PCLinuxOS is released as a live CD which also can be installed quite easily on to the hard disk. The latest version of this unique Linux distribution is 0.92 and the developers consider it still in the beta stage. Now don't jump the gun and start forming opinions about this distribution after seeing the word beta. At least wait till you read completely what I have to say before you decide for yourselves. I had written earlier that linux distributions are dime a dozen. But what distinguishes one from the other is their varying degree of user friendliness and support for non-free file formats.
PCLinuxOS is unique because the developers have paid great attention and have taken extra efforts to see that it meets the needs of a wide cross section of Linux users. What is more by giving it a default windowsXP like look and feel, it has tried to make even the hardcore windows users feel right at home.
As far as the software bundled with it is concerned, I think the developers have done a very good job of the same. The word Linux is synonymous with choice. And that is exactly what the hard working developers at PCLinuxOS have provided. For each task, be it graphics manipulation, chatting or audio & video, there are at least 2 choices of software and in most cases, more than two.
PCLinuxOS comes with its own graphical Control Center which makes configuring devices and settings child play for anybody. I was amazed by the user friendliness of this GUI tool. You can even configure a TV Card if you have one from this tool not to speak of other tasks like networking, setting up a firewall, setting up mount points, hardware and boot parameters .... in fact, you name a task, and there is a very good chance that you can do it via the PCLinuxOS control center.
Another very cool software bundled with this distribution - which I may dare say, I have not found in any other distribution I have used is a terminal (or is it a wrapper?) called YaKuake. The uniqueness of this tool is that once it is started, it resides in the background unseen by the user. And if you want access to a terminal, just pressing F12 key will magically drop down a command line shell for you to use (see figure below). The working of this tool has to be seen to be believed.
A taste of the software bundled with PCLinuxOS
- Audio and Video - Real Player 10.x, MPlayer (both command line and GUI), Timidity++, Xmms, Audacity...
- CD Burning - K3B and GnomeBaker
- Graphics - Gimp, gPhoto2 among lots of others.
- Terminals - Konsole, Xterm and YaKuake.
- Programming - Qt3 Designer, Umbrello, IDLE, GDB, ...
- Text Editors - Kate, KEdit, Kwrite, Vim ...
- Office Suite - KOffice (It doesn't have OpenOffice.org though).
- Finance Software - KMyMoney
Fig: PCLinuxOS Hard disk Installation dialog box
Fig: Partition your hard disk using Disk Drake partitioning tool.
Fig: PCLinuxOS Control Center
Fig: Yakuake integrates the shell with the desktop
Advantages of PCLinuxOS
- Out of the box support for MP3, Quicktime and Microsoft wmv media formats which is a huge plus for this distribution.
- Windows users or would be converts will feel right at home using this Linux distribution because the developers have given it a default WindowsXP look and feel to it.
- All software are categorized neatly according to their functions. For example, all editors are grouped together in the start menu, which makes it easier for a lay person to navigate the menu and find what he is looking for with ease.
- A very good GUI front-end to aid the installation of the OS on to the hard disk which even a newbie can use without any difficulty.
- Support for NVIDIA graphics cards.
Since PCLinuxOS is built using the base of Mandrake (now Mandriva), it includes some of the polished tools found in Mandriva like Hard Drake - a hardware configuration tool and Disk Drake - a GUI for partitioning your hard disk.
After trying out PCLinuxOS, I have included this wonderful Linux distribution in my list of Linux OSes I would recommend to newbies and power users alike. I am certainly impressed by its structure, stability and the choice of software bundled with it. Not to mention its out of the box support for proprietary file formats.