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Friday, May 25, 2007

PCLinuxOS 2007 : Cool Looking Linux Distribution

PCLinuxOS 2007 : Cool Looking Linux Distribution

Introduction: -
I have been user of Linux for over 8 years now the first Linux distribution i used was RedHat Linux 5.2 and since then have tried a number of different Linux distribution , but primarily i have sticked with Red Hat(Fedora) and now Ubuntu for serious work . Now Linux distribution over the years have matured a lot on desktop front right from early days when there wasn't even one descent package for Desktop work to present day case when Dell is selling Desktop Computers with Ubuntu Linux ,Things have surely changed a lot . It's the emergence of distributions like Ubuntu,Freespire(Linspire),PCLinuxOS and other Desktop Linux distro's that have catalyzed the adoption(or at least emergence) of Desktop Linux and emergence of Desktop Linux Concept.

PCLinuxOS began as a fork of Mandriva Linux (Mandrake linux) four years back by Texstar and still has a number of features common with Mandriva Linux . It uses RPM package format and number of configuration wizards are similar to one used in Mandriva Linux . PCLinuxOS is considered one of the more user friendly desktop linux , now personally i have never used PCLinuxOS there was a certain buzz surrounding the release of PCLinuxOS 2007 hence i decided to try it out.

Here is my review of PCLinuxOS 2007: -

Installation : -
The Live CD Image is around 700 Megabytes in size which compresses around 2GB of packages , it took me about 7 Hours to download on a 256KBps Connection .

Here are the links from which you can download PCLinuxOS 2007 : -

Torrent: http://linuxtracker.org/torrents-details.php?id=4143

Download mirrors: http://www.pclinuxos.com/index.php?option=com_ionfiles&Itemid=28

Once ISO images are downloaded i would recommend burning ISO at a speed of 10x or 12x , anyways once you have burned the ISO you can always check the integrity of the CD from the boot menu .

On booting from the Cd Rom , this is the boot menu that is presented , as you can see PCLinuxOS provides a number of different options of booting into PCLinuxOS.
PCLinuxOS Boot Menu

PCLinuxOS Boot Up Screen

Now after about 4 minutes on my old laptop i was presented with the screen to chose keyboard configuration, Time Zone and Networking Configuration and stuff. Now This is one of the first thing i disliked configuring so many things ( ): ) every time you are booting the live cd.

Keyboard configuration screen

Anyways once configuration is over you are presented with beautiful log in screen , i have to admit i particularly like this black theme PCLinuxOS uses .
Login Screen
Now once the entire KDE Desktop loads , what strikes one first is that desktop is very aesthetically organized and icons,boot screens , Themes are extremely User Friendly , UI is one of the primary thing that strikes computer beginners and PCLinuxOS does extremely well in this not only it is extremely user friendly but also extremely polished and professional .Overall the User Interface of PCLinuxOS is simple , clean and attractive unlike many other Linux Distributions that are just getting more and more complex . PCLinuxOS uses Diamond Plate metal theme as it's default theme and uses KDE desktop version 3.5.6 as it's default window manager .

This is how PCLinuxOS Desktop Looks
Now the installation is extremely user friendly and is wizard based this is one area where Linux distribution have matured a lot over the years installation has become extremely user friendly . Now since i already had Partition created using Partition Magic i could not test the partition tool but it should work well .Entire installation took around 25 minutes on my laptop(Celeron 1.4Ghz 256Megabytes Ram ) .

After completing the installation strangely during configuring of GRUB PCLinuxOS did not autodetect Ubuntu Linux and Linux Mint that were already installed in my computer though it did detect Windows hence i had to manually edit menu.lst file of Grub boot loader to include menu option for Ubuntu and Linux Mint .
Anyways once installation was over i restarted the computer and logged into my new PCLinuxOS and found these major packages installed by default with PCLinuxOS : -
  • OpenOffice.org 2.2.0 Office Suite
  • Mozilla Firefox 2.0.3 : - Default Web Browser in PCLinuxOS
  • MPlayer 1.0rc1 : - The Movie Player for playing audio/video files
  • Gimp 2.3.16 :- For Image Manipulation
  • Thunderbird 2.0.0
  • KDE Multimedia applications :- Amarok , Kaffine , K3b , and other applications
  • Java JRE , Macromedia Flash , a number of Multimedia Codecs (w32codecs not included)
and many more there are over 2Gigs of packages that are installed , and many more (5000+) Applications can be installed from repositories using Synaptic Package Manager .

Amarok :-Rocking Music Management software

The Movie Player
Now unlike some other Linux Distribution that don't include Multimedia Codecs , Java JRE or Macromedia Flash because of licensing restrictions or some other reasons . You don't have to worry about these things if you are using PCLinuxOS this should help someone who is new to Linux and moving from Windows to Linux . I have seen a number of my computer novice friends who do not have Internet Connection being frustrated as hell while using Ubuntu Linux unable to play their favorite audio/video files

Now i tried playing a number of different media files and most of them played flawlessly and ones that did not could be easily played by installing w32codecs whose installation isn't difficult. Since Flash was pre-installed i could easily watch videos on YouTube or Google Video , also since Java JRE was pre-installed Java Applets worked flawlessly in Firefox . Even divx files played without any additional installation of codecs . Overall PCLinuxOS multimedia support is among the best among different Linux Distributions . One of the most crucial aspects that make PCLinuxOS so Newbie friendly.

Here are the list of codecs PCLinuxOS supports(taken from wikipedia) :-

PCLinuxOS can also play back proprietary multimedia files (wma, mp3, mpg, rm, mov, etc) by default, something that some Linux distributions cannot do without further user configuration, because of proprietary and ideological issues. However, the controversial libdvdcss library for DVD playback is not installed initially, but is available in the official software repository.

Mozilla Firefox and Thuderbird are well integrated clicking on email link in Firefox opens up Thuderbird and clicking on web page address in Thuderbird opens up Mozilla Firefox .

Application wise the distribution comes preloaded with most of the application a normal desktop user requires like Gimp-For graphics management , digikam-for photo management , Amarok for Music management and Playing , OpenOffice a really solid office suite comparable to Microsoft office , and other really cool applications .

Various Screenshots showing installed applications in PCLinuxOS





PCLinuxOS provides easy way of configuring different aspects of the distribution using the PCLinuxOS control centre(System ->Configuration->Control Centre) . Now this Control Centre is similar to one that is shipped with Mandriva Linux.
PCLinuxOS Control Centre


Now by default PCLinuxOS does not automatically enable 3D Effect (Beryl/Compiz) and can be enabled from Control Centre by going to Hardware and selecting Configure 3D Effect .
Enabling 3D Effect in Control Center
Hardware support is also excellent in PCLinuxOS most of my hard ware was properly detected and i had no problem in using them from USB Pendrive to K750i phone everything worked fine .


Conclusion :-
Overall , PCLinuxOS is one of the finest Desktop Linux Distribution i have tried in past few years , it integrates some of the wonderful features of Mandriva Linux and adds a power pack collection of software in 700Megabytes of Live CD .With it's extremely clean and attractive interface and ability to play multimedia files out of the box it's one Linux Distribution that should not give Linux Newbies headache. I have been a passionate user of Ubuntu and i can safely say if i had to recommend a Linux distro to someone new at computers it wont be Ubuntu but PCLinuxOS .

PCLinuxOS Website : - http://www.pclinuxos.com/

Distrowatch page of PCLinuxOS : - http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=pclinuxos

Article written by Ambuj Varshney(blogambuj(at)gmail.com)
For Linux On Desktop Blog(http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com)
(C) 2007, Ambuj Varshney

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice informative review.

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