PCLinuxOS 8 was installed yesterday on my spare drive. First impressions are…this is an excellent distro…but only once you get it installed. They really messed up the install process. Allow me to explain.
I booted up off the CD and found myself greeted to a plethora of options and programs to run. I really dig the fact that it retains the Mandrake Control Center but has made it better. I find the organization of the menu’s FANTASTIC…just as I found the Mandrake 10.1 menu’s well organized. Thus far, only MEPIS has lacked in this area. So, I decided to go for the installation to hard disk. Much improved over version 7 is the shortcut link on the desktop that allows you to not have to search around in the menu’s. This is a very solid distro…don’t get me wrong. I’d say that this is actually the most well put together distro I’ve seen thus far. There is a reason why THIS distro is the fastest moving on distrowatch. It moved to where it is this year from #44 in 2003 to #9 in 2004.
So I click the install to disk icon and it brings up an interactive menu. Now, for desktop distros…I choose automatically install for each one. The main reason being, that is what a common user would do. They won’t partition like you used to do with Linux. However, with this interactive menu, it assumes you 1) know what a partition is 2) know what Linux is supposed to have. I would really like to see if having a blank disk without swap and partitions would detect correctly for PCLinuxOS 8. It detected my swap and first partition and assigned it with some drop down menu’s. From there, you are supposed to find /home /usr /var yourself and/or make them yourself. I immediately stopped the install and formatted the drive as a large ext3.
I called up a friend who knows nothing about partitions and had him attempt the install. He gave up trying to partition the drive. This needs to change! MEPIS installs in 7 clicks from a LIVECD. There is no reason that this should be any different. I suggest that they have 2 different menu systems…one for common users and one for advanced. Something needs to change…they tout this distro for new users. I know about 2 new users that could even get this installed…and they’re windows guru’s. Partition creation and management is something that most common users don’t even think about or address.
Overall though, this distro is solid. Good upgradeability with synaptic. Great programs installed. Great organization. Great menu’s and icons. Everything is very nice looking. This distro truly shows Linux in it’s splendor. That’s it on first impressions. We’ll press on in a few days with the next on the list. After finishing all distros and first impressions, my wife will take front stage and give the new users’ perspective.
I’ve just installed Mandrake 10.1 Community…just to take it for a test drive. I’m coming off of testing Progeny Linux RC1 (very nice) and decided I wanted to take a look at what 1000+ people each day find so interesting (a stat supported by distrowatch.com). I’ll probably post back within the week about what are some good and bad points about it…then I’ll shuffle on to another distro. So far though, Mandrake has been the most eye pleasing distribution I’ve tried (installer anyways) with Progeny and Fedora Core 3’s anaconda installer a very close second.
A quick look of the Mandrake desktop impressed me…simply due to the fact that it is the most well organized default KDE desktop I’ve ever seen in a distribution. It also has the custom Mandrake control panel which is very choice for controlling all your system settings such as network, file sharing, etc. So far so good. As previous, I’ll get back to this one later…afterall, it is finals week and I’ve got some work cut out for me.