Those of you who followed our experiment here at Yet Another Linux Blog followed my wife’s path as she test drove distros for their out of the box abilities. Those of you who stayed positive throughout this process also understood why some of the more popular distros did not rate well…simply because they do not have much done for you out of the box. The reason we chose rating out of the box is because most new users wont be able to install hardare and software easily without reading some documentation and those new users might become immediately frightened of the aspect of finding answers to ‘how to do this’. By having stuff done a user can gain confidence at the early and critical times of using a distro and then build on top of that. Therefore, we set out to find the best distro that came suited for a user like my wife. If you followed along, you also know that PCLinuxOS was rated the top distro. As promised, today we’ll chat with Texstar, the creator of PCLinuxOS.
Devnet: Please tell us a bit about how you got your start in Linux/Computers/Open Source…
Texstar: My first successful Linux install was Red Hat. I later found Mandrake which was nothing more than Red Hat with KDE at the time. I moved to Linux after watching Microsoft abuse their monopoly on the desktop. I formally provided unofficial 3rd party rpm updates to Mandrake users between releases until that function was taken over by Mandrakeclub.
Devnet: What type of person do you see yourself as?
Texstar: I’m kind of quiet, laid back, humerous and easy going person. I don’t take life too seriously. I look for the good in people. I enjoy chatting with fellow Linux users on our IRC channel (efnet #PCLinuxOS). What a great bunch of people…except for that Lewis guy. Just kidding Lewis! We love you, we really do 😀
Devnet: Why did you start PCLinuxOS?
Texstar: To provide an outlet for my crazy desire to package source code without having to deal with egos, arrogance and politics. I love to package. It is like a puzzle where all the pieces have to fit together or the code doesn’t work.
That is my favorite part of doing PCLOS. The other reason is I wanted something that worked out of the box, looked fabulous and didn’t require a technical degree from college to get it working.
Devnet: How did you come up with the name?
Texstar: It is Linux for your Personal Computer. I wanted something generic that people could easily relate to and the name matches our website.
Devnet: Who is your target audience with PCLinuxOS?
Texstar: Someone who might be considering Linux for the first time. PCLOS gives them the opportunity to boot from a livecd, test for hardware compatibility and play around with it. Later if they like it they can also install it to their hard drive.
Devnet: How large is the community surrounding PCLinuxOS?
Texstar: I’m not sure how many people are using PCLOS but our website has over 6500 registered users.
Devnet: How many developers work on PCLinuxOS?
Texstar: 12-15 people are directly involved in the development of pclos and many others who provide volunteer support in various capacities.
Devnet: What would you say to someone (like some of those posting on this blog) who states, “PCLOS is just Mandrake/driva repackaged with slight mods?”
Texstar: You know, if we took Mandriva 10.2 (2005) and slapped some graphics on it and called it PCLOS then they would have a valid argument but that is simply not the case. We took Mandrake 9.2 as our base and have built up around it. We have our own kernel developed by ocilent, our own KDE which is packaged totally different than Mandriva. Our menu system is different. Our gcc is different. We have our own custom graphics and iconsets. We use a different package management system utilizing apt-get with a synaptic frontend and a valid upgrade path. Many people are still running Preview 4 fully updated.
We do utilize code from Mandriva as well as Fedora, SuSE, Yoper and others for that matter. I’ve seen patches and repackaged rpms in Mandriva’s source that came directly from Fedora. Does that mean they are ripping off Fedoras code because they didn’t come up with the patch/code themselves? I don’t think so.
Opensource allows one to share and share alike.
Devnet: PCLinuxOS is still in a “Preview” version meaning it hasn’t released a ‘full version’. Where would you like to be with PCLOS and the first full version? (features of 1.0, etc.)
Texstar: I’d like to have everything work properly out of the box for the first time Linux user. No fiddling with configuration files, plugins and drivers.
Everything just works.
Devnet: Will PCLinuxOS always be free to download and use?
Texstar: As far as I know. Sometime next year I’d like to provide boxed sets with an instruction manual for a modest fee.
Devnet: Have you read the experiment on YALB and if so, do you agree with its conclusions?
Texstar: As long as Mrs. Devnet is happy then I am happy. Honestly, I think we still have a long way to go to get to where I would like PCLOS to be but in time we will get there. The fun part is being along for the ride and seeing how far we can push the limits of opensource.
Devnet: What do you tell users who think rpms only invite dependency problems in package management? (For us Debian users 🙂 )
Texstar: With Debian, if you want to upgrade your system you run apt-get update, apt-get dist-upgrade or you run Synaptic which is a frontend to apt-get. In PCLOS, if you want to update your system, you run apt-get update, apt-get dist-upgrade or you run Synaptic which is a frontend to apt-get. The only difference is ours are rpms and theirs are debs. Debian’s advantage is they have a larger repository with over 12000 packages and ours is just now topping out at close to 4000.
Devnet: Does PCLOS have any plans on porting to other architectures (i.e., power pc)?
Texstar: We have no plans to port PCLOS to other architectures other than maybe a 64 bit version later this year.
Devnet: Some distros ship with mp3 support and some without. Why is PCLOS downloadable with mp3 support when some of the big names such as Ubuntu and Fedora without?
Texstar: I don’t know anything about that. Seems like some do and some don’t for whatever reasons.
Devnet: Where does one go to get involved with PCLOS?
Texstar: www.pclinuxonline.com is our website.
Devnet: If a train left New York going 60mph and another from San Francisco going 50mph, what would the gross national product of Cuba be?
Texstar: The gross national product of Cuba as of 2003 was 10.6 billion.
—End of Interview
I want to personally thank Texstar for taking time out of development of Preview .9 of PCLinuxOS to talk with Yet Another Linux Blog. I also would like to thank him and all those involved with development of PCLinuxOS for providing a distro out there that ‘just works’ for my wife. We are now happily Windows Free on all computers save one that dual boots Windows for my work. Still to come, I’ll be taking a detailed look at each of the distros we examined in the experiment and offering input from my wife as to what they might be able to build toward to attract new users (new to Linux that is). I’ve also got a couple of tips and tricks articles coming up that I’ve been working on steadily. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.