PCLinuxOS: A Windows User's Delight
From our "Linux is for Total Newbies" series, courteousy of J. Allen for reallylinux.com.

You may also find this related article beneficial: Linux Works Even for Newbies

As a former Windows user, I know that it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the volume of available distributions. Often, to help decipher the lingo and choose a capable distribution, those new to the community seek guidance from existing users. Sometimes, this can lead to a really positive result, as another Windows user joins the Linux community.

However, for some potential migrants, the experience is not so pleasant. I know of some who have found the terminology foreign and daunting, and the choices overwhelming. As with any new venture, the trick is to dip one's toe into the water and not expect to make great progress in the early stages of migration. Linux is not another Windows. It offers many new and beneficial experiences.

So, compared with uprooting one's entire family and moving to another country, it should, can, and often is a pleasant journey into a new world. But finding a path that allows a gradual change is always best, and in my case this meant starting with the PCLinuxOS flavour.

The Linux community, in general, is fiercely protective and supportive of newly arrived immigrants like myself. There is plenty of guidance available. The IRC channels in particular are a ready source of help and encouragement.

From my reading, it is clear that most Linux users experiment with a number of "flavours" until they settle on the one with the best "taste" for them.

As their moniker declares, PCLinuxOS is "radically simple." This was precisely the kind of distribution I needed.

irc.efnet.ca/#pcLinuxos (pclos)

For your convenience, I have included links at the beginning of my article to encourage those who want to go ahead and read what the forum users say. You may also want to take a moment to join the irc channel for some discussion and ask applicable questions.

PCLinuxOS was devised and is maintained by a small, dedicated, extremely hard-working team led by Texstar. This very adaptable flavour is intended to be as easy as possible for someone totally new to Linux, but not necessarily new to computers.

Balance of Versatility & Capability
PCLinuxOS offers the flexibility of being both a Live-cd, and including all necessary components for a full installation. As a Live-cd version it can boot directly from a CD drive without any installation to the hard disk. But more importantly, it includes an easy to use installer that allows you to fully install Linux when you are ready. Of course, as with many major distributions, there are excellent guides on the website for helping use the installer.

As if these characteristics were not enough, the system can be remastered to suit the users needs and desires, as witnessed by the various offspring including: PCLinuxOS 92, Minime, Kid-safe, and Supergamer.

The versatility and options are numerous:

PCLinuxOS 92
The main release with a package database chosen to include the applications people want to use in their day-to-day computing, office software, imaging, sound and video authoring, web browsing, email, graphics, some games and much more.

PCLinuxOS minime 93
A slim version of PCLinuxOS 92 designed for those who want to remaster the livecd to their own taste. It includes a basic database providing a usable system which you can add to and rearranges to suit your own taste. Add applications, set up the desktop, configure the hardware and then use mklivecd, which produces an iso to burn to cd. When this is installed, all the settings, wallpapers, icons, applications are immediately available to use.

PCLinuxOS kid-safe
A delight for both children of all ages and their parents, this livecd allows children to surf in safety, play fun and educational games while their parents can relax in the knowledge that their children can do no harm to their existing system. The big benefit is that children are also reasonably protected on the web by dansguardian.

This version includes a wonderland of jolly games, some of which I have played. They have amusing graphics and effects offering the joy of learning undiluted. There are also installed games to suit all ages in this system; patience, my favourite is also in there! Although tuxtype is designed for young people, it is an excellent tester of one's typing skills and can help children gain typing skills in a fun way.

The one drawback is that this particular specialist version is not currently installable. You have to run it from the CD or DVD drive, which is a bit slow but certainly effective. An installable remaster is in the works and will soon be available.

PCLinuxOS Supergamer
This is for dedicated gamers and includes public domain demos of some of the famous 3D games. Here's a paste from the wiki:
Doom 3 and Quake 4 - The playable demos!
Enemy territory - Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Neverball - This really is a great game. Go play it!
Chromium B.S.U.- Fast paced, arcade-style, top-scrolling space shooter.
Battle Zone capture Flag - The 3D tank battle game.
Nexuiz - A fast-paced free-as-speech ego shooter with excellent graphics
Supertux - SuperMa.. uhm, Tux! Does Tux do plumbing as well?
PlanetPenguin Racer and Tuxkart - Penguin fun for everybody. Go Tux!
UFO: Alien Invasion - A strategy game featuring tactical combat against hostile aliens!
And: Cube, Battle for Wesnoth, Foobilliards, pinball and many more.

Apart from all of these, the Supergamer version includes many of the games also found in most Linux distributions. Of course, the key is that it offers graphics that are splendid.

It does require a high-end computer with plenty of power for best results. This version is fully installable, so you can try it out as Live-cd and then later install it to your system.

PCLinuxOS AmaroK
A collaboration of amarok and magnatunes, with others, this boots and goes straight on-line ready to stream music for the user. Some tracks have already been set up for the user to play. This version is also fully installable.

I encourage you to read about each of these in detail on the website and follow the links to download the iso images.

Personal Gratification
My own experience with PCLinuxOS has been a joy from the beginning. Knowing a little about Linux, I started to use it seriously beginning in September 2005. But when I discovered PCLinuxOS in March 2006 my knowledge and use began to reach the stratosphere. It was so easy to use day-to-day.

To keep things simple and ensure you start off quickly, PCLinuxOS abounds in pre-installed applications. A new user's delight is finding that after the installation there are numerous useful programs -- all ready to run.

Even without bothering to read the instructions, it was intuitive to use and so easy to install. Configuring is also easy and I have already created my first personalised Live-cd.

PCLinuxOS: a crisp and easy to use desktop

Besides being extremely easy to use, it comes with numerous applications essential for daily use.

Numerous useful applications, all pre installed for your use

Personalising Your PC
PCLinuxOS control centre is a comprehensive utility that enables any user to fully configure the system. It includes essential tools the synaptic installer and updater. Keeping the system up-to-date is a simple matter of checking the remember box when a message panel appears the first time it is used. Then just click reload.

For a donation of $20 you can gain access to PASS, a fast download repository of programs and files, updated regularly by the developers. You get your own user-encoded sources.lst to add to Synaptic -- and Texstar (the lead developer) gets to eat once in a while.

Also included is the KDE Control Centre, which allows you to enhance practically any aspect of your desktop. You gain control over backgrounds, buttons, color and font options and more. More importantly, all of these can be adjusted to suit your needs with a few clicks of the mouse.

Overall, PCLinuxOS offers many benefits for someone getting started with Linux. Besides being flexible to use, offering both a full install and Live-cd, it includes many programs I know you will need for day-to-day use.

If you are considering trying Linux, PCLinuxOS offers you an ideal starting point.

J. Allen is an enthusiastic hobbyist computer user of some years' standing and in no way an expert. He enjoys contributing his experiences with Linux to encourage others.

Copyright 2006 J. Allen, published by reallylinux.com with permission.

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