Previous Page
PCLinuxOS Magazine
Article List
Next Page

Happy 11th Birthday, PCLinuxOS!

It began on October 24, 2003. PCLinuxOS Preview .4 was released as a fork of Linux Mandrake (Mandriva) 9.2. Since that time, PCLinuxOS has matured into its own independent Linux distribution. Just uttering the all-still-too-common line that PCLinuxOS is still a fork of Mandriva may cause sparks to fly. While PCLinuxOS may have been originally forked from Mandriva, it also borrows from openSUSE, Fedora, Ubuntu, Knoppix, Mepis, Debian, Slackware, Arch and just about any/every other Linux distro around.

Unlike some other Linux distros, PCLinuxOS thrives as a community distribution. It doesn't have multimillionaires and/or billionaires funneling cash into its coffers, and it doesn't have the backing of any corporation. Rather, a dedicated group of volunteers keep PCLinuxOS current by developing new programs unique to PCLinuxOS, packaging and updating the repositories, or by donating their services for various tasks that need to be done -- and that make PCLinuxOS truly unique among Linux distros.

Although we've run it before, I don't think any PCLinuxOS user ever gets tired of hearing the story of how their favorite OS came into being. If you're relatively new here, you might want to familiarize yourself with how PCLinuxOS came to be.

What Is PCLinuxOS?

PCLinuxOS is a Linux distro, just like Ubuntu, openSUSE, Fedora, Mepis, Knoppix, Debian, Slackware, Arch and about 600 others. Probably the best way to describe PCLinuxOS is to provide a brief history from the founder of PCLinuxOS, Texstar -- a.k.a. Bill Reynolds (pictured below).

In the summer of 2003, I became interested in Live CD 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 Live CD after our news site and forum, pclinuxonline, thus PCLinuxOS.

Preview .3 was my first attempt to make a livecd. I distributed it initially 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 came up with a novel way to copy the livecd to the hard drive and posted it on our forums. Jaco utilized this information and inspiration from the Mepis installer and wrote a pyqt script to make the Live CD 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 three 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, 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. 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. It utilized 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.

While the above was written a few years ago, PCLinuxOS has continued to thrive and evolve. 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 allows users to install only those applications that they want. 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 several "flavors" of PCLinuxOS available to users, each presenting PCLinuxOS users a choice of which desktop environment to use.

To this day, the KDE desktop is still employed in the "main" PCLinuxOS release. However, all of the other desktop versions utilize the exact same Linux core, as well as the same repositories.

Following the rolling release design, improvements are always being made, and things evolve. First Texstar, followed by the PCLinuxOS development team, expanded their focus a bit, and a much-wished-for 64-bit edition of PCLinuxOS has recently been offered. Requiring a rebuild of all of the applications in the repos, the 64-bit repo now features over 9,000 packages, while 13,000+ applications populate the PCLinuxOS 32-bit repo.

Best Wishes From PCLinuxOS Users

I've invited some veteran PCLinuxOS users to express their "birthday wishes" for PCLinuxOS's 11th anniversary, and share their PCLinuxOS "story." The responses are presented in the order in which I received them.

I started with Linux back in 1999 where you had to reboot MS-Windows 10 times per day to keep it working. A friend showed me his Red Hat system, and I was well impressed with the stability, diversity of free applications, and the availability and full access to programming languages and debugging tools. After testing many other Linux distributions, I quickly became a die-hard KDE-fanboy and a loyal SuSE user for many years, until they made a big mistake in November 2006.

A couple of distro tests later, I found my new home with PCLinuxOS because it had the best implementation of KDE. Then, my brother became interested in Linux, but needed a German system, so I started to look into the steps required to convert the English-only PCLinuxOS into a German-localised system, and summarised these steps in a script for ease of use.

Once that worked, I did the same for my Italian friends, then looked at the systematic setup and found these steps could be applied also for another four languages; this became the first version of addlocale. About a year later, addlocale covered all other languages and desktop environments available in PCLinuxOS. Then I learned how to package and added some other scripts to facilitate using PCLinuxOS.

Tex's implementation of KDE, the fantastic teamwork with him and all other developers, and the desire to promote PCLinuxOS outside the English-speaking community via addlocale still are the key points for me contributing to this distro.

      -- pinoc

PCLinuxOS remains as the distro hopper stopper after all this years. It is the most friendly, easy to use and install distro available. The hardware support out of the box allows it to work on an impressive amount of hardware you might encounter. It is the distro that won't force you to reinstall every six months, or every time that something just dies and refuses to boot.

The forum of PCLinuxOS is another big part of the distro. There are so many forum addicts on it [grin].

I have been using PCLinuxOS since 2007. At that time, I was using Mandriva Linux, which was a distro with releases each year. Then it began crashing, or forcing me to reinstall constantly. I began searching for a similar distro to the one that allowed me to learn the basics about Linux.

My search began on the internet and on forums. Quickly, the name of an RPM based distro was mentioned on multiple sites.

PCLinuxOS was the distro. I visited the PCLinuxOS website, found that there was a LiveCD, PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 if i remember correctly, which, at that time, was the last test release version previous to the final version.

I used it on LiveCD, and found that it was really similar to Mandriva, but it worked perfectly on LiveCD.

I installed that TR4. It worked perfectly until the final version was released, and I moved to that version, for at least four years.

PCLinuxOS keeps working strong on my machines. It remains as my one and only Linux distro.

      -- µT6

I've been asked to recount my history with PCLinuxOS for the PCLinuxOS 11th birthday magazine article. Those who are regulars on the forum already know most of this, but for those new to PCLinuxOS, or not members of the forum, I will comply with the request, and try to keep it brief. (Not really much chance of that.)

Before there was a PCLinuxOS, Texstar independently produced replacement packages for Mandrake that were far superior to those produced by the official Mandrake packagers. I used the Texstar packages for Mandrake, so when Texstar stopped making those, due to some arguments with the official Mandrake packagers, and created the first LiveCD image for PCLinuxOS, I downloaded it. I've used that, and every PCLinuxOS official released version since.

That first image had no installation application, and was meant to be used as just a live session disk. I was so impressed with it, I figured out a way to install it to a hard drive partition. It didn't work from the hard drive immediately, due to a lack of some configuration files, so I copied those from my main SuSE installation to the PCLinuxOS installation, and added a boot stanza for PCLinuxOS to my SuSE /boot/grub/menu.lst. I think I also had to manually run mkinitrd to build a proper initrd image for the installed system. Eventually, I got it to boot and run pretty much flawlessly, and used that installation as my main multimedia installation for as long as I could keep it running through numerous hardware upgrades and rebuilds. Eventually, all the hardware was too new for the kernel on that installation to even boot, and it (the entire installation) was replaced, on that partition, by the final 2007 PCLinuxOS release.

I was never a forum type guy, (I always preferred newsgroups) and only registered with the PCLinuxOS forum to help get a hard drive controller I had on my motherboard properly recognized prior to the 2007 final release. I found the developers very easy to work with, and tested all their proposed methods for getting my hardware properly recognized, until we had a proper solution to that particular problem.

While waiting for each new proposed solution, I noticed there were some forum help threads going unanswered that required a greater depth of Linux knowledge than what seemed currently available from the general forum community at that time. I assumed that the developers could offer that help, but were otherwise busy with getting the new release ready. Since I had added to their burden, I thought it only fair to offer what help I could on those unanswered threads. I chose the thread that seemed to have the most difficult solution as my first target. The person asking for the help was very new to Linux, so I had to explain everything we were about to do, in depth, prior to each step in the process, provide actual examples from my own machine, and continue step by step until the solution process was complete.

Most of the work involved working in terminals, using the command line. Once the problem was solved, I was inundated with PMs, (Personal Messages) ranging from kudos to administrative warnings that the command line was not the PCLinuxOS way to solve problems. A significant number of the PMs were requests for help from others that had open help threads that were going unanswered. In those, I was specifically asked to provide the same type of help they had just witnessed while following the previous thread to its successful conclusion.

I had not expected that reaction, because the successful thread had been an uninterrupted one on one interaction between just the two of us. I was totally unaware that the entire process was being closely observed by so many other forum members. I became a victim of my own success, and responded as best I could to help those that had requested my personal intervention. Seven years later, I'm still here, doing what I can to help, and hopefully teaching by example.

When Texstar had to take a leave of absence, I had the rare privilege of working closely with the interim team of community volunteers that maintained the existing 32bit releases during that absence, and completed, and brought to term, the first 64bit PCLinuxOS release in history. What a rush that was. That experience raised to even higher levels the respect I already had for Texstar, and his creation of PCLinuxOS, to begin with.

It wasn't all peaches and cream either. It was tough; frustrating at times, moments of despair and anger at other times, followed by that rush of joy when a particularly hard task was finally conquered. Sometimes harsh words were traded between individuals, then apologized for later; personal drama was a luxury we simply couldn't afford. We lost a few of our volunteers along the way, due to the stress involved, but their contributions still remained. I regret their loss, but will always be grateful for those contributions. We all had to learn on the job, and somehow each person found his own niche where he could be of most use when most needed. The glue that kept it all together was the group commitment that failure was not an option. The cause was worth the commitment and the effort, and every person that contributed to that effort has my undying respect.

I've grown to love PCLinuxOS, and this forum community; to me they are inseparable. There are so many gifted people here, willing to help, share their knowledge, and contribute their time and effort to improve PCLinuxOS and the whole of the PCLinuxOS experience. There is truly a feeling of family here, and this is our home on the Internet.

With great pride in being allowed to be a part of all this. I can only add:

Happy 11th Birthday PCLinuxOS. May there be many, many, more!

      -- O-P (a.k.a. Old-Polack)

Back in 2003, when I first studied GNU/Linux, my first Linux was Conectiva 8. It was a Brazilian distro that rocked! Light, fast, stable...

Then, in 2005, Conectiva was absorbed by Mandrake, and Mandriva was born. First, I thought it was great. All the good things from Conectiva and the financial backing of Mandrake. What could go wrong?

Well, it went wrong. Mandriva only got the talent from the deceased company and Mandriva was bloated, slooooow and heavy on resources.

In 2007 I came across PCLinuxOS. I discovered a Brazilian community. I entered that community, downloaded the KDE version (it was KDE 3.5.something back then) and fell in love once again (and that time it was like my first love, back into my life. I felt it was like Conectiva reborn). Everything that made Conectiva great was present in PCLinuxOS: fast, small, light and very well-thought-out.

That was the first Brazilian community. By 2009/2010, that community was dissolved and we, here in Brazil, were orphans of a native community and forum.

In 2010, I entered the international community. Here in my country, we were still without a PCLinuxOS community. In 2011, a good friend of mine came to me with the idea of a local community, different from the previous one, with committed fans of PCLinuxOS. Then, with only love, passion and goodwill, we started , first without a domain and in a free forum site. Later, we got the domain, a community site made in XOOPS and a national repository, hosted in one of the most respected educational institutions in Brazil (UFPR - Universidade Federal do Parana - Federal University of Parana). By 2011, I started to learn how to package. In 2012, I started to make localized Brazilian PCLinuxOS versions, and that strengthened the Brazilian community and PCLinuxOS in Brazil. We did not have millions of dollars from a rich godfather, but we could also give the Brazilian people a very polished distro, in Brazilian Portuguese. PCLinuxOS is an example of the world I want to live in: Many persons around the world (Germans, British, Filipino, Americans, Brazilians) gather together to work on an operating system, improve that OS and go beyond, without a wealthy benefactor or a company to back it up. Instead, it was just ordinary people, cooperating to make a better computer experience, and, the whole world benefits from that cooperative work. How I wish our world be more like the PCLinuxOS community: mutual help, cooperation and improvement for everyone.

Ahh, btw, I like the style of our captain, William "Texstar" Reynolds. He always has the last word, but gives us enough room to be creative and improve his baby (PCLinuxOS). So, he's the real benevolent dictator. And, I would like to compliment all our community colleagues: Archie, Daniel, O-P, Mr. Neal (who I miss a lot; he was my Obi-Wan Kenobi in PCLinuxOS packaging), Just_17, Pinoc, parnote, JohnW_57, Tele, and Ghostbunny, among others.

      -- Agent Smith

I stopped using M$ (98gold) back in late 2005. I tried a few Linux LiveCDs using my IBM Aptiva (2153-E3U) and got stuck using DSL, as it was the only thing I could get to run on it reliably. Then, I bought a new computer online (Out GQ3151 $129.00 new, and I'm still using case and HDD) preloaded with "Linspire" on it. That lasted for eight to nine months, before I was fed up with Linspire. I started looking for something better. I tried a few (six to seven). I "settled" on a different distro (Sidux, I did like it), and was getting ready to install it when I happened to hear about something called PCLinuxOS over at the GRC Linux Newsgroup. I tried out Junior and liked it a lot. Then, 2007 came out and that was that. I really liked how the PCC (PCLinuxOS Control Center) tied things together and, it did "just work" for me.

      -- weirdwolf

I started with PCLinuxOS BigDaddy, as this was the first Linux distro that installed without a hitch on my then Windows only box. There it was, my first ever dual boot, and I fell in love with the distro.

It's not that I never had problems, but all could be resolved.

I have continued to use the 2007 version: it has been my workhorse, as my primary system, including transfer/copy to a new(er) box -- without reinstallation.

Since I was interested, and because of an extra 1T HDD, I also installed the 64 bit version from day one, to which I switched later as my main OS. But the 32bit from 2007, updated as of today, is still alive and kicking on the original 160G HDD in this machine.

For testing and as a kind of help desk function, the 1T HDD contains also WinXP, Win7, Mint and a spare partition for distro hopping, empty for quite a while now.

Then I have two notebooks since 2009 and 2010, both doing W7 now, but PCLinuxOS from the beginning.

The 2009 notebook contains, for a few months now, the LXDE 32 bit for education purposes to demonstrate to the computer club XP-to-Linux actions.

All of my computers are updated once per month, with an eye on the forum for special announcements, as kernel and video updates.

Both notebooks had the ATI update problem, but the notification from Texstar for installing a new kernel and the other forum info kept them alive.

So if you are the "forum watcher" in your family, you should inform your "clients" maybe twice a year for a "special" update.

At the computer club, I am Mister Linux now, with some converts always wanting me to do the monthly updates.

It's easy to do, and it's not time consuming as M$es

Greetings from the Netherlands!

      -- DeBaas

Happy 11th Birthday PCLinuxOS

A friend online pestered me for a year about 'Linux' and how great it was. He made it sound so complex, I thought I have enough problems. Then I found a 'Live Disc' with PCLinuxOS in a magazine, and thought I'd try the Live session before I went further.

Before using PCLinuxOS, I was what my friends called a Window's Super User, so the simplicity of what I chose to install, KDE MiniMe, has been a true Godsend.

(I've been able to easily add what programmes I want, and wish to test without having a whole bunch of stuff I'd not use.)

Like everyone, I had problems initially with some small issues, but people at the forum are fast to help. Once I stopped dual booting with XP, it was a lot simpler again.

I know much less about Linux than Windows, but with each day the bias changes for the better towards PCLinuxOS. It was my first distro, but I'm still in love with PCLinuxOS almost six years later.

The most positive reason I could give someone to try PCLinuxOS is the support, safety, and even more importantly, the time it gives you to explore the Internet. I'm hooked!

      -- Tony

It was 1998 when I found my way to Linux. I had already read a lot about it, and my employer used Unix/Linux servers for Oracle databases. So when I was able to buy a larger hard disk (8GB), I put Linux on a second partition.

I started out with SUSE 5.1 (the most popular distro in Germany at the time), using it for several years. When I had gotten familiar enough with the system, I decided to dive deeper into Linux, so I installed a source-based distro. For over a year my PC was compiling software all the time (software installations always include local compilation). I knew my way around somewhat, so it was time for something simpler and more stable.

It was around 2007 when I read a glowing review on PCLinuxOS and decided to install it (no easy virtual installations then!).

Holy cow! I immediately fell in love with it. All hardware was detected, the software simply worked. Updates came almost every day. When a problem was reported, a fix was almost immediately available. Awesome!

Since June 2008, I'm a proud member of the PCLinuxOS forum family. I've had the chance to help a member or two, and am always happy to help test new stuff. I feel like there's hardly another community like this one -- friendly, helpful, and sometimes totally nuts! Yeah, we had a few rough times, and once I was so frustrated with the forum that I even wanted to cancel my membership, but some guy with a Polish background wrote me out of it. Thank goodness!

I started my semi-retirement on May 1st of this year, and I'm beginning to find more free time. Time I'd like to use to try and help out more with PCLinuxOS.

So, after all these years, I'm happy to say Happy 11th Birthday, PCLinuxOS!

      -- tbschommer

I first tried Linux back in the days of Redhat 5.0. I found it too hard to work with, so I came back trying Mandriva, for several versions.

Debian back then totally sucked. It featured an all console install.

I even tried FreeBSD. But its updates were slow.

Then a funny thing happened. A friend called "beginnings," who I had introduced to Linux, told me about a "big-daddy" version of Linux that I should check out.

I downloaded it and installed it. This baby was way more than I had gotten from any previous version of Linux. I fell in love with it!

Yeah ... like most of us, we still will try some other distro ... BUT PCLinuxOS will always rule.

You're KDE preference, your continual updating, the awesome forums. I could spend a lifetime commenting on the greatness of the forums.

The fact that Texstar, the main guy, takes the time to even comment on the everyday forums is exceptional.

There are so many people that have made this OS the success that it is. I have PM'd OP, T6, parnote, even Texstar once or twice. What I'm saying is this ... this community helps one another.

      -- sammy2fish

First of all, my best wishes for the next 11 years to my favorite distribution. It is the distribution I've stayed with the last four or five years, and it was quite a long time ago when I started with it. I also do not intend to change this, because the system runs and runs and runs. I never had big problem and I hope it stays that way.

As I mentioned before, my PCLinuxOS story started four or five years ago after some distro hopping between Mandrake and ArkLinux. At this time, there was a German PCLinuxOS forum which offered localized ISO files. So I installed one, and it was amazing how well it was working. But after a short period, the German forum was closed. My main support was gone because of my more or less bad English skills. I didn't take the step to the English forum. Surprisingly, there appeared a new German forum to replace the old one, so I had a new home. This forum was small and not so active, but there I managed to become an ISO maintainer for one of the localized German ISOs they offered. This was quite amazing for me. But finally the new forum also closed, and I permanently changed to the English "Mother" forum, where I registered some time before the second German forum was closed. In the "Mother" forum, I got in contact with some friendly guys. They told me a bit more about PCLinuxOS, and how some things work. This led me to learn how to write bash scripts and how to package packages, and that's what I 'm still doing in the community.

      -- ghostbunny

For several years, my computing experience comprised roaring in rage at the computer for interfering in everything I wanted to do. If i wanted to show off something to a friend, I had to bore it (the friend) silly while I took care of some housekeeping.

When I started on dial-up, most of my online time was taken up in updating. Update the system. Update the malware protection software - four different applications. I could hardly get to know that there was an internet.

Broadband speeded the process and allowed me to do some surfing, but the operating system was always getting in the way. Any time that a reinstall became necessary, it was a marathon session of time especially allotted, usually eight to ten hours, to first install the operating system, and then each application individually. It was dragsville++.

Then I chanced upon a Linux magazine with a Mandrake DVD giveaway, and I was on the road to freedom. After a fair chunk of distro hopping, I at last made it to the now famous "distro hopper stopper" that is PCLinuxOS.

Over the years, I have used the terminal to set up twinview and other processes. I have found that this is less and less necessary, as Texstar and Co. add ever more ease of use to the operating system and the included applications.

PCLinuxOS has become ever easier to use, and I have forgotten many of the procedures I once found essential. These days, it's install, open application, use and enjoy.

These days, I leave evangelizing to my younger friends, but if anyone mentions having problems with their os, I suggest PCLinuxOS and offer a disk with a nearly current version.

Linux exists because of the generosity of the human spirit, and PCLinuxOS exists because of the generosity of Texstar and his band of willing helpers, whom I envy because I can't be one; I'm too technically challenged.

Happy anniversary, and may there be many more.

      -- jaydot

Writing about my experiences as a PCLinuxOS user turned out to be very problematic indeed, and the reason was that this distribution has always been so unproblematic. How can you say anything interesting about something that has always worked well?

Well, almost always. When the KDE developers stopped supporting KDE 3, I wasn't happy -- not because KDE 4 wasn't a better desktop environment, but because it was more or less forced upon us before some programs written for it worked at all. I had used Kaffeine for watching digital television, and suddenly I was forced to search for alternatives -- and it took a very long time before Kaffeine worked well again. The same could be said about the PIM packages.

But this was not a problem with PCLinuxOS; it was a KDE problem, and PCLinuxOS actually offered alternatives to KDE.

For a decade, most bugs have usually been fixed before I've become aware of them.

Once I did stop posting to the forum for several months, simply because one of the administrators made me so angry. But that didn't mean that I stopped using PCLinuxOS (and that administrator is long gone).

I didn't come to Linux from Windows. I came to Linux from OS/2, which I would probably still be using if IBM hadn't let Windows 95 take over the market. Even before that, I didn't run MS-DOS. Instead, I ran DR-DOS (with 4DOS as the command interpreter), and my dislike of Microsoft actually began when the company artificially made Windows 3.1 incompatible with DR-DOS. (The feeling has, of course, grown stronger over the years, and with better reason.)

Then I tried Linux. I did so out of curiosity, not because I thought that all proprietary software was evil. (I'm not quite convinced even today, although I've become more and more suspicious of commercial software.)

My first Linux distribution was Slackware. I bought it 20 years ago in a local bookstore as part of a package consisting of three distros and a book. I had considered simply downloading it, but that was not really a practical alternative for me: at the time, my Internet connection was such that just to download a new kernel could take over 24 hours -- after which one had to configure and compile it.

The kernel was smaller that today, and configuring it from scratch didn't take that much time. But having to compile almost everything did, so when that same bookstore a year later offered a package of Red Hat Linux, I was naturally interested. It seemed that Red Hat came with something called RPM files. That is to say, with precompiled packages.

And even better: some other distributions also used RPM packages.

I soon realized that this didn't mean that I could freely install SUSE packages on my Red Hat box without messing it up completely, but a little later I discovered Mandrake. After switching distros once more, I really could install quite a number of Red Hat packages on a Mandrake system. It was even possible to "upgrade" Red Hat to Mandrake without doing a complete reinstall. And I preferred Mandrake over Red Hat, as it came with the KDE desktop as default, and was optimized for newer processors. Red Hat came with that Gnome thingy.

Then, around eleven years ago, I started to look for a Live CD. Even in the early 'nineties some distributions would run from a CD, but at the beginning of this millennium the only distro that came on live CDs seemed to be the Debian based Knoppix.

Or so I thought. Until I stumbled upon an Internet page where Texstar announced his new distro. Now, I recognized the pseudonym Texstar, as I had used his excellent KDE packages for Mandrake, so I immediately decided to try out his new live CD. Within a week, I had installed it on my hard drive, and within two weeks I had uninstalled all other distros. (Not because I didn't like them, but I liked PCLinuxOS more, and the space on the drive was limited.)

I had a young relative, whose ancient PC I had kept in working order for several years, ever since I had convinced him to install Linux on it. So I also informed him that I had found a better version of Linux.

"But I don't need it", he said.

"Yes, you do", I said. "It's more stable, and it's a rolling release, so it's easier to maintain ..."

"But I don't need Linux", he said. "I've got a new computer and it's a real Windows machine."

And there it stood.

"But I can still install this new version of Linux on it", I said.

"But this is a real Windows machine", he said. "I can even watch videos on it."

"But you could watch videos on your old computer too", I said.

"But not without lots of dropouts", he said. "And now I have a Windows machine."

"Your new machine is ten times more powerful and has twenty times more RAM."

"Yes", he said. "I'm so glad that I finally have a Windows machine."

You can't win them all. Needless to say, I haven't kept his Windows machine in working order. These days, I only try to help people running PCLinuxOS.

And myself -- I've tested dozens of other distros, but I haven't found any reason to switch.

      -- Bald Brick

I first came across Texstar some time ago. I was trying to use Linux, and making a bit of a mess of it. My early attempts to install Linux were farcical. I think I managed to install Debian once, but never got past the command line. One day, I got Mandrake from a Magazine cover, and not only installed it, but managed to get to a desktop. It came out at 800x600, and looked like the sort of desktop on a child's toy computer, but I soon discovered the benefits of linking up with the community and learned how to get the resolution right and change the appearance.

I was making progress. I seem to remember doing an update through urpmi, including an updated kernel, which totally borked it! Meanwhile some selected programs and updates had to be paid for, and at that time, I was not committed enough to part with cash. I discovered an "unofficial" repository, called "Texstar." I didn't even realise that Texstar was a person. I thought maybe it was another business, but what I did find is that I could get programs from there. I soon joined his WebSite, pclinuxonline, where I had a few little exchanges. I remember Texstar announcing that he had other plans, and would not be creating more updates for Mandrake.

At this point, I tried Gentoo. Strangely enough, although it took a very long time to install, with stuff being built from scratch and the computer often being left overnight to complete tasks, it wasn't as difficult as Debian or others, just time-consuming. It was a little while later that I created a spare partition and decided to have another go at Mandrake. Apart from Gentoo, it was the only one I could install and get to a graphical desktop!

Anyway I did a search for Texstar, and instead of doing 3rd party packages for Mandrake, he had started his own distro, PCLinuxOS. I think it was about version 0.80a or 0.81 when I first tried it. I have to say that one of the things that tempted me to try Gentoo was the speed promise, that a distro compiled for my exact processor should go faster than a general purpose one. Compared to Mandrake, the difference was huge. But then I installed PCLinuxOS from a LiveCD, and I could not see any speed difference between it and Gentoo. Wow! Also, as for the graphics ... I did spend a while stealing wallpapers and themes and copying them to Gentoo, before one day deciding -- what's the point in all the waiting around with Gentoo, when PCLinuxOS goes just as quickly, and for a fraction of the effort. I've been using PCLinuxOS ever since.

One of the old bylines of PCLinuxOS was "The distro-hopper stopper" and, for me that has proved to be the case. I've tried to keep up with trends, having a look at Mint and Ubuntu on a spare partition. Ubuntu invariably makes me nervous -- worrying that it might overwrite my data partition. You're never sure what it's going to do. Mint took forever, and I wasn't too impressed. It's the updating. How complicated can you make Synaptic, and why do you need other programs working alongside it?

Over the years, I've seen a few changes. People coming and going. Some of the team have been marvellous, but a few have brought in their own nostrums and prejudices about certain programs and matters. Yes, "Smart" might be a more powerful update and install manager than "Synaptic", but you need a degree in rocket science to use it! Even during some difficult times, Texstar has kept the project on an even keel.

I remember starting a temporary website, when the official one went down. The naysayers were lining up saying that PCLinuxOS had died. The truth was that PCLinuxOS had made itself very unpopular with the company hosting the forums. It had made itself rather too popular with too many other people, and the service provider couldn't handle the traffic.

I've done some time as a moderator, though not any more. Fine by me, I don't visit the forums like I used to. I very rarely have the problems that other people do, and therefore I really don't know how to fix them. When I have a problem, I usually find the answer either on the forum or elsewhere on the net (not all problems are down to PCLinuxOS; some are down to the actual applications). I very rarely need to though. I might not show myself a lot these days, but I am using PCLinuxOS exclusively now. No other Linux on any of my computers, and I've left a space for Windows but never installed it. There is only one program I need it for, in any case, which runs on wine, but involves communication with a remote control handset through the parallel port. Unfortunately, recent kernel changes seem to have messed that up a little. So maybe in a year's time, if I change my TV or something, I might need to go install Windows for that purpose only! I wouldn't connect to the net with it, that's for sure!

I've got a few friends whose old-ish laptops have been rescued using PCLinuxOS with the LXDE or XFCE desktop. I generally put a panel at the top or left of the screen, with the programs they actually use, so they rarely need to use the Menu. They don't get adverts thrown at them. Their computers are not slowed down by time-crippled, computer-crippling products from Norton or McAfee. Free software, setting their computers free, too!

PCLinuxOS, still radically simple after all this time!

      -- DaveCS

Previous Page              Top              Next Page