posted by Doug Swain on Thu 1st Apr 2004 18:45 UTC
IconToday I stumbled upon a little live distro called PCLinuxOS . I've seen it before mentioned online, but I never really looked at it in depth. When I found it under "alternatives" for Mandrake, I decided to take a look. I was surprized to what I found.

The deal with PCLinuxOS is that it takes Mandrake, cuts it down a disk, makes it a live bootable cd, and adds great things that Mandrake now makes hard to get, and you've got PCLinuxOS. I looked at the site, and the first thing that caught my eye was "Including NVIDIA drivers..." I looked at a screenshot or two, and then I was off downloading my ISO.

The Install

As any install, I burnt my ISO, and rebooted the machine. You reboot into a nice looking boot loader, still not quite as good looking as Mandrake's, but since it is a live cd, it makes perfect sense why there isn't that same depth of style.

Since I'm usually pretty easy going on settings, I just hit enter and let the default run. The thing I really noticed on was the time it took. It took much longer than I would have liked it to. At first I thought it was strange that a live cd would take soo long to boot up like it was, but then I realised its technically booting Mandrake... off a CD. Any Mandrake user knows you wait a while for bootup, imagine the time off a CD! But all went well. The first thing that came up was the "NVIDIA" splash screen, which was a sight to see in "Mandrake." I logged in as root, explored a little finding some great things like Firebird (now Firefox), Open Office, The Gimp, XMMS, Synaptic (a great change from the Mandrake package manager) and so on. I was impressed by the package choice, especially off the one CD. I decided to then begin actually installing it.

It took a moment to find, but I found the hard disk installer tool for it (located under the "K" menu, configuration, hardware, livecd-install) The installer is simple, and works pretty well. The one thing that's always disappointed me about all live CD installs is that you never have any package control, but since the packaging was good I was happy. Anyway, it took a little bit of work, as QTParted wasn't working well, but I worked around it, managing to get it installed.

The Usage

So far, the usage has been anywhere from pretty good to very good. Some things I would like to note would be primarily one- Synaptic Package Management (really apt4rpm GUI frontend). Its a welcome change. First off, its set to run off ibiblio, which is good, as my connection was doing about 350kbps off the server, which is good speed. Second, its much easier to operate, and navigate than the stock Mandrake packager. A nice change indeed.

Other things to note would be the good built in package selection: not too much, but not too little, and all the good tools you can use, and the theming. The theming on here is phenominal, as shown here with great shadowing, the nice layout (reminding me of Longhorn almost too much) the good background, and so on. Very impressive on that front. The last thing to definitly note were the drivers. You did away with the pesky NVIDIA/ATI driver troubles. As for autoconfig, I'm not sure as it does not seem to be running at its best, but its there and knows to run which is very good.

Now for some things that could use work:

1. Update the packages! I checked, and the CD I am using is its newest version. Things like KDE 3.2.1, QTParted, The Gimp, and so on were out of date on the cd. They were updated with Synaptic, which is good to have, but there should be the most updated things on there right away.
2. New kernel time! 2.4.23-2....what a version number. We're on 2.6.4 kernel now, which is MUCH better than the 2.4.x kernel. Though solid, 2.6.x kernel does it just as well, and much faster at that. I'd say it's time for the new kernel.
3. Keep developing!- What you have now is an incredible start. It is something very impressive, which will obviously do good if it keeps up, but with a Beta state, out of date kernel, etc it makes it hard to convert into this distro entirly. Though, I am using KWrite to make this article, it doesn't seem quite ready for the big times yet.

Overall, I am impressed with what I see. With great package control and choices, this distro it hard to completly avoid. Also, great amounts of configuration options and so on give it a great touch. Some small things seem to need some tuning, but it seems every distro always need that. So, in conclusion, if you're a die hard Mandrake fan looking for something new without completly leaving your distro of choice, a hardcore OS junkie (like myself) or a beta tester, this would be one of the distro's to have yourself a look at.

Check it out online, and download a copy!

If you have any questions, feel free to email me (remove NOSPAM. from the address)
Also, check out SWAINNET if you have time.

About The Author
My name is Doug Swain. I am an amature 15 year old Linux and Computer user. I have been using Linux for approxamitly one and a half years, and have tried at least 35-40 distubutions.

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