Finally, after almost two years in the making, the latest version of PCLinuxOS has been unleashed. Although released without much fanfare, I was excited enough to download PCLinuxOS 2009 immediately after it is available.

I was able to test drive PCLOS 2009, took some screenshots for you all to see, and wrote my first impressions about this latest version which you will about to read later on. But before anything else, allow me to introduce PCLinuxOS to some of our new-to-Linux readers:

PCLinuxOS or PCLOS was based on Madrake Linux (now Mandriva) and started out as a set of RPM packages. It was created by Bill Reynolds (popularly known as Texstar) to provide an outlet for his crazy desire to package source code without having to deal with egos, arrogance and politics (as he said). PCLOS later evolved into a complete desktop operating system with its own unique set of features. It quickly became popular and even came out on top of distro ranking at Distrowatch in 2007.

So, what’s up with PCLinuxOS 2009? Here’s a walkthrough (with screenshots), and at the end, my initial impressions. But first, my test machine specs:

Board: Intel Corporation D102GGC2
Processor: 3.40 GHz Intel Pentium D
Hard Drive: Samsung 80GB ATA with 8GB allocated to VM disk
Memory: 2GB DDR2 RAM with 512 MB allocated to VM memory

Installation/Setup:

A pleasant but not-so-awesome grub splash screen greeted me right away after I loaded the PCLOS 2009 ISO. I was given a choice to go directly for the LiveCD install, or to try other options. There was no option to install PCLOS right away without loading the desktop “ala Ubuntu”. I didn’t waste any time and booted for the LiveCD installation.


A simple boot splash image will appear next…


Before logging in for the first time, you will need to select your keyboard layout.


Then, you have to choose whether to login as root or guest. -- I selected “root” since I’m installing PCLOS 2009 immediately. In case you didn’t see it, the password for root is: root :-)


A brand new splash image…


After logging in, clicking on the ‘Install PCLinuxOS’ icon will kick-off the installation process. But before going on, you will be given an option to remove existing driver to avoid future problems.


The extremely easy-to-use Draklive Installer wizard will take care of the setup. You will only need to select where you would like to install PCLOS 2009, and then boom!


Installation begins…


Installation will conclude by allowing you to modify several boot settings. However, you can always leave things as they are and go on.


Reboot to finish off the installation.


Before you can begin using the newly-installed PCLOS 2009, you have to set your administrator password and your non-root account.


Login screen...


First Impressions:

Contrary to what I’ve expected, PCLinuxOS 2009 still uses KDE 3.5 instead of KDE 4 as its desktop environment. The PCLOS team announced that they did not use KDE 4 because they discovered that it is not as stable as KDE 3.5. They will however offer KDE 4 from the repository as alternative once they are confident with it. I’m not really a big fan of KDE 4, so I guess it’s a good decision not to utilize it.


Having used the previous version of PCLOS, the latest edition has a more polished overall theme than before. The default wallpaper blends well with all the desktop elements such as the window decoration and the panel. However, the window decoration called “Crystal” looks similar to that of Windows Vista. Anyway, you can always replace it with other available themes if you don’t like it.


PCLinuxOS 2009 is a complete desktop distro with the latest and greatest free and open-source software applications such as OpenOffice.org 3.0, Firefox 3.0.7, Thunderbird 2.0.0.14, KTorrent, Frostwire, Amarok, Flash, Java JRE, Compiz Fusion 3D and a whole lot more. It now uses Linux kernel version 2.6.26.8, so expect to experience a much improved hardware support.

Applications, applications, applications!


Synaptic Package Manager will smoothly take care of upgrading, installing, and removing of software packages.


Is PCLOS 2009 stable enough? Even though I’ve tested this latest edition for a very short period of time, I can say that this is a solid release. I’ve used tons of Linux distro before, and I’ve developed a sense of knowing which one is crappy, and which one is not. Just like the previous version, PCLOS 2009 has good hardware support. My hardware devices worked out-of-the-box including Ethernet connection that didn’t need any manual configuration in order to function. Also, I’ve noticed a faster start-up/boot speed that I think is a big plus.

The ever-reliable Control Center makes complicated things a lot less complicated.


The only issue that I’ve encountered so far while using PCLOS 2009 is when the system froze while I opened the Font Installer. I had to do a hard reset, but after that I’ve never encountered the same problem again.

Conclusion:

Based on the brief but thorough period of using PCLinuxOS 2009, I can honestly say that it’s another outstanding release for the PCLOS team. It is an all-around user-friendly no-nonsense desktop distro that I can highly recommend to ordinary users as well as power users because it “just works”. I think it truly deserves to be considered as one of the best Linux distro at the moment.


To those of you who want to try out PCLinuxOS 2009, it can be downloaded HERE. Also, a GNOME version of PCLOS 2009 can be downloaded HERE.

To our readers who have already used this latest version of PCLOS, please don’t hesitate to also share with us your experiences by writing us a comment.

EDIT: Someone suggested to change the title to "Blue Hot…" instead of "Red Hot…" to make it more appropriate. Thanks :-)


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