Sunday, July 25, 2010

Myths Surrounding PCLinuxOS 2010

I had some good time with Red Hat. Then the KDE side of the world looked more appealing, and I had some off-and-on relationship with Mandrake (Mandriva) and Mepis. It was PCLinuxOS who finally won my heart; since 2005 it always sits on one of my PCs. I still do a lot of distro-hopping but never use my PCLinuxOS partition for that purpose. It feels home.

It was a pioneer desktop distribution in its early years, of course there was Mepis (Mepis still is my second choice for its out-of-box usability and Debian stability). Later many desktop wanna-be's merged in the Linux Desktop (Ubuntu and its clan, Fedora, OpenSuse, Sabayon and lot lot more) leading to great divisions in mindshare. Also came along thousands of OSS blogs, forums and websites that regularly register news, events and releases related to linux distributions. Now every average Joe wants to be a Susan Linton and posts his/her linux experience. It's become a kind of fashion to blog Linux/OSS, which, though helpful in promoting linux among the masses, sometimes spreads myths surrounding some distributions. Here's an honest attempt to clear the myths surrounding PCLinuxOS, my fav distro.

#1 PCLinuxOS is a Mandriva Spinoff

It was started with a Mandriva base, but over the years it has grown to a different personality. Except for the beloved Control Center none of the components are borrowed from Mandy. PCLinuxOS 2010 is built from the grounds up using the home grown repository. Tex and PCLOS devs have taken bits and pieces from Fedora, OpenSuse and Mandriva, even some of the patches used are from Debian, PLD and Chakra. Would you call it a respin of all these distros?

The greatness of a modern linux desktop distribution lies in how well you integrate components (no matter from where they are taken) and how well you take decisions regarding choosing/upgrading the critical components and introducing new technologies. In this regards, PCLinuxOS is a tightly integrated, well-put-together, stable and out-of-the-box usable distribution. It's a respin of none!

#2 PCLinuxOS Lacks Roadmap

Yes, it lacks one, if rediscovering itself every six months and pushing untested packages forward is what you mean by a roadmap. Still, it's refreshingly modern, always (the latest release has KDE 4.4.5). Most often your hardware will love the latest PCLinxOS and the repository keeps refreshing the most popular packages. What's more, the new quarterly ISO releases bring you the latest in pclos pool - no need to upgrade hundreds of packages just after installation! It follows rolling-release, a philosophy. You may call it a roadmap.

#3 It's a KDE-Centric Distribution

To some extent it's KDE-centric. But it's not a KDE-only distribution. It has easy-installation options for several other desktop environments. The term "KDE-Centric" gives a feel of "KDE-only" to some newbies, which is bad. The community releases gnome, xfce, enlightenment, lxde and openbox flavours. These are also well-tested and modern.

#4 It Lacks a 64-Bit Version

We know modern PC hardware is 64-Bit-Ready. However, that doesn't mean software-world is also ready for the change. 64-Bit still doesn't make much of a sense for desktops (servers have a different story). Many of the productivity and web software are still 32-bit. Even in many other cases the performance difference between 32- and 64-bit is so negligible that you can't perceive it. 32-Bit is still the main-stay and there's no compelling reason to make the move. If at all you want to use more than 4Gb memory you can pull in a PAE kernel. The good news is pclos people have planned for a 64-bit version, and I am sure they will bring it out at the right time.

#5 One Man Calls the Shots, Undemocratic Decisions, Uncultured Community

It's an absolute myth. PCLinuxOS is driven by community. Tex and the devs listen keenly to its users and work carefully towards fulfilling their demands and wishes. Moving to KDE4 is one such example where Tex and the devs made a smart decision where they took the users' responses and waited long till it became feature-complete and stable to stand up to pclos standards. I am not sure, but pclos forum is the most friendly one. Some forum posts and threads might sound authoritative (not uncultured) because the person helping you is most often a pclos developer (at times Tex himself), and is confident of what he/she says. PCLinuxOS community is full with mature and wise people who provide real help. It's not like noob-helping-a-noob. In my early days with pclinuxos I've even got some apps packaged and sent to my mail by some generous forum members. Where else you'll expect this much help? As for leading the community and making crucial decisions (based on community mandate), I believe, Tex is the best man. Have you ever seen 100 captains sailing one ship or 5 presidents representing one country?

15 comments:

Big Bear said...

That is some very sweet kool aid you are drinking indeed.

I take two issues with your list.

first, PCLinuxOS is indeed KDE centric as the focus of the distro is customized with KDE in mind. (Once you start with remastering it, you realize how much KDE apps have been ingrained into the default configurations. It is no problem to add other DE's like Gnome or Xfce, but it is indded KDE centric.

Second. Don't confuse building with community input with being a community distro. There is no committee or panel that votes on direction or defaults. it is one person. The majority of the work is done by one person with contributions from others.

While I'm not saying that being a one man show is necessarily a bad thing or that being KDE centric is a bad thing either, they are relevant to the distro in general.

To some people, they are important aspects of the distro.

Some folks prefer that one person is running the show as they feel it makes the presentation a more integrated and streamlined effort.

Others feel that being KDE centric allows better integration and packaging of apps that work together as a whole better than just independently packed DE set ups.

Elf Wizard said...

Hi! :-)

Congrats to Texstar, the dev team and the entire community.
They made a really good distro and a strong and friendly community.

I'm waiting for the x64 edition.
Using the 32bit on a 64bit processor, throttles you down on cpu demanding tasks (7zipping a big archive, or waiting for a chess machine to solve a problem etc.).

Otherwise PCLOS is almost perfect!

I tested it for a while and had some minor problems (eg. graphical grub doesn't cooperate with clonezille), and one big problem.
Mounting wasn't worked for me as I expected! :-(

I really hate mounting external drives-partitions, at read-only mode.
Konqueror with root privileges didn't helped at all! (Only logging in as root).

I think messing with fstub, or trying various options from konsole, is not an option for beginners.

Finally I managed to compile disk-manager (that I have as a companion, on my main Debian system).


I think a 64 release and a better mounting approach are the only things needs to be done.

THANKS for the review!!!
Giorgos. :-)

Elf Wizard said...

Hi! :-)

Congrats to Texstar, the dev team and the entire community.
They made a really good distro and a strong and friendly community.

I'm waiting for the x64 edition.
Using the 32bit on a 64bit processor, throttles you down on cpu demanding tasks (7zipping a big archive, or waiting for a chess machine to solve a problem etc.).

Otherwise PCLOS is almost perfect!

I tested it for a while and had some minor problems (eg. graphical grub doesn't cooperate with clonezille), and one big problem.
Mounting wasn't worked for me as I expected! :-(

I really hate mounting external drives-partitions, at read-only mode.
Konqueror with root privileges didn't helped at all! (Only logging in as root).

I think messing with fstub, or trying various options from konsole, is not an option for beginners.

Finally I managed to compile disk-manager (that I have as a companion, on my main Debian system).


I think a 64 release and a better mounting approach are the only things needs to be done.

THANKS for the review!!!
Giorgos. :-)

Anonymous said...

There certainly is an upside to being run by one person - efficiency. With too many people having too much of a say, nothing gets done. "Design by committee" simply doesn't work.

Everyone is so nervous about what's going to happen post-Texstar. It's a very understandable concern. However, Linux distros come and go, and if PCLinuxOS was to fold tomorrow, wouldn't everyone just find another distro that satisfies their need as best they can? I'm sure the community would step up. Right now, there's nothing else like PCLinuxOS out there, and it would be a big pill to swallow if it simply was no longer.

Honestly, I'm sick and tired of the larger Linux community acting as if PCLinuxOS is some step-child distro. Ubuntu seems more reliant upon Debian than PCLinuxOS is on Mandriva. Linux Mint is VERY reliant upon Ubuntu. PCLinuxOS has finally stepped out and become its own distro, built from the ground up. It should be recognized as such.

And, Big Bear, is there really a "community distro"? Debian has a board, Fedora and OpenSuse have leadership... They all have someone making the decisions.

OjM said...

"There is no committee or panel that votes on direction or defaults. it is one person. The majority of the work is done by one person with contributions from others."

Is there a committee or panel on Linux development voting on direction or defaults? It's all Linus Torvalds right? People contribute and he decides, like a dictator.

Really, if the community doesn't like what Tex is doing, they'll just fork it and do it themselves. Also, I'd not believe that Tex makes MAJORITY of things for PCLinuxOS... That would mean that he'd do more than all others together, get real... And no, I'm not using it myself actually, I prefer Debian/Ubuntu -line.

Anonymous said...

A couple of points:
A community, lead by one man is not less of a community than one lead by a committee. Denying that a distro is community developed because of its choice of leadership structure is an incorrect assumption. A benevolent leader is always my preference over an argumentative or oppressive committee.

Regarding kde-centric or no, many of the PCLinuxOS system tools are GTK. Does this make it a Gnome-centric distro? No. While the main release uses the kde desktop, it is made up of what works, regardless of origin. This makes PCLinuxOS What-works-centric, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

1.@ big bear. The KDE4 desktop can be completely removed and replaced with any other DE of your choice with relative ease.

2.There is no committee or panel but the entire forum members were involved in deciding the application defaults for the 2010 release. Community driven would be the most accurate description.

GreyGeek77 said...

PCLOS is an EXCELLENT distro, and as long as TexStar remains in charge it will continue to be so. He is a VERY talented programmer, a master at RPM building, and an excellent administrator.

Following the hurricane which hit Huston, Tx, he took leave of the project for over a year to restore his personal life and property.

HIS importance to PCLOS became obvious during his absence as "the gang" disintegrated into quarreling factions and the distro released under their watch, while better than many other distros at the time, was a dismal failure when viewed from the previous PCLOS standards TexStar set, prompting TexStar to get back into the saddle and resume control. He quickly re-released a much improved version and culminated his return with the release of PCLLINUXOS 2010, which is the best version of that distro ever released.

PCLOS is one distro I hope will always be available, and is one distro I would gladly pay for.

uncleV said...

Me the almost noob use both LXDE and KDE versions of PCLinuxOS. The first one on a nine years old PC and the second one on a decent 64bit bought this year.
Everything is fine on both machines.

I came to PCLOS after a two year experience with Ubuntu on these machines.I was not happy with Ubuntu.

I'm very happy with PCLOS. Stable, fast, friendly. As they say in Ubuntu - everything just works. Yes it works.

Thank you, people!

MM said...

PCLinux failed to connect internet with my Nokia E51 mobile phone. There is no 'wvdial', 'modemmanager' or even 'usb-modeswitch' preinstalled in PCLinuxOSLXDE 2010. Is PCLOS only for those who don't use mobile broadband to connect in internet?

A said...

Not that much community user friendly: Once I expressed my opinions on the forum and got kicked off.
I never turned my back. And never went back too. As Big J once said: Don't drop pearls to pigs, they understand nothing of pearls. If I was not good helping in the forum, the forum was not good enough for me either.

Damian said...

I can't help thinking that everyone now tries to compare distros against Ubuntu. Yet Ubuntu certainly isn't "community driven" in some anarchist way - it's a strict meritocracy with a dictator for life in the form of Mr Shuttleworth, owned and run by a company. I'm not saying that's bad, just that I don't think any distro is run along those (rather idealistic) lines. Hey, at least the guys in charge do seem to listen to their users...

Anonymous said...

"MM said...

PCLinux failed to connect internet with my Nokia E51 mobile phone. There is no 'wvdial', 'modemmanager' or even 'usb-modeswitch' preinstalled in PCLinuxOSLXDE 2010. Is PCLOS only for those who don't use mobile broadband to connect in internet?"


@MM: I have used a USB cellmodem with PCLinuxOS for a number of years, simply by opening the Network Centre and adding it as an "analog modem" device. Use "#777" for the number to dial, the device's assigned telephone number and carrier's link address as the account "username", and the device's serial number for the "password" - like so:

#777
555blablah@1x.telusmobility.com
0940whatever

I could either leave the cellmodem plugged in during bootup and be connected and ready to go upon bootup completion, or I could also start and stop the cellmodem manually by right-clicking upon the Network applet in the system tray.

On the whole it has worked well for me, although by now the cellmodem has suffered damage and is no longer functioning properly (not related to PCLinuxOS at all; merely a failing battery, and a damaged (cracked) USB connector). It is possible, it is very reliable, and it is also VERY expensive when your monthly data allotment accidentally becomes exceeded.

nixer said...

My short and simple comment:

PCLinuxOS is
- simple to install.
- simple to manage.
- simple to actually use.
- Radically Simple.

I have tried many different distributions, and I found PCLinuxOS quite by accident. I was very lucky when I did.

The largest myth surrounding PCLinuxOS is that it is hard to use because it is linux. This is not true. If I can install and use it, anyone can.

Anonymous said...

Genial brief and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you on your information.

Share your thoughts