2011-07-21

Review: PCLinuxOS 2011.6 KDE

Main Screen
The last time I tried out PCLinuxOS was at version 2010.07, and I tried the KDE version then too. I didn't particularly it then because I felt it dropped a lot of useful applications from the 2009.2 release (which I tried out before I started this blog), and because it was pretty slow on my computer. Then again, my perspectives and desires have changed a little bit since then, so don't read too much into that. Anyway, version 2011.6 has been released, and I'm reviewing it.

So what is PCLinuxOS? A long time ago in a galaxy that we are all in, PCLinuxOS was a Mandriva derivative with a custom theme, some changed default applications, and a few customization scripts. Since then, it has grown and diverged into basically its own distribution; really, the only thing it has in common with Mandriva is its package file type, and that is a particular form of RPM used in Mandriva. Other than that, it's basically entirely different, so there's no point in continuing to mention Mandriva after this. Anyway, it primarily uses KDE, though there are GNOME, Xfce, LXDE, and Enlightenment editions available as well. Its selling points include ease of use even for total newbies to Linux, stability, and a rolling-release model. Through it all, it has essentially remained a one-man project, and that man is Bill Reynolds, also known as "Texstar". How can stability be reconciled with a rolling-release model? Well, although packages are sent to the repositories when ready, "when ready" is only after a lot of time and testing. PCLinuxOS is known for its rather conservative stance on upgrading to newer pieces of software; for example, KDE 4 wasn't available for users at large until last year with the release of the PCLinuxOS 2010 series. This is a similar tack Debian-based Linux Mint will be taking by thoroughly testing all incoming Debian Testing packages and only releasing them when ready in monthly packages.

I tested the live session on a live USB made with MultiSystem. I tested the installation in VirtualBox within that live USB session with 1024 MB of RAM allocated to the guest OS. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

After getting past the boot menu, I saw the boot splash. It seemed a little elongated for my laptop's screen, which told me immediately that PCLinuxOS was having trouble with either my laptop's screen or its graphics card by not displaying the boot splash at the native resolution of 1366 by 768. The splash itself has the PCLinuxOS bull logo and the PCLinuxOS text logo all in gray with a progress bar below. After that, it got hung up, so I pressed CTRL+ALT+F1 to switch to a terminal. After logging in, I tried to start X/11, but it failed. I tried installing the CLI browser Lynx and searching the forums for answers, but I couldn't find anything. For a while, I gave up and didn't do anything about it, but then I had an idea.

I tried again, but this time I added the line "xdriver=vesa" to GRUB in the boot menu. After that, I saw the same elongated boot splash, and after that, I was finally taken to the keyboard selection screen, and then the desktop.

Mozilla Firefox 5.0 + KWrite
The desktop is pretty typical for PCLinuxOS KDE but departs slightly from KDE defaults. Aside from the dark gray Plasma theme to match the new wallpaper which eschews the bull logo, the themes are all the KDE defaults (and once again, I will express my disapproval at the new KDE folder icons, but that's not a problem with PCLinuxOS). The desktop layout uses a traditional Folder View, which is similar to how icons are in other DEs and OSs but different from the KDE 4 default Desktop View layout. The panel is not full-width, which doesn't make much sense to me considering that it doesn't autohide either like a traditional dock; the result is that there's wasted space on the left and right sides of the panel when windows are maximized. Instead of a traditional task switcher, the panel has something like what is present in Microsoft Windows 7. Unfortunately, it lacks the ability to pin applications to the panel, so it isn't quite as functional. Other than that, the desktop works well and looks a lot more professional than last time, if you ask me. (And for the record, the resolution was 1024 by 768.)

Mozilla Firefox is the default browser present at version 5.0, which makes sense considering how recently PCLinuxOS was released. It seems to have most multimedia codecs included, considering I was able to watch YouTube and Hulu fine, after fiddling with the KMix volume mixer a bit. I was also able to confirm that my laptop's volume keyboard shortcuts worked out-of-the-box as well. In addition, Mozilla Firefox didn't look like a KDE application because it didn't have the right icon theme, though it didn't look ugly per se.

Synaptic Package Manager + Desktop Cube
There is no productivity suite like LibreOffice included, but there is a KDE main menu button to install LibreOffice. There's a whole lot of configuration and driver software included, which I guess is good for ensuring a smooth live session and for creating a good impression. Otherwise, aside from the presence of Pidgin, GIMP, and Mozilla Thunderbird, the applications included are pretty standard fare for KDE.
Dolphin is the default file manager, though Konqueror is included too for power users. Unfortunately, starting Dolphin kept putting me back to the console login, which was weird.

At this point, I tried to install some new applications. I went to Synaptic Package Manager (yes, PCLinuxOS uses APT programs for package management despite using RPM packages) and installed Skype. That went well. I also found Synaptic Package Manager to be way faster in installing packages in PCLinuxOS than in, say, Linux Mint, which is interesting considering that it was originally designed for Debian and its derivatives. Anyway, after that, I tried starting Skype, but it crashed, and that led to an endless loop in KDM which I could only get out of by forcing a hard shutdown.

That would have ended my time with PCLinuxOS, but then I tried one last thing. After rebooting, I magically (this will be explained in a few posts) found and tried adding the command "nonfree=no xdriver=yes" to the GRUB boot stanza, and proceeded past the boot menu. This time, the boot splash was a simple blue 3-bar affair reminiscent of Fedora on my old computer, but strangely, after a few seconds, the verbose and 3-bar splashes kept interfering with each other. Thankfully, the troubles essentially ended there, because after that, I was taken to the keyboard selection screen, where I could see that the correct resolution 1366 by 768 had been detected and selected.

Dolphin + Wobbly Windows
I won't go over what didn't change, but I will say what did. Unfortunately, trying to add Mozilla Firefox to the panel led to an unexpected KDE Plasma crash. I say "unexpected" because here KDE is at version 4.6, and this must be either the first or second time I'm seeing a KDE Plasma crash in version 4.6.  Anyway, after doing everything over again, Dolphin and Skype both worked, as Skype recognized my webcam and mic perfectly. I also installed the Google Talk with voice and video plugin, and that seemed to work well based on the settings indicators, though I couldn't actually initiate a call because none of my contacts online had that plugin installed.
Desktop effects worked well. This was also the first time I saw the Wobbly Windows effect in KDE/KWin; before this, I had only seen it in Compiz.

At this point, I started the installation process in VirtualBox. The installer, along with the Control Center, is one of the few things still shared with Mandriva. Furthermore, it appears to not have changed in years, based on screenshots. The partition manager looks rather odd, with garish color codes representing the partitions; it could be made a little more clean, intuitive, and informative. In short, it could certainly use an update. I chose to erase the information on the virtual disk and install PCLinuxOS over the entire disk. Unfortunately, the VM aborted and closed at this time. I tried again, and the same thing happened. I guess it's really an issue with VirtualBox in these live sessions. In any case, that's where my time ended.

So what's the deal? I really liked the applications, and other applications installed and worked well. After much struggle with getting PCLinuxOS to start X/11 properly, my laptop's hardware was detected fine. Another strong point is PCLinuxOS's reputation as being stable, yet having access to the latest software through its rolling-release nature. Finally, it's configuration tools are still really good and really handy. But as with SimplyMEPIS 11.0, because I had to type GRUB commands to get it to work correctly in the live session, I can't recommend this to total newbies to Linux, at least based on my own experiences. Plus, even the positive part of the experience was marred by that lone KDE Plasma crash, which I am not used to seeing much anymore. I would recommend this more to slightly more experienced Linux users who aren't afraid to tinker and troubleshoot.

50 comments:

  1. Please correct me if I am wrong. You tested an operating system through a live environment, and then tested an install through a virtualbox session within the live environment. Is this a fair review?
    I wonder if you would have needed to tinker if you did a full and proper install. I do agree with you regarding the partition manager at install...it could be better.

    Emil

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  2. Sorry, I have problems calling this a review.

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  3. Prasanth, please, do a real install (not virtual box or live cd roaming around) not just for pclinuxos, for any distro you are taking for a ride, then put your experiences. imo, i never experienced any of your experiences with mepis and pclos, i've tried both their latest iterations.

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  4. Seems like improper review methodology.I can insist that PCLinuxOS is one of the most newbie friendly distro with not even half of the problems you encountered normally seen.

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  5. I too have problems calling this a review

    But, this is starting to be a common trend, it is pure laziness

    As soon as I see "live" , "virtualbox" , "vm" on a "review" site, I automatically close the browser

    It is pure bullshit that lazy people do reviews this way

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  6. I tested PCLinuxOS LXDE on a thumb-drive and it was a great experience.

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  7. I too agree with others' comments. It is not a fair review at all. I've used many distros and I would, with confidence, suggest PCLinuxOS to a newbie.
    I don't think any newbies will use VMs for installing operating systems.

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  8. What is the point of these 'reviews'? Most people use their OS to work with, not play around with in Virtual Box. Real reviews should be full installs to the HD, and you really need to spend a meaningful amount of time with the distro, USING it.

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  9. Prashanth, that is not a review, it is only a report of a silly thing you've done. You are the Murphy's Law in person.

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  10. @[all previous commenters]: It looks like you're all basically saying the same thing, so I see no reason to respond to you all separately and essentially repeat the same thing nine times over. Anyway, I don't understand what the hubbub is about. Mozilla Firefox worked fine. Package management, Skype, Google Talk, and others worked well. I attributed the installation issue to VirtualBox and emphasized that it's probably not representative of typical installations. Then again, I've had generally positive success rates with installations in reviews with this method, so I guess all the furor now is from PCLinuxOS fanbois, despite the fact that some installations won't work right all the time. I praised the package manager's speed, the looks, the stability of the rolling-release model, and the included application selection. The only thing that kept me from giving my full recommendation for newbies was the graphics card issue, which I eventually did fix, after which everything worked beautifully; but do note that for newbies seeing PCLinuxOS for the first time, such graphics issues are not to be taken lightly. Even so, I gave a positive recommendation for slightly more experienced Linux users. So why is everyone hating on this? Is it because it doesn't have a full installation like a "traditional" review? Well, the way I've done things thus far has worked quite well for me on the whole, so I'm not particularly concerned about a few exceptions here or there. Plus, of the few distributions (Linux Mint 9 LTS "Isadora", Fedora 11 "Leonidas", Fedora 12 "Constantine", and Sabayon 5.2) that I have installed on my hard drive, all VM installation issues were replicated when actually installing said distributions to my hard drive, so based on my own experiences, I have no reason to believe that other distributions will behave differently. Furthermore, if I want to test hardware compatibility and the software selection included, I see absolutely no reason to install a distribution when I can test it live to achieve the exact same purpose. Speaking of my experiences, I can't in good conscience recommend to newbies any distribution where major troubles sprang up. What do you all want me to do, lie and say everything was sunshine and daisies? It certainly seems like it. Do you want me to spend more time with it? That's fair enough, and I do admit that I could spend a little more time with the distributions I test, but from the distributions that I've installed, I've been able to spot most of the major issues within the live session itself; in any case, a longer-term test would probably be more accurately called a "Long-Term Review" as opposed to just a review. That aside, to conclude, I think it's because many of these commenters (especially the anonymous ones on this particular thread) are among the PCLinuxOS fanbois who take even the slightest hint of a problem as a cardinal offense and feel the need to savage the reviewer with ad hominem attacks, as was the case in the Linux-BSD-OS review of PCLinuxOS 2010. It's really a shame that this is the way it is, but honestly, the comments on this post have made me even less inclined to use PCLinuxOS (oooh, I know that'll rile you up even more) because this seems to be the norm for comments on reviews of PCLinuxOS that are even slightly tinged with barely a hint of negativity. If I were you, I would politely suggest helpful hints and tips, and if the issue couldn't be resolved, I would just say "well, I'm sorry that it didn't work out for you." I suggest that these readers take lessons in courtesy, reading comprehension, and perspective.

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  11. @PV: You have the right to write what you want on your site. I would personally expect someone acting professionally, to at least list the hardware used, and say look, it didn't work on my hardware, but not write it off for newbies. Very poor conclusion. Did you even try a live CD?
    I have encountered issues before using either LIVE method that disappeared with a full install (with various disties).
    Write us off as fanbois if you wish, we're holding you to account for what you've written publicly...who knows, it might benefit you in the long term.

    Emil

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  12. @Anonymous: First off, I should apologize for lumping you in with the other commenters, especially the one who called me personally a "Murphy's Law". Your comment was among the few reasonable and moderate ones. Anyway, I should probably do this with every review for the benefit of new readers, but my laptop is an ASUS U30Jc with 4 GB of RAM, an Intel Core i3-370M processor, a 320 GB hard drive, NVidia GeForce 310M and Intel GMA 4500 graphics cards, and an Intel wireless card, among other things. You can always search through my blog for information on it, but I'm always happy to provide that information. Now, I don't think you understand that me not giving my full recommendation of this for newbies doesn't necessarily mean that I'm *discouraging them entirely* from trying PCLinuxOS. If I can fully recommend it, it means that based on my experiences, you're less likely to encounter problems. If I can't, it just means that you should watch out for issues as they come. Then again, your mileage may vary, and you should always be wary of issues. Given all that, I still don't see how I could fully recommend this for newbies in good conscience having seen this fail with the default GRUB parameters on my laptop's hardware. The worst this means is that if a newbie really wants to try PCLinuxOS, they may need a little help from a more experienced user. That's all. I think it's interesting how whenever I review a distribution and that review comes out slightly negative, I always have to clarify that these are all just based on my experiences, and these are the words of neither a deity nor an experienced professional. Speaking of which, I should clarify that I am not an experienced user by any means. I'm just enthusiastic about Linux and free software and I like trying out new distributions from time to time; I review from the perspective of a newbie because truthfully, my Linux skills are only epsilon higher than that of a newbie, because I use Linux as my main OS to do stuff, not to endlessly tinker and dig deep into the core of the system. Furthermore, as you can see, there are no ads on this site, because I have no plans to monetize this site anytime in the future, because this blog and my Linux reviews are purely a hobby for me and have no bearing on anything professional- or career-related. This also means that I'm not sure who you're going to "hold [me] to account" to, but by all means, take me to task for any inconsistencies. Whew. I hope that cleared a few things up for you, and thanks for the comment!

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  13. I use PCLINUXOS, and i am shame of this commentaries from the users.
    This is the kind of comments that give bad name to the community and the distro itself.
    Some PCLinuxOS users are know for no respect for the reviewers, this is not the first time and will not be the last! In the future do not complainin when people say that PCLinuxOS users are arrogant! Respect and be respected!

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  14. @Anonymous: I do agree that even in other reviews, PCLinuxOS users tend to be more aggressive in their defense of their favorite distribution. Anyway, what did you think of this article? :) Thanks for the comment!

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  15. @PV: Taking you to task...yes thats what I meant. I would suggest that in future you always list what hardware you're basing your experiences from. I did check if there were any known issues with the graphics on your unit and came across this, although not exactly the same it looks as though it still has problems with your units dual cards. http://www.linuxgator.org/gnome/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=2713
    I'm glad you eventually got it working. I understand that you are not a Linux professional, and don't expect you to be. What I do expect, is that if you're going to take the time to do a review to add things like:
    - your hardware configuration
    - install directly to HDD.
    - Apply all updates (where possible)

    You have good observations, but you left yourself wide open when not dotting your i's and crossing your t's. PCLOS is a distribution that punches way above its weight and has a lot to offer; a disty which can be easily overlooked. It has a small but passionate community, and people will always defend what they believe in.

    Emil

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  16. @Anonymous: I did look at that forum thread, and while it seems interesting, I've never personally experienced problems with it on many other distributions, including the one I primarily use on a daily basis, Linux Mint 9 LTS "Isadora" GNOME. I agree that I should probably say something about my hardware configuration from now on as well as apply updates post-installation, but given that we've had different experiences regarding the representativeness of a VM installation versus a real installation, I think we should just agree to disagree on that point. Next, I did point out PCLinuxOS's strengths in the form of its included applications, configuration and driver tools (although admittedly I could have talked more about them), and its stability combined with a rolling-release schedule. I think that covers the major points, so unless you could tell me specific things that I egregiously omitted, I'm still not sure why you seem rather disappointed in this post (or, in my "not dotting [my] 'i's and crossing [my] 't's). Finally, while I do admire the passion of the community, I believe it's necessary to keep that in check with some modicum of politeness and respect, given the comments here and on other PCLinuxOS reviewers. You won't usually (but not always) find in other slightly negative distribution reviews (not just here, but anywhere) the level of vile and nasty commentary I saw in the last few days, so do keep in mind that said passion and ardent defense can be a double-edged sword, as you can also see by a comment above chastising many of the other commenters for their outright rudeness. Thanks for the comment!

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  17. Has anyone tried iGolaware or Mageia? Both seem quite good, former is based on Ubuntu and latter fork of Mandriva, now independent. Not a troll :),just thought of asking if anyone had any experience with either.

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  18. @Anonymous: I plan to compare Mageia 1.0 and Mandriva 2011 when the latter comes out. I've seen something about iGolaware before, but it honestly doesn't look like a whole lot more than a reskinned Ubuntu. (Then again, that charge could be thrown at a lot of other distributions I have reviewed.) Thanks for the comment!

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  19. PV - yes, iG looks like a reskinned ubuntu but seemed decent when i played with it for few mins on live usb compared to the other skinned ones. Maybe will give one more try again.

    As for Mageia i installed it in disk and currently typing from there. So far really impressed, fast boot, good responsiveness in regular usage, decent pkg management though rpm based and with E17 thrown in just seem to glide smoothly. Only exception is high cpu/mem usage when using flash based videos but that's more of browser/flash issue rather than the distro itself.

    Would wait for your review to see your thoughts/feedback on the same.

    Thanks,
    murali.

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  20. @Anonymous: It'll be interesting to see how deep the differences go, because as far as I have seen, Mageia is basically where Mandriva would have been with a standard KDE experience, but now Mandriva seems to be revamping the entire DE. Also, Mandriva isn't supposed to come out until the end of August, and I don't want to compare a final-release Mageia to a pre-release Mandriva, so I'm going to wait until the final release of Mandriva 2011 to do that comparison. Thanks for the comment!

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  21. If you encounter any issue during install in virtualbox then you should blame virtualbox or the host OS. Sorry, you are wrong if you think that virtualbox is the only perfect/ultimate software invented/written/programmed till date. I am really frustrated to read review(s) on your blog now a days. Please do not recommend any distro to any one with the level of knowledge you have. Also try to take the feedback positively.

    Oh forgot tell you that i am not a PCLinux OS fan boy but used it for quite some time. I also agree with one of the reader's comment "I too have problems calling this a review" :)

    Regards,
    Sundar

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  22. @Anonymous: Erm, did you read what I said in the review? I didn't not recommend this distribution to newbies because of the failed installation; I specifically suspected VirtualBox issues in this case and asked readers not to worry about that too much. The reason why I said I couldn't fully recommend PCLinuxOS was due to graphics issues stemming from bad GRUB parameters, which has nothing at all to do with VirtualBox. Also, your statement of "[please] do not recommend any distro to any one with the level of knowledge you have. Also try to take the feedback positively" reads much like "[highly offensive or hurtful statement], no offense..."; it's obvious that the intent is the obvious of the qualifying statement afterwards. To be honest, I'm disappointed by comments like this; commenters are savaging this review either despite not having fully read or understood the issues presented or blowing one little issue way out of proportion and failing to recognize all of the other positive points I presented. You know, if you read my second review of SimplyMEPIS 11.0, where I do get it to work and I say that it's OK for what it does but I still can't recommend it for total newbies for the same reason (bad GRUB parameters affecting the ability to start X/11) as for PCLinuxOS 2011.6, people there were far more receptive and sympathetic to the issue. Hmmmm, I wonder whether that says larger...

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  23. I've been using PClinuxOS for nearly 4 months and have found it a very good distro - my hardware is approx 2 years old - and it all works very well. The community very friendly. I think a few - and I would say it is just a few - do get defensive, but sometimes the reviews are so inaccurate I can sort of (partly) understand it. But if I can defend them for a moment, I "rarely" see them being personal in their responses, and secondly, the forum is the best by far of any of the ones I use. You only have to go the Welcome Centre to see how friendly, and helpful, they are. Thanks for reading.

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  24. @Anonymous: It's great that you've been able to have such success with PCLinuxOS. Yeah, I do agree that these people are probably by and large the exception as opposed to the norm. (Also, are you implying that my review is among the highly inaccurate ones? I'm just wondering.) That said, I'm still struck by how consistently such commenters viciously attack reviewers who find even the slightest bit of negativity in PCLinuxOS, where for other distribution reviews that are slightly negative (where it's obvious the negativity stems from a fault in the distribution itself and not from a fault in the reviewer's abilities), supporters might politely and courteously point out solutions, or if nothing else say "Well, I'm sorry it didn't work out for you." That's what I do if someone reviews Linux Mint somewhat negatively (though that honestly doesn't happen often). Thanks for the comment!

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  25. Good grief, are there really this many whiny fanbois?

    I've used PCLOS, find it to a good OS, not better than others, but good. Fairly friendly, and easy to use, and a lot friendlier than it's "community". Over my time with hem, I've been repeatedly embarrassed to be associated with a bunch that looks for even the smallest slight against their favourite, and jump to the attack like a pack of rabid dogs. Not at all mature in their responses, in general. I've finally had enough, and have been gradually moving my machines across to other, more friendly alternatives, such as Linux Mint (among others). PCLOS is technically a nice distro, with lots of available apps, and plenty of good to recommend it. But it also has it's flaws, and some seem completely incapable of accepting even the slightest negative word being spoken against their "precious". Their responses are extremely immature, irrational, and little more than rabid fanaticism. It's ridiculous. It's just an OS, nothing more, nothing less. It has it's plus and it's minus, like every other OS. Quite being so damn religious about it, it's embarrassingly irrational, and a huge turn off to many people. I used to intro it to others, and while they liked what they saw in the OS, were often off-put by the carrying-on of some in the community, especially when they'd look for reviews of it, and come across ridiculous, foaming-at-the-mouth feedback like this, or worse. This kind of thing is an embarrassment to the linux community as a whole.

    Grow uop, quit being so immature, and see it for what it is. People review things in their own way, don't hide what they do, and make their views clear. Attacking them for not giving it 5 stars is just childish and deluded. Grow up!

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  26. @David: Yeah, if you notice in my most recent post (featured comments of the week) I say that I'm probably not going to review another PCLinuxOS release after this precisely because of this immaturity in the comments. Thank you for understanding exactly what I have to say. (By the way, what did *you* think of the review?)

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  27. I read the review, and was left at the end with the definite impression that the OS would not boot correctly without resorting to some 'magic' boot options. Thus, despite it having good points, it is not suitable for inexperienced users.
    That was my impression.

    I have a problem though. Although you have since detailed the hardware on which you tried the OS, I have no idea whatsoever what the VBox set up was or how that might have affected results.

    It is my understanding that when installed in VBox the hardware is 'virtual' ..... which would imply that your actual hardware is not really in use from the OS perspective.

    The result of this is that I .... who use Linux .... am aware of these (IMO) shortfalls in the review, but inexperienced users would not be and so might draw the conclusion that the OS will not work properly on their actual hardware without serious user intervention.

    So to me the review is flawed as the results .... the good ones and the bad ones ... cannot necessarily be reproduced on actual hardware.

    All I can do is encourage you to put aside a partition for test installs of distros in order to review them running on actual hardware.

    Such a review would be of more use to someone with similar hardware and *shoiuld* give the reader a better grasp of what to expect when they install.

    .... well you did ask for opinions ;)

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  28. Balanced review from where I sit. I am a dedicated user of PCLinuxOS and use it on all my machines. I would agree that it would probably be best to install a distro to your drive to see actual realtime performance of the distro before writing a review and I know that you are not the only reviewer to use a vm or live cd to test new releases so lets just say that the review is less than perfect. Well distros are not perfect as well and "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" on all reviews. I love PCLinuxOS. It helped me kick the Microsoft habit but it is not perfect. Ubuntu and other leding distros have flaws as well. I wont apologize for some of the responses because they to love PCLinuxOS and all distros have there die hard supporters. Even Ubuntu which is not the best distro only the most popular. In closing it was a balanced review based on your experience. I would only ask that in the future you do an install and base the review on that. It would probably causeyou a little less headaches.

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  29. @Anonymous 1: You are correct that the main reason why I couldn't recommend this to newbies, much more than anything else, was that it required extra GRUB parameters to even work as intended. You are also correct that VirtualBox installations are not foolproof, but if you noticed, I basically said as much as well in the review. You're right to call me out on it generally, but I would ask that you don't bash me for using that as the reason to not recommend PCLinuxOS, because that's not what I'm doing at all.
    @Anonymous 2: Again, I agree that I'd probably have better results through full installation on a real hard drive. However, the reasons why I don't are that my resources are limited (and I don't want to potentially risk a repeat of the time when Fedora 11 "Leonidas" not only failed to install but also somehow screwed up my Linux Mint 7 "Gloria" system), and my main purposes is to go through the installer, while finding actual problems is honestly somewhat incidental for me, considering that installation problems will likely vary significantly depending on hardware anyway. My issue isn't that trying out the live session gave me a headache, because I was eventually able to figure out the solution and use it OK; the problem would be for a newbie, who upon seeing such a problem would scream, run away, and curse Linux for the rest of said newbie's life.
    Thanks for the comments!

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  30. "@Anonymous 1: You are correct that the main reason why I couldn't recommend this to newbies, much more than anything else, was that it required extra GRUB parameters to even work as intended. You are also correct that VirtualBox installations are not foolproof, but if you noticed, I basically said as much as well in the review. You're right to call me out on it generally, but I would ask that you don't bash me for using that as the reason to not recommend PCLinuxOS, because that's not what I'm doing at all."

    I see ..... first let me say that I did not 'bash' you. Quite the opposite in fact.
    Secondly, because you used VBox, and had to use Grub options to boot in VBox, and then could not recommend the OS to inexperienced users because of that, it could be argued that inexperienced users would never meet the situation, as they would be booting and installing on actual hardware and not on virtual hardware.

    So you did base your lack of recommendation for inexperienced users on the necessity of using Grub boot options in a situation that inexperienced users are unlikely to meet.

    I also found it very strange that you did not comment on the results of using the alternate boot options, so have no idea if any of those were tried --- presumably there were other boot options in the Grub menu. Maybe one of those would have booted correctly without any editing of the Grub boot line!

    Whether intended or not the impression left by the piece is what I posted above.

    All I can do is to recommend again that you use actual hardware if you wish to do reviews that are not open to being contested because of the use of VBox.

    A

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  31. @Anonymous: If you read the article again, you'll see that the GRUB issues were encountered with a live USB (i.e. on real hardware, so this was a real issue). Also, for your information, because of the way that the live USB was made, other GRUB entries that may have been present before didn't show up. In any case, if I remember right, when I booted the Kongoni live ISO in the VM (again, just to test the installation and nothing more), the only other options were to boot in "safe mode", to boot into a CLI session, and to do a memory test. Thanks for the comment!

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  32. to all those people who have a problem with reviews on this site, if you don't like what pv writes, don't read the damn article. there certainly is a difference between constructive criticism and douche-baggery. stop acting like a bunch of Internet bullies. you nerds would get thrashed if you tried this in real life.

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  33. "Also, for your information, because of the way that the live USB was made, other GRUB entries that may have been present before didn't show up."

    Interesting ...... and explains the lack of mention of those options.

    This implies that boot options which were likely made available by the OS devs were not present on your test, due to the manner of creating your selected boot media.

    That is another important factor to be considered when reviewing an OS ...... do you have the boot options available to you that the devs intended?
    I would suggest that not having those options available is possibly doing the OS a disfavour.

    I know nothing of "MultiSystem" or why its developers appear to omit boot options which the OS devs seem to believe are necessary or desireable.

    I would suggest that it is incumbent on the reviewer to use the OS in the manner which the OS devs intended, in order to give readers the full benefit of the time spent. That, IMO, would include installing on actual hardware from a medium which displays all the boot options the OS devs included in the ISO.

    Please note that the above comments do not apply ONLY to the OS you reviewed in this article, but applies generally.

    I have no idea if doing the above would have made any difference or not, but it surely would prevent the questioning of the methodology used in the review, thus raising questions about any conclusions drawn.

    A

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  34. My post deleted and my IP address banned apparently .......... Yeah! Censorship is alive and well.

    Seems everyone must agree or not read or post!

    Hahahahahahahaha ..... have a nice life!

    A

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  35. I admittedly did not read the entire article, but if I could offer some constructive criticism, it would be that in the future, as others have stated, you perform a proper hard drive install to perform a review, and not a virtual install.

    The reasoning is this: A potential user is going to read a review to potentially make a decision as to whether they want to use the distribution or not. If they are going to use it, it will most likely be in a proper installation, not a virtual one. The review should be of the product under its intended use.

    To resort to the cliche car analogy, you wouldn't perform a review of a car by driving a computer simulator program. You would go and actually test drive the car on real roads, in real traffic, on real highways, or at the very least in a controlled environment like a test track, but driving the real car nonetheless.

    The whole point of a review is to inform readers how the product performs its designed task, therefore it should be tested under its intended use.

    Again, I'm not trying to be overly negative or aggressive, just offering some constructive criticism.

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  36. I am the same poster as the post on July 27, 2011 at 10:35 AM.

    I just noticed the few posts above mine where you stated that you used a live USB on real hardware, not in VM, however you created the live USB with "MultiSystem". I am personally not familiar with MultiSystem, but perhaps if you had issues with the live USB you created, it might have been prudent to simply burn a CD directly from the ISO to test if you experienced the same issues. This way it could have been determined whether the issue was with the creation of the live USB, or with the distribution itself.

    The theme should really be again, treat it as the average person would, which is, download the ISO, burn a disc from the ISO, and perform a hard drive install, then test and review. Otherwise you are simply reviewing the specific method which you used, and not the intended usage of the product.

    The car analogy here would be that you tested the car by trying to start it with a screw driver instead of the key, but had issues getting it started, but when you worked the screw driver in just the right way you were able to get things up and running.

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  37. @Anonymous 1: I must thank you for the support, but honestly, I think that sort of language is a little out of line too, because it could discourage people who have polite but legitimate criticisms from coming here and it could give legitimize the other whiny comments too.
    @Anonymous 2: No, you're post wasn't deleted; it got caught in the spam filter somehow. I don't know why, but Blogger has a pretty crappy spam filter; messages from users whose usernames are links to spam sites get through, but your messages don't. In any case, I (1) have reinstated your comment and (2) do not delete anyone's comment unless it is blatant spam. Anyway, to respond to your original comment (which got marked as spam), I have noticed that MultiSystem generally reduces the number of boot options to one, though for some reason this is not consistent. I should have mentioned this too, but in any case, it wouldn't have made a difference, because I did see the PCLinuxOS live CD boot menu in the VM, and it didn't have any explicit options to boot with different graphics modes or anything like that (other than a safe mode which used "xdriver=vesa", if I remember right).
    @Anonymous 3: I suppose I should focus more on your more recent comment, given that you yourself have clarified your criticism. It is a valid question, but while many new users will certainly go out of their way to buy blank CDs to try "this new Linux thing", many others would probably like an easier way to do it with the resources they have (which in these days would more likely include a USB stick as opposed to a blank CD). Though almost all distributions recommend using CDs as the primary method, said distributions almost always also provide methods for burning the ISO file onto a USB stick, be it UnetBootin, the dd command, MultiSystem, or manually extracting and copying over files. For your information, any issues I have experienced using a live USB, I have experienced identically whether using MultiSystem or UnetBootin to make the live USB, in the cases where I have tried distributions on live USBs made with both methods. Furthermore, while I haven't made that many live CDs, I have made live CDs of Linux Mint (6 "Felicia", 7 "Gloria", 9 LTS "Isadora", "Debian"), Sabayon (5.2), Fedora (11 "Leonidas", 12 "Constantine") PCLinuxOS 2009.2, and #! 9.04.01 along with live USBs of all of those, and if I had issues with any of those live USBs, I had identical issues with the live CDs, which tells me that the creation of the live USB with MultiSystem isn't the problem.
    Thanks for the comments!

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  38. I'm not a PCLOS fanboy. I really like the distro but don't care much for the community and forums. Still, it's one of the distros I'd recommend to anyone, newbie or not. Your reviews are interesting but personally I prefer ones by people who test hard drive installations. That's no knock on you -- you have your reasons for doing what you do, and I can respect that. It's just that it's more important for me to see how a reviewer feels about a distro after putting it on the hard drive. But I also sometimes use MultiSystem (and UNetbootin) so your reviews are useful in that respect. The phrase "your mileage may vary" always applies with any distro review, so readers should always understand that the things one reviewer experiences might not be what everyone else will see. I think you should continue doing PCLOS reviews even with the harsh feedback you get from PCLOS users. Lets people get a taste of how that community can be, for one thing. (Just put on your tough skin.) But it's also an important distro and it's good to have those reviews out there. I hope in the future you'll pick up a computer that you can use for testing hard drive installations; it would make your reviews more complete, in my opinion.

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  39. It is a nice distro but if you want the sofware handbrake, sabnzbdplus, picasa, wine, skype, stable then the whan you want is ubuntu or kubuntu they the only whan that play that stable as a rock

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  40. @Anonymous: I appreciate the fact that you can accept the way I do things without savaging me for it. I really do. :D And honestly, if I had a spare hard drive, I most certainly would do real installations on that. That said, even if I get the time and means to get a hard drive for that purpose, I don't know when that will be, and it just seems to be too far out in the future. Also, I may end up reviewing PCLinuxOS in the future, but these original comments have put me off enough to take it off my list for the time being, at least. I usually have pretty tough skin when it comes to negative comments, but the thing that particularly annoyed me is that the negative comments almost all focused on and magnified the minutiae of the review and displayed an astounding lack of reading comprehension, compared to other sets of negative comments on other reviews I have done which were far more justified there. If I publicly choose to stay away from PCLinuxOS, I hope to send the message that these whiny attitudes will need to change, or else more potential users like myself will stay away from PCLinuxOS. Thanks for the comment!
    @codec59: This is almost the exact same comment you left on the Chakra review. I'm fine with you preferring Ubuntu/Kubuntu, but you have added nothing constructive to either review's comment thread, and the similarity between those two comments make me think "SPAM!". If you post another comment like this, I will mark all of your comments — past, current, and future — as spam.

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  41. This review was positive meaning that it tells you how the installation was and the errors what comes and solution. it does not matter if you try with Vbox or what ever , the Op has made a honest review and we all should encourge the Op to provide us more reviews based on his experience. sharing experience in my point of view means caring for others. I like it :)

    Keep them comming,
    Regards,
    Hadi

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  42. @Hadi: Thanks for the support!

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  43. I have been using pclos since version .92. I really like it but no distro is perfect. They all have problems. You can include all versions of windows also. There are just too many hardware configurations for a one size fits all operating system.

    The fanboy problem on the pclos forum is really really bad. You have not experienced the full force of the attacks they are capable of doing. You actually got off lightly. I am a member of the forum but I rarely post nowadays. It is just too much of a hassle to get real help with a problem. There is not enough manpower to properly maintain a rolling release. As such you have problems with applications because no one checks the applications to see if they work with updates. If you are just one person with a problem they are quick to pile on you with comments like "I'm up to date and don't have a problem"

    There is not enough knowledge with the small packager team and not enough testing. netfs has not worked properly for about a year and a half. For the lack of knowledge the init.d start order is all messed up and fails to mount nfs shares on boot. The network has started to stop and restart after the desktop is up and running sometime saying you have no network configuration. Then you have to remount your shares.

    Texstar is working on a 64 bit version and doesn't have enough time for the 32 bit version. I am wondering how that is going to work out.

    You can summarize the attitude of the forum mods and packagers as arrogant . Take the case of the new black theme. They didn't have the decency to just make it available but forced changed everyones setting to use the new ugly black theme if you can call it a theme. After jumping through hoops you can change most of it back but not all of it. You make a comment on the forum about it and you get ridiculed for saying anything. Even Texstar joins in on that. As a consequence I have stopped donating. I have a long record of good donation amounts but not anymore.

    On final thing. If they see this and post about it watch how they rip me up. That is OK through. It is GPL and I will use what I want and toss what I don't.

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  44. @Anonymous: That's why when I introduce a new user to Linux, I tout the fact that most hardware nowadays works out-of-the-box, but because Linux is an open system as opposed to Apple's systems which are completely closed and controlled by Apple, I make sure to warn that "most" does not mean "all". Also, regarding the attitude issues, I don't know if people in the forum will still post about this, but I can tell that people have generally stopped commenting on this particular post, because it is a little old now, and I have newer reviews out. I did see this post linked in the PCLinuxOS forum, and forum members ravaged it as much there as some of the commenters did here. It's really a shame that the development is a one-man job; I feel like the best version of PCLinuxOS I tried (which was also the first) was version 2009.2 KDE, with a beautiful implementation of KDE 3.5. Since then, I feel like the quality has gone down slightly, but for sure, the userbase has shrunk. I guess the remaining users are bitterness about that fact, but paradoxically, the bitterness will only drive more potential users like myself away. Thanks for the comment!

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  45. Synaptic was actually created by the company Conectiva, to be used in "Conectiva Linux" which used the APT-RPM! it just makes sense to have an improved performance in PCLinuxOS!

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  46. @Paulo Ricardo: Wow, I did not know that! Thanks for that clarification!

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  47. @PV: For the love of gawd man, please use some paragraph breaks in your replies to comments! TY!

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  48. @Anonymous: Yeah, I remember when a few commenters asked me to start putting paragraph breaks in the posts themselves. I'll certainly try to break up separate replies with spacing from now on. Thanks for the comment!

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  49. I reviewed the 2012.8 version - it has a very healthy list of usable softwares out-of-the-box. Very stable and has a rolling release. However, being a community maintained distro, I found the repo for PCLinuxOS is not the most updated one - I had to install Skype 4 downloading rpm packages from the Skype site, the repo had the Skype 2! Similarly, GIMP 2.8 came after quite a lag!

    I use PCLinuxOS in one of my systems and except for the not-so-updated repo, I am pretty much happy with its performance. PCLOS 2012.8 has arguably the best application collection out of the box, incl. Skype, VLC, Virtualbox, Pidgin, Amarok, etc. though they are not the most updated ones. A highly functional and low resource consuming distro recommended for users who are looking for a trouble free computing experience.

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    Replies
    1. @Arindam: It's great that it has worked so well for you. Thanks for the comment!

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