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Genesis of an Operating System

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PCLOS
Interviews
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Just say the name Texstar to anyone that runs Linux and see a smile with an expression of recognition and appreciation light their face. When Texstar first began using Linux eight years ago, he had no idea he would someday become an icon of creativity, ingenuity, and self-sacrifice. Eternally humble, he may not agree to this description, but these are just some of the superlatives used to describe him by users of his os, visitors to his site, and personal friends of the man.

Texstar began to gain recognition approximately five years ago when he began packaging and providing rpms and howtos for current MandrakeLinux releases. Later he began providing these rpms through his website. This website grew in popularity as all of Linuxdom began linking to it. From mailing lists to newsgroups, from discussion forums to websites, pclinuxonline and Texstar were on a roll. This snowball effect has lead him to provide one of the most beautiful, complete, and stable operating systems in existence.

It began with Redhat 5.2 for Texstar, having become disenchanted with Windows. He said, "I wanted to get away from Windows because it wouldn't let me have control over my computer. It was forcing me to install things I didn't want or need." He soon moved on to Mandrake because it was a revolutionary operating system for its time. With its roots in Redhat but featuring KDE instead of Gnome and the ambitious goal of including graphical configuration tools, Texstar and many others were hooked.

However, it wasn't long before stability issues, missing features, and undesired customizations inspired Texstar to begin patching Mandrake's rpms and KDE's sources then repackaging them for himself. When others posted on help forums about some of the same issues he had resolved, he stepped forward to offer advice and assistance. This lead to him offering users the opportunity to install his rpms to fix those pesky bugs and enjoy the extra features so hard for the newcomer or layperson to implement. He explained, "It was fun and challenging. It was like a puzzle, where all the pieces have to fit just right or the program won't work. Plus there is something satisfying to take raw source code and convert it into something a user can install and use." There were rarely any adverse issues and those rpms reaped more and more praise. Users wanted more. Requests for features and updates soon followed. Texstar and his site grew in popularity.

With management, developer, and philosophical changes afoot in Paris, Texstar felt the time was right to offer his finely tuned and beautifully customized system to others. "I wanted something that a person could boot and know right away if the OS would be compatible with their computer. With so many hardware configurations, it's nice to know right from the start if pclinuxos is right for your system. I saw Jaco was doing livecd scripts and I got involved in the project which gave me an outlet to produce a livecd with my rpm packages. I also enjoy playing with the livecd technology." Thus the PCLinuxOS livecd was born.

The road to producing this livecd hasn't been unencumbered. As with all software there are compatibility issues, bugs, and personnel problems. Previews 1 & 2 were private releases to test hardware detection. Preview 3 was a limited release to guage interest and Tex was not disappointed. People were very interested. Someone, not mentioning any names, posted a manual way of installing the livecd to a harddrive. It and the discussion that followed showed an indication of the interest in installing onto harddrives. This inspired Texstar to implement an easy harddrive installer. Preview 4 featured a harddrive installer but presented trouble for some setups. Texstar and mklivecd developer Jaco worked hard hammering out the kinks on the hardware detection, booting scripts, and harddrive installer until Jaco became too busy in his real life and passed the mantle to Tom.

Tom became interested in working on the PCLinuxOS livecd project because he was "very impressed with the quality of PCLinuxOS and was more comfortable with a Mandrake based livecd than with Knoppix. I also wanted to get a device working in Linux - a magneto optical drive." In February of last year "I asked Tex how I could help, and he told me 'Please help Jaco (with mklivecd).'"

The rest shall we say is history. There have been 4 new releases since featuring better hardware detection and support for more modern and exotic hardware. Newest versions of applications, the latest kernels and related technologies, more customizable features and all the eye candy for which one could hope are the things users get when they download PCLinuxOS. In the future Tom hopes "to see overall continued improvement across the board, more i18n, use of a copy-on-write filesystem such as unionfs. Longer term, possibly a reduction or complete replacement of the Mandrake hardware detection/configuration tools." Tex humbly states "We plan to continue to improve it and hopefully become a major player in the next few years."

PCLinuxOS Preview 8.1 is due out any day now and excitement is in the air. Some of the things that we can expect from it are listed in the comments of this article. As always the project is nothing without its users and their bug reports.

Superb!

Awesome job srlinuxx, thanks for the article. Sal

re: Superb

Thanks for saying Sal, and thanks for submitting it to pclo!

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You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Oh nooo...

He was assimilated! Sad

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You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Thanks!

Thanks for the compliment on the story. Yes, I agree Tex is awesome, but I'm a little prejudiced! Big Grin Actually Tex is a bit shy and shuns the spotlight. I think he's a little embarrassed by my article, as he'd never toot his own horn. He works so hard all the time to fix the littlest bug for anyone who reports such-and-such isn't working here. He tends to sweat the details. I just wanted folks to know how dedicated to them he really is. He's an awesome person working practically 24/7 and yet seems to find time for his family and friends when they need him. And he's darn cute too! Big Grin

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You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

re: It's time for Texstar.

wow, wonderful of you to share those kind words. I agree completely... well, except for the gentoo part! Big Grin

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You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Just joking around

Oh, I was just joshin around with ya about Gentoo. I've always been one to say use whatever works best for you and your hardware. I love pclos as well. Funny, my two favorite distros couldn't be more different. Big Grin

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You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Thanks for the article!

srlinuxx superb article!
Thanks for it, and thank you for the picture.
Watch out Tex what some good friends of yours will do with it.
If I may add some personal experience with Texstar just to illustrate
the kind of the guy he is:

I been with PCLOS since pre3 but i wasn't very active neither on the forum, neither on the mailing list, mostly because some painfull experience on the Mandrake Club. But as time went on I become more and more impressed with pclos, and shortly after p5 it replaced my main (at the time) operating system (mandy with plf and spiced up with Texstar's rpm's). Found out about the irc channel, and although never used irc before, I was very soon "hooked" mostly because the wonderful guys i met (Tom, oilent1, etjr, Xterm, Talyn, CyberCFO, cybonix, el_cuco, neverstop, boford, mexashaggy, Darb, Sal_....Sould I continue?) in no time I learned more about linux than years and years before. I wanted to give back some in return, so started to answer questions I knew or thought i knew the answer for. Started to send my findings, little code contributions to Tom ( I was mostly active with the livecd) and it somehow got to Tex as well. I hardly even thought he knew who I am when on my birthday a few days ago i opened my e-mail
and I found the most touching birtday present i ever got in my life.
A few days before I was asking on the mailing list for a package which wasn't really that important (never made it to the repository), anyways the birtday present was a congratulation e-mail from Texstar with this little applet packaged and attached to it.

I don't know how you can be more human than that. Texstar, I never met you in person, but feel closer than a few "friend" who I might meet every day. I love you man for who you are, what you do, and for all the excitement you are bringing in quite a few of us life.

ikerekes

re: Thanks for the article!

Thank /you/ for the kind words about my story and even more for sharing your experiences with Texstar and pclos. There is definitely more to Texstar than meet the eye.

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You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

re: another satisfied pclos user

very nicely put, couldn't agree more.

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You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Texstar is incredible

I have tried some 80 different distros, and I mean really installed them to hdd, and gave them some time. I don't know much about tweaking, so that has something to do with why I prefer PCLinuxOS, but with it I don't have to tweak. It really dose just work. I presently have it on 6 boxes, from a p11 300 to an athlon xp 2800, and everything works perfectly.

Tex certainly deserves every accolade he gets and more. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. I was also glad to see the picture, and didn't expect him to be as young as he is.

srlinuxx, Thank you for the article, I very much enjoyed it.

re: Texstar is incredible

Yep, he is. Thanks for visiting and your comments.

Keep an eye open, .94 is due out in a month or so.

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You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

re: Texstar is incredible

I just wanted to add my noobsense to this discussion. I found myself looking for a winxp replacement about 8 months ago following a system failure. When I contacted my manufacturer and was told that the only way to get windows to run on my rebuilt system was to buy a new copy, I told them to forget it.

I had heard about this linux thing and decided to search the net for some info. I was lucky, I stumbled on to PCLOS and began reading the forums and decided to try it. 20 mins after getting the livecd running, it was installed and purring like a kitten.

I've learned a lot over the past 8 months, and the most important thing I've learned is the love and respect that the entire PCLOS community has for Texstar, myself included.

Prior to PCLinuxOS I had no idea what IRC was, now I can't go a day without logging in to chat with real friends. More than once I've been on the channel when Tex logs in and he speaks to each of us as if we've known each other all our lives. He is truly a humble and wonderful human being.

Thanks for your article, he deserves to be acknowledged.

sd

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