Debunking Confusion in PCLinuxOS

Active readers of this blog know that I help out with a little distribution called PCLinuxOS. I help out through my other website mypclinuxos.com which is a community development website where like minded individuals can gather together to develop add-ons, customizations, and other items to PCLinuxOS to tailor it to what they want in a distro. It’s a great concept and one that has been gathering quite a bit of support from the PCLinuxOS community.

This week, Distrowatch Weekly has redone their top 10 distributions and included PCLinuxOS inside of that top ten for the first time ever. In fact, when I began using PCLinuxOS, it was around 15th on the distrowatch charts. If you look at 2005 vs. 2006 charts, you’ll see that out of the top 15 distros tracked, PCLinuxOS was the largest gainer over the course of that year. I like to think that mypclinuxos (started Mar 27, 2006) had a lot to do with that…and I don’t ask for any recognition at all…but take great satisfaction in helping what I believe to be the premiere Linux distribution for new users gain ground.

As stated, Distrowatch Weekly named PCLinuxOS as one of the “Top Ten” distributions and I was very happy about this. What was less than stellar was some of the negative feedback that resulted from this announcement. I realize that much of the feedback is based on false assumptions, ignorance, and fanboism…but just the same, I found a couple of comments I’d like to respond to so that the correct information is available for everyone to see.

So here’s how I’ll address things…I won’t point out individuals in the comments of this week’s Distrowatch Weekly; instead, I’ll just print the comments here and address them. If you want to see where they come from, check out DW Comments section. And now for the first comment:

  • “Also PCLOS/MEPIS don’t even offer the choice to install in another language than english, and one has to tweak hard to install another language for the system.”

This is true to a degree. One always has the default KDE AZERTY keyboard settings for localization. One can also say that Ubuntu localized packages should work on MEPIS and Mandriva localized packages should work on PCLinuxOS. This may not be the case in and in this instance, the poster would be correct. The nice part about PCLinuxOS is that we, the community, recognized this as a shortfall and have begun translating to various languages. An international DVD version will be out ASAP after PCLinuxOS 2007 Final is released.

  • [referring to DW saying it was hard to overlook PCLOS and MEPIS since they've been gaining hits in the past few years] It’s easy to overlook, since the fanbois are artificially boosting them. Remember Yoper a couple years ago? Putting PCLOS in the top ten only adds to the abundant confusion.

This saddens me. I’d love to see some proof to backup this accusation. If there were proof I’d totally agree because artificially inflating popularity as tracked by Distrowatch is pretty low and frowned upon. Should proof be available, I’d be really interested in seeing it.

Usually, this happens when someone isn’t too happy about how well a distro is doing so they dump on said distro because they feel the distro they use should be up there getting all the attention. What these people forget is that it doesn’t matter which distro anyone uses…THEY’RE USING LINUX! That’s good enough in my book…they choose Linux and in making that choice they are just like me…using Linux. I wish more people could see things this way.

  • The problem with these two distros is the “one man at the top” philosophy, rather than having an active development group.

Well, that’s half right. Tex is lead developer but he has many others that assist him. I also know that Warren Woodford has a small team of people that help him. I look at both Texstar and Warren as being “distro architects” in that they are the overall designers and creators of the distro but others chip in to help build the overall framework of the distro.

It’s evident by the beautification project over at mypclinuxos.com which gave PCLinuxOS 2007 Test Releases their awesome themed look and slick appearance that Texstar is open to anyone helping develope his distro.

  • The biggest drawback of pclinux is that it is only available in English. I don’t understand why, as their mandriva base have a lot of languages.

This is probably because Mandriva isn’t their base :) Mandriva offers many of the packages and much of the framework for PCLinuxOS, but PCLinuxOS is it’s own distribution. Earlier last year, Texstar expressed via the developers mailing list his concern about the way Mandriva does its packaging and how it rolls its distro and he wanted to distance himself further from that. this has become apparent in 2007 TR3.

Also, something to note is that PCLinuxOS pulls from MANY distros…Yoper, Red Hat/Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSuse and perhaps even a few I don’t know. The bottom line is…the most visible parts used are from Mandriva…but that doesn’t make PCLinuxOS Mandriva re-wrapped.

PCLinuxOS maintains its own kernel. PCLinuxOS maintains it’s own repository. PCLinuxOS also has a policy of not installing software outside of the repository (if you do, you’re on your own) and yes that means even Mandriva rpms. So honestly, PCLinuxOS looked at in this light stands alone. If Mandriva went belly up tomorrow, PCLinuxOS would continue on quite easily by absorbing the “best of” tools available in Linux just like it always has done.

  • I would like to find among the “cons” of Mepis and PCLinuxOS, the total ignorance of the Free Software Philosophy. Technical advantages are secondary.

Really? Last I checked both MEPIS and PCLinuxOS were available for free. Now if you’re speaking of Libre Software (that is, software free of proprietary components) I’ll agree with you…those items aren’t high on the priority list for these distributions.

Instead, higher on the priority list is usability and less confusion for new users. Asking new users to become immediately supportive of a license and philosophy they know nothing about is asking a bit too much. After all, most of these new users haven’t even read the EULA for Windows…what’s going to be incentive for them to read the GPL? What incentive for them to think they should only use FLOSS? There is no incentive. It’s a personal choice and one that should be left up to the individual.

Should a distro be chastised for choosing NOT to be completely proprietary software free? Nope. Because it fills a niche for those users who want THAT DISTRO. Just like they have a choice to choose FLOSS, they also have a choice to not choose it. Distros shouldn’t be chastised for their philosophies on either end of the spectrum.

  • I still believe that PCLinuxOS and MEPIS are just re-mastered editions of Mandriva and Ubuntu without offering anything new.

Then try it and see what you think after trying it. By trying these distros it becomes apparent that they are not “re-mastered editions” of Mandriva and Ubuntu. Both MEPIS and PCLinuxOS are independently developed distributions that would be able to stand alone without Mandriva/Ubuntu. They develop all their own kernels and maintain their own independent package pools. Both of them install software using apt-get and both of them are new user friendly. Both of them have one or two click installations of graphics drivers. Both of them have good support for playing video and both of them have flash out of the box.

I challenge you to put your money where your mouth is and try it. If you still think that both of these distros are just repackaged copies of Ubuntu/Mandriva…bring your proof and I’ll publish it here in large, bold headlines.

  • In fact, these two projects [MEPIS & PCLinuxOS] ONLY deserve credit for beeing able to deliver a customised version of another project. They are nothing whitout giants like Red Hat, Novell, Mandrakesoft or Canonical. Even if they add a small number of useful feature, they don’t have the community needed to be able to maintain a whole operating system.

These are complete lies on the part of MEPIS and PCLinuxOS. MEPIS maintained itself in the same way Ubuntu is doing since 2003. It only changed to an Ubuntu base within the past year. That means It HAS operated and maintained a whole operating system on its own without Red Hat, Novell, Mandriva, and Canonical. So using your logic, MEPIS deserves credit.

In the same vein, PCLinuxOS has deviated from Mandrake 9.2 continually (which was when it forked) and now doesn’t use Mandriva for it’s primary code base. It also maintains all of its own packages, rolls its own kernel, and has it’s own developers. Also, I’m quite familiar with it’s community since I operate a community website with over 2k members for it. I have to tell you that if tomorrow Mandriva dried up…PCLinuxOS would be just fine.

Stating that the efforts of Texstar and Warren do not deserve credit is completely ludicrous. This person needs to extract his/her head from their backside. Both PCLinuxOS and MEPIS have the community to maintain their own distribution because both of them ARE maintaining their own distribution.

  • I am not saying that they are not good (MEPIS and PCLinuxOS). I used them both in the past (and still do occasionally) and they are great Live CD distros, but when security patches are not getting released on the timely base it stops being fun. I would never suggest them for any serious work. MEPIS at least has commercial support, where PCLinuxOS has ???

I assume here that the poster is speaking of the code freeze on .93a base when they speak of security patches not being released. This is a first in the PCLinuxOS community and last as well. The reason .93a version has been frozen is because all developer attention has been focused on 2007 version. There are major changes (shifting many packages away from Mandriva, new GCC/Glibc requiring completely rebuilt repository) that require too much time for volunteers to work at it.

PCLinuxOS 2007, for the first time since PCLinuxOS’s inception, will need to be a ‘from scratch’ install. Previously, you could install .71 and apt-get up to current. Since there is a new GCC version, all packages needed recompiled which means a complete re-installation must take place. To prepare, all effort has been placed on getting 2007 accomplished and .93a has been removed from most download sites. There are those of us out there that still have boxen running .93a but we do so at our own risk as PCLinuxOS is BETA software and says so before you install it.

Remember, Ubuntu and Debian developers often get paid to work on their distribution…by many different companies (not just Canonical). SuSe developers are paid. Xandros developers are paid. MEPIS pays itself through its commercial wing.

PCLinuxOS is volunteer based. Where is its commercial support? There is none…because it’s put together by a group of like minded individuals who want to make software better than what is available. Will there ever be commercial offerings for PCLinuxOS? Who knows? Maybe? But for now, I don’t think examining whether or not a distro has commercial support should be criteria for an enthusiast website to determine what is one of the top ten visited distributions.

  • yeay! People continously praise pclinuxos for their inclusion of proprietary stuff etc. without being aware of these things violates licenses, patents, is strictly illegal and what not, nice..

    Also very nice is how most of their packages are just rebranded mandriva packages (rebuilt with their own release suffix and changelog removed) and they don’t even provide sources for the packages they modify..

Here is your sources for PCLinuxOS [1][2]. Evidently you’re a bit too lazy to google it. As for inclusion of proprietary stuff, we’ve already went over that previously…I’m not going to beat a dead horse. I’m also not going over the ‘re-branded packages’ statement as we’ve already addressed that as well.


That about sums things up. If there are any other items that I’ve missed that need addressing, please let me know via comments and I’ll update this post.

If you have questions about PCLinuxOS, I’ll do my best to answer and if I can’t, I’ll find someone who can…even if the answer isn’t one I want to give. It’s my aim to be honest which is why I have such problems with comments like those above.

Hopefully, this clears a few things up for people.

This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

  • Superboog

    Truer words were never spoken my friend. though you will always find people yapping about stuff they believe they know about if they read half as much as they spoke BS and thought before they spoke the world would be a better place lol :D.

  • Fedoraman

    Mandriva repackages Fedora rpms all the time. It is a common practice.

  • http://linux-blog.org devnet

    It’s funny isn’t it?

    Afterall, CentOS repackages rpms from Red Hat all the time too…yet people wouldn’t be flaming it as much as they are PCLinuxOS.

    I think because it is often compared to Ubuntu in terms of new users that people fanatical about Ubuntu lash out at it. I’ve also seen a few Sabayon users talk about how it doesn’t have anything on Sabayon and lash out at it too (one even joined our IRC channel and began cursing us out about our ‘lame distro’.

    I’m just glad when people use Linux period. This silly squabbling over distro independence and forks and what not is stupid. But like I said, lot’s of misinformation and I didn’t see any corrections…so I had to post it.

  • Wicked

    They see that PCLinuxOS is making great progress and is poised to push to number 1 this year. Nobody ever likes to admit they bet on the wrong horse.

    BTW Your verifier is very hard to read. Needs to be replaced. This is the third post attempt.

  • http://www.tbwheels.com/ Jim Whee

    I think there will be a commercial base in future. For example providing technical support for money. And everyone is happy