Ramblings of a Professional Computer Geek

September 11, 2008

Is PCLinuxOS Stale?

Filed under: Linux,PCLinuxOS — Padma @ 3:55 pm
Tags: ,

Recently, I’ve been reading posts talking about how PCLinuxOS is “stale”, “going downhill”, or even “dying”.  They point out that the “current” version of PCLOS is 2007, has an out-of-date kernel, and won’t recognize the latest hardware.

While these posts have a point, they are mssing the larger picture.  PCLOS is a “rolling release” distro.  It doesn’t need to be released every six months to fix problems.  Users aren’t forced to re-install in order to get the latest and greatest version of anything.  I installed PCLOS 2007 many months ago.  I immediately did a full update, several hundred Meg of patches.  Since then, I have updated roughly once per week, so I have, in effect, the latest and greatest that will be delivered in the next iso put out by Tex and the Ripper Gang.

But let me see if I can explicitly counter some of the points I have seen made:

  1. The UI is old. Oh, come now.  It was “fresh” and “new” a mere 18 months ago.  It’s still one heck of a nice-looking desktop.  Besides, one of the first things I do, at least, is update the appearance of the desktop to suit my own mood and needs.  I apply different wallpaper, and different icons, and a different color scheme … Okay, so I don’t stick with the default.  Then again, most people I know, don’t.  But I just booted the live-CD a few days ago, and I still thought the overall look was pretty classy.
  2. The repos don’t have up-to-date software.  If you mean “bleeding edge” software, then you are correct.  Everything in the repos is built and tested against the rest of the repos to make sure nothing breaks something else.  If it does, then something needs to be fixed.  This is all done to help maintain the stability of the distro.  Of course, usually this charge is levied when “version 3.7.19 came out Tuesday, and it’s not in the repos, yet!”  But if you look at the repos, we currently might have 3.7.17, which probably meets the needs of 99% of the users.  Besides, compiling and testing software takes time, so if nobody points out that a newer version is available, and also why it should be upgraded, it probably won’t be done right away.

    The more specific charge, lately, is that KDE 4.1 is out, and everybody else offers it.  Why don’t you? The basic fact is, KDE 4.x is not “ready for prime time”, even according to the KDE developers.  PCLinuxOS is targeted at new Linux users, offering a stable, high-quality experience.  Why give “newbies” a known-to-be-buggy interface?  KDE 4.x is making great strides, and I am sure will become a very solid product.  Meanwhile, I suspect that 4.1.1. might be offered as an optional item in the soon-to-be-released “2008” version.

  3. It’s no better than any other distro at detecting hardware. This is a bad thing?  Sure, it doesn’t make a great marketing tool, “We’re no worse than anybody else!”, but it’s not really a bad thing.
  4. Ubuntu/OpenSuse/Mandriva/et.al. are marketing PCLOS out of existence. Well, a corporate distro, particularly Ubuntu, has much deeper pockets than Tex has.  PCLOS spreads by word-of-mouth.  The “big boys” can afford to put thousands, or even millions, of dollars down for marketing, and maybe to smooth the way into corporate markets, and such.  If Linux were all about marketing, and “sales”, then PCLOS would definitely be an “also-ran”.

    But PCLOS is really just a distro put out by one man in Texas (admittedly with the help of a small team of helpers from around the globe), who makes a version of Linux he likes, and is willing to share with anyone who wants a copy.  If people like it, that’s great.  If they prefer a different distro, that’s fine, too.  As he has said, “use whatever distro works on your hardware.”

I, personally, don’t think PCLinuxOS has gone stale.  It works great on my hardware.  It has stable, reasonably up-to-date software.  Does it need a new release?  Yes, if just to provide a newer default kernel and better hardware detection from the live-CD.  Also to reduce the amount of updates needed to bring the install “current”.  It will also generate a little more “buzz” in the marketplace, which, I admit, is not really a bad thing.

On a final note, I will point out that there is a project underway to produce an official remaster of PCLinuxOS on a quarterly basis, bundling all the updates to that point into the system and making a new live-cd.  This will reduce the amount of updates needed to download after an install, and may even help keep the “buzz” going.  All they’re waiting on is for the next official release, which should be “Real Soon Now™”.

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10 Comments »

  1. Agreed!

    Check it out…my uname -a on my PCLinuxOS Install (2007)

    Linux amdx2.lost.lan 2.6.24.4.tex3 #1 SMP Sat Mar 29 16:07:20 CDT 2008 i686 AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 3800+ GNU/Linux

    The .26 kernel is in testing currently. While the livecd does ship with an older kernel…development continues!!! No staleness…only a lot of upstream changes (kernel and other) that are making getting an updated iso out difficult 🙂

    Comment by devnet — September 11, 2008 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

  2. PCLinuxOS 2007 is the best community distribution, simple, speed and stable…Other thing are aditional, my uname -a:

    Linux localhost 2.6.22.15.tex2 #1 SMP Mon Dec 17 23:18:44 CST 2007 i686 AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4600+ GNU/Linux

    With a SOLID Kde 3.5.9
    OpenOffice 2.4.0
    VirtualBox 2.0
    FireFox 3.x
    And full software from repos…

    Ubuntu, SuSE, Mandriva are only “fashion”

    Comment by Joel Zerpa — September 11, 2008 @ 11:15 pm | Reply

  3. I’m not a PCLOS user (have tried it in the past) but isn’t PCLOS 2008 out yet (it was called something like “mine me” and had a Vista-ish appearance)?

    Anyway, I have never seen any Ubuntu ads so.

    Ubuntu is so popular because everyone online is talking about it.

    Comment by linuxowns — September 12, 2008 @ 3:40 am | Reply

  4. Agree completely with your post. I would also like to add that of all the livecd’s I tried, including Mandriva Spring 2008, PCLinuxOS was the only one that recognised and configured my netgear wireless card on my laptop. Admittedly some would recognise it and configure it using the livecd but then when I installed whatever distro I was trying I would get an error saying that the card couldnt be configured as extra packages needed to be downloaded and installed – this included Mandriva. I put it down to possibly using one kernel for the livecd and then installing another rlevant to your hardware. This certainly happens with Mandrake. The Livecd – i seem to recall – uses a .desktop kernel but then installs a .laptop kernel.

    As you state, provided you update regularly, once a week or once every two weeks then you always have the latest packages installed.

    And as others have said ‘if your current kernel is not giving any problems then dont upgrade it’

    Regards

    Dave Le Huray
    Guernsey

    [me@linuxlaptop ~]$ uname -a
    Linux linuxlaptop 2.6.22.15.tex2 #1 SMP Mon Dec 17 23:18:44 CST 2007 i686 Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU 2.53GHz GNU/Linux

    Comment by Dave Le Huray — September 12, 2008 @ 5:53 am | Reply

  5. Second the motion

    I was tired of WinXX and more MS updates that can fit on a screen, viruses, malware and the like. I decided to try out Linux, but which version (thats distro to all you linux geeks)?

    After surfing the net I found PCLOS and thought I might give it a try. It’s only my second attempt at even going close to Linux. The other attemp was last week and making a live CD of Puppy. That worked and I still have it running on an older PC on which I did a full install. Not much fun for the uneducated Linux type.

    I have just finished firing up PCLOS on live CD for the first time 10 minutes ago. Clean, fast, really nice looing on this 17″ LCD. Think I’ll keep it a while and not worry about the newest distro (there I go typing/talking like a geek).

    I have yet in my 20 years of MS world ever loaded an OS that didn’t need several updates out-of-the-box. So, finally, stop shaking in your boots, from what I read 2008 is soon to be out, down load it, update it, enjoy it.

    Smithwithani

    Comment by Smithwithani — September 12, 2008 @ 7:20 am | Reply

  6. There is nothing wrong with being a small distro as long as it is consistent and delivers what people need. The problem is that people have unrealistic expectations. PCLOS is what it is. take it or leave it. Users have a choice and that is good.

    Most people are happy with the distro as it is. When people project their own biases, hopes and aspirations on any distro, it will not stand up to the scrutiny of most observers subject it to. It never quite does what they want it because they are looking at what they others are doing and not being content with a good thing. It is a malaise of our times. We want it all and we want it now. Needs vs. wants.

    I am a casual PCLOS user, like what I see and recommend it frequently (and I am an Ubuntu user). I have used PCLOS on and off for several years and it is consistent and solid. Nothing has changed from that perspective.

    Thanks for your timely thoughts as a new edition is due out soon. That should shut critics up for awhile, but I seriously doubt it.

    Comment by LinuxCanuck — September 12, 2008 @ 8:28 am | Reply

  7. “I’m not a PCLOS user (have tried it in the past) but isn’t PCLOS 2008 out yet (it was called something like “mine me” and had a Vista-ish appearance)?”

    PCLOS-2008 “Mini-Me” was put out earlier this year. It is a stripped-down version of the distro, only a “bare-bones” setup. It is intended for users who want more control over what gets installed, since almost nothing comes with it, by default. It has the most current versions of software that were in the PCLOS repos at the time it was issued.

    When Mini-Me was issued, it was expected that the full-blown 2008 release would be following within a month or so. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, that didn’t happen. (One reason, I understand, was some difficulty getting some of the hardware modules stable. Tex won’t release until he’s sure the product will work correctly on *all* the systems he and the RG have.) Now it’s 4 – 5 months later than expected, but it is coming out. And we can be sure it’s good.

    Comment by Padma — September 12, 2008 @ 8:50 am | Reply

  8. As mentioned PCLinuxOS MiniMe 2008 was released in January.
    Also mentioned was the fact that PCLOS is a “rolling release” distro.
    Its also a distro that includes the mklivecd script, which makes it easy to remaster.
    I takes 15 minutes to install it, a bit longer to update and install all the apps.
    Then it is an easy few clicks to create an updated .iso. From there I can install the updated iso
    as I wish without the need to update it. Basically I create my own updated release.
    This is exactly what I use on my AMD Phenom tri-core and it rocks.

    imho PCLinuxOS rules!

    Comment by Weric — September 12, 2008 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

  9. I used PCLOS 2007 in the past and I absolutely like the fact that its detection of hardwares is one of the best, if not THE very best, among all Linux distros on offer.

    However its fonts are ugly to my eyes and I can’t change it to the same quality as Windows fonts. And the rolling updates are giving me troubles as many updates can’t be completed due to some errors with no clear method for a newbie like me on how to solve them.

    But my biggest peeve is that nobody bothers to write a MANUAL. OK most experts will pooh pooh such wish, but for a newbie it is much more reassuring to have a manual to refer to for any problem, rather than going to a Forum and read through hundreds of postings in order just to find one particular solution.

    I now want to try OpenSuSE 11 – supposedly its hardware detection is excellent, and if you don’t mind to buy the boxed product it comes with a MANUAL !

    Comment by leo danuarta — September 14, 2008 @ 10:28 pm | Reply

  10. “… its fonts are ugly to my eyes and I can’t change it to the same quality as Windows fonts.”

    On the other hand, I have never had a problem with fonts in PCLOS, and even prefer the appearance to my fonts in Windows. I don’t know if this is just a ‘personal preference’ thing, or if there are actual technical differences between systems. I know that I always automatically install the webcore fonts, as well as the liberation fonts, but I didn’t make any changes to the default fonts on my system.

    “And the rolling updates are giving me troubles as many updates can’t be completed due to some errors with no clear method for a newbie like me on how to solve them.”

    And, again, I have never had any trouble. I just open Synaptic, click “Refresh” to update the repository listing, click “Mark All Upgrades”, and click “Apply”. Everything updates smooth as silk. But then, that is something that seems to not be well understood by newbies. One shouldn’t do ‘selective updates’. To keep everything working, you should always update *all* your installed software.

    “But my biggest peeve is that nobody bothers to write a MANUAL.”

    You may have hit on something, here. I remember, eons ago, when I purchased a box set of Mandrake 8.1, how nice it was to have that hardcopy manual in my hands. Even though I already knew virtually everything in it. It was pleasing to be able to go someplace and double-check my memory, and maybe even gain a new insight on some particular item.

    Of course, since PCLOS isn’t sold in boxed sets, it’s not surprising there is no hardcopy manual to be had. There is, at least the Wiki Documentation Project (http://docs.pclinuxos.com/doku.php), but alas, that remains unfinished as of this writing. (I notice a ‘due date’ of two weeks from now on that site, so with luck, it should be all done, soon.)

    And I won’t bad-mouth OpenSuse 11 – I haven’t tried it yet (I have the disc, just haven’t bothered to try it yet). As Tex says, whatever runs on your system: it’s all good.

    Comment by Padma — September 15, 2008 @ 8:52 am | Reply


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