PCLinuxOS the distribution for everyone without systemd

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.

8 thoughts on “PCLinuxOS the distribution for everyone without systemd

  1. PCLOS uses apt-rpm, a port of debian’s apt that manages rpm packages and repositories. It was build, along with the synaptic frontend, by Connectiva, a distribution that merged with Mandrake linux. It is an old but capable package manager and PCLOS uses it successfully 😉

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  2. “No systemd anywhere, no elogind, but consolekit is available for those who like it.”

    Elogind + S6 + 66 is a good and stable alternative. A powerfull Init and Frontend with a good standalone Session Manager for a maximum compatibility with all modern softwares.

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  3. I will not argue with you on technical merit, it would be a meaningless uneven debate on technical matters I lack severely in expertise, compared to you.
    You know very well by now that my point against many monsters I mention here is not for rational “technical” reasons, but for political ones.

    It is about the corporate world, identifying for years Open Free software as an enemy and an adversary to their interests, and striving, for decades, to find a way “IN” and to control this world. It is two world incompatible with each other and they can’t both coexist. Some flower children washed out hippies, romantically considered the possibility, thought that an organization such as gnu or fsf can defend this world. History proved them wrong. There was talk that the peace and flower children intrusion into the radicalized youth of the 60s movement, was orchestrated and funded by ‘agencies” to derail the real movement’s potential. Iggy Pop still thinks and is convinced that it was true. Jim Jarmusch put this under historic record in an interview (open and free to watch). You can draw similarities.

    It doesn’t really affect things whether I would use systemd (IBM), MS Explorer, virtualbox (Oracle), zstd (Facebook), chrome (Google), or zfs (Oracle?), it only matters what we denounce and advocate against publicly. It matters what we all decide and do together when it comes time to organize together. Individually each and everyone can create their own container and sandbox and live in their isolated little bubble of reality. Think of what it means when Dole or Chiquita sell bio-logical and organic vegetables and fruit. Imagine what it means when Bayer-Monsanto sends container loads of food to feed the hungry refugees. etc. etc.

    Non-Profit organizations are social organizations. The state is a social organization. Industries and trading houses are social organizations. Corporations are social organizations. Parliamentary parties are social organizations. All of those have interests against us “unorganized individuals”.

    So, no elogind for me thank you.

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  4. There are many things to take up and develop in your intervention. My English being rather weak I will try to summarize my thinking and post my point of view in several parts.

    This First part concern the licence.

    I think that the GPL license has created the current situation. If the idea of freedom to use, study, modify and distribute the software and its derived versions is a good idea the big mistake of the GPL comes from the Copyleft idea which define and frame user rights in a binding manner. The GPL with the share alike requirement chained itself to its users. We can also note that this problem does not exist with the BSD licence. Is apple trying to take control or influence the decision taken within the BSD kernel ? No, because the BSD license don’t give a damn about what the neighbor can do with the software.

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  5. Jean-Michel,

    You’re making the point about the GPL, which I’ve been making for years. However, there is no such thing as the “BSD kernel” and Apple do not use any such kernel in their products anyway. But the essence of your argument is one that I agree with at least.

    There is the GPL/copyleft and there are the “do-whatever-the-f***-you-like” free licences.

    With the the former, corporations who have adopted e.g. Linux have to get involved, gain influence and control, steer development, employ developers, etc to ensure that everything is going in their favour.

    With the latter – they can create their own fork and walk away – no strings attached except credit where it’s due – and the hope that, if they like what’s on offer they might throw a donation or several at the project in question or contribute some of their changes back.

    “Freedom” does not come with strings attached – freedom is freedom. If you impose a restrictive, confusing and convoluted legal document on freedom and if you place conditions on freedom and if those conditions dictate what can be done with the code, how it can be used, then it’s not freedom at all. It keeps lawyers in paid work – and generally the mega corps always have the best lawyers anyway…

    BSD 2-clause (often referred to as the FreeBSD licence) is a good example of a permissive licence: https://www.freebsd.org/copyright/freebsd-license.html

    OpenBSD goes further and most new code uses something based on the ISC licence: http://cvsweb.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/src/share/misc/license.template?rev=HEAD

    Compare that to GPL v2 or especially v3.

    Corporations are avoiding GPL in most cases, they’re adopting permissive licensing where they have to release code at all – and that’s why some view permissive licences as “the problem”.

    Linux has many contributors, it’s mostly licenced under GPL v2, and to change the licence would require the agreement of all contributors – it’s simply not possible, but to utilise Linux, certain vendors of embedded products, smartphones, e readers, “IoT” products, etc often use permissive licenced code, to make the connection to their proprietary parts (e.g. Android). This is why Linux Foundation has this big board of corporate reps ensuring their respective interests are served.

    But they’re also using GPL, strategically and selectively in that they can prevent competitors using their stuff, or abuse the “viral” nature to ensure that competitors can’t contribute without sharing their code…

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  6. Hail to yee all,

    Fungalnet, your article convinced me to give PCLinuxOS a try. The distro had been in my scope for some years, but I had never tried it yet (there was always some hotter stuff to look into)… until yesterday…

    Unfortunately, the old laptop I use as a guineapig to experiment frugal OSes, indeed NEEDS frugal OSes: it’s a 32-bit netbook. And, although I searched in both official and community editions of PClos, I failed to find any 32-bit edition. (Too bad, they have a Trinity Edition I was curious to look into.)

    There is a small distro that aims to keep alive PClos for 32-bit. But the project seems dormant, the team seems rather small, and they do confess being a bit overrun by the task. I’m speaking about Uplos, which is mentioned on the “list (revisited)”.

    By the way, a few days ago, I posted (or tried to post) a comment related to ALT Linux, a Russian distro that shares several common points with PCLinuxOS, but the comment remained unpublished. (Maybe a technical mistake of mine: I’m new to posting comments.)

    My comment started from a question: I was surprised that your excellent list of linux systems not enslaved to what-you-know was lacking ALT Linux.

    To be quite frank, they do release some systemdy stuff too. But they release sysV editions. For instance, you can download an ISO of ALT for i586 (!) with GNUstep (!) and sysv-init (!) here:

    https://en.altlinux.org/Starterkits

    I also much like the global endeavour of the project, according to this interview:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20090327183331/http://howsoftwareisbuilt.com/about-alexey-rusakov-project-manager-alt-linux/

    Regards

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  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Linux_distributions#Technical

    When you run a text search on that page for systemd, the first hit is the description of ALT linux. 😛
    Are they wrong? They do use Distrowatch as a source for their data, so you never know with “them wiki editors”.
    It appears as they have gone back and forth between sysvinit and systemd, sometimes even blending stuff. The majority of information is found in Russian, one thread was reavealing shutdown problems with systemd.

    PClinuxOS doesn’t even use elogind 🙂

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