29 Dec 2010

Linux OS for PC?

It is not so easy to find time for new Operating Systems tests now, when all the ads ask me to come and buy... That can help the budget in the future, but not now.
Now I have another desire - to tell you something new I have learned recently.
PC Linux OS came to my horizon quite unexpectedly. Somebody in Kubuntu forum trolled about future of Kubuntu, if it should stay or if it should go... many people told their opinions, and some of them mentioned PC Linux OS as their previous system.
PC Linux OS was forked from Mandriva back in 2003. It currently exists in so many available variants, that it was difficult for me to choose. Few weeks ago I had similar issue when I was going to give Debian a go. That time choice was for LXDE environment. This time I went the same way.
Disk image is downloaded. CD-RW burnt. Reboot. Choose to boot from CD. Let's go!

  1. Booting. I should admit, that booting of PC Linux OS (PCLOS) from CD did not take more time than other Linuxes I tried from CD so far. Just under 4 minutes, and system is ready to go with network connection up and running. During the boot, I could see very strange window with three words in it: "Please" at the top, and then "Can" and "Next" on two buttons. Obviously, that was a question for user, but I could not read it... Probably glitch of the system. I simply clicked "Next" button.
  2. Network. WiFi card was found automatically on my laptop, I only had to configure my network connection providing the security code. That step in LXDE is different from what I had in other systems so far. Usually you only need to type in the code, and click OK - connection starts automatically. This time I had to "configure" and "connect" network in two steps, so one click more.
  3. Network drive. Automated tool in "Configure your computer" section did not work for my network drive connection. So, some difficulties in there. But mount -t cifs... command in terminal mode worked without any problem. Having utf8 in charset option, I had no issues with Russian filenames. 
  4. Playing MP3 files. The issue was found, unexpectedly, in MP3 files playback. MPlayer, which comes as default in this distro, played only files which did not have spaces in file or folder names. Any space in the path was a hard nut for it, file could not be open. That is valid either to local  and network drive files.
  5. Keyboard. I don't know if this is a PCLOS or LXDE dfficulty, but I was not able to configure Russian keyboard. Some Internet forum searches gave me an idea to change configuration files. That's not an option for Live CD version, I believe. That is very strange, since PCLOS has users in different countries. Or there is not many of PCLOS LXDE users?
  6. Software package. PCLOS comes without any Office application "out of the box". There is a Open Office Manager instead, which allows downloading of necessary software. But that is not an option for Live CD user I am afraid. Other than that, it comes with quite a few ready to use packages: GIMP for graphics, Firefox for Internet, Claws Mail for e-mail, MPlayer for music. I did not find any Internet pager software though, maybe it is available for downloading.
  7. User experience. Again, that might be LXDE or PC Linux OS feature, but I found that configuration steps of system work in two different styles. Some of them are very modern with nice graphic interface. Others look like pre-graphic-era scripts running in simple windows. Second approach can be forgiven to pocket-sized Linuxes like DSL or Puppy. But I would expect more "bells and whistles" from modern fully-featured desktop system. Other than that, LXDE gives you very nice impression: fast and clear.
Overall impression from PC Linux OS is not very bad actually. It is stable and clear. But it is not for beginners. Some things are not so easy to understand or do, if you're just switched from Windows to Linux. If you consider system to start from, then put PC Linux OS into second row of the queue.

Useful links:
http://linuxblog.darkduck.com/2012/02/pc-linux-os-201202-nice-and-stable.html - Review of PCLinuxOS 2012.02
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pclinuxos - Wikipedia page about PC Linux OS
http://www.pclinuxos.com/ - official site of PC Linux OS
http://www.pclinuxos.com/forum/ - official forum of PC Linux OS
http://lxde.org/ - official LXDE site


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