Laying to Rest the Mandriva/PCLOS Debate

The one thing about FOSS that I love is that you can take whatever you need from various sources and build what you opine is a better wheel. Take Ubuntu for instance…they took Debian and made it into something that many users are happy with.

Is this wrong? Not at all. Each day, many non-commercial distro makes wake up and check various distributions for updated security fixes. They pull source rpms, updated tar.gz’s, and debs into their distro, make minor adjustments, and drop it into their repository. Distros share with one another…they take and hopefully give back. If not monetarily, at least by the number of users that they have that may report bugs or provide fixes.

So what’s the beef that some Distrowatch Weekly commenter’s seem to have with PCLinuxOS? During the past 3 weeks of comments on the DW, some have been hounding PCLinuxOS with accusations saying that the developers hide things from their community and that PCLinuxOS eradicates changelogs and/or lights small dogs on fire while chopping kittens to bits in blenders, etc.

Myth #1: PCLinuxOS Hides the Fact it is Mandriva based (False) has always had an “About” link on every single webpage it has ever had. Let’s look at what information has been conveyed there:

“PCLinuxOS was originally based on another distribution under the name of Mandriva
and shares many features of Mandriva such as the Control Center and the
Draklive Installer
. Texstar and team would like to thank the
developers, contributors and others associated with Mandriva who may
have indirectly contributed to the PCLinuxOS distribution.”

Let’s look at some other distro front pages to see how they compare. Sabayon Linux has their footer at the bottom with Gentoo in it…but no mention on the front page as to what they’re based on. No real ‘about’ link there either. Move on to Ubuntu. No mention of Debian on the front page. You have to visit the Community >> The Ubuntu Story link in order to find that it is based on Debian. Once again, no ‘about’ link on the front page.

Let’s take a look at the PCLinuxOS Page on Distrowatch shall we? This has been utterly unchanged in 4 years:

“PCLinuxOS is an English only live CD initially based on Mandrake Linux
that runs entirely from a bootable CD. Data on the CD is uncompressed
on the fly, allowing up to 2GB of programs on one CD including a
complete X server, KDE desktop, and many more
applications all ready to use. In addition to the live CD, you can also
install PCLinuxOS to your hard drive with an easy-to-use
livecd-installer. Additional applications can be added or removed from
your hard drive using a friendly apt-get front end via Synaptic.”

If that paragraph is an attempt to hide things, I’m Miles Davis.

Considering these two points, I’d say PCLinuxOS hasn’t been ‘hiding’ the fact that it is Mandriva based. I’d say they’re doing quite well with where they have this information. I welcome any comments with information otherwise. If you have specific examples, please make sure they’re from a developer and not a general user…because if general users are where we’re getting our information from, every distro is in trouble.

How to Become a Cool Blogger and/or Hip Journalist

First…get yourself a blog and get it running. It doesn’t matter if it is from wordpress, google, or the media company you work for…just get a blog up and running.

To get maximum exposure in the past, you had to use keywords. Now is no different. The keyword we’ll focus the most on is one that can get you thousands of hits in a few minutes if submitted to the right news outlet. That keyword is Ubuntu. Add this keyword to EVERY post you make. Name your blog with Ubuntu in the title to make sure that it is vaulted up the rankings. Just remember, you must use the word Ubuntu in everything you post.

For your first post, announce that you’re going to stop using Windows XP and use Ubuntu instead. Do a lousy job of documenting your installation procedure and make sure you don’t talk about anything of worth to someone who might be making the same change…just talk about how cool it is to be running Ubuntu and go over all the pluses. Don’t focus on anything negative…afterall, you don’t want any of the fanbois to come in and flame you now do you? Best to avoid confrontation…you know that someone else will fix that nasty problem you ran across during install right? Why should you report it? You’re just a blogger trying to amass hits and/or a journalist trying to become hip right?

Ok, so now that you’ve announced to the world that you’re switching and you’ve blogged about installing and setting things up…you have to follow it up with a “this is the best thing since sliced bread” post. Make sure you talk about how Ubuntu has completely replaced everything you’ve ever done…talk ferverently about how it does your laundry, makes you breakfast, and changes the linen on your bed.

Make sure that you make claims about how Ubuntu is THE best Linux available despite not trying another distribution of Linux or having anything other than Windows XP to compare it to. Remember, always use the word Ubuntu!! When you go to install and compile a program that can install and compile on ANY DISTRIBUTION, make sure that you title it “Installing SoftwareX on Ubuntu” so that everyone will know that you are cool and hip by using Ubuntu…plus, it’s good to confuse people into thinking that SoftwareX can only be installed on Ubuntu and no other distributions out there.

Finally, always speak as though you are a complete subject matter expert on Ubuntu. Don’t worry! You won’t have to be. Countless people will flock to your aid in comments on your blog. You won’t have to defend yourself at all…even when people bring up actual problems or maybe discuss the shortcomings of Ubuntu there will be many people that will completely thwart these idiotic attempts to actually improve Ubuntu. And how dare people even think they can improve Ubuntu! They don’t work for Canonical and everyone knows that the best distros out there are from companies and people who get paid to develop for said company.

Follow this how-to and you’ll be raking in the readers! Plus you’ll be considered one of the coolest and hippest bloggers/journalists around! You don’t need talent…you don’t need knowledge…you don’t even need experience…you just need to remember the magic word Say it with me now…Ubuntu!

This blog post has been brought to you by the letter U and our word of the year Ubuntu. Remember, Ubuntu is not a four letter word…it has 6 letters in it. Claims of this bloultg about Ubuntu doing laundry may not work for you as results may vary.  If you start to believe that this post is from someone who is ignorant and that it is a serious blog post, hit yourself on the head numerous times with a tack hammer and point into the sky shouting “airpane!! airpane!!”.  Someone will get you the help you need :)

Dell and Ubuntu – The most Logical Decision?

Most people by now have heard that Dell will be preinstalling Ubuntu Feisty Fawn 7.04 on a few laptops and desktops. This is fantastic opportunity for Linux…a landmark opportunity. I know that this was done in response to the large popularity of Ubuntu and it’s solid performance and I’m happy that it was chosen over Suse or Fedora.

However, I question whether this was the logical decision to be made…was it the smartest for the end user? Allow me to ellaborate:

Readers of this blog know that I use Ubuntu at work for servers. I also love Kubuntu (I’m not a gnome fan). So my problem isn’t with (K)Ubuntu itself…it works for me. My problem is that Gnome in general may not work for the consumer. If you’re not convinced, do a comparison on adding a printer in Gnome and KDE. Record the number of steps and note any confusing dialogue that pops up…then compare at the end. Still not convinced? I can’t help you understand where I’m coming from then.

Sure, there are those of us out there that are pretty Linux savvy and we can hum along quite easily with Ubuntu…but what of the person who’s looking to try Linux? What will happen when they power up their new Dell Laptop and can’t find a control panel? What happens when an error message just spits out random characters of data as many gnome error messages do?

If there is one thing in all usability studies or guides that is uniform it’s this…that people will resist change. Now, how much change Gnome is from what they are used to is up for debate and I’m not about to debate it here. My feelings are that Gnome isn’t the right choice for new users…and that’s a personal opinion only…and it’s one I’ve found to be true when converting family members to Linux.

So, I ask the question…is Ubuntu and the Gnome desktop the most logical decision for Dell? In my opinion, it isn’t. What do you think?

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 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.

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Dell Dimension E521 with Linux

I bought a Dimension E521n to replace my server last week. I previously built a system myself with an AMD Duron Processor and an add on IDE Controller so I could load it up with hard drives for a file server. The only downside to this was that the fan I bought for this server I built was loud…REALLY loud. When we moved to a different apartment this past year we lost our spare room (office) and the computer went into my bedroom.  Needless to say, it’s LOUD at night when sleeping.

To replace this loud server I bought the E521-n series so Microsoft didn’t get any of my money. For those of you who don’t know, the N series desktops from Dell come with no operating system. Dell also claims that these computers are ‘ready for Linux’…but there are some problems associated with them. I was able to get ClarkConnect back on my server and pop in the IDE Controller PCI card (E521’s are completely SATA) after solving a couple of problems.

First and foremost, you have to make sure your E521 is running BIOS version 1.1.4 (Released January 2007). If you don’t, you’ll have USB problems all over the place. Second, when booting Linux, add the boot parameter acpi=noirq. If you can’t pass this parameter to your kernel you may need to completely turn off acpi using the ‘noacpi‘ parameter. The only downside to this is that your fan will run continuously and cause a bit more noise than it should.

When installing ClarkConnect 4.0, there is a routine for adding parameters to the kernel before GRUB writes to the MBR. I used this to pass the acpi=noirq parameter and after booting everything worked. Without passing this parameter, I received Kernel panics.

It’s also been reported that some kernels cannot find the broadcom module for the onboard LAN device. With ClarkConnect, this wasn’t a problem. I’ve heard that the Fedora Xen kernel has problems with this.

I’m going to list some links here for your reference that helped me in my quest:

Dell E521 and Linux Wiki Page
Yet Another Linux Blog and the USB Problem
Hardware Support for E521 N Series @ Ubuntu Forums

Hope this information helps someone with their problems! For those of you running Ubuntu, you’ll have to add ‘noapic irqpoll pci=routeirq’ to your boot parameters to get things rocking.

Linspire to Become “LinBuntu”, CNR goes into Fiesty

That’s right…Linspire will now use Ubuntu for its base instead of straight Debian. Linspire also announced a “technology partnership” with Canonical. Also in the announcement is that Ubuntu will be using CNR (Click and Run) technology in Release 7.04 “Fiesty Fawn”…which will link directly to Linspire’s CNR warehouse.

Now users will be able to install both commercial and non-commercial software as well as proprietary multimedia codecs through the Click and Run Repositories with a single click of the mouse.

From a business perspective, It makes perfect sense for Linspire to do this…it’s a winning situation for them…they get to ride the popularity coat tails of Ubuntu and they get a standardized update schedule (which signifies stability in Business). With Ubuntu announcing previously that it would begin shipping with proprietary binaries installed, you can also see how Canonical set themselves up for this as well…when you open the door a crack (for binaries), you may just as well open it up all the way right?

I’m not sure what to think of this.

It also makes me wonder what will happen when something goes wrong in this “partnership” (as the announcement states it is).

Will one company buy out the other? Will one become the bitter and scorned outsider when a separation occurs? Will none of this happen at all? Did I leave the iron on? (sorry, last one is my wandering mind).

Who’s going to be the official support for these installed applications (Canonical or Linspire)? Will there be any official support? Normally, there is official support when you buy software…I wonder what will happen here…

What do you think of this? Drop me a comment below and let me know.

UPDATE: An official FAQ has been released.