I've had PCLinuxOS as a dual-boot pair to Windows XP since it held the number one slot at Distrowatch more than a year ago. I was about to replace it with the distro that regained the top spot a few months after it was dislodged by PCLinuxOS - the immensely popular Ubuntu. But that was before last October 16.
That day was a milestone for this blog as it hit 60+ unique visits. I know that number is quite pathetic by many many other blogs' standards, but it was already a milestone for me, having been unable to hit beyond 5 unique visits on any day.
I know the sole catalyst for that feat was because a link to my article, "Windows XP - PCLinuxOS Dual Boot Saves the Day", was included in tuxmachine.org's Today's Leftovers section (Many thanks Susan!). But that made me wonder: Did the visitors simply click that link because it was in the list, or did they do it because of PCLOS? Well, I'm about to find out soon enough because in this post, I intend to talk solely about my personal experience with PCLinuxOS. Replacing my PCLinuxOS installation with Ubuntu will have to wait. Besides, Ubuntu 8.1 won't be released until after 12 days.
Ok, 'nuf on the intro.
First of all, I'm not a hard-core Linux user/expert, so my recommendations will focus on the common features; i.e., those that are mostly used by the average user. Anyway, here they go...
- User interface. Easily one of the most Windows-looking distro GUI's out there. Let's face it, if you'd want the average computer user to shift to Linux, you'd have to introduce them to an alternative that doesn't radically deviate from what they're used to. In this case, they're absolutely used to Windows. I stayed with this distro longer than with any other. I've tried Red Hat (when it was still free), Fedora, Ubuntu, openSuse, and even Solaris (immediately when it became free). Only PCLinuxOS gave me the luxury of not having to re-adapt big-time everytime I shifted from Windows to Linux on my dual-boot system.
- PCLinuxOS installation. Unlike other distros, PCLinuxOS 2007 came with only one CD. Thus, it didn't take a long time to finish the installation. And to think everything I needed was already there. Furthermore, the installation went smoothly and was very intuitive. Every hardware on my desktop was compatible with the installation, so I was able to enjoy everything that I enjoyed in Windows in terms of what my hardware could offer: USB, network cards, video cards, audio, etc.
- Installation of additional applications. Since PCLinuxOS comes with the Synaptic package manager, adding more applications is very easy. Updating already-installed apps are also as easy as point-and-click especially if you have an Internet connection. Ever since, my experience with installing Java and Netbeans on other Linux distros was a very rigorous process. There was no way I could install them without going through the dreaded terminal. With Synaptic, you added programs without so much as having a glimpse of the terminal at all.
- Harddisk partitions accessibility. The good thing about Linux is that you can easily edit your MS Office documents through OpenOffice. You can even save them back as .doc if you want. The problem usually sprouts from not being able to have access to them from the Linux environment (I'm talking about a dual-boot system). You'd have to mount them by going through that dreaded terminal again. With PCLOS, the windows partitions are automatically mounted, visible, and easily accessible. So you can edit your MS Office documents as if you were in the Windows environment.
- Light on the resources. Perhaps it's just my imagination, but it appears that PCLinuxOS runs faster on the same PC compared to other distros that I've tried. I'm referring to the reaction time on clicks, moves, and resizes on icons and windows.