Happy 8th Birthday, PCLinuxOS

by Meemaw & Paul Arnote (parnote)

In the summer of 2003, Tex became interested in livecd technology after looking at Knoppix and Mepis. He had been packaging rpms for Mandrake for 5 years. A South African fellow by the name of Jaco Greef was developing a script called mklivecd and was working on porting it to Mandrake Linux. Tex and a few others began working with Jaco to help debug the scripts, which gave Tex an idea to make a Live CD based on Mandrake Linux 9.2, along with all his customizations, just for fun. He and the others decided to name the Live CD after their news site and forum, pclinuxonline, thus PCLinuxOS.

Preview .3 was his first attempt to make a livecd. It was distributed initially to about 20 people to get their reaction and feedback. Everyone who tested it loved the livecd, but it couldn't be installed to the hard drive! srlinuxx, from tuxmachines.org, came up with a novel way to copy the Live CD to the hard drive and posted it on the forums. Jaco utilized this information and inspiration from the Mepis installer and wrote a pyqt script to make the livecd installable. Thus began 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). Previews .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, they found that too many programs would no longer compile or work properly against this aging code base. Many of us started with preview .92 or .93 and found, even then, that the installed system “Just Works.”

In November 2006, they utilized a one time source code snapshot from their friends at Mandriva to pull in an updated glibc/gcc core and associated libraries. They spent the following 6 months rebuilding, debugging, customizing, patching and updating their new code base, pulling in stuff from the old code base, and utilizing patches/code from Fedora, Gentoo and Debian, just to name a few.

On May 20th 2007 they felt the base was pretty stable, and released PCLinuxOS 2007, utilizing their 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.

Shortly thereafter, MiniMe was released. MiniMe represented a barebones KDE installation, with little else than the bare desktop and core Linux OS files. Designed for more advanced users, MiniMe allowed users to install only those applications that they wanted. Even though this distro uses the “rolling release” update method, new Live CDs were released every year (and recently, even more often) so a user wouldn’t have to download a huge number of updates after installing to make sure they had the most up-to-date system available.

In 2009, several developers left PCLinuxOS to start their own distro. While this happens in many other distros, PCLinuxOS hasn’t suffered from it, and is still one of the top distros. In the wake of their departure, others stepped up to fill the vacated developer roles. Several other users stepped up to create the various “flavors” of PCLinuxOS. Today, there are over a dozen versions, or “flavors,” of PCLinuxOS available to users.

Today we have the KDE that Tex used initially, along with KDE Full Monty, LXDE, Zen Mini (using Gnome), Phoenix (using Xfce), E17 and Openbox. In addition, some specialized Live CDs have been developed, like PCLinuxOS-Edu with all sorts of educational programs included, and Black Cat Astronomy, which contains many astronomy programs.

Following the rolling release design, improvements are always being made, and things evolve. Tex has started testing a much-wished-for 64-bit edition of PCLinuxOS. Requiring a rebuild of all of the applications in the repos, the 64-bit repo now has over 8,700 of the 12,000+ applications in the PCLinuxOS 32-bit repo.

As a user who has been with PCLinuxOS since I installed PCLinuxOS .93, I have enjoyed seeing new users post in the forum about this wonderful distro that they are using, and how everything works as it should.

Thanks, Tex, for all your hard work! Happy 8th Birthday, PCLinuxOS!