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19 Apr 2016

PCLOS 2016.03 KDE: good job

I published an extremely short review of PC Linux OS not so long ago. It was short because I could not connect to my wireless network from the Live run of that Operating System.

At the same time I mentioned that the most recent version of PCLOS was about 1.5 years old - too much even for the rolling release distribution.

I am not sure if that was the driver, but PC Linux OS team made some efforts and now version 2016.03 is available. As it happened many times, it was my customer from Buy Linux CDs site who made me try this new release through testing of the disk for the order.

The ISO image of PC Linux OS 2016.03 KDE 64-bit is just under 1.9 Gb in size. You can download it through torrent or from one of the mirrors.

So, the DVD-disk with PC Linux OS 2016.03 KDE is ready. It is in the drive of my Toshiba Satellite L500-19X laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let's go!


Boot process

If you re-read my previous review, you may notice that I complained about two issues with the boot menu. Let's see if they are still here.

First, you still have only English US in the initial keyboard layout selection. But there is another question during the boot process where you can make a choice between many alternative layouts. That choice actually works.

Second, the screen resolution that you set up in the initial boot correctly works in the booted up system.

Let's say that these issues are practically gone.

As I mentioned, there is a selection of the keyboard layouts in the boot sequence of PCLOS 2016.03 KDE. That is the only question you get.

The boot takes some time, but eventually it lands you on the default desktop.

First impressions

PCLOS KDE 2016.03 uses KDE 4. It is KDE 4.14.17 to be precise. This team has not switched to a newer version of KDE 5 (Plasma 5). Both releases of KDE have pros and contras, I'm not going to debate it here.

The default wallpaper in the Live version of PCLOS 2016.03 KDE is in deep-blue colours. If you don't like that wallpaper, then right-click on the empty desktop space gives you an option to choose from 50 alternatives through the Folder Settings option. Of course, you can add your own pictures too.

The few icons on the desktop are for Home folder, Installation, Recycling Bin, Help and Live CD Password Information.

There is a panel at the bottom of the screen. The menu button with PC letters in the circle is in the bottom-left corner. Next to it you can find shortcuts to system configuration panels (Configure your desktop and Configure your computer), Synaptic package manager, file manager and "show desktop" button. There is also a switch between the virtual desktops, and there are two of them by default.

The right part of the panel is occupied by a notification area with the usual suspects: clocks, USB devices' list, network indicator, volume control and so on. There is also an indicator of new available packages that appears some time after the network connection. I was testing the system about 2-3 weeks after the release, and about 100 packages could already be updated.

There is a window that appears on the empty screen for few seconds after the boot - it tells you about the default passwords for the Live and root users.
PC Linux OS 2016.03 welcome screen

The freshly booted system takes about 640 Mb of memory, which is quite high.
PC Linux OS 2016.03 resource usage


Network connection

That was the moment of truth. As I mentioned above, my previous attempt to run PCLOS stopped when I was not able to connect to my home network.

This time I was more lucky. My network was listed as available, and password worked well. A few seconds, and I was connected to the Internet.

Network drive

Dolphin is the default file manager in PC Linux OS 2016.03 KDE. There is a built-in facility to explore SMB folders in the network. I used it to connect the Live session of PCLOS to my shared network drive.

Navigation and file playback from that folder worked flawlessly.

Keyboard layout

I selected English UK keyboard layout during the boot process of PC Linux OS 2016.03 Live.

If you need to configure an alternative layout or several layouts for your needs, you can follow the link to see the KDE standard procedure for that. It worked for me.

Applications

PC Linux OS 2016.03 KDE comes with a lot of applications. Even too many of them.

Firefox 44 and Konqueror are the browsers. There are plenty of other Internet tools either KDE-specific or generic: Kopete internet messenger, Filezilla FTP manager, KGet download manager, KRDC remote desktop connection, Thunderbird email client and about 20 more.

Graphical tools in PCLOS 2016.03 include GIMP and KolorPaint editors, DigiKam manager, Gwenview viewer, Okular PDF viewer and Master PDF editor, and many-many more.

Productivity tools are represented by LibreOffice 5.1 with the full set of components including Math and Database, and there are also several additional KDE- and non-KDE tools.

There are about 50 simple games that come with the PCLinuxOS distribution.

Multimedia tools include two menu subsections: Sound and Video, and both include more than 10 applications. Of course, some of them are repeated, like VLC player.

On top of that, you can find specific tools for Finance, Education, Development and so on. The menu is actually very large, you can easily spend a few hours studying it. Unfortunately, there is no search tool in the default menu. However, you can switch from Classic to Launcher style menu where search is enabled.

Of course, there are standard tools like simple editor KWrite, Ark archiver, system resources monitoring tool, Samba configuration (SWAT), disk burning tools K3B, KDiskFree disk management tool and so on.

Synaptic has been the default package manager in PCLOS since its inception. Even though PCLOS uses RPM package format, Synaptic works with these packages too. You need to know the root password to start Synaptic, and it is something you have a clue on the desktop about. Just to check some applications, I searched for them: Skype, Pidgin, Transmission and gPodder were all available in the repositories.

Just to check the installation of applications in the Live version, I installed Skype. The installation was successful. It took some time for the menu to index the new application and put it into the search results. But eventually all was OK. The application also worked fine.

Multimedia

As I have already mentioned, PCLOS 2016.03 KDE includes a lot of different applications for sound and video. VLC is a powerful tool that can play almost any available multimedia format.

Firefox was also playing YouTube videos well in either embedded or full-screen pages, although there was a message about an outdated version of Adobe Flash plugin.
PC Linux OS 2016.03 multimedia tools

Unfortunately, some other sites like Vevo didn't play videos straight away. You either need to update the plugin or allow the outdated version to run.


Conclusion

I must admit that this time I had a much nicer experience with PC Linux OS than I had the previous time.

I could not find any issue to note during my Live run of this operating system apart from escessive number of applications.

Good job, PCLOS team! Let's hope you'll keep up with all you've done!

Video used on the screenshot:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwD4eJGxPc4

6 comments:

  1. Great review. Nice to see PCLinuxOS has been updated. My only problem is I can never get MythTV to work.

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    Replies
    1. Your welcome. I use to use PCLOS 0.9 back in the days when it was KDE. Slackware was my other fav. I stopped using PCLOS when I never see it updated on Distrowatch. Last release is 2014. After reading your review and seeing a 2016, I'm going to try PCLOS MATE for my old laptop.

      There are other little things I never liked but were easy to fix and that was the old style partitioning format. One for root, cache, and home. I always change to forward slash. The other was trying to get luks encryption to work. I see now it's supported.

      I remember why I never got MythTV to work. It had something to do with MySQL being broken. No matter how many time I re-install MySQL, never worked. So, hopefully they fixed it.

      I also had this problem with Mint 17 as well and always pointed to MySQL not saving log in passwords or being broken when local IP's were missing, but was able to fix it. Since my Laptop won't be needing MythTV, all is good.

      By the way, My laptop is a Toshiba Satelite L305 with 2 GB ram and 250 GB hard drive.

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    2. Thanks for the insight! Would you like to write an article about your experience, problems and fixes?

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    3. Sure. Once I fully test PCLOS 2016 and try a few things like getting a Brother HL-2230 Laser printer to work on Kernel 4.6 and seeing if my GQRX-SDR radio receiver works too. I know on my desktop machine using Mint 17.3 - If I use a Kernel higher than 3.19 - forget it, both printer and GQRX fail. But I know why that is. Long story short, the 386 emulated drivers needed for older hardware on a x86_64 system fail on 4.0 Kernels. Will see what happens.

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