Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
PCLinuxOS is a binary-based Linux distribution that got its start during the summer of 2003 and was based at that time upon Mandrake 9.2 (now known as Mandriva). It's presented as a livecd, but one of its main features is its wonderful graphic harddrive installer that offers the user a beautiful fully functional complete desktop operating system. To call it a livecd is an injustice. However, Texstar, the main developer calls it just that on his site. To quote the legend, "PCLinuxOS Preview 9 is an English only self-booting live cd that runs entirely from a bootable CD without installing anything on your computer. Data on the CD is uncompressed on the fly allowing up to 2 GB of programs on one CD."
Preview 3 made it's short lived appearance in the early Fall of 2003 and was originally built upon Mandrake 9.2. Preview 4 was released in October 2003 and was mainly bug fixes and a few updates to Pre-3. However subsequent releases have been built upon the prior. At that time Mandrake was still using a 2.4 kernel, devfs, and XFree86. Texstar et al have since built an entirely new os upon its own structure and its own merit. It has evolved into its own right much the way Mandriva has evolved way beyond its Redhat beginnings. Texstar has developed PCLOS into a modern os utilizing a 2.6.11 kernel, xorg 6.8.2, and udev with hal and KDE 3.4.1. Again, it'd be better to quote the man himself from a post right here on tuxmachines, "PCLinuxOS Preview 4 was initally based on Linux Mandrake 9.2. PCLinuxOS Preview 5,6,7,8 and 9 have been built against the prior PCLinuxOS release. Thank you Mandriva for giving us a good base to work upon.
Preview 9 features Kernel 2.6.11-oci11 which has been patched and tested to work well with KDE 3.4.1. KDE 3.4.1 utilizes the Hal/dbus backend for autmounting removable media such as usbkeys, cdroms, cameras, scanners and other perpherials. We have tried to provide you with a complete out of box working experience."
Another advantage to livecds is their innate ability to allow the user to test a distribution before actually installing to their harddrive. I believe most modern Linux binary distributions will eventually go this way - or should. This method has so many advantages in addition to try-before-you-commit, such as having a fully functional computer while the install takes place. No more are the bored minutes watching a progress bar with anticipation. Read your email, surf the web, or play a game while the harddrive installer does its thing.
The harddrive install is a thing of beauty. Not only does it function well, but it does it in style. A gorgeous graphical interface walks the user through the install hiding the tendious innerworkings without limiting the users choices. It's so easy, click click click and you're in your nice new operating system ready to add any desired software and carry on with your work or play.
This is exactly what I did. When I booted up my new os, the first thing I did was fire up synaptic and effortlessly installed the kernel sources. Two or three clicks I believe was all it took.
I exited my session of kde and chose "console login" and was taken to the terminal. Here I mounted my archive partition and ran the nvidia graphic driver installer. Then I edited the xorg.conf with nano, changing nv to nvidia under the device section, and issued the command "startx". No fuss no muss. Can't ask for anything more! But that the key to PCLOS. With perhaps only a few exceptions, none I experienced personally, it just works. In less than 5 minutes from booting my fresh PCLOS install, I was enjoying gl screensavers and 3D games.
New versions in this release include:
Updates and newer versions of applications are continuously being offered. Seems almost as though Texstar works around the clock 24/7 to update, fix bugs, and fill requests. His synaptic (and apt-get) installable rpms are offered on mirrors all over the world and Preview 9 comes with some mirrors already configured. I needed only to say yes to the pop up suggesting I update the list. To help support development, Texstar et al also have a Premium server for those individuals who make donations. As explained by Texstar,
"To reward those who send development funds via paypal, we have established a premium access software server for PCLinuxOS. This repository provides unlimited bandwidth and storage. It is not a free server and is only available at this time to those who donate funds towards the development of PCLinuxOS. All new software packages appear on this server first then at a later date, the public server gets the packages."
If you would like to make a donation and receive your PASS to the premium server, please consult this page for details.
In conclusion, this release, much like its predecessors, was the most gorgeous operating system I'd ever seen. But beyond that it was still the most stable, fully functioning and complete OS I'd had the pleasure of testing. I found it fast in operation, a feast for the eyes, and unsurpassed in ease of use. It just gets better and better each release.
Besides the sneak peek shots showing the absolute beauty of PCLOS, I have posted some of the final depicting some of the functionality that can be yours. Please see my Sneak Peek for more details on some of the new features included as well.
Bittorrent available here. It was coming in as fast as my dsl could handle earlier today.