PCLinuxOS is a Linux distribution originally based on Mandriva (Mandrake) and it’s distributed as a LiveCD. As it evolved, PCLinuxOS took advantage of tools, patches and bug fixes from other distributions as well, such as Gentoo, OpenSuse, Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu. It has the Control Center and install tool from Mandriva, the RPM package system from Fedora, the apt-get and Synaptic package managers from Debian/Ubuntu. I think it’s safe to say that PCLinuxOS is a combination of the best parts from popular distributions, making it sort of ‘the best of the best’. Or at least that’s what it tries to be.
PCLinuxOS has chosen to go with ‘radical simplicity’ which has definitely served it well, judging from its rank on distrowatch (#1, above Ubuntu apparently). It’s also one of those distributions that try to promote Windows2Linux migration. Did it succeed at convincing Windows users to make the switch? I don’t know but I’m sure it should have. It’s a fine looking distribution, it has KDE as the desktop environment which is the closest looking to Windows, all the configuration is done through GUI tools and overall, it’s created in such way that using it is pretty straight-forward.
The 2008 MiniMe edition it’s just a little preview of what will be available in the final release. It’s name suits this release very well as it’s indeed small. The ISO is about 200MB in size, it provides a very basic KDE 3.5.8 desktop and ALSA 1.0.15 running under a 18.104.22.168 kernel. There are almost no applications installed except the ones included in KDE (Konqueror and a few others) but any application you need is only a click of a mouse in Synaptic away.
When you first boot the iso, you get welcomed by a nice, black Grub bootloader which then boots the LiveCD under a matching usplash.
Once that’s done, you’ll be asked to choose your keyboard layout and enter the login credentials in a transparent, aero-resembling login screen above a slick background.
Finally, welcome to the desktop!
As I was saying earlier, everything in PCLinuxOS is setup and configured through graphical tools, more specifically, through the PCLinuxOS Control Center.
If you want, you can install this edition to disk in just a few easy steps using the DrakLive Installer.
Additional applications can be installed through Synaptic, which isn’t at all different from Ubuntu’s.
Additionally, this edition provides a ATi/nVIDIA installation tool, a Redo MBR with OS-prober for adding other entries to boot menu and ndiswrapper support files that support various wireless network cards (list).
To be honest, I really like this edition as it only installs a base system, allowing me to install only the applications I need later on. It does take longer to get the perfect desktop but at least I don’t end up with a bloated installation with programs and tools I’ll probably never use.
There are so many interesting and useful things about PCLinuxOS; one of them is the mklivecd script which allows you to make a ’snapshot’ of the current configuration and burn it on a CD/DVD. This allows you to have a LiveCD distribution who’s settings, applications and documents are just right for your needs. There’s also a script that writes the snapshot to a USB storage device.
Overall, this distro really deserves two thumbs way up. It’s well put together, it’s easy to use and ready out-of-the box and I think can pleasure both beginner and experienced users. I recommend to everyone that values high comfort and simplicity in a distribution to give PCLinuxOS a try.