PCLinuxOS And Ubuntu Examined

I will admit right away that I have not been all that hip to the Mandriva side of the fence these days, especially regarding PCLinuxOS. For myself, I have been happy with Ubuntu and for others looking at expanding into an addition OS, I have been pushing Linux Mint. Well, after looking at PCLinuxOS from head to toe, I have some new insights that I would like to share. Prepare yourselves for a little bit of a shock, as I know that I certainly was.

When I first booted the LiveCD, I felt very good about the level of detail that was put into it. I have a suspicion that much of this is Mandriva leftovers, but the fact remains that it boots very cleanly. Like Xandros and Mandriva, users will find a very well put together control panel that makes sense regardless of which OS you are used to using. Again, I cannot express just how clean this control panel was – I was in awe. Those of you enjoying the Beryl/Compiz eye candy will be delighted to discover that it has been included by default, much like with Feisty. Same idea of activating it has been employed here.

But enough of the raves, let’s examine the aspects that make or break a Linux distro for a Windows user migrating over.

Hardware detection- I would say that both Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS are on equal footing here. Everything was detected perfectly, no problems at all. PCLinuxOS however, allows me to set up my scanner without needing to download any of the SANE programs like Kooka.

Video drivers- Considering how many people are looking to try Linux to enjoy 3D effects without the cost of Windows Ultimate, this is something that I have rated as important. So now we are going to look at how the needed video drivers are to be installed to make this happen.

PCLinuxOS

ATI- http://www.pclinuxonline.com/wiki/SetupAti
NVIDIA- http://www.pclinuxonline.com/wiki/SetupNVidia

And…

Ubuntu

NVIDIA – http://tinyurl.com/2uhc69
ATI – http://wiki.cchtml.com/index.php/Ubuntu_Feisty_Installation_Guide

*Both ATi and NVIDIA (Fully GUI)- http://www.albertomilone.com/nvidia_scripts1.html

Software- If there is one thing that makes or breaks an operating system for me, it is the availability of software that I need to get things done. But sometimes the offered download sources (repos) that come with a distro are not enough. And this was something that I ran into with most ndwbie friendly distros in general; Linspire, Xandros and so on. So considering this, here is a run down on software sources.

PCLinuxOS

http://www.pclinuxonline.com/wiki/QuickStartSynaptic

http://www.pclinuxonline.com/wiki/HowToInstallSoftware

and…

Ubuntu

http://monkeyblog.org/ubuntu/installing.html

http://www.getdeb.net/

http://www.getautomatix.com/

So how does all of this break down? Well, I will say the following. Unlike every other RPM based distro I have tried, PCLinuxOS was the first that did not begin tossing errors at me when running updates and installing new software. It has a vastly superior menuing system and really makes the best use out of KDE, excluding SuSE of course.

But on the flip side of this, the fact remains that Ubuntu has access (indirectly or otherwise) to more software and has a stronger community in the sense of user created add-ons like GetDeb.net, AutoMatix and Envy driver installer. I also feel Ubuntu has a clearer mission as to their release schedule, although I am very impressed with what I have seen in the latest release of PCLinuxOS.

Again, I cannot express enough just how impressed I was with PCLinuxOS. It may not be the distro for me, but this is something that I would seriously consider installing for my family members over other distros in stone cold minute, that’s for sure. Based on my findings, I am beginning to see Ubuntu as more of an “advanced beginner” to “intermediate user” distro. Same as I see OpenSuSE and Fedora for the intermediate to advanced crowd.

PCLinuxOS nails the needs of the typical home user perfectly. For the Windows convert, I can see this making a lot sense over Ubuntu. But if you try this distro and are not finding titles that you need, you may wish to consider Ubuntu. With that said though, I suspect that the Fedora RPM will offer up a shot at installing Democracy Player, but you will need to use a command line or locate kpackage (not found in the provided repos it’s there, I just did not see it) to make this happen on PCLinuxOS.

[tags]PCLInuxOS,Ubuntu,Linux,software,drivers,hardware,support[/tags]

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  • allikat

    kpackage is in the PCLOS repos, just check synaptic and I’ve used it for working with externally sourced RPMs as well. I definitely agree with you on PCLinuxOS just working, and being extremely well tested. It’s still a test-release, final comes soon, and it’s already this good.

  • marc klink

    I’ve been very happy with what I’ve found with Feisty Fawn, except that the accelerated nVidia drivers have ridiculously low refresh rates offered. Not only are they low, the they are really oddball. I have it on a Dell 8200 with a Compaq 19″ monitor, which runs at 1280×1024@75Hz in XP, the Feisty choices are 56, 57, and 59Hz at the same resolution. As someone extremely sensitive to flicker, this just doesn’t work well. Does PCLinuxOS do better on this?

  • http://jrandomhacker.info Sy Ali

    The PCLinuxOS documentation is being completely overhauled for PCLinuxOS 2007, so hopefully any difficulties in getting, installing and using it will be completely ironed out. =)

  • Pingback: PCLinuxOS vs Ubuntu » eJabs

  • http://www.eJabs.com Matthew Jabs

    Greetings:

    Great article! I have recently wrote an article on the same topic and I referenced & linked to your article there.

    Thank you.

  • http://www.ubuntu.com/ Matt Zimmerman

    The documentation you reference regarding proprietary drivers is out of date. In the current version of Ubuntu (7.04, “Feisty”), enabling these drivers is as simple as opening System->Administration->Restricted Drivers Manager and clicking the checkbox.

  • http://www.matthartley.com Matt Hartley

    Matt Z. is spot-on, I will be adding an update here soon. For now, consider this our two comments as notice of this. Thanks Matt. :)

  • ShavenLunatic

    I am an Ubuntu Lover.. but after reading a few reviews and browsing the PCLOS site, I may be tempted to give it an install and a test on a spare HDD.

    Packages software and the desktop themes are irrelevant as far as I am concernet, as whichever package manager is available can pull these down for you, my main attractions to any GNU/Linux distro are packaged drivers and good controls and a good support community.

    With Ubuntu, Envy truly does take out all of the hassle of Video driver installation, the new “Tick Box” in Ubuntu 7.04 is nice, but manually OR Envy installing drivers seems to out perform. Added bonus of Envy is that if a Kernel update borks your video drivers, just run “envy -t” from the terminal and bobs your uncle, 2 minutes later you are up and running.

    Nice review though, this (among others) has definately inspired me to download PCLOS and give it a whirl, cheers :)

  • ShavenLunatic

    regards above: Apologies for shoddy typing, I was tying in a rush and not paying attention (no edit function)

  • julie

    http://www.orkut.com/Community.aspx?cmm=37586510
    maybe u will join this community in orkut about pclinux and share ur views , experience and expertise on pclinux?

  • http://www.bcns.com Bruce

    I tried PCLinuxOS and could not get it to successfully boot on any of 3 different PCs I tried. One PC is an old MSI motherbd AMD Athlon XP machine, another PC is a new Intel based motherbd and the other is a new AMD Athlon64 motherbd PC. Zero out of three is not good odds.

  • Hey Bruce!

    Hey sizzle Bruce, Maybe you got a bad download or your burner sucks, BEEP try again

  • http://writealexthomas.wordpress.com Alex Thomas

    I was an avid PCLINUXOS user but my home PC did not have broadband connection, so it was a pain in the a** to get my pclos working fully. Whereas, Ubuntu has a handy package called AptonCD which made my work very easy. Now I can get full working ubuntu even in my home without broadband connection or worrying about repositories.

    Ubuntu is for me unless Pclos people comeup with something like AptonCD for PCLOS.

  • Glenn Guinto

    PCLOS is very promising and is one of the more famous distros. I would love to use it anytime but it won’t boot on my machine running a SATA combo drive, a problem I did not encounter with Ubuntu.