Registered: Feb 2003
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 9
Stable, up-to-date, easy to install, well organised...
Had to work around a couple of bugs, but no big deal...
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!