PCLinuxOS: 6 Years Old

No matter how you slice it — 10 elephant years, 20 horse years, 33.3 cat/dog years — PCLinuxOS is celebrating its 6th birthday (in human years) on October 24, 2009.

Of course, all PCLinuxOS users owe a great deal of gratitude to a man named Bill Reynolds, a.k.a. Texstar, who branched out on his own to start a new Linux distro, called PCLinuxOS. Over the years, users have come and gone, and PCLinuxOS has evolved into the stable Linux platform that it is today. And, as the birthday draws nigh, PCLinuxOS continues to evolve, with the recent additions of LXDE and XFCE remasters, two Gnome versions (PCLinuxOS Gnome and Zen Mini), a slim KDE version (Minime 09), KDE 4.3.x emerging as the dominant KDE desktop (since official support for KDE 3.5.x is slated to end very soon), and an Enlightenment remaster in the works. PCLinuxOS is definitely alive and well.

As most of you already know, PCLinuxOS has garnered a strong following, and has a reputation of "everything working right out of the box." Although the "official" slogan for PCLinuxOS is "Radically Simple," many have referred to it as "The Distro Hopper Stopper," since many users' search for a Linux distro that works with all their hardware ends with their installation of PCLinuxOS. The PCLinuxOS Forum is very active, and has a reputation of being one of the friendliest Linux forums around. PCLinuxOS also routinely ranks among the top ten Linux distributions on DistroWatch.

To celebrate the 6th birthday of PCLinuxOS, it's probably best to let its founder, Texstar, lay it all out for you, in his own words.

PCLinuxOS — A little walk down history lane

by Texstar

In the summer of 2003, I became interested in LiveCD technology after looking at Knoppix and a fresh distribution from a fellow named Warren, called Mepis. I was interested in helping Warren with Mepis at the time, but I had no clue how to build Deb files. Coming from 5 years of packaging rpms and not really wanting to learn a new packaging system, I happened to come across a South African fellow by the name of Jaco Greef. He was developing a script called mklivecd and porting it to Mandrake Linux. I, along with Buchanan Milne (Mandrake contributor) and a few others, began working with Jaco to help debug the scripts. I got an idea to make a LiveCD based on Mandrake Linux 9.2, along with all my customizations, just for fun. I had previously provided an unofficial 3rd party repository for the users of Mandrake for many years, but had since parted ways. Since Mandrake was a trademarked name, myself and others decided to name the livecd after our news site and forum pclinuxonline, thus PCLinuxOS.

Preview .3 was my first attempt to make a LiveCD. I initially distributed it to about 20 people to get their reaction and feedback. Everyone who tested it loved the LiveCD, but there was one thing missing. There wasn't a way to install the thing to the hard drive! srlinuxx from tuxmachines.org came up with a novel way to copy the LiveCD to the hard drive, and posted it on our forums. Jaco utilized this information, along with inspiration from the Mepis installer, and wrote a pyqt script to make the LiveCD installable; thus the birth of a new distribution.

On October 24, 2003, PCLinuxOS Preview .4 was released as a fork of Linux Mandrake (Mandriva) 9.2, utilizing mklivecd scripts from Jaco Greef, a multimedia kernel from Thomas Buckland (2.4.22-tmb) and a customized KDE (3.1.4-tex). Preview .5 through .93 were built upon on previous PCLinuxOS releases. After 3 years of updating one release from the other using the same gcc and glibc core library, we found too many programs would no longer compile or work properly against this aging code base.


In November 2006, we utilized a one time source code snapshot from our friends at Mandriva to pull in an updated glibc/gcc core and associated libraries. We spent the following 6 months rebuilding, debugging, customizing, patching and updating our new code base. We pulled in stuff from our old code base, and utilized patches/code from Fedora, Gentoo and Debian, just to name a few. This is why you will never see me distro bashing, as it would be hypocritical to do such a thing since we are still dependent in many areas on other distros development processes due to our limited, but hard working, volunteer development team.


On May 20th, 2007 we felt we had reached a pretty stable base and released PCLinuxOS 2007, utilizing our own kernel from Oclient1, KDE built by MDE developer Ze, updated mklivecd scripts from IKerekes & Ejtr, a heavily patched Control Center, graphics from the PCLinuxOS beautification team and many application updates from Thac and Neverstopdreaming. Development continues as work is being done for a Minime release and an international DVD. A future release of PCLinuxOS will feature an updated kernel, KDE 4, fresh Xorg server and all the latest applications. All in all, it has been a great ride and we have made many friends along the way. Some have gone on to other distributions and many are still here from our first release. As I've always said, we're just enjoying Linux technology and sharing it with friends who might like it too. We hope you have enjoyed the ride as well.