PCLinuxOS

I downloaded this from PCLinuxOS.com and installed it in a VM as I usually do.  I was immediately confused by the boot menu – this is one of those that doesn’t offer an “Installation” choice (even though pressing “F1” for Help references such a choice).  You boot the Live CD and install from there.

I also had a hard time finding my time zone – they put way too many choices in.  Amusingly, although the time zone manager had the correct time, after booting the LiveCD, it was wrong.  After installation to the hard drive it was still wrong but it was easy enough to find the tool in “Administration Center”.

I took a look at “Network Services” and was pleased to see that they don’t start much by default – Linux distros are generally getting much smarter about that.

Under “Security”, they let you configure a firewall – by default, that’s not turned on but as none of the sevices are either, that’s fine.

The whole Administration Center seems to be very well done – clean layout with both a simple, basic interface but more power available if you want it.  There’s an “Expert” mode that brings up even more options – I was suitably impressed.

Well, until I tried to quit out of it.  It doesn’t let me – the only choice was to minimize the window.  That’s fine, but I think a new user (especially a new Windows user) might be a little confused by that.  Wait, was that Administration Center or Control Center?  Which is which?  New user confusion time..

I fired up Firefox and found it was 2.0.  Hmm, oh yeah:  I haven’t asked this to do any updates yet.. where is that?  Hmmm.. don’t see it in Administration Center.. it has to be the “Package Manager” of course.. would a Windows user realize that?  Maybe..

But even if they do, how does it work?  I’ve never used this particular tool before – what do you do in Synaptics Package Manager to get it to check for updated software?  There’s a button for “Mark All Upgrades” – that seems a little less than intuitive to me but I could be splitting hairs.  I did that and noticed that although Firefox 3 was in the list, it wasn’t marked for installation.. I marked it and let it rip..

Six hundred and eighty seven files to download..  while that’s chugging along I can poke around a bit more..

It bothers me a little that Firefox wasn’t automatically selected for upgrade.   Firefox 2 didn’t have “Check for Updates” under its Help menu so a naive user could go a long time using an old browser.  Could be worse though:  they could have installed XP and Internet Explorer 6 🙂

PCLinuxOS uses KDE and automaticlally installs Klipper – that’s good, as I hate the default Linux cut and paste and any new Windows user is going to hate it more.  If they notice Klipper in their tray (which they surely will), they’ll be instantly delighted.

They also install OpenOffice and a lot of other typical desktop user tools – Amarok for example.  You might be interested in reading a self described N00b’s impressons of that at “Amarok Part 1” (no, that person wasn’t running PCLinuxOS but it’s a good writeup of a new users first impressions).

That darn new user thing..  I’m always worried about that.  I’d really like to recommend Linux to non-techy users, but I don’t want to be left holding the bag for support.    This PCLinuxOS is very user friendly, but is it friendly enough?  It’s not good enough that it be as friendly as XP – heck, it’s obviously a lot more friendly than Vista, but is it friendly enough to just hand over to a current XP user?

I don’t know.  My instincts say no, not quite.  Some users, sure.  The adventurous ones, the good humored  ones – the ones who wouldn’t have me on the phone every day!   But the rest..  seems risky to me.

OK, I’m waiting for those 687 files to finish installing.   I sure hope that all goes well.. can you tell I’ve seen systems killed by package upgrades before?  Oh, yeah..

There were some warning from the package manager after all the upgrades and installs finished.  I ignored them as any good Windows user would and rebooted.  Happily everything came up fine.  It didn’t upgrade Firefox though..

So I downloaded it and the system offered to open the download with Ark, which instantly failed.  Of course I can drop to a terminal and bzip2 -d the file, but will my imaginary n00bie know that?  Of course not..

But actually it HAD installed Firefox 3 – it just hadn’t updated the link on the desktop.  Again, nothing that a new user would understand, unfortunately.

Oh, well:  very nicely done anyway.  I’d recommend this as an option for anyone who is planning to use Linux anyway.. just not as a “switcher” choice.

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2 Responses to “PCLinuxOS”

  1. Artie Says:

    I would strongly advice you to stay away from PCLinuxOS. If you read their forums, they actually froze their repos in September! That means practically no security or other updates since. People on their forums who are worried and are requesting updates are simply ignored. Ubuntu updates several times a week. The Opera version in the repos is still! 9.50. Remember the latest Firefox version is 3.0.5. Which one have you got?

    Artie

  2. Anthony Lawrence Says:

    Absolutely – I said in the review that Firefox was 2.0 – but even without that, this had plenty enough problems!

    Funny – the person who recommended that I look at PCLinuxOS thinks that Ubuntu is junk – but he thinks this is good??? WTF???

    🙂

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