The DistRogue

Sunday, January 13, 2008

PCLinuxOS 2008: And we have another winner!

Introduction
I waxed poetic about PCLinuxOS 2007 a few months ago when I compared it to Mint (and even earlier about version 0.93a). After 8 months, Texstar and the "Ripper Gang" are in the process of releasing another version (about time...). The new version, PCLinuxOS 2008, will ship with KDE 4, but at the time of writing, the final isn't out yet. They recently released a so-called "MiniMe" version of the final product with KDE 3.5, and it's better than ever- to the point that I would actually use it.

Installation
As usual, PCLinuxOS uses a Live/Install hybrid CD, with the famous DrakLive wizard for installation. This time, though, they've tweaked it a bit. During the live install, you only have to set up partitions and the boot loader. Users, along with the root password, are handled on the first boot. Time zone configuration is eliminated altogether, and further configuration is done via the PCLinuxOS Control Center. That's far from a bad thing- the PCC got my wireless card working in under a minute, as PCLOS includes iwl3945 drivers.

Artwork
Unfortunately, the artwork seems to have taken a step backward in this release. The last release was completely redesigned by the PCLinuxOS Beautification Project, and the results were great. This time, they've just ripped off Vista. The window borders are LiNSTA Squared, and the wallpaper looks as if it was taken directly from Vista. Even worse, the default fonts are insanely ugly, another step back from the last release. On the plus side, the icons look crisper and sleeker than the GNOME icon set used last time around.

Also a plus, Compiz Fusion was insanely easy to set up by installing a few packages (and not needing to mess around with the repositories), which helped considerably. The version in the repository is very recent, as is most of the software.

Installed Software
There's a reason why they call it MiniMe. In marked contrast to the software set included with the full version, the software on MiniMe is incredibly watered-down, not even including Firefox or any form of media playback (or even GIMP). It does, however, make a good base system with good hardware support, and can easily be upgraded to a full system with Synaptic.

Hardware Support
Hardware support improved with this release. This time, the included 915resolution worked, meaning that my 1280x800 screen resolution was detected. Also on the subject of graphics, the annoying screen bug that last release had has mysteriously vanished! I can now close my laptop up without the screen shutting down permanently.
On the wireless front, Intel PRO/Wireless 3945 drivers (now open-source!) are still included out of the box, and for the most part, they worked fine. I had a point when they stopped working, but that was fixed by switching the mode to AUTO in the PCC, which handles wireless configuration in addition to nearly everything else.

Performance/Gaming
One of the reason why I like PCLinuxOS is that it's insanely fast. Version 2007 runs faster than anything else I've tried (except Slackware- and source-based distros), and with version 2008, this only decreased slightly. GLXGears scores were in the 1200s, and rose to 1300+ by installing kernel 2.6.23 and XFCE. Tremulous ran smoothly enough for me not to complain about it for hours.

Extras
The PCLinuxOS Control Center is similar to openSUSE's YaST, except it's less obtrusive and equally functional (except as far as package management, which Synaptic handles). It forms an extensive, capable front-end to most commonly-used system tools to make administration easy. There's also the KDE Control Center, both of which come with panel buttons out of the box.

Pros:
-Still fast
-Drastically improved hardware support
-KDE 4 coming with the full release
-PCC is still an indispensable tool for adminning
Cons:
-MiniMe Edition has a tiny software selection
-Unoriginal, somewhat ugly theme
Friendliness: 4/5
- It's PCLinuxOS. What do you expect?
Performance: 4/5- Fast enough and then some.
Features: 2/5, 4.5/5- The first is for the MiniMe, the second (presumed) for the full. The full version of PCLinuxOS usually includes lots of software.
Packaging: 5/5- You can't get much better than this.
Artwork: 1/2.5- Could everyone PLEASE stop ripping off Vista?
review EVERYTHING critically and comprehensively!
Community: 2.5/2.5- The PCLinuxOS community is strong and enthusiastic, not to mention VERY newbie-friendly.
MiniMe version:

Full version (assuming they don't change the artwork):

Overall: 3.7/5, 4.2/5- I can't wait for the full version.
From PCLinuxOS 2008 MiniMe edition (with XFCE),
The DistRogue.

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16 Comments:

Anonymous davecs said...

Generally good review, though personally I find Mini-Me faster than PCLOS2007. Texstar is working on KDE4 but that will not be a condition of PCLOS2008 appearing. With kernel updates there were problems with some wireless drivers, and Tex wanted to get them right.

The mini-me is for more experienced users, hence feedback from that can be put to use then PCLOS2008 can be released.

As for the graphics, would you believe I have never seen Windows Vista? I like the graphics, but there are loads of alternate wallpapers and window decorations available using Synaptic for those with different tastes.

9:28 PM  
Blogger tallman said...

OMG, is it so hard to invent something nice yourself and not rip Visduh's interface?

10:11 PM  
Anonymous MacLone said...

Bad...my Dell ispiron 1100 could not run Mini Me 2008. Something in the updated kernel i suppose because de gnome version have the same kernel and did no work either with the same black video. The 1100 uses the worst intel video around but pclinux 2007 had no problems with it.
Aren't we going backwards?

5:53 AM  
Anonymous jbundy said...

I'm running a Gateway 4026GZ Laptop with Mini-Me on it and so far since installed it has ran just great-even better than PCLOS2007.Being able to set it up the way I want and choose what I want is the best way to go. So keep up the great work ...

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone with the kernel problem in minime and gnome version I figured it out... please run nolapic and remove splash from kernel entry. it worked for me

so in the boot line remove noapic or whatever alike that and put nolapic

9:24 AM  
Blogger kozmcrae said...

I don't think the Vista "look" is a detriment to PCLinuxOS. The default theme, whatever it is, is simply a suggestion. For the inexperienced user, i.e. someone coming from Windows, changing the theme will not be immediately apparent. The default Vista-like theme will seem more like a step up from their old and haggard XP. For the more experienced Linux user the reaction will be more like RRRRRAAAALLLPH! But it will only be a few minutes before they've changed it to their liking. Plus, no experienced user will dump a distro just because of a theme, unless it's the only theme available.

It still amazes me how such a small group of people like the "Ripper Gang" can have such a big impact on the development of Linux.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is not that they have a glossy black theme like vista, but that they have a really fugly glossy black theme. If that theme was on KDE look I dont think it would be rated very high.

7:27 PM  
Blogger manmath sahu said...

First things first. It's good review!

I found pclos 2008 minime to be more responsive than the previous minime. Only drawback is it's small, that's why it is "MiniME" and not "Dr. Evil."

Tex and the Ripper Gang has done a really nice job. Hope the next Full PCLinuxOS will revolutionize the desktop linux.

8:20 AM  
Blogger DJ Gentoo said...

Of course, that's when it comes out. It's taking so long (a month plus and counting- I thought it would be out immediately after the MiniMe release) that they'll probably call it "Duke Nukem Edition".

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PCLinuxOS 2007 - 2008 mini-me are the easiest and least 'pissing-around-with-things' distro's i have ever seen. Texstar is a bit of a perfectionist, but folks there will be the odd bit of hardware that wont work, at least out of the box, first time. what a task that would be, you cant be all things to all people, but it really is years ahead of Ubuntu - esp Kubuntu - or kuBUGutu as i call it.
The colours of PCLinuxOS 2007 / 2008 are neutral enough and look nice to windows' users in general, as i have noted recently. besides, many desktop PC users enjoy searching and customising their colours and themes, its similar enough to windows for pretty much anyone well-used to widows to find and change in 5 or 10 minutes max, if they go looking for it especially. you are EXPECTED to change the look of it.. thats one of the major points of desktop Linux, especially KDE.
Installing ATI / Nvidia drivers is easy, with links to a set of GUI tools in a folder on the desktop (along with a nice GUI to make your own customised version of PCLinuxOS on DC or DVD) simplicity.
The OS is reliable, with regular updates, security is very good,and frequently and transparently updated too. Unlike Kubuntu.. there seems to be little or no 'annoyances' and i've been using linux for 12 years.
Nice work Tex and Gang.
Mark_UK

1:30 PM  
Blogger John said...

I do like the Mini Me 2008 so much i installed it over my 2007 stable and well loved PCLOS2007.

My lenovo laptop loves it Creative webcam works with skype and my belkin wifi card.

I duel boot but after XP updates and a grinding to a halt in speed and other issues PCLOS2007 always was there to help me out, now it boots into Mini Me 2008 all the time and why go back.

Can we please have a 64 bit Asap but until then Mini Me 2008 has replaced Ubuntu 7.10 64 on My AMD64 X2 box, the Nvidia driver works nice and so does Compiz fusion to and the speed is excellent.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use mini-me as the os for this "little" system i built:
Intel D201GLY mini-itx board
1gig of ram
IDE to SD adapter with 4gig SDHC card as the hardrive.
Airlink 101 pci wireless card.
I was using tiny-me on this for a bit, while it was a great os, it was just a bit too quirky for me, as with everything PCLOS related, installed without a hitch and everything runs smooth. My only complaint is this boards on board video does not work correctly with any distro,so no fault of mini-me, but vesa mode works just fine ;)

2:42 PM  
Blogger zing said...

I will be glad when the new full version comes out. PCLinuxOS GNOME 2008 is already out and can be gotten at www.GetPCLinuxOS.com

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hail to BIG PAPA

6:05 PM  
Blogger Gordon said...

I've been using PCLOS 2008 MiniMe for a while now, I really like that I can install only what I want over the stable and powerful PCLOS base. I somewhat agree about the Vista theme, but it's no big deal to me, I just installed a new theme and moved on. I can't wait for PCLOS 2008 Full, keep it up tex and gang!

2:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had tried pclinux 2007 about a year ago but wanted to try many other distros to find the one that did the job best.Here a year later after ten distros have come and gone off my computer I have come back to pclinux2007.IT WILL STAY I SWEAR - does the job best - is the fastest- and looks smooth.

5:37 AM  

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