a base. It probably accounts in part for the speed.

  21. Rita on April 21, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    In response to the earlier poster regarding the "testing" of PCLOS.

    After reading a thread on the PCLOS forum regarding others who've had similar problems trying to connect to the internet, yes, there is a bug in PCLinux2010. Apparently within Firefox one must disable the IPv6 feature to get access to the internet on PCLinux2010. Whether it is a bug that only affects PCLinux, I don't know. But with Ubuntu using Firefox 3.63 there is no problem accessing the net. The problem can easily be fixed if one knows how to disable IPv6 within Firefox – but that's just it. How many beginners to Linux will know how to do that ?

    My advice to the developers at PCLinux would be to accept this as constructive help and get the problem fixed as soon as possible. Once it's fixed and people can access the net "out of the box", then PCLinuxOS will become a better distro for beginners.

  22. Rufus Polson on April 21, 2010 at 9:36 am

    It really is a lot like Mandriva, isn't it? Seems like most of the positive features (e.g. menu layout, control centre) are basically derived from its Mandriva roots. Which is fine because Mandriva's a good distro . . . the key distinction I guess is that PCLinuxOS uses apt and Synaptic with its RPMs rather than urpmi and Mandriva's tool. There was a time when that was probably an advantage, but I'm not sure it makes much difference now.

  23. Eric on April 21, 2010 at 9:01 am

    The website says that PCLOS comes with parental controls. But when I tried running it live, I found that I had to download it separately.

  24. Gnobuddy on April 21, 2010 at 8:58 am

    I switched from Windows to Linux in 1991, and have been Linux-only ever since. During these nine years I've seen a lot of progress in the bare-bones OS itself, and sadly, also a LOT of regression, most of it in desktop environments and user applications.

    As the Gnome project focused on usability earlier in the last decade, it became progressively less usable to me, and I abandoned it for KDE. Fortunately the KDE 3.x.y series was superb almost from the beginning. KDE programs like Kile and K3b and Quanta Plus, not to mention the absolutely superb Konqueror, made the desktop environment an excellent fit for my needs. By 2007, we Linux users had good browsers, good CD-burning apps, and one good desktop environment (KDE 3.x.y). We could even plug in a USB key and work with it without having to run "dmesg" to find out what the USB subsystem had done with it and "mount" to actually use it, though we still couldn't use a Verizon USB 3G satellite modem without major headaches…

    The last couple of years have been bad, though, with literally every distro I've tried having show-stopping bugs, from Ubuntu to Gentoo to Mandriva to OpenSuse, and many more. I've stayed with Kubuntu 8.04 Hardy for two years now, because the dozen or so distro's I've tried since have all been buggy disasters, from Ubuntu 9.10 to OpenSuse 11.2 to Kubuntu 10.04 beta. Not only is every version of KDE 4.x.y buggy to the point where I find it unusable (K3b has been broken for quite a while, for instance), but other regressions show up as well – Flash is more flaky than it's been in years, for instance.

    I finally got sick of fighting slow, bloated, buggy newer Linux distros – I just wiped my desktop and went back to PCLinuxOS 2009.2, with all updates. Finally a responsive desktop and usable apps once more!

    I think this is really tragic, that I've had to go back to the past to get a working efficient desktop operating system and distro. But now that Gnome and KDE are both unusable to me, I'm going to stay stuck in the past until I'm forced to switch to LXDE or Openbox or something by the lack of future security updates.

    I had high hopes for the future of desktop linux ten years ago. Today I realize it will not happen without a drastic change in the way distros are developed, because 99% of Linux distros out there are bug-laden, shoddy bits of work that provide a worse experience than Windows 98 SE did in every respect except one (resistance to viruses). The kernel and underlying OS is absolutely great, but the mess of loosely packaged binaries floating on top of it is falling apart at the seams. Is there a way to save Linux from itself?

    -Gnobuddy

    ———-

  25. Gnobuddy on April 21, 2010 at 8:57 am

    I switched from Windows to Linux in 1991, and have been Linux-only ever since. During these nine years I've seen a lot of progress in the bare-bones OS itself, and sadly, also a LOT of regression, most of it in desktop environments and user applications.

    As the Gnome project focused on usability earlier in the last decade, it became progressively less usable to me, and I abandoned it for KDE. Fortunately the KDE 3.x.y series was superb almost from the beginning. KDE programs like Kile and K3b and Quanta Plus, not to mention the absolutely superb Konqueror, made the desktop environment an excellent fit for my needs. By 2007, we Linux users had good browsers, good CD-burning apps, and one good desktop environment (KDE 3.x.y). We could even plug in a USB key and work with it without having to run "dmesg" to find out what the USB subsystem had done with it and "mount" to actually use it, though we still couldn't use a Verizon USB 3G satellite modem without major headaches…

    The last couple of years have been bad, though, with literally every distro I've tried having show-stopping bugs, from Ubuntu to Gentoo to Mandriva to OpenSuse, and many more. I've stayed with Kubuntu 8.04 Hardy for two years now, because the dozen or so distro's I've tried since have all been buggy disasters, from Ubuntu 9.10 to OpenSuse 11.2 to Kubuntu 10.04 beta. Not only is every version of KDE 4.x.y buggy to the point where I find it unusable (K3b has been broken for quite a while, for instance), but other regressions show up as well – Flash is more flaky than it's been in years, for instance.

    I finally got sick of fighting slow, bloated, buggy newer Linux distros – I just wiped my desktop and went back to PCLinuxOS 2009.2, with all updates. Finally a responsive desktop and usable apps once more!

    I think this is really tragic, that I've had to go back to the past to get a working efficient desktop operating system and distro. But now that Gnome and KDE are both unusable to me, I'm going to stay stuck in the past until I'm forced to switch to LXDE or Openbox or something by the lack of future security updates.

    I had high hopes for the future of desktop linux ten years ago. Today I realize it will not happen without a drastic change in the way distros are developed, because 99% of Linux distros out there are bug-laden, shoddy bits of work that provide a worse experience than Windows 98 SE did in every respect except one (resistance to viruses). The kernel and underlying OS is absolutely great, but the mess of loosely packaged binaries floating on top of it is falling apart at the seams. Is there a way to save Linux from itself?

    -Gnobuddy

  26. Padma on April 21, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Rita said "I’m wondering if this distro was tested thoroughly before the final was released ?"

    It was quite thoroughly tested. I myself was running the beta versions for a couple months. I think virtually every bug reported was either fixed, or pushed upstream to the KDE/Gnome/whoever developers.

    As for the comments regarding Ubuntu being the easiest for beginners, I disagree. While I’m not saying Ubuntu is overly difficult, it cannot be compared to PCLinuxOS. Working with my son-in-law's Ubuntu box makes me want to tear my hair out. (In other words, 'easiest' is very subjective. :wink:)

    Eddie: If you want a 64-bit version of PCLOS, how about buying Tex a 64-bit box? It's pretty hard to develop for a system you don't have access to. (And yes, the devs will be working on a 64-bit system as soon as the dust settles from this release.)

  27. Bill Julian on April 21, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Nice job Jim. KDE users who prefer a stable, solid no-fuss system clearly have two good choices in the recently released Mepis and now PCLOS. Both impress me as being really good and both have excellent forums for both new and experienced users.

    I agree with downloading big apps such as Open Office or GIMP. It is easily done and it allows developers to include a greater set of drivers for devices such as wireless cards. It seems to me we either do something such as PCLOS has done or just go on over to DVDs, which would not be a bad choice provided users have speedy net connections with no download fees per megabyte.

  28. Eddie Wilson on April 21, 2010 at 4:27 am

    Tried out the KDE version and it was generally a good distro, easy to use, good community. The two biggest problem I have is the rolling release updates and that there is no 64bit versions. People will say you don't need 64bit, it doesn't help, most computers are not 64bit, etc. That's just making excuses. I do need 64bit, I have compared and 32bit won't cut it. There is no excuse for not having a 64bit version. To me that shows a lack of motivation and of living in the past, but it has been stated that a 64bit version is in the works. All in all it is a good distro for a new user. I would still recommend Mepis mainly because of its Debain base. (I'm not a RPM person) Nothing really stood out for me but that may be my fault. I'm not a KDE person so maybe I should have tried the Gnome version. I think I will still check out the Gnome version. I would like to see someone do a review on that one.

    Thanks

  29. Carlos on April 21, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Alex wrote:

    The other thing that struck me was how ugly Synaptic looked in this release. Ubuntu’s Software Center is much more attractive and, for newer users, easier to use. I’d like to see the PCLinuxOS developers create and adopt something similar in future releases.

    This isn’t going to happen. Why? Because Synaptic for RPM is no longer being developed upstream. PCLinuxOS is going to have to either lock themselves at their current RPM version forever going forward or they’re going to have to select a different package management system as apt is dying for rpm.

    You can find updated apt/synaptic packages for rpm >= 4.6.x on any Fedora Mirror.

  30. Janus on April 20, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    There is no perfect OS but I absolutely love the KDE version. It boots quick and I've never seen KDE 4 perform so well. The widget bug was resolved in an update yesterday. It affected a small number of widgets that use python scripting. I had no problems with my network connection. Overall I find it to be very solid release.

  31. Rita on April 20, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    That should be LXDE…sorry for the spelling.

  32. Rita on April 20, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    PCLinuxos2010 is an improvement over previous releases, but the KDE version of 2010 has bugs that need to be fixed. First, while the network connection works for wireless, it doesn't always connect to wired using Firefox. Also, the widgets have bugs that cause random freezes and missing widgets, etc…I'm wondering if this distro was tested thoroughly before the final was released ?

    Where PCLinuxOS stands out is the LDXE version of the distro. Compared to it's KDE cousin, LDXE is fast and uses far fewer resources. If I were going to recommend any of the PCLinuxos versions, the LXDE version would be the one.

    As for the comments regarding PCLOS being the easiest for beginners, I disagree. While I'm not saying PCLOS is overly difficult, it cannot be compared to Ubuntu regarding the installation, the firewall setup, or the confusing decision a beginner needs to make regarding logging into root vs. user. Configuring the firewall gui on PCLOS/Mandriva is NOT for beginners, trust me. And until PCLOS trades the current drake-install gui for something similar to the one found on Ubuntu, the claim that it is radically simple is more radical…while less simple.

    Having said that, the PCLOS forum is an excellent place to gain information, and this is one area where is shines above Ubuntu.

  33. Brian Masinick on April 20, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I wrote my main comments on PCLinuxOS and where I place it over at the forum. Generally speaking, I rate this as a top three user friendly system for basic and general desktop use, with focus on simplicity and stability. You can get distributions that are better fits for other activities, but the relative novice will do as well with this distribution as any other – I'd put it in a virtual tie with Mint and SimplyMEPIS (though I personally like SimplyMEPIS best).

  34. youcantoo on April 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    The reason OpenOffice was not installed by default was there was simply no room for it on the live CD. The live CD only holds 800 megs top and the iso file is right at 700 megs. As far as the complaint of giving your root password and setting up the user account at the end of the install is rather petty at best.

  35. Alex on April 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    The other thing that struck me was how ugly Synaptic looked in this release. Ubuntu’s Software Center is much more attractive and, for newer users, easier to use. I’d like to see the PCLinuxOS developers create and adopt something similar in future releases.

    This isn't going to happen. Why? Because Synaptic for RPM is no longer being developed upstream. PCLinuxOS is going to have to either lock themselves at their current RPM version forever going forward or they're going to have to select a different package management system as apt is dying for rpm.

  36. tlmck on April 20, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Nice review, although the giant popup ads for Duracell batteries are a bit annoying. Takes over the screen for about 10 seconds or so. Also does not fully display the ad for some reason. Only the left side of the ad is visible. I am not running any ad or flash blockers in the Chromium browser, so I do not know what could be up with that. It also only pops up on the first 4 pages of the review.

    The automatic page refresh has also gotten more interesting. Instead of just refreshing in the middle of typing a reply, it now totally wipes out anything you had typed. I wound up typing this up in Gedit, then pasting it over. You still have to be quick while typing in your name and e-mail though. Just thought I'd mention it.

    At any rate, with KDE 4 and the upcoming Gnome 3, you will have to say goodbye to preinstalled Open Office on CD sized distros. It just will not fit. Even if they strip out all the little nothing programs they do include, it will still be a no go. Just the law of physics and bloated programming. This is not an issue for me, as I no longer use Open Office. I only use the Gnumeric spreadsheet app these days. The "get Open Office" icon is a nice

    touch though for those who need it.

    The main thing I did with my machine was to download an alternate kernel from the repositories. I changed to the one optimized for AMD processors. Specifically, I switched to 2.6.32.11-pclos2.a64. It is noticeably faster on my laptop which uses an AMD 2650e CPU. They have yet another kernel that fully takes advantage of 4 to 64gb of memory. This kernel ends with a .pae extension.

    Installing these alternate kernels is no different than installing any other program. Afterwards, you simply select it during the boot process, or you can edit the Grub menu to make it boot as the default. This can be done through the Control Center in the Boot section.



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