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Feature: PCLinuxOS

PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

By Susan Linton on April 10, 2008 (7:00:00 PM)

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If you're looking for a GNOME desktop for the popular PCLinuxOS (PCLOS), then newly released PCLinuxOS Gnome might be for you.

PCLinuxOS Gnome is a community-developed Linux distribution built on the official PCLinuxOS MiniMe 2008 distribution, which is a minimized system containing the bare-bones necessities for a running system, a skeletal window manager, and a remastering tool. PCLinuxOS itself, known for its ease of use, beauty, and functionality, is loosely based on Mandriva Linux. It retains the RPM package format, ports the Mandriva Control Center and live installer, and focuses primarily upon KDE. It also contains components from Gentoo, openSUSE, Fedora, Debian, and Ubuntu. The distro's developers tend to adapt the best elements of some of the best distros available for their own distribution. They tweak, customize, and rebuild each package for PCLOS, creating a fast and stable environment.

With GNOME's user base polling in at between 35% and 45%, this demographic became too large to ignore. GNOME packages were traditionally available to PCLOS users, but they would then run bloated systems due to having both sets of toolkits, libraries, packages, and applications on a system built around KDE and Qt. With PCLinuxOS Gnome, developers can concentrate on eliminating most of the KDE and Qt packages, tweaking the appearance and usability of GNOME, and providing timely updates. In other words, GNOME is the priority, not an afterthought.

Hardware support

I tested PCLinuxOS Gnome on my favorite machine, a Hewlett-Packard Pavilion dv6000, which features an AMD processor, Nvidia chips, a Broadcom wireless Ethernet adapter, and a modest 512MB RAM. Linux usually supports this laptop's basic hardware fairly well, with the exception of the Broadcom wireless chip.

I did experience a few glitches with the live CD, the first of which occurred during boot. The machine paused during hardware detection and remained paused until I depressed a key, at which time it finished booting. I found this condition with PCLinuxOS 2008 MiniMe as well, but it disappeared after I installed the distro onto the hard drive.

I experienced another glitch concerning network configuration. While configuring my wireless connection, I was given the choice of drivers to use. When I clicked bcmwl5, the system locked up. This didn't happen in PCLOS or after the hard drive install.

Also, apparently PCLOS, and thus PCLOS Gnome, has some difficulty detecting hard drives or buses. Every module for hard drives is loaded at each live CD and hard drive boot. Although this implementation is a bit uglier than having drivers for specific hardware loaded, it's better than not supporting certain hard drives at all.

Lastly, the suspend and hibernate modes were inoperative at first boot. I tried installing proprietary graphic drivers, which sometimes fixes the problem in some distros, but I then discovered the solution was to install the suspend-scripts package from the preset repositories in Synaptic. At that point, both suspend and hibernate worked well and were able to restore all open files and the Internet connection.

Other than those little issues, all was well. My desktop was rendered at the optimal 1280x800 screen resolution with perfect proportion and pretty fonts. Sound worked automatically, and the included sound theme was charming. My touchpad operated accurately and responsively without being overly sensitive, and my multimedia keys worked after I changed from the generic keyboard configuration to the HP Pavilion configuration in Preferences. CPU speed scaling worked out of the box, and configuring my wireless Ethernet configuration was easy using the Network & Internet Configuration tool. Inserting removable media opens a Nautilus file browser window or associated application.

All in all, I found good hardware support. With two issues present only when using the live CD, another issue of no real consequence, and another fixed by installing the proper support package, I had little to complain about.

Software and tools

Like PCLOS, PCLinuxOS Gnome comes with a vast amount of software for all the most common computer tasks. From games to programming, these GTK apps seem carefully selected to integrate comfortably within the GNOME 2.21.2 environment.

Fun may not be the main focus of PCLOS Gnome, but with all the games and multimedia applications, it certainly seems to be near the top of the list. Among the 17 games listed in the menu are Blackjack, FreeCell, Gnometris, Mahjong, and Sudoku.

The multimedia menu contains items for all sorts of video and audio enjoyment and manipulation, including AcidRip, Audacity, Banshee, GNOME MPlayer, Me TV, VLC, Brasero, and Serpentine. PCLOS doesn't ship with the Win32 binary codecs anymore, instead opting for open source alternatives when possible. Despite this, I was able to enjoy a variety of video and audio formats. The included dvdcss library allows you to watch encrypted DVDs.

PCLOS Gnome includes a comprehensive collection of Internet communication applications as well. For Internet browsing, you can choose between Epiphany and Mozilla Firefox 2.0.0.12, while Opera and others are available for install. A full selection of browser plugins is included, but I wasn't able to watch full-screen Flash video. You can chat using XChat, Pidgin, emesene, and GYache. You can transfer files with gFTP or Deluge BitTorrent, and Thunderbird is included for email. For those with a dial-up connection, there's GNOME PPP.

Graphic applications include Eye of GNOME, F-Spot, the GIMP, gtkam, and XSane. Gnumeric, gLabels, and AbiWord handle office tasks, and OpenOffice.org is available from PCLOS software repositories.

Synaptic is the face of PCLOS Gnome's software management system. It's a graphical front end for APT that PCLOS developers have adapted to install their RPM packages. The repositories are already set up in APT and are loaded with a wide variety of software. Use the search function to find your desired package; if available, Synaptic will download and install it with its dependencies. APT is easy to use and has a low failure rate, making it one of the main advantages to using PCLOS or one of its derivatives.

PCLOS Gnome's PCLinuxOS Control Center, the main system-wide configuration utility, is adapted from the Mandriva Control Center. From it, you can configure just about any aspect of the system, including the network, Internet, hardware, security, boot, and system. This control center has few rivals in the Linux community.

GNOME also comes with its own control center, which is used primarily for customizing the desktop on a per-user basis. It includes options to set up the appearance of the desktop and determine how to handle audio and video files, screen resolution, screensaver options, cron jobs, and more. Some other features that affect the whole system require root permissions and ask for a password.

Several standalone tools are available in the System Tools menu too, including GConf Cleaner (which can clean redundant or orphaned keys from the GConf database), Make LiveCD (the remaster tool), and Disk Usage Analyzer. Under the hood, the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) 4.1.1 and X.Org 7.2.0 sit upon Linux 2.6.22.15.

Conclusion

PCLinuxOS Gnome is a fast, stable desktop distro with a professional look and feel. It delivers an attractive GNOME desktop with an understated background, modern theme, and bold color scheme. The fonts are gorgeous, and the menu, applets, and applications are responsive.

Hardware support is good, and the included software seems intuitive. Other than the previously mentioned issues, everything seems to function as desired. The software isn't bleeding-edge, but it's stable. The impressive performance makes PCLOS Gnome a pleasure to use.

If you're a GNOME fan or would like to be, check out this community-developed system for yourself.

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on PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

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PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 79.126.135.84] on April 11, 2008 04:56 PM
It's nice.. but from the screenshot I can see that the theme is community made e.g. it's not polished and professional. I'd better choose Mandriva 2008.1 GNOME rather than this. Why use the derivative work, when I can use the original. When It comes to performance, Mandriva and PCLOS will have the same benchmark.

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Re: PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.108.103.172] on April 12, 2008 05:36 PM
"Why use the derivative work, when I can use the original."
Because one is done by a company whereas the others is done by a community.

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PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 205.241.11.6] on April 11, 2008 07:48 PM
Because it's just not a derivative work Patches are include from multiple distributions and it has it's own kernel and uses a different hardware detection system. Nothing would be wrong with trying it out for yourself ;) I won't tell if you don't

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PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.250.219.54] on April 12, 2008 10:27 PM
I think comment #1 was referring to gnome being a derivative of pclos. You can't get a non derivative form of gnome for pclos. It looks pretty nice from the screenshot. I guess it depends if you like dark themes. I do. Though, since dark themes are probably less popular then a light theme maybe they should have also included a light theme. But you can alway download other themes online.

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PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.138.199.20] on April 13, 2008 07:00 PM
Never was a fan of GNOME, so I really dont care for this version. I am happy with PCLinuxOS KDE and no matter what the #1 commenter has to say, PCLinuxOS runs faster on my PC (2.4 GHz P4, 512 MB) than Mandriva Spring 2007.

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PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 99.234.86.181] on April 14, 2008 07:51 AM
""There are other distros having the same problem""

It is a "problem" that's introduced and permitted by plebes who don't take care or just don't think -- thus PCLOS isn't of any "professional" grade, nor is it suitable for a family home desktop.

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Re: PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.183.206.191] on April 14, 2008 05:37 PM
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha It is obvious that earth has not yet lined to your world.

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PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 208.76.240.226] on April 15, 2008 02:54 AM
\"\"ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha It is obvious that earth has not yet lined to your world.\"\"

You show worse communication skills than a witless cartoon kid on The Simpsons.

In most real-world surveys of desktop Linux use, PCLOS is puny or nowhere on the map. The Linux market is dominated by distros which strive to provide a world class product that\'s appropriate for mainstream (business and home) environments. PCLOS targets 40 year-old virgins amused by porn.

http://tinyurl.com/2fqkf8

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PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 196.207.32.223] on April 15, 2008 05:27 AM
Because one is done by a company whereas the others is done by a community.

Mandriva is produced by a community that includes Mandriva employees and non-employee contributors. It is relatively easy to get a contributors account. All development is done in public. All VCS content is public. If you believe you have improvements that could be made to Mandriva, why not contribute?

Non-employee Mandriva contributor, maintainer of openldap, nss_ldap, a few more packages in main, and a hundred more in contrib.

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PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.115.238.125] on April 18, 2008 03:31 PM
Getting back to the real subject at here...I am a big fan of PCLOS 2007 KDE, but I have had a lot of trouble installing the Gnome version on the same systems I had the KDE on. For this I am not at all please with the Gnome. It looks a hell of a lot better than Ubuntu. I still think Ubuntu is what I'd choose if I had to go Gnome. I just don't think PCLOS would be the #2 system on Distrowatch.com if it relied on just the Gnome desktop. For me, I am sticking to the original. "Radically Simple"

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PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 4.245.8.145] on April 18, 2008 10:01 PM
This is a wonderful OS I thought... and I have tried many over the last ten years. PCLinuxOS Gnome finally takes Linux ahead of Windows adding what I wanted from the distros I had tried, and after reading the Forum the folks seem very nice... and help solve problems that may rise from us non-programing newbies to LinuxOS without yelling. They have worked hard and it shows. I plan to donate from my next retirement check to help with the expenses. For goodness sakes...just pick a screen saver you like...ok?

GW

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Re: PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 58.108.48.90] on April 19, 2008 03:21 PM
You can have Gnome as a windows theme. Linux has never been ahead of Windows.

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Re(1): PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.213.132.169] on April 26, 2008 11:06 PM
?

On the same hardware you can get much MUCH better performance. I prefer Zenwalk, but PCLOS is far more efficient than Windows.

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Re: PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 58.108.48.90] on April 19, 2008 03:18 PM
You're an idiot

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Re: PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.77.46.215] on April 19, 2008 10:05 PM
Web collage goes out and fetches images REMOTELY you idiot. People submit which images to display. Since pclinuxos is set to "Random" for screensavor, you got this one.

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PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.220.15.11] on April 22, 2008 04:55 AM
I read this because it was written by Susan Linton.
I'm amazed how here like in DistroWatch when PCLos gets discussed it always deteriorates into people calling people idiots. There's just something different about the PCLos community.

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Re: PCLinuxOS Gnome links two worlds

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 20.138.1.245] on April 22, 2008 10:00 AM
I'd noticed that, but it's usually the result of an unprovoked, puerile, petty and belittling attack on the distro and it's users. I've never understood why some 'people'(?) feel so strongly about PCLOS that they really NEED to run it down at every opportunity. Even to the point of inventing opportunities! Are they REALLY that insecure?

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