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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
This guide was created as an overview of the Linux Operating System, geared toward new users as an exploration tour and getting started guide, with exercises at the end of each chapter.
For more advanced trainees it can be a desktop reference, and a collection of the base knowledge needed to proceed with system and network administration. This book contains many real life examples derived from the author's experience as a Linux system and network administrator, trainer and consultant. They hope these examples will help you to get a better understanding of the Linux system and that you feel encouraged to try out things on your own.
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» Number of reviews : 18 - viewing 10 Per Page
Last Review by davecs - posted: 05-01-2010 05:41 AM
I have had no problems with the main KDE version on two machines of my own, have also installed it on two other people's machines, one who had never used Linux before but whose machine had been overrun by viruses.
It's stable and very fast. I've had no segfault problems, and as for the LXDE version, none have been reported at the forums, so timetraveler was just unlucky I guess.
The KDE4 implementation is simple, which I think is the best starting point. Thanks to the KDE Control Centre, it's easy to customise and add all the tricks/features/effects available. I like the Running Tasks to be displayed with the name alongside, not just the icon, but that is easily changed (http://www.pclinuxos.com/forum/index.php/topic,71784.0.html)
Most hardware just works™, but the PCLOS control centre can sort out the vast majority of problems and/or save settings. Plenty of power in there for a number of administrative tasks.
Boot and shutdown times are vastly improved. Everything is snappy and responsive.
Plenty of help at the forum, too.
PCLinuxOS MiniMe 2008 was intended as an interim release aimed at experienced users. In that sense it does its job. In some respects it's a little like installing that "other" operating system in that it's just an OS and you have to add the programs you want.
However Synaptic makes it easy, and the remaster feature gives the opportunity to build up your own set of software and create a live CD/DVD to install on other machines.
If you can understand enough English (or "wing it" a little) you can add support for other languages from the repositories, not just for KDE but also basic system locales.
If you have been around Linux long enough to know the names of packages you need to install, then this is strongly recommended. Great for system building etc, I've used it to get PCLinuxOS installed and working on an eeePC900, for example. http://hack.mypclinuxos.com/index.php?topic=349.0
I will not enter a rating here so as not to disturb the average, as I feel this variant of PCLinuxOS has been a 10 for me but is not for everyone.
Product Details: "PCLinuxOS MiniMe 2008" by masinick - posted: 02-29-2008 - Rating: 8.40
Last Review by davecs - posted: 10-29-2007 04:00 PM
winsnomore: A rating of "0" means that you did not give it a rating, and such entries do not affect the average! Actually I started this thread and gave it "10".
I put in an unrated entry to correct a point by another poster that PCLinuxOS does NOT use the Mandriva kernel.
Now I'm putting in another unrated entry to point out to you that, before you call someone a moron, you ought to check the facts, otherwise you end up looking like one yourself!
Before I get technical, I will say: PCLinuxOS is the ideal release for a beginning Linux user. With its Control Centre and automatic detection and setup of most hardware, the non-geek can use Linux without too much trouble.
PCLinuxOS originally forked from Mandrake (as was) 9.2. From the first public release, it was possible to upgrade to the next version without a re-install. However, by the time version 0.93a arrived, excellent though it was, its time had run out. Many source files would no longer compile against the v3 compilers without a few ugly hacks, and bringing in the new, v4.1 compilers meant a complete rewrite of every package.
It would have been easy, I guess, for Texstar and the gang to just recompile everything as was, but using the new compiler. But they had more ambitious ideas than that and the real guts of PCLinuxOS has been improved tremendously. Christmas saw a Test Release of PCLinuxOS 2007, a necessary step because, as a small distro built by a small group of volunteers, it was impossible to test the new base on a sufficient range of hardware. Whilst the majority had no problems with it, a number of people did and Texstar, ever the perfectionist, decided not to move to a full release but to go through 3 further test releases before issuing the Final on 20th May 2007.
Maybe it's the fact that it is a small team of people, rather than a big company, but the distro has attracted a whole cottage industry of connected sites/projects dealing with graphics, hardware capability and so on. So if you thought that the last version was a looker, then the new one is a real beaut. The default mouse behaviour is that icons require a double-click like Windows, less confusing for the new Linux user, easily changed from KDE Control Centre (which takes care of personal desktop stuff).
Although it's a complete new build, many of the good ideas introduced in version 0.93a have been kept and built upon. PCLinuxOS Control Centre (systemwide adjustments) has been beefed up even more, the strip-down of KDE has been retained, splitting up certain packages and not including much of the bloat, which creates space on the disk for OpenOffice, and also means that it goes faster. Though it's all there waiting in the repositories should you want it.
Booting up the LiveCD has changed. On the way, you get prompted for details to set up your keyboard, the time zone (and whether you want NTS), and your internet connection. If you then choose to install, these values are retained in your installed version. The are alternate boot/video modes for people who may have awkward hardware, to get them a desktop so that they can deal with it from there.
The improved installation of 0.93a still features. It's easy to use, you've got automated "partitioning" as an option, or you can use existing partitions, or you can customise it yourself. You can also choose between LILO and GRUB, however Graphical Lilo has been abandoned, if you want a graphical bootup you need to select Grub as your bootloader.
Hardware detection is improved further. As with any Linux, there is always the danger that something does not work (under any Linux), but for stuff that is Linux-compatible, the detection is excellent. Once you have installed, you can use "Synaptic" to add more packages, including the various essentials like libdvdcss, and a number of closed codecs, which are not on the CD for legal reasons.
Bootup is measurably one of the fastest. Closedown is also pretty quick now, too. After a temporary closure when the hosts were unable to deal with the sheer volume of traffic the site was creating, the site (still http://www.pclinuxos.com) now has dedicated hosting from a partnership deal with ENKI consulting. There were some teething troubles there at first, but now it's up and going. It's a good forum, safe for newbies, and one where you can even get answers from Texstar himself. The WIKI is being rebuilt.
A small number of packagers (though maybe more than in the past), script hackers and testers have been involved in putting the new release together, with Texstar somehow managing to let people get on with stuff but still keep overall control. New scripts have been written which allow users to install nvidia and ati video drivers from the repository, and which correct the graphics configuration file (/etc/X11/xorg.conf), whilst restoring the original if you uninstall the drivers.
Beryl and Compiz have been included, with the full range of spinning cubes and wobbly windows, with an applet in the Control Centre for "central" inclusion. Alternately, there are instructions at the site so that individual users can control whether Beryl runs on their individual desktop.
In my case, all hardware was detected apart from the TV card which, incidentally, I can't get working in Windows either so I think it's faulty. Actually it is detected correctly it just doesn't seem to work which backs up the last sentence! The printer had to be selected from a list, everything else just goes. My new computer has a USB Multicard reader, and it has a SATA DVDRW with lightscribe as well as a SATA Hard Drive. I found that when I tried to install 0.93a on it, as with many distros dating from mid-2006, there was confusion over drive letter allocations, with SATA drive and Card Reader completely confusing one another. No such problem at all in the 2007 release.
Whilst many users report great results at the forum with older hardware, it's the fact that it just works on my more modern AM2/SATA based system which impresses me most.
As in the past, you need 256Mb Ram to run the Live CD, a pre-requisite to installation. It's easy to run, install and maintain. The forums are helpful. Every release just gets better.
I'll start with the "con" above. If you are not using a USA keyboard, then on bootup you need to press "E" a couple of times, and edit the "keyb=us" in the grub line to something for your locality, eg, keyb=uk for Britain. I also added "xres=1280x1024" (default 1024x768) though it's easy to adjust screen resolutions later. Then hit ENTER, then "B", to boot.
You boot up into an attractive desktop. The default mouse behaviour is that icons require a double-click like Windows, less confusing for the new Linux user, easily changed from KDE Control Centre (which takes care of personal desktop stuff). PCLinuxOS Control Centre (systemwide adjustments) is more powerful than ever. KDE itself has been stripped down by splitting up packages and not including much of the bloat, which creates space on the disk for OpenOffice, and also means that it goes faster.
The installation has been completely re-written. It's easy to use, you've got automated "partitioning" as an option, or you can use existing partitions, or you can customise it yourself. You can also choose between LILO and GRUB.
Hardware is mostly detected. As with any Linux, there is always the danger that something does not work (under any Linux), but for stuff that is Linux-compatible, the detection is excellent. Once you have installed, you can use "Synaptic" to add more packages, including the "Multimediapack" which pulls in various essentials like libdvdcss, and a number of closed codecs, which are not on the CD for legal reasons.
Not only does it "just work", but the User Forum is very good. Mocking Newbies, slagging off other distros and "RTFM"-type replies are not allowed. There is also a WIKI giving loads of extra help, and you can even download user manuals. The community is a "good place".
Since 0.92, Thac has moved from providing "unofficial" packages to becoming an auxilliary packager, with his Xorg builds, and much of his media stuff being moved to the official repos, though still under the guidance of Texstar. Thac has produced a number of "dkms" packages, which enable 3rd-party modules (drivers) to be automatically built against the kernel, and these include packages for nvidia and ati video cards, and many other awkward bits of hardware. No need anymore for more than one version of PCLinuxOS, just add "dkms-nvidia" from Synaptic and you've got an nvidia version, no messing!
This wonderful distro goes from strength to strength.
Texstar and Co have done it again!
I would recommend this distro to anyone who either (a) has broadband or (b) can source the files from someone who has. As it is a LiveCD distro, there is a limit to what can fit on the CD, and Broadband is recommended to get the software that can't fit!
OK This is how it works:
You download an iso image, 690Mb. You burn it to a CD or DVD (I actually use a DVD+RW). You boot from the CD/DVD. At a prompt, type "mediacheck" and return. A program runs from the CD to test the media is sound. Takes under 5 minutes.
You then reboot the CD, this time I typed this in:
livecd xres=1280x1024 xbpp=24 keyb=uk fast
This means boot the live CD using a United Kingdom keyboard, with full DMA enabled for CD drives (fast), the resolution and bits per pixel speak for themselves. With some video cards, you may have to be specific for best results: eg xdrv=sis
You boot up into an attractive, well organised desktop, with plenty of software on the Start button, which looks like a child's toy windmill nestling at the bottom left of the screen. The Kicker Bar is a bit big, I like to adjust it using "Custom" size, 36 pixels, which I think looks better but is still practical. If you have a printer connected, you will be prompted to enter its details and it will be installed. With my HP 7760, it prompted as a Raw Printer, but I was able to locate HP Photosmart 7760 in the list, and everything was done, including adding CUPS and HPLIP to the background tasks.
All other hardware just worked, including my Broadband connection, via Ethernet and Cable. I tried the LiveCD on my sister-in-law's old rig which connects via WLAN using a PCI card, CNet CWP-854. This uses a Ralink RT2500 chipset and was autodetected and Internet set up automatically on that one as well. I had more troubles with a PRISM3 internal and some USB dongle for wifi, but with all Linux, that's par for the course.
The installation is smooth, apart from sorting out your partitions, but, again, that's what you expect. Anyone who has used Partition Magic in Windoze should be able to use the partitioner.
From then on, it's smooth as silk and installed in about 15-20 minutes. You can set up the bootloader, set up logging, create your own root password, and add a user before exiting the LiveCD.
Once installed, Synaptic is already set up with the correct repos to add software. OpenOffice is one I always need, which has been left off the disc due to space. KOffice is on the live cd instead. This is not a bad decision, given that the LiveCD is slower than an installation, and Slower plus OpenOffice is a deadly combination. Once installed you can add OOo (and remove KOffice if you want).
Another necessary install is "libdvdcss" which enables you to play DVDs. All other media stuff, including Real Player and MPlayer in Firefox, works out of the box. Default players are Kaffeine (video) and Amarok (sound) but can be changed. Xine and Xmms are also installed.
Going to www.bbc.co.uk in Firefox and finding a streamed video shows you how good this distro is.
PCLinuxOS Control Centre is inherited from this distro's Mandrake past, but has had a big makeover, and many of the scripts behind it have been improved out of all recognition, making it super-friendly.
Oh and I forgot to mention: On its mirrors there are currently four versions of the iso:
2. Nvidia for older cards
3. Nvidia for modern cards
4. New-ish Ati cards (older ones supported by vanilla version)
Also in the pipeline is a mini-me iso, which will consist of the minimum necessary to get up a graphics screen (I expect it will be fluxbox) and hardware detection, enabling you to construct your own software set. Gnome and XFCE are on the repos, along with Abiword, Gnumeric etc, so you can build a non-KDE setup if that's what you prefer.
Whilst creating an easy install for the beginner, PCLOS also has -devel rpms in the repos, and gcc installed, so you can build stuff from source. So plenty there for the more experienced user as well.
Summarising, you plug it in, it works. Apart from the disk partitioning (which let's face it you'll have to learn about if you want to dual boot with Windows, which many first-timers here will want to do), the install is about as easy as it gets. Maintaining it and keep software up to date is straightforward. It has its own repos, so all packages are compatible, so you won't break the distro by upgrading. If you use Synaptic to keep your kernel up to date, then one version morphs into the next, no need to re-install.
But the main thing about PCLinuxOS is that, it just works!
There were a few issues with preview_9, so now Texstar has made a few changes and now it's preview_91. Now it's 10/10!!!
Originally, this was within a gnat's c**k of getting 10/10. I've now given it 10 because of a few little issues which may fox a new user have been improved. It really is that good. If you've seen my previous reviews you will know I don't hand out 10s for anything short of perfection!
On my computer it misread the Screen Size. This resulted in a 1280x1024 desktop scrolling up/down and sideways on a 1024x768 canvas. This is due to my monitor, no question. I corrected this using the graphical front end, XFDrake. Unfortuately, this resulted in X not running. (I was able to sort it out quickly, by removing a line which read "Modeline" and nothing else in the file /etc/X11/xorg.conf.) Maybe it needs a further command line switch to force the monitor mode as well as the desktop size. There are two factors at work here, one, my monitor does not communicate back correctly, and two, there is a tiny, tiny error in the XFDrake script. I have worked out the problem and notified this to Texstar (the distros author). Today (10th July 2005) he e-mailed me some proposed changes to a script file, as he could not duplicate the problems on his own computer or monitor. As a result, the next update will have fixed the problem. Which only I had complained of! That's the measure of this guy's commitment to a "Home User's" distro!
My monitor was doing a lot of weird things, so I disconnected the Digital cable and connected the Analogue cable, and most of the things it was doing stopped. So I tried the LiveCD again just out of curiosity and not only was the monitor detected correctly, but the problems that occur when I tried to change the settings did not occur! So the fault seems to be with the relationship between my monitor in Digital mode and my Video Card. So chalk that one off!
A minor irritation is that, it came up on first boot after installation with the sound muted and within that, the PCM sound muted. Only a little irritation because a little fiddle with KMix (the volume control you see in the system tray) soon put that right. The next bootup worked correctly.
Now you get to see what a fine distro this is. Just installed? No matter, visit the BBC web site in Firefox and listen to the radio or watch video clips, Realplayer is integrated out of the box.
The Utopia project (HAL/DBUS) is included, that has superceded supermount, and it works smoothly. If you plug in a USBkey, it will mount, but you can unmount from a right-click menu to ensure any data you wrote on it is saved before removing it. The main desktop is KDE3.4.1 with all its new kioslaves, everything is up to date and everything seems to work.
It uses Synaptic to do software updates. You can add libcss and libdvdcss in order to watch DVDs which will start and play in Kaffeine on plug-in. How cool is that?
Unlike Mandrake, KPackage is still included, so you can add 3rd party distro-independent rpms like Adobe Reader 7, with no resort to the command line.
Oh, and "thac", he of the Electronics and Music builds, has provided a repository as well, having been flamed by several people at the Mandriva forums, he has moved his fine work from Mandriva to PCLinuxOS. Thac has even created rpms to automate the installation of nvidia drivers!
I ran the live CD, corrected the problems outlined above, then installed. 20 minutes later, I had a full OS with great integration and an excellent choice of software. If only other systems (including Windoze) were that easy.
The support you get from the Web Site (www.pclinuxonline.com) is excellent, and there is a wiki being built to make things easier for newbies.
I've had less fiddling to do with this distro than any other one I have ever installed. And once up and running, it is integrated, stable, with a great "starter" set of software for the home user.
I cannot wait for Version 1.0 proper.
A while ago, I would have rated this distro more highly, and recommended it, maybe scoring 8 or 9.
So what has changed? Not enough, in my view. I cut my Linux teeth on Mandrake, 9.0 (urpmi broke on update), 9.1 (brilliant), and 9.2 (also brilliant).
But whilst version numbers have moved on, and kernels are newer, the distro itself has remained static. You still have to type in all your software choices by hand. If you mess up you have to do it again. I know you can save them to a floppy, but I don't have a floppy and increasingly computers come without floppies. Why not allow you to save to a file on an unaffected partition, or on a USB key, or something?
The other thing is that you are presented with a list of programs whose names are meaningless. When I first used Mandrake, it was worth making multiple installs until you got it right, because it was still the most user-friendly out there.
Mandrake's appeal to me was always user friendliness, but I'm afraid the bar has been raised. I recently tried this distro because it was a free coverdisk, and whilst other distros have become friendlier, Mandriva has stood still. The other reason I tried it was because my PCLinuxOS partition had been b0rked and it was there so I thought I'd have a look. Frankly I couldn't wait to get PCLOS back.
One of the things I noticed is that KPackage is not included, not even on the DVD version. So this meant I had to use the command line to install the RPMs of OpenOffice 2-beta. Sorry, but rpm from the command line is a pain in the ar5e!
PCLOS forked from Mandrake 9.2. It has continued to develop user friendliness. It installs a default set of software, which is very well selected, but has repositories from which you can add/subtract/update. It uses apt for rpm, which means you get the easier-to-operate synaptic for updates. It includes a lot of the media stuff you had to get from PLF as standard.
MEPIS has also moved the same way, but is Debian-based. As I said, the "user-friendliness" bar has been raised, that's how we're gonna get people to switch, and what was good enough in 2003 is not good enough any more.
I'm giving it 7/10 because it's not bad, it's just that you can do better these days, so I cannot recommend it!
EDITED again on 13/5/05. Still 9/10
Why the further edit?
Well, the PCLOS repositories contain an updated kernel, 2.6.11-oci5, and this, along with KDE3.4 and HAL/DBUS takes it to another level. OK you need a few adjustments in KDE Control Centre to get it at its best, but you now have the ultimate automount system. Plug in a USB Stick and an icon appears, mounted. Save stuff to it, you can unmount it prior to unplugging without becoming root. It's not 100% perfect yet, but this is project Utopia coming to fruition here.
If only they could get pseudo-MIDI working (ie timidity -iA seems to work, but no sound comes out) this would be 10/10. It's just getting so damn good!
EDITED ON 12 March 05. Mark upgraded to 9/10
Why the edit? The pre_8 edition is now pre_81a. A few changes have been made, like a shiny new 2.6.10 kernel, and many other changes for the better:
PClinuxOS is forked from Mandrake. There's no getting away from that. Is that a bad thing, though?
As a former user of Mandrake 9.2, one of the "easy urpmi" repositories that proved popular was by Texstar. He produced some quality RPMs and often got updates like KDE and the like onto Mandrake desktops well before they appeared officially. His builds were always sound. They often improved on the eye-candy as well.
After Mdk9.2, the "texstar" builds vanished. However, Texstar and Tom Kelly have built this distro which, at first glance, appears to build on all the strengths of Mandrake, but with additional ease of use, especially in setting up.
When you run the Live CD, apart from the lack of speed (due to on-the-fly decompression) you wouldn't know it was a Live CD. The Knoppix trap of over-filling the menus and using a distracting Wallpaper have been avoided, instead, a really useful set of software is used, with a nice but functional background, and well-organised menus in the latest KDE3.3.2. It detected all my hardware (including my prism3 usb wlan card which nothing else ever has - though I still can't get it to work). It's got nearer than anything else, though. Having played with it, you can install it on to your Hard Drive. EDIT: A new PCLOS wallpaper has been added, still nice and unobtrusive. The KDE splash screen is also a PCLOS banded variety.
The means of doing this is an icon provided on the "guest" KDE desktop. Once run, you need to (prepare and) rename and format your target partition using a direct Mandrake steal, Discdrake. Having done that, the installation is pretty much automatic, and should take no more than 20 mins. If it takes much longer, you may have a distorted CD, as I found to my cost on my first four attempts! Once I burned a fresh CD, it went great! EDIT: I found the install a little quicker, though no less software is being installed. On my reasonably quick machine it installed in under 10 minutes.
Up and running, setting up users is simple. You set root password during installation. [EDIT: The root password bug is fixed! So I deleted the guff about it.] Normal users and passwords can dealt with via a graphical interface once installed.
Using synaptic to update the software took a little getting used to, after "emerge" in gentoo and "gurpmi" in Mandrake. Eventually I found that I preferred it to Mandrake Control Centre because I could remove, update and add from the same interface, rather than exiting one and running another, and that felt more logical.
In use, OpenOffice.org 1.1.3 (which is the KDE-madeover version) loaded first time in 6 seconds, subsequently in 4, and glxgears gave me the same return as I got in Gentoo, and a little faster than in Mandrake. [EDIT: OOo is now v1.1.4, due to stability issues with 1.1.3 and the kde build.]
The version of udev supplied as standard requires an update before it will form device nodes for "raw1394". I then found that adding the module "dv1394" to the /etc/modprobe.preload file caused eth1394 to be loaded also, and the bootup searched for a firewire ethernet. To avoid this you need to put "eth1394" in a file called "/etc/hotplug/blacklist". A bit of a pain but I got there! [EDIT: UDEV is more up to date now]
Strangely enough, it prefers KMyMoney to Gnucash, though version 1.8.6 of the latter can be installed (1.8.9 has been out for ages). [ EDIT: cut loads of guff about an old version of Scribus and how to use cvs. 81a includes the latest Scribus 1.2.1]
[EDIT: The newer version did not have a problem with Ghostscript resulting in printer failure so I scrubbed that bit]
I may have given the distro 9 or 10 were it not for these problems, as these are the sort of things that put off a potential first-time linux user, but for someone who has been there before, it was no big deal in the end, just a little frustrating. [EDIT: I now have given it 9/10]
But remember, this is prerelease "beta" software. They are still working on eliminating bugs. Things are being added and the site at www.pclinuxonline.com includes an "rpm request" thread where many wishes are answered.
In the scheme of things, it runs faster than Mandrake, it's easy to set up, most of the software is up to date, it's easy to maintain and add packages. It looks good, some of the wallpapers are stunning though not intrusive.
OK it's not quite as customisable as Gentoo, but for a beginner or a more experienced user who wants a binary-based distro that combines looks with functionality, ease of use and ease of installation, this distro is on its way to becoming something special! 9/10 now, but expect 10/10 before long. [EDIT 9/10 now was 8!]
EDIT: NEW BIT:
Where it does score over Gentoo is the tightness of the integration between Firefox and Real-Player and with the multimedia stuff it's definitely a drop-in replacement for Windoze if that's your thing. I've been listening to BBC Radio 7 stuff online recently and it's been great!