Recently one of my readers suggested I give the PCLinuxOS distribution a try. I did. Here are my thoughts.
For the longest time my distro of choice for newbies was Ubuntu. Ubuntu was simple to install, easy to configure, and simple to manage. Ubuntu discovered hardware (for the most part) well and had a small footprint.
But then came PCLinuxOS.
I downloaded the live image iso from the PCLinuxOS website, burned it onto CD, inserted the CD into my test machine, and fired it up.
PCLinuxOS is based on Mandrake, er, Mandriva. The installation is very much like Ubuntu. Once the Live CD is finished booting, you click on the install icon, and let the install take care of all the business. It's as simple an installation as they get. Sometimes it's hard to believe installing an entire operating system is now as simple as installing an application!
But once the installation was complete, the fun really began.
I had installed a couple of wireless network cards to see if the OS could handle them. The first was a D-Linux usb dongle card. No luck. This was odd because I had managed to get that usb device working in Fedora with ndiswrapper. Oh well. The next card was a Belkin card not supported by ndiswapper. I had been unsuccessful in every attempt to get that card working. Until PCLinuxOS. After the OS was up and running I opened up the mmc tool (that's the little button labeled "Configure Your Computer") and attempted to add a new wireless ethernet device. After about two minutes I had that card up and running. No installation applications, no compiling drivers or kernels, no nothing! It was fast and simple. ANYONE could have managed to get that card working in PCLinuxOS.
I couldn't believe it. Had the Linux operating system grown wings and started to fly on its own? It looked like it had.
Of course I didn't want to base my entire opinion on the distributions ability to work with a previously unsupported networking card. I wanted to see how far I could take it. So I installed the Beryl desktop support for KDE. Wow! I was amazed at how well these all worked together. The OSs ability to pick up and install the proper support to for the graphics card, the integration of the newest, boldest KDE, and the ability to use all the bells and whistles of Beryl on an older machine.
PCLinuxOS is fast becoming my distribution of choice...even though it seems to be geared toward newbies. It's based on a solid distribution, it offers tons of eye-candy, and it works with more hardware than many other distributions.
I've yet to try it out as a server but my instincts tell me it's far better suited for the desktop.
If you've not given it a go, you should. You will be impressed I'm certain of it.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.