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 Post subject: PCLinuxOS
PostPosted: 11 Aug 2015, 19:48 
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Joined: 10 Aug 2015, 16:03
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EDIT: here's an independent review. It's old, but useful.

    My own review is as of June 2015, based on my own experience with installation. After this post, the rest will be a copy of the vimeo forum link which holds the original review. Vimeo, it seems, won't allow non-members to read the forum posts, no matter what the forum owners want. So this forum owner will gradually be copying the vimeo posts over here. Sorry for the inconvenience.

PCLinux has a buggy installer; and you have to be careful how you install task-mate (or avoid it altogether); and, you have to mess with a default sound reduction by using KDE to restore.. but after those hassles, PCLinuxOS has a lot to offer. More programs bundled together than any other distro, and six beautiful desktops, with five-interface 'wardrobe' to choose at boot. So click here for a longer set of posts on this OS, if you're interested. (Copy of that all-too-long live installation rant, follows next. I will edit it as I have time, for it's painful to read.)

As always, install to an external drive or stick, NEVER to an internal drive, as you can NEVER be sure how Windows might bork a dual install.

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 Post subject: Re: PCLinuxOS
PostPosted: 13 Nov 2015, 21:12 
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This new and often buggy Linux OS (invented in 2003) has some potential, but it's badly designed for installation and operation. It's based on Debian (which alone would be glitchy), and has a very slick interface which you can change.
. :smileycrowd: .

LinuxOS's unique advantages, over other Linux distributions, and why I recommend it first (even more than Mint):
  • It has a version of Windows Group Policy, so you can stop all those pesky permissions. I don't know any other distro which has it.
  • It's got six desktops preconfigured, and they are beautiful.
  • It's got a wardrobe of all the GUIs you could ask for (not merely KDE), plus its own sixer configuration, which you can change at signin or afterwards.
  • It's got every Linux option on the planet (often, too many), categorized.
  • It seems to be 100% configurable without having to learn the command line.

Disadvantages: Borky installer (draklive). Operationally, maybe their bug, maybe my bad, but it requires me to be online at signin. Not always, and not for all accounts. Only if I sign in as root, can I avoid that. More on this problem, follows at the end of this post (which I'll gradually edit).

There might be more disadvantages, but so far I know of no others.
. :planeDIY: .

Link to its forum, so you can get an idea of what problems folks encounter; ... 125.0.html . I'm banned there (for I loudly complained about the installation bugs and task-mate), so gently ask your installation and operation questions there. I can't really help much, if I can't contact them.

Here's a link to the download page: ... s/live-cd/

Downloads take awhile.

The interface is unlike the others, even with the KDE choice, which I downloaded: 32-bit fullmonty install on an external drive.

Debian-based distributions tend to be better than Debian itself. Debian is the most full-featured of all the Linux distro families, but also the most problemmatic. Fedora is the next biggest, and has its problems, too.

Here's a ZDNET article on it by Mr. Watson: ... ostComment

FYI, the DVD's own root password is 'root', and if you want to play it safe while perusing, you can be 'guest' (name and password). You'll see that after the DVD loads up, if you pick option '6' in the bottom taskbar of the distro.

There are chiefly four Linux families: RedHat, Debian, Fedora, and Ubuntu. The first three are all related. All the other four hundred or so Linux distros 'fork' (shoot off from, derive from) one of the four. RedHat is used by the big corporations, Debian and Fedora are derivatives, and the rest of the distros are derivatives of Debian, Fedora, and Ubuntu, often mixing Debian and Ubuntu. The latter specializes in bare-bones and least-flexible options, so only if you're good with the commandline, will you find Ubuntu 'flexible'.

If you're instead used to customizing and installing your own Windows, then you will hate Ubuntu. So then you need some hybrid of it, or a Debian/Fedora-based system. Most distros are Debian or Ubuntu based, or hybrids of both. Mint and this PCLinuxOS are hybrids, though the latter is more Debian.
. :matrix: .

TO INSTALL PCLINUXOS, after you burn then bootload the DVD, you have to select '6' in the bottom taskbar and then look in the middle-right of the screen for the widget entitled 'Install PCLinuxOS'. It's NOT in any of the menus, nor on the default DVD screen when you load it up.

Two huge shortcomings in the DVD are the lack of GParted and any tool which can read an external drive's formatting. So you have to go through a mock installation first, in order to find out what formatting it wants, or you have to trick the installer into doing it for you. No one is explaining that you can/must 'fool' the installer by simply installing to a stick, and bypass all the nonsense of a live usb.

If you can't trick the installer into doing the installation (q.v.), then at least go through it to find out a) what mbr value it uses (100MB or 400MB usual minimums), b) what partition it uses for the OS, swap and home. Most Linux users will tell you that home should be on a separate partition, but the installers bundle it with the OS partition, which creates problems if you want to update the OS. (Same problem in Windows, don't keep your data and OS on the same partition.) So at least run it mock through to see what partitions it would make, then copy that info down. Then using another (different) Linux distro that has GParted, create your stick with those partition values.

For like most Linux distros, The installer here, is insane. It gives you directions prior on how you need to reformat the target drive, but then when you enter the actual installer, the instructions are so convoluted, and the interface so dysfunctional, you can't do it. So on some other computer running Linux GParted, you have to format the target drive according to the instructions, which are basically to have the root partition be the size of the drive minus the size of the swap (which they tell you should be 2x your RAM, not helpful if you want to use an external drive in different machines with different RAM, so size it generously). And also, minus your /home partition (that being the mount point, a useful thing in some folks' minds, since they use /home separately from the OS for easy OS upgrade).

So, if you have a 64 GB stick which I do, the actual size of the stick per PCLinuxOS (and Linux GParted) is only 58GB, even when the stick is new. What happened to the other 6GB? Who knows. So, since I don't want to ever use /home (I'll never put personal files on this, or will only clone so /home as a separate partition has no value to me), I had to take 58x1024 then subtract 8x1024 to make the ext4 root partition (mounted at MiB), and then format it as ext4 per PCLinuxOS recommendations, then then of the remainder make a new Primary ext4 partition as 'swap' label, using Mint to make it. All this, PRIOR TO even installing PCLinuxOS.

OH AND IT DOESN'T HELP TO DO THAT, BECAUSE THE STUPID PCLinuxOS SYSTEM CANNOT READ THE STICK'S CHANGES. Still regarded as the native stick format (usually FAT32) so you can ONLY change the partitioning in its OWN stupid and dysfunctional partitioning interface, which takes a Karnak (from Johnny Carson show back in the 1970's) to fathom.

Other Linux distros don't work like this. Not good.

Great, so you go through the same steps AGAIN but inside PCLinuxOS own installation program to prepare the media -- and instead of recognizing your Swap partition is really 8GB now, it only recognizes ONE GB of the 8 left. What kind of nonsense is this???

Look: if you want donations, you should create something that works for even a nubie. Else they will badmouth you like I'm doing here, and your donations will dwindle.
. :vampire: .

Okay, apparently something went wrong when I partitioned the stick for PCLinuxOS via Mint: so I went through the same steps again and they worked. Then, started up the PCLinuxOS installer with the already-per-their-recommendations stick partitioned, and I get a new screen reflecting the partitions. But they do NOT recognize the mount points. They ask me AGAIN for the mount points, and I've NO IDEA what is the mount point for the swap partition, so I told it the root-labelled partition (which label PCLinuxOS did not recognize) was '\' but gave no mount point to the swap (because I've read there is no name), and they did NOT recognize the label for it.
. :whistling: .

For the last 15 minutes DrakLive (their installer) has been installing to the stick. Mind you, I'm doing this on a computer with no hard drive, to prevent anything happening to the drive (I removed it, a safe thing to do when expermenting with Linux installations lest they put grub in the hard drive's mbr).

OH: prior to installation they informed me that given the machine's hardware there were 'unused' hardware options and offered not to install them. I unchecked the box to force them to install those 'unused' items anyway (mostly NVIDIA) as I want to be able to use the stick in any of my machines (and some have NVIDIA). So if you install, you might want to do the same.

Okay, it only NOW just installed, and get this: it won't give you an option to state your username, but only a grub password which you CANNOT USE if you want the grub to be graphical, only text. But at least you're not forced to use a long password. Then there's all this other arcane stuff I don't understand so I just accepted the defaults.
. :stereo: .

Okay, now that it booted on its own from the stick, obviously slowly but not as bad as Fedora was. This KDE version is tweaked for the 'classic' menu, and the tweak is pretty bad:

1. It cascades when you merely hover instead of clicking (same problem in default Firefox), so that you suddenly can't move to what you really wanted to click on in the menu, because huge menu selections suddenly cover the screen and you have to wait for them to disappear. There are too many submenu selections and they are too widely spaced apart, so they cover the screen and you can do nothing. Extremely annoying.

2. There's no visible way to force the selection to mouse click only, will keep on trying to find it.

3. The 'classic' tweak separates all the options you would have had from the KDE default, so now there's no BACK button to go to its Overview. You have to instead switch to the KDE Application Launcher mode (lower left corner of screen, right click), instead. Yuck.

YOU CANNOT SET UP A DESKTOP BACKGROUND PICTURE. Even the screensaver is glitchy, it just disappears right in the middle of setup. I had to jimmy with it several times to keep it stable, and I could ONLY do that after switching the menu to the awful, too-big but functional KDE Application Launcher style. Who would be so dumb as to disable the user's ability to create his own desktop background picture? Only Ubuntu is that bad, and even they give you a small selection to choose from.

Seriously? Anyone uses this version of Linux? Either they have to be an expert to themselves fix the many bugs, or they have no life. BYE. I'm done with this.

Potential yes. But until you fix the UI, no one sane and certainly no avid Windows junkie, will use it.
. :rantspeech: :drinkcompute: :shock: .

Okay, I don't know how I did it, something with 'Folders' -- hidden in there (but I can't find it now) was an option to change the desktop wallpaper, and I finally did. Also, changing the screen and making it the DEFAULT is not 'remembered' by this ever-more-annoying system. Nor were there any updates, so baby the download IS what you get.

Oh: and suddenly new icons appear on my desktop which I didn't ask for, and new favorites too, and I've no idea where they are or what programs launch them.

No way I can figure out how to change the wallpaper, again.

Lots of stuff, lots of potential, but someone's not minding the store. I've now spent 11 hours trying to get this to work. Will have to go elsewhere.

. :sith: .

Okay, turns out that 'Folder Settings' (right-click on desktop, or Alt-D Alt S) holds the Desktop Background settings, and God help you if you changed the right-click to Nothing because then you cannot access it. The same setting is HIDDEN in the 'Full Monty' menu option. Now who would think that?

I had disabled the right-click, and that's why I spent four hours trying to find it in the menus, but of course it's not there under Appearance or ANY of the other Settings. But it was under Full Monty, which I found by mistake, so could restore the right-click and left-click.

Folder is not Wallpaper. So how could anyone know how to change the wallpaper from that? You can't find anything if you search, either. The Help doesn't have it, in KDE or in Full Monty.

Way to go.

And the screen default doesn't ever work, either. Nor can you move or delete stuff from the Panel, nor can you move or delete those shadowed items in the MIDDLE (once the screen is properly sized) desktop.

Nor can you run updates unless you run them with the INITIAL NAME you coded in at installation. Signing in as 'root' gives you admin privileges but not those. Nor is there any mechanism in the GUI to add/change users and groups. What is this program? Obstacles at every turn!!

Which is a shame, because the creator really did bundle in almost every program on the planet. Too bad the GUI is so dysfunctional.
. :merlindragon: .

Okay, just to try one more time. I again started from scratch, this time thinking well if I have a totally blank disk, maybe the stupid installer can read and format it properly prior to installation? After all, every other Linux distro I've ever installed could do that? But this Draklive stupid installer cannot read properly. And, the custom formatting option you get,won't allow you so specify the beginning and ending of a partition you create!!

I wonder how many millions of people spend their lives now, trying to fix computer problems. How much time do you spend?

Guess what: it insists on formatting AFTER you already formatted it beforehand with specs yourself as recommended, and then it goes into a HANG!!!
. :fireworks: .

INSTALLATION REDEMPTION. Turns out there is a bug in the DRAK installer. You have to let it auto-configure the drive, which it will do wrongly and then you are allowed to use its sliders to change what it sets. That is the only way it will 'read' the partition. So you format the thing as the instructions tell you before you go any farther. That way you know WHAT to correct. The program doesn't follow those instructions, allocates too small a swap file, too small a main root, and too big a home partition. (I have no use for home as a separate partition, as I'll never store important things in Linux. But you might differ.)

This time the installation was very fast. I actually had time to take a shower (20 mins) and it was done. So even on an old Seagate external 60GB drive, it was six times faster than using the flash drive. Runs faster, too.

But the best is yet to come: YOU CAN TURN OFF ALL THE PERMISSIONS and then turn them back on as you choose... This is #1 reason for me liking PCLinuxOS so much. I've not found another distro which allows this.

Full Monty has its own control center and MSec (sp?) options. You can turn them all off (but of course you don't want to turn off the network options, as you'll connect to the internet). But so far I'm not getting entirely the results expected, so maybe I coded the permissions too restrictively. Point is, they CAN be coded. (I've not rebooted yet, so maybe that's why the change isn't happening.)

BETTER STILL they have all the Windows fonts I normally use, like Comic Sans (best contrast and use of white space for reading the always too-light fonts in website, like right now I'm overriding the ugly gray font in vimeo). They have Cambria and all the other Win7 fonts. Great thing, means your MS Office docs will be more compatible. They also have a ton of options which are in weird places but better than the regular KDE structure, yet still compatible with it.

So now maybe this distro will be worth keeping. Break over, going back to configure some more.

. :chay: .

Latest in the saga: the updates don't work; the server is down or the packages don't work for updates, I don't know what. The screen is never 'remembered', no matter how many times I reset its proper resolution as the default; there is no auto-detect (Mint auto-detects, as do most other distros). Even with mere logging out, the setting is LOST. The otherwise-cute panels of icons are way off center and cannot be moved. Very annoying, like Fedora 18 was.

Okay, It's now some hours later and the updates DID work finally: key was to specify all the repositories in the US, within Synaptic Package Manager. Last years version of that program was much better, it had categories for updates needed but not installed -- now, it lacks that, so it takes MUCH LONGER to see what updates you might need or have checked; and of course it's all in jargon. But it does work. Bear in mind that with Linux there are thousands of updates to thousands of applications covering everything from a little timer widget for your taskbar (which they call 'panel'), to networking tweaks. So updates can take hours. Windows updates are just to the OS, and are not centralized for ALL of what you have on your machine. Linus is centralized, and in sum is much better for updates, as they are tested for compatibility prior to installation, automatically. Sometimes there are mistakes, but that's true with anything.
. :linuxlove: .

PCLinuxOS has 'Full Monty tools' menu option near the bottom of the 'K' start button which is worth using. CAUTION: when you use it, any wallpaper configuration you had is wiped out. The most important thing about it, is the screen resolution and widget lock adjustment, which I think accounts for why those widgets are in the wrong place at startup: until and unless you've run the Tools, the desktop and screen resolution are not 'remembered'.

But here's the key: since ther are SIX desktops (grouped by category, like 1=Internet, 2=Office, etc.) -- you have to go in order and THEN after you're satisfied with the widget docking (which you can't undo, really, they are locked to the sides) -- only then should you right-click and do 'Folder Settings' (which really is Desktop Background). And you have to do it PER DESKTOP. Six times the same whatever-wallpaper you want. Defaults are pretty, though.

Alternatively, you can revert to classic KDE settings by selecting 'Fullmonty Default Layout Switcher'. When I first did that, it refused, claimed only for a new user, would it work. Sure enough, that is the case, so I created me as another user. Which means, you are stuck with the Full Monty as the first user. It's okay, except that the icons are docked in little translucent panels which won't elongate properly, so you have to scroll within the panels or move them around (and they are STUCK TO THE SIDES of the screen, so movement only goes horizontal). You can remove the panels, but then the icons disappear.

The point is, to get your desktop as you want it for instant usage during a working day. Not easy, but this distro has a LOT of programs and a LOT of options most other distros lack.

I've yet to find where in the menu are programs are that I added, else am now pretty much done. All in all, it takes as much time to do this in PCLinuxOS as it did for me to install XP.
. :ufobeam: .

Okay, I found the installed programs, and they are NOT where I expected them to be, but with KDE you can move menu items around. It's VERY much like XP in that way. There are three different menu styles to choose from and you can toggle back and forth among them. Really cool.

The problem with KDE is CPU usage screams murder if you use animation. So I turned off all animation, everywhere it was offered. At very least, turn off animated icons (=46% CPU, even on quad-core Xeon). It's in the KDE bug report, here:

To turn it off, find Configure your Desktop, Select Application Appearance, then Icons, then Advanced Tab, untick 'Animate icons'.

If you're an XP user, this and Mint17 are the distros to try, because their menuing works so much like XPs (cascading menus). Mint has a KDE flavor, so you get the same desktop and you can configure it in all the same ways you can XP, same options and actually many more.

I'm running Linux ON my XP machine, no dual booting. The Linux is on a 60 GB external drive I just got for $20 (they are cheaper on Ebay). On stick too, but the stick is much slower. The external drive speed is just like a desktop's hard drive, so not much delay.

The advantage is I still have access to all my WINDOWS files and directories (because the Linux directories are from hell and you usually can't even copy to them). Most anything you can read or do in Windows you can now do in this distro, hundreds of programs come pre-installed for everything from chatting to Office, but the function is nowhere near as intuitive or flexible as MS Office. Includes Adobe, all the multimedia you could dream of, tons of stuff.

UPDATE AND WARNING: DO NOT SELECT A SESSION TYPE or at least not MATE, because the whole OS locks up no matter what password you use. I just lost 60 hours' work on setting up PCLinuxOS because I changed session type to MATE. It won't display a menu at all, only the terminal, and you cannot configure anything except through the terminal, but then the terminal only accepts some unknown password so you can't use it, either.

The disaster comes when installing 'task-mate'. Apparently there are a bunch of NEVER EXPLAINED other 'mate' programs you must also install, if you install that. Well, there's no warning. So it doesn't work after installed, and it locks the machine when uninstalled.

I'm so sick of guessing at computer stuff I could scream.

Great, I signed into the PCLinuxOS forums and all of a sudden I'm told my username and email doesn't exist. So I can't reply to the helpful folks there. Great. I got email replies from them but cannot view them in the forum, as if I never existed. Why? I did complain of the task-mate problem, why was that so wrong? And being forced to be on the internet at boot, how to undo it. Else I was praising the program, esp. because it runs Wine. Oh well.

If I was booted off, then I'll have to uninstall PCLinuxOS, as it's not possible to run without help. Can't donate until I get it to work...

SOUND: for a whole week I've been trying to get SOUND to be recognized here in PCLinuxOS. It uses different audio drivers than I've seen, Alsa and Pulse Audio. As usual, you go down the rabbit hole with Alice, trying to find the fix, knowing it has to be simple, and it is.

Related link:

SOME DINGDONG MUTED THE SOUND AS A DEFAULT. So you run 'alsamixer' in Terminal, get a cute DOS style graphic, and must set all the volumes at 100% for whatever hardware outputs you actually have. Then exit (there is no 'save' option, but it does save) and hey! Now the sound works!

Yeah, if you squelched it in the first place and told no one. This problem goes all the way back to 2012, how come it didn't get fixed? Just Google on 'no sound' and 'alsamixer'.

I lost the better part of a week because of this. DOSbox won't work if the sound won't work. Why? Dunno. That's another of the bizillion hidden things which make you tear your hair out with Windows or Linux. It's enough to make one return to paper and pencil.

Then again, a tiny typo by a programmer is like a stray bullet. Gotta admire these people, even as horrible as their programming often is (viz., bad website designs in Youtube and elsewhere). Could I really do better? If under the same pressure? Hmmm...

Of course, if you REALLY want to wreck your day, just try copying something from one Linux folder to another Linux folder. It's a simple process in Windows.. but no, in Linux it's the hound from hell. Say you copied a bunch of cursors as 'root' into your own desktop, having created a folder ON your desktop to hold them. Why do that? BECAUSE IF YOU DO NOT YOU CANNOT ACCESS THEM WHEN CREATING EDITING OR OTHER WORK WITH ICONS AND CURSORS. The Copy dialogues will only let you look at certain files, unlike the filemanagers. So you have to resort to subterfuge.

So if you as 'sudo' aka root aka God are also you under a different name but same 'root' group, you can navigate and see your root folder in 'Desktop', and you're tricked into thinking that when you hit Ctrl-C and you see all the little files get selected, that you'll actually COPY them into your destination file! Guess again. When you try, you're told the folder you just SAW and SELECTED and PAINTED TO COPY FROM.. doesn't exist.

So here's the subterfuge. You have to MOVE or COPY that folder OUTSIDE the Linux system, say to an external drive.. THEN copy it to where you wanted it in the first place, within Linux's system! Makes a great SNL comedy routine:

Imagine, if you will, the Germans coming through the Ardennes in WWII, but stopped by a martinet French guy in a patrol booth, telling them YES they can come invade, if they fill out the proper papers. So they must go back to Herr Hitler, and get his signature. Eager to save lives, they do that, then return: but OH je suis desole, monsieur, les papiers n'ont TOUTES les signes! So back they go to Hitler, now it's 2 months later, and then return and.. you get the idea.

Yeah, just like the old Soviet newspaper Pravda. Truth is hidden.

Linux.. don't quit your day job. Seriously. The incompetence in the name of security is VAST. Hell, we are under more threat from those aiming to protect us from ourselves, than from nuclear attack!

Of course, the rest of my week has been spent trying to figure out how to get the machine to boot if not online. You're not ALWAYS online, right? But oh, PCLinuxOS doesn't like that, its qt-notifier insists you be online, or baby, it won't let your signin work! Yeah, you go into a system hang for HOURS while it patiently waits for that Ethernet cable which of course is um..

Took me a week to find the culprit was qt-update-notifier. I had no choice but to uninstall it. Ohhh that means I won't know about updates, ooowowowowowowowo threat threat threat. Yeah, and I can't just check myself, de vez en cuando?

Kinda like the Obama years...

But alas, the qt-updater isn't the only culprit. I STILL cannot get the machine to finish a signin UNLESS I am online! Well, removing ol' qt on the hush hush did hush up the demand for Ethernet connection, for 'root'. But not for my alter ego, who BELONGS to root and has the same password!

So FIRST I have to sign in as 'root', and THEN log out and only THEN can I log in as my alter ego -- sadly, that's where I put all my Wine programs. Wouldn't ya know, those programs are NOT ACCESSIBLE to 'root', even! I can't invoke them, unless signed in as my alter ego. Whaaa???? Root is supposed to be GOD, for crying out loud. So much for protection!

There's no way to say 'hi, all these programs I just installed? Make them available to ALL USERS.' The 'permissions' won't let me do that. And of course there are no icons or listings of the programs for 'root', since I didn't install them as 'root'. So just imagine you're a Fortune 500 company: you're busy dealing with all these convolutions all day and all night. No wonder productivity is suffering.

Kill me now.

Of course, there probably is a workaround, but here's the next hurdle: WHERE ARE THOSE PESKY PROGRAMS?? Which files are the lead executables? With Windows, it's pretty easy to know: exe, bat, com -- but not Linux. I could stare all day at the legions of file folders with arcane names like etc or dev (which doesn't mean what it should mean), and of course the biggies are 'bin'. Lots of these folders you can't even ENTER. The option to open as administrator, at least clear in Mint, is not here. There is a way to open them and I've done it, but I don't remember what I did. So there's no function like finding the executable, making a shortcut and putting it on the desktop. Oh no. Nor when I manage somehow to enter, do I know WHAT FILE is the lead executable. For the shortcuts give commands, not enough data often to discern the file name.

Okay, it's not all that bad, Windows is pretty confusing too. But I've had 25 years to get used to Windows. This is like being on Pluto.

And God forbid, it won't shut down by you clicking on SHUTDOWN button. Then you have to type very precisely (case-sensitive and in order) shutdown -h -P now

If you got the wrong order or wrong case, you don't shut down!!! See: it's really like that French guy in the Ardennes who single-handedly stopped the Germans by saying they could invade if they got the proper signatures.

Yeah, that's why France needs a 35-hour workweek.

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 Post subject: Re: PCLinuxOS
PostPosted: 02 May 2017, 09:01 
Site Admin
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Joined: 10 Aug 2015, 16:03
Posts: 1844
They've discontinued fullmonty, but you can still download it. Much as I complain above, there still isn't anything better 'out there'. It's related and forks from Mandrake/Mandriva, but is way better than the very buggy Mangeia.

Recent review, ... t-release/

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