PCLinuxOS - Rolling on a river

Richard Hillesley charts the trials and tribulations of PCLinuxOS.

By necessity, the development model for PCLinuxOS, which is entirely dependent on a small core of volunteers, is different to those of better-known desktop distributions with six-monthly release cycles.

For the most part PCLinuxOS has followed a rolling release schedule, which obviates the need for a fresh installation with each new version of the operating system. A rolling release is one where the current code is updated continuously, and there isn't a separate code branch for the next release. The user updates the current release from the repositories.

Of its nature, a rolling release puts an onus on the user, and can lead to system inconsistencies and instabilities. PCLinuxOS users claim that PCLinuxos avoids these shortcomings.

KDE, originally known as the Kool Desktop Environment, is the default desktop for PCLinuxOS, and PCLinuxOS is known as one of the better representations of KDE, not reaching KDE 4 until the latest release, PCLinuxOS 2010. PCLinuxOS also offers versions for the Gnome, Gnome ZenMini, LXDE, XFCE, Openbox, and Enlightenment desktop environments, which allows for installation on older and less powerful machines.

For the community

PCLinuxOS follows its own rules, and has a deserved reputation for friendliness, reliability and stability. Each new release is a snapshot of the operating system that is safe and tidy, usable and extendable, and includes everything you need to get useful results. The all round look and feel is easy on the eye, and the package management is as solid as it needs to be. PCLinusOS is unreservedly a desktop OS and does not support a server or 64-bit edition, which may be seen as a drawback.

While PCLinuxOS still shows its roots in Mandrake/Mandriva, it has established an identity as a distinctive Linux distribution with its own established community and a different set of ambitions. The PCLinuxOS community produces its own monthly online magazine, "of the community, by the community, for the community" in HTML and pdf versions, for new and experienced users, and claims a thriving forum.

PCLinuxOS exists unapologetically to satisfy the demands of its own community, but in doing so reaches a much larger audience. As Reynolds sees it: "We're just enjoying Linux technology and sharing it with friends who might like it too. We hope you have enjoyed the ride as well."

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