You may think that we gave up and not “producing” anymore, but we haven’t. We are still at it, but we are not under this “productive” insanity pressure most others live with. If there is nothing interesting to report we will not waste your time. When we try various distributions that we either disliked or found nothing of interest, just another tried recipe with a twist of personalization, we just scrap the installation and move on. Then one day a couple of weeks ago we took on PCLinuxOS. If that says something, we are still at it, on a HD installation.
The way I do this with new distributions I’ve never tried is, I make a little partition in a VM, I download an image I expect to find some interest in and give it a try. If after the installation I don’t see much interest in it, I scrap it. If I keep fiddling with it and modify things, strip some fat from it (like automounting crap that gets in my nerves, wifi and blueteeth, display managers, splash boot-procedure blockers, … ) and the installation is still holding up and not falling apart, I transfer the leaned out image into the hard disk. Then I can hack and trim some more. PCLinuxOS or PclOS for sort, is not for me.
But why do I still have it if it is not for me? Because I really like it for others. Does that make sense? I have friends and friends of friends, associates of friends and friends of associates, that often (too often lately with an economic crisis making everyone think twice before buying anything) require some advise on what to do with this tired PC with MSwinblows on it, that is freaking out, takes half hour to boot, then gets slow or freezes up. Instead of buying a new windows machine I offer a one last try to revive the machine with linux and transfer their treasure out of “Desktop” to /home. I can’t expect such people to relearn how to read manuals and wikis, how to learn xbps (void) or pacman (arch/obarun), let alone the archaic maze called apt (antix/debian). They might on their own in the future, but first you have to give windows-shoppers something turn-key, click here and there and off they go browsing and editing school/work reports, watch videos, play music, play games …
In sort quick terms, if you thought MX is good for this, which we have not reviewed and neither will we ever (unless they seriously change their tolerance levels for systemd/elogind/gnome/pulseaudio), PCLinuxOS is much better. No systemd anywhere, no elogind, but consolekit is available for those who like it. It has some strange ways in dealing with scripts to boot, but once it boots it is robust. Your favorite desktops will still work, and they have many images (official and community) loaded with all the free open software you may need, and then some.
What do you mean, then some? PCLinuxOS was forked out of Mandriva (mandrake) which was a commercially oriented organization. PCLos is more oriented towards the individual desktop/laptop user. Since the founder (long live the magician) was the author of many of the mandriva/mandrake tools he took them with him. So checkout on your sbin/ bin/ directories for some “drake” named tools. There are many and it would take days to get accustomed. Those are not your usual 5 paragraph shortcut scripts, this is serious software most likely you will never find anywhere else. So the more experienced you are the more you may appreciate PCLos. But wait. How can a distro oriented for inexperienced users be something absolute hackers would appreciate? Is it contradictory?
The installation images are big and loaded. They are worth it, as far as we are able to see, but we started toying around with the smallest openbox image we found. Installation is a breeze and scary simple. Then you reboot. Least experienced users will get what they want. More experienced users will start digging under the hood. Things may look somewhat familiar no matter what your **unix experience has been. But then they are different. It is hard to describe any aspect of this distribution without a conflicting character. In every detail it is like two distributions in one. Or would that be more than two. If you have time to explore and want something refreshing to be challenged by, PCLinuxOS may be the distribution for you.
Init: Sysvinit. Need we say more?
Package-management. Packages are rpm. RPM stands for the dreaded fedora/RH system of packaging and we have never had one such package in our disk ever. It was a major deterent and probably the reason we never tried PClos before. But what is the package manager? Is it rpm? Yes and no. Here we go again. It appears as it is rpm, with a debian simplified apt/apt-get front to do the rpm work. Yes, there is also dpkg. Then you look at the forum and when package management is discussed you see reference to synaptic. A different synaptic but equally or more stably effective than Debian’s synaptic. Since apt is limited in functionality you would expect synaptic to be equally or more limited. It appears you can do things with synaptic you can’t figure out how to do with apt from terminal. Maybe because there is combined functionalities of rpm and apt.
One draw back for experienced users is that those PCLinuxOS rpms are bigger than normal bundles of software. It appears as default behavior to include all optional dependents as part of the pkg. For example udisks2, gvfs, related stuff were all bundled up with pcmanfm (LXDE’s filemanager). You will see much of this activity in PCLos. Are there ways around it, there are, there always is a way, … we are still learning ourselves.
The forum is very friendly, and eager to make you happy with PClos . This is a major issue with many distributions, populated with ego-maniacs who draw pleasure of looking down at anyone who knows a little bit less than they do. If you are a kind soul you will feel at home at PCLinuxOS from day one.
Does PCLinuxOS break? Who knows, we tried our best of stretching it to something it is not and it came back alive. It is not the fastest booting system, but once it boots it is rock solid and resilient of anything you throw at it. Maybe this is part of its commercial heritage from mandriva. It doesn’t require any hacking, just install and go do your work, but if you want to hack it seems as an exciting place to be.
Well done mr.Tex, keep it up, we need you on the front against systemd and the remaining mega-corporate apparatus taking over open/free software to make it their own.
Special thanks to Revoluz for being such a good ambassador to PCLinuxOS and lending a hand of getting us acquainted with the geography of this new system.