PCLinuxOS: 7 Years Old

Introduction by Paul Arnote (parnote)

October 24, 2003 marked the birth of PCLinuxOS. After seven years, PCLinuxOS is definitely alive and well, with its numbers of users steadily increasing. Regularly, PCLinuxOS is in the top five most popular distros on Distrowatch.com.

Of course, all of this is due to the exhausting and selfless work of Bill Reynolds, a.k.a. Texstar, who branched out from his days of maintaining a custom repository for Mandriva, to create his own distro. Yep. The one we all know and love, as PCLinuxOS.

Today, PCLinuxOS sports virtually any desktop environment you may want to use or try: KDE, Gnome, Xfce, LXDE, Openbox or Enlightenment. And all of those either currently have lightweight "mini" versions already available, or they are currently in the works. These are all maintained by a small but efficient group of dedicated developers, who help with maintaining the remasters and with maintaining the more than 13,000 software titles in the official PCLinuxOS respository.

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 seventh 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. 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.