It’s an understatement to say that Linux users have plenty of choice when it comes to which distribution they’d like to use. There are multiple approaches to accomplishing the same tasks, from what kind of packages (such as .deb or .rpm) are used to what packages are included by default on installation media to the purpose of a distribution — whether it’s stable or cutting edge and if its pure or accepting of proprietary software.
In any case, there are plenty of aspects of distributions which you can have your own preferences, and then choose a distribution which caters to those. If you are looking for the best Linux distribution that mixes up a lot of different distributions, I have something for you.
PCLinuxOS is a pretty unique Linux distribution for people who are fairly knowledgeable about Linux. By the way, for anyone else, you might want to check out our ultimate guide to Linux. Therefore, it isn’t quite a distribution which I can recommend for new users, but it’s great for Linux users who want to try new combinations. PCLinuxOS is often seen as an independent project as its quite a bit different from any other major Linux distribution, but it still has roots with Mandrake Linux 9.2, whose successors now include Mandriva Linux and Mageia.
There’s an interesting mix of Mandrake Linux elements remaining in PCLinuxOS, as well as a couple notable features found in other distributions.
Mix & Match
First, PCLinuxOS uses the RPM package format, which it inherited from Mandrake Linux. However, the included package manager is Synaptic Package Manager, which is found in Debian as well as distributions derived from Debian. It also includes a Control Center that is similar to what can be found in Mageia and its precursors. As a unique feature, PCLinuxOS is a rolling release with the publication of occasional new ISO images so that you can always test out and install a recently updated version of the distribution.
However, once installed, you’ll simply need to keep up with updates to stay up to date – no new releases to upgrade to.
Plenty Of Software
Recent publications of the PCLinuxOS ISO images include a boatload of software for you to use, right out of the box. If you can think of it, it’s probably already included. Even just the Internet section alone includes about everything you’ll need, like Firefox, Thunderbird, Kopete, Xchat, Filezilla, Choqok, and Dropbox. It even includes codecs from the start, which is something you won’t find on other major distributions such as Debian, Ubuntu, and Fedora. In other words, there probably won’t be much more that you’ll need to install to have a fully functioning system.
Plus, because PCLinuxOS uses a rolling release model, you can be sure that it offers the latest versions out there. In fact, the December 2012 ISO images currently uses the latest version of KDE 4.9.
Testing & Installation
In order to try out PCLinuxOS for yourself or even install it, you’ll need to head over to their download page and get their latest ISO images. There are other desktop environments available besides KDE, but I recommend it the most if you have the available system resources. While the site offers both torrents as well as images on HTTP mirrors, I recommend that you use the suggested torrent link and avoid the HTTP mirrors so that you have the best download rates and the latest ISO images. When I looked at the HTTP mirrors, some of them were hosting ISO images from December 2010.
Once you have downloaded the ISO image, you’ll need to burn it to a DVD or write it onto a USB drive. Then configure your system’s BIOS to boot off of the prepared media, and then launch into the new distribution. From there, you can mess around in the live environment or go ahead and start the installer.
PCLinuxOS is an interesting twist to the regular, popular distributions. I do think that Linux enthusiasts would like it, but the only downside to the distribution is that it is only supported by a community, and not a larger entity as compared to Ubuntu, Fedora, or even Linux Mint. However, if you like what you see, there’s nothing wrong with trying it out!
How do you like PCLinuxOS’s selection of technologies? What would you want in your own ideal distribution? Let us know in the comments!