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PCLinuxOS 2009.1 Review

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PCLinuxOSPCLinuxOS is a Linux distribution based on Mandriva Linux. The most recent update, and the first since the last update in 2007, was released last week. This review will be the very first review of PCLinuxOS on this site.


Installation: The installation media of PCLinuxOS boots into a Live, KDE desktop environment. There is no option on the boot screen to install to hard disk without first making a stop at the Live desktop environment. I think there should be that (install to hard disk) option, for users who already know that they want to install the OS to disk. If nothing else, it saves time.

PCLinuxOS installer options

The installer is essentially the same as the old Mandriva installer, minus support for Linux Logical Volume Manager (LVM) and RAID. It allows for the encryption of disk partitions, although only the partition for the /home directory can be encrypted.

There is a “normal mode” and an “expert mode” of installation. If you choose to operate in the normal mode (recommended for non-experts), and click on the Auto allocate button, the installer will create three partitions: One partition of about 8 GB for the root directory, another for swap (about 4 GB), and the last for the /home directory. The last partition for /home gets the rest of the available space not allocated to / and swap.

If you toggle to expert mode and click on the Auto allocate button, the installer presents three partitioning schemes to choose from:

  • with /usr – choose this option (the default – in expert mode), and the installer will create separate partitions for /, the root directory, swap, /home, and /usr.
  • simple – here, the installer creates the same partitions that it would create if you clicked on the Auto-allocate button in normal mode.
  • server – choosing this option prompts the installer to create separate partitions for /, swap, /usr, /var, /tmp, and /home.

The problem with the Auto allocate option in expert mode is that the installer allocates too much disk space to the /var and /tmp partitions, and I think also for swap. You may end up having to resize the partitions before proceeding with the rest of the installation, or you could avoid the hassle and perform a manual partitioning. If you are new to disk partitioning on Linux and you want to do it right, watch the space for a detailed tutorial on how to create a custom partitioning scheme on PCLinuxOS.

Expert mode Auto allocate options

For a bootloader, the default is GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader), with LILO (LInux LOader) as the alternate.

Desktop: The default desktop environment is the K Desktop Environment (KDE). Other desktops are also available for installation. PCLinuxOS sports one of the ugliest desktop background I have ever seen. I wonder who made the decision to make that the default, given that there are better desktop background images in the system.

Default desktop background

The first thing most people will likely do after installation is change the desktop background image. Very easy to do, but if you are new to Linux, here’s how it’s done: Right-click anywhere on the desktop, and select “Configure Desktop”. Click on the top dropdown select box, and you will see the other desktop background images available. Any one of those listed is much more visually appealing than the default. Click Apply to see the new desktop background, or just click OK if you are satisfied with your choice

Changing desktop background

Default Installed application:PCLinuxos 2009.1 comes with a decent, not great, selection of applications. It’s better than Zenwalk Linux in this regard, but comes in way behind Sabayon Linux. Here is a sampling of some the applications you will find on a default installation (of PCLinuxOS 2009.1):

  • OpenOffice.org
  • GNU Image Manipulation Program, a graphics application
  • Kopete, a multiprotocol IM client
  • Mozilla Firefox and Konqueror Web browsers
  • Amarok, probably the best music playing application around
  • digiKam, for photo management
  • Kaffeine and MPlayer video players
  • DeVeDe, a DVD/CD video creator

As with any other Linux or BSD distribution, there are many more applications in the repositories, which you can install using the package manager.

Software Management: PCLinuxOS is an APT-ified, rpm-based distribution. What that translates into is that at the command line, apt-get, widely regarded as the best package management application, is your friend. For those with a command-line phobia, Synaptic, the GTK-based graphical interface to apt-get is available.

Synaptic Package Manager

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49 Comments

  1. RO says:

    Re the background, I almost always set mine to plain black (or to a very dark shade of some color when I am feeling “decorative” ;-) to see the icons and windows more easily. I hate glare and clutter on the background, so just my quirkiness I guess …

  2. Sadi says:

    PCLinuxOS is simply AWESOME… I have been using Ubuntu for sometime… but to tell you guys the truth PCLOS has won my heart with its user friendly desktop.

  3. Ash Ward says:

    Have tried several disros over the last couple of years, but just keep coming back to PCLinux as I find it to be so damn easy to use, dead stable and even more so with this release. Unlike earlier releases, just haven’t been able to kill it !!
    Many thanks for your great work Textar.
    Love it
    Ash…..

  4. travisn000 says:

    Over all I think it is a pretty fair review.. yes, as much as I like PCLOS, I do have to agree the new theme is UGLY, but this does not detract from it’s stability and usability..

    Also, a note about LVM on PCLinuxOS.. LVM is fully possible in PCLOS (I use it).. It just requires that you install the needed packages from the software repository, as they are not installed by default (I think the same is true of RAID).

    • Leo Orionis says:

      Hello there:

      I used Mandrake/Mandriva for a few years, then switched to PCLOS 2007 after hearing about it and trying it. Much less fiddling after installation than Mandriva, yet still has the great Mandriva tools! Recently I downloaded 2009.1 and it’s even better.

      But now I have a fancy new computer with 5 “terabyte” hard disks and I want to use LVM to make them one big volume. Could I beg you to give me directions on how to do this? I found and installed LVM from the repositories, but I still don’t see a LVM tab on hard drake. What do I do, and in what order?

      Thanks, and I’m sure there are others would appreciate you expounding this. — Leo

  5. pclosux says:

    PCLinuxOS is a lame Mandriva ripoff and will disappear soon in the dustbin of has-been distros who became irrelevant.

    Oh, and it looks like butt…..

  6. brad972 says:

    I’ve been using PC Linux for the past few years and all I can say is that if you are new to Linux, this is probably the best distro to start with. Everything you need is already installed and ready to use. Whether you need to publish web sites or want a multimedia machine, PC Linux fits the bill.

    The KDE desktop is extremely customizable and the further you look, the more you will find within it. Wireless, video and sound drivers, even setting up a home server couldn’t be easier.

    As Texstar said, it wasn’t necessarily his choice of the stock desktop background but there are other choices and you could always check out http://www.kde-look.org/ if you’d like to see more options.

    For overall performance, stability and usability, you simple can’t go wrong with PC linux. Even the Gnome version is very sharp and you can always install your favorite KDE aps in your Gnome desktop and vice-versa or dual boot them both and have fun.

  7. larry says:

    Hope they have recovered. I’ve used PCLinux since I beleive the day the first release came out. Loved every release. my favorite is 93a minime

    Anyway going back to version 2007 it can be updated to today’s 2009 update and the software packages under pclinux is updated better than most distributions.

    The update yearly deal isn’t needed with rolling updates and from the 2007 and 2008 you can have it fully updated to 2009 with a few pretty
    easy instructions all the way down to the nice friendly desktop. This review obviously had somebody who never used PcLinux before. Heck I still use windows2000

  8. gallup says:

    I am disappointed in the attitude of this reviewer, but looking through the negative jabs he does admit it is good. I don’t see why a rolling update such as this should ‘need’ to have a new release every year? One thing I disliked about other distro’s is the seeming race to release..ready or not. This one is very stable. others could learn from the finish of this release. Great forum support as well. All around my favorite, and I’m still using the default desktop background!

  9. BigBadBilly says:

    I have been using the Gnome version of PCLinux 2009.1 on an old 1.6ghz Pentium with 384!!mb( or thereabouts) of Ram for a few days. I did have problems installing to the hard drive, needed to do this 3 times; however I suspect some of that was due to me and this old PC.
    I think this is one of the cleanest, nicest, logical, faster distributions I have tried for a while and I am going to leave it on this PC for my guests to use;
    congratulations to all the folks who produced this; it’s great.
    Regards,
    BBB

  10. marcoa says:

    I’ ve been using PCLinuxOS 2007 since 2 years and I find it smooth, stable, fast, user friendly: easy to install and configure (for sure got the better control center than any other linux distribution, the mandriva’s one). I’ve installed PCLOS in many machines and for the first time I do not feel the need to swich to another one. Sometime I try new distro in a spare partition and it reinforce my appreciation to PCLOS system.

  11. Black-Pete says:

    It seems very clear that you tested this distro because you had to, not because you wanted to. Sorry to see that…

    • NAD3240PE says:

      I felt the exact same thing as soon as started reading the review; it sounded like the reviewer was in agony while installing and playing around with this distro. Now, I am not a huge fan of pclos but to the author, please, if you are going to do an OS review show some involvement and interested in what you are doing, regardless of how good or bad you think the OS actuall is…….

      Thanks.

  12. mavric says:

    Try the gnome variation, or remix. Very nice looking, better interface imo.
    Wish there was a review of the gnome version.

    • Bobby Penguini says:

      I installed the Gnome version on my laptop and on my main desktop. It really pops. Very fast and I was able to install a few of my favorite KDE apps that run very nicely in the PCLOS Gnome system bug free. I like that.

  13. Bobby Penguini says:

    PCLinuxOS has been and is consistently stable, fast and very easy to use. The installation process is as easy as a Linux installation gets. I like the 2009 desktop background, splash and etc. as do many other people. But even if a person did not like it…is that really a big deal? Not by a long shot. That Hardy Heron is the ugliest bird I have ever seen. It doesn’t matter.

    PCLinuxOS 2009, both the KDE and Gnome editions do everything that I want a desktop system to do. The repositories are well maintained, the rolling updates keep me current and PCLOS is easy to remaster. Which means that I can always have a current LiveCD or LiveDVD. Fully featured with full codecs and oodles of apps..

    In my opinion Fedora Core is the cutting edge distribution. But after having said that, I seldom boot Fedora anymore. PCLinuxOS does everything I want it to do and it is much easier to use and configure. There is a lot to like about Ubuntu and other distributions. I like the Synaptic Package manager from Ubuntu, the Mandriva Control Center, the way Mint allows a person to sign in as root and features from Fedora and other distributions which are all integrated into PCLinuxOS.

    I keep the current Fedora Core installed on a partition because Fedora was the first Linux distribution that I ever used (Fedora Core 2). Nostalgia. But I use PCLinuxOS. Because it is so damn stable and reliable.

  14. manmath sahu says:

    While comparing pclinuxos with mandriva you compared the features of both. Well, Mandriva might have more features, but pclinuxos is way more stable. I have used Mandriva Powerpacks for quite long time. But I would say any pclinuxos release is better than any mandriva.

    What can I say, I always find very less (to the extent zero) bugs in pclinuxos, whereas Mandriva ships with some obvious bugs.

    I would request you to run pclinuxos and mandriva on your desktop for some long time and review both again. Your point of view will definitely change.

  15. Bazzah says:

    It’s a fine distro and easily the best Linux I have used.It’s easy to change though and it works just great on my machine.

    They really went to some trouble to make it look ugly for 2009.

    The 2007 logo was clean, almost classy. Now they let some 5 year olds attack it with crayons.

    • Texstar says:

      I didnt pick the final graphics. In fact there was a big fight about it and some people got stabbed. :D

      • finid says:

        The review missed the mark on one or two points, but saying the default background image is “ugly” has nothing to do with the overall usefulness of the distro. It was just one observation, and my personal opinion. PCLinuxOS is a good distro, but it’s not perfect – nothing is.

      • Monty says:

        I think the graphics have a boldness that look great. I don’t have any intention of changing that graphic and it is running great on my quite old PIII. I think the reviewer is confused about the current level of influence Mandriva’s development still has on this distro thinking it is more like a common ‘buntu based distro and not its own independent distro as PCLOS is.

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