Archive for the ‘Linux’ Category

PCLinuxOS

January 4, 2009

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.

Desktop Linux

January 4, 2009

I got a small dogpile over a recent article at my main site about my reluctance to recommend Linux to Joe Average.  That’s understandable, I think, because most readers misinterpreted the point and were focusing on the specific issue and ignoring the larger problem.

It’s not about whether or not you can find a clipboard manager for Gnome on Centos. It’s not about whether or not you should run Slackware or Ubuntu or Kubuntu, Gnome, KDE are anything else – though those never ending arguments do make Linux more confusing for Joe Average.

It’s not that you can get into a mess trying to find a clipboard manager for Gnome – you can step in it trying to do almost anything with anything.

Linux isn’t ready for Joe. In absolute fairness, Windows really isn’t either but defects don’t matter at all because of Microsoft’s default position of dominance.

Unfortunately, the things that we love about Linux contribute to its difficulties. If we didn’t have a choice of window managers, we’d lose all that confusion. If we didn’t have distro choices, we would lose another stack of conflicts. Maybe “Linux” per se never can be ready for our boy Joe – maybe only a specific packaging will ever hope to accomplish that.

At the suggestion of one reader, I’ll be looking at PCLinuxOS a little later today.  That reader seems to be very down on Ubuntu – surprising to me as I thought it was pretty darn good.  But hey, I’m willing to look around.

The funny part about the dogpile is that several folks jumped on my supposed incompetence and asked where I got off trying to sell a Unix and Linux troubleshooting book if I were so incompetent.. of course they not only missed the point but probably caused several hundred people to take a peek at the page that advertises that – thanks!