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PCLinuxOS is a rolling-release distribution which updates its installation disks every three months. There are official versions for KDE, Mate, and LXDE. It is aimed at the home or small business desktop.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 8
Ideal for the family comuter
For my annual inspection of PCLinuxOS Iíve tried the 32-bit KDE and Mate versions.
The start-up screen offers a live session (normal, failsafe, or loaded into RAM), installation, or a disk check. If you choose to check the disk, it will go to a live session afterwards, so if you need a different language, select it first with F2. The desktop of the live session has an icon to access detailed installation instructions, and the menu has a Help Portal giving links to many useful web sites. The installer is easy, although it doesnít support encrypting /home.
The KDE version naturally needs a reasonable amount of memory ó 1GB would be the absolute minimum ó but, since the special effects are not activated by default, itís not sluggish on single-core CPUs. The first thing to do is to get the updates. I had a couple of failures, solved by switching to a different mirror. Thereís a lot of software installed: LibreOffice (with spell-checking), Gimp, KolourPaint, Inkscape, Firefox (with Flash), Thunderbird, Kmail, Skype, Clementine, Dragon, VLC (with codecs), Great Little Radio Player, and a bundle of games. The items I checked worked well. It gave me a US locale, despite my UK keyboard, but thereís a locale-setting tool in the excellent configuration centre.
The Mate version starts you off with very few programs: Firefox, Pidgin, Thunderbird, Skype, Clementine, VLC, and Great Little Radio Player. Thereís a menu option to install LibreOffice but, since the current version of that doesnít like my computer, I installed OpenOffice: the job was simple, unlike in Mint. As with Mint, the notification area on the panel was invisible, but this is a Mate bug that only affects certain hardware.
Finally I looked at the Xfce respin. This is unofficial, and the download link is in the Xfce section of the PCLinuxOS forum. The software selection was different again: Firefox, Pidgin, Thunderbird, Skype, XChat, VLC, Great Little Radio Player, DeaDBeef, DeVeDe, Gimp, Inkscape, and LibreOffice. I noticed that, as well as the usual HPLIP, support tools for Epson and Lexmark printers were included. The only problem was that the developer had forgotten to populate the keyboard shortcuts file: not even Alt-F4 was there! The tool to do this is the one to configure the Window Manger, not the one for the keyboard.
The only criticisms I could make are the few niggles mentioned above and the usual struggle to enable my USB speakers : not major issues. This is the most stable of rolling-release distros, and a good choice for beginner or expert. And itís the only distro that has a free monthly magazine!