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Using PCLinux2007: A good-bad report August 30, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Confessions, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, OpenOffice, OpenSUSE, Other Distros, PCLinuxOS, Reviews, Ubuntu, Windows, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.
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This is a brief report on my usage-experience with PCLinux2007 (or PCLOS for short). It’s just an op-ed piece, and some of the comments would reflect my ignorance rather than the ability of the operating system. However, considering I am still a linux beginner, a post like this documents the kind of positive experiences and challenges a user can face once he/she is actually using PCLOS.

History: For a while, after my extended tryst with openSUSE 10.2 I started reverting back to Windows XP, because I needed Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Also, since I was in the middle of academic research, I couldn’t shift too much between operating systems, so I settled back to XP. Going back to XP was partly a relief because I didn’t have to struggle to make things work… because I still am not that proficient with Linux… and the major Windows irritants were vanquished by past experience.

But of late I had the opportunity to install PC Linux 2007 on my laptop, my primary work tool. (The story of why I did that is coming soon.) However as I installed PCLOS, I discovered that many of the irritants of Linux were not gone, yet I was enjoying my computing more again.

Still, this is a USAGE REPORT of my recent experience of working with PCLOS and my personal experiences in living with the OS-specific, or Linux specific, quirkiness.

POSITIVES

1. Virus Free! Believe it or not, there is a virus roaming around in our college that affects USB thumb/pen drives. So when you enter the USB drive on your machine it crashes your firefox, orkut and youtube (more information here). Since I go through a reasonable amount of file exchange with USB drive, I found that booting through PCLOS was worth the extra-minute and a half; because it not only allowed for clean file exchange but allowed me to heal the USB drive from the virus! Of course this I could have done through openSUSE as well, but considering openSUSE’s horrific boot-up time, and PCLOS’s good start-up time, this has become my normal modus-operandi even if I am working in Windows.

2. Wi-Fi works. One thing that impressed me about openSUSE, and did NOT impress me about Ubuntu, was the the wireless network just worked. Of course I had to configure it etc. but with Ubuntu it was a nightmare… but openSUSE was just easy. PCLOS, surprisingly, has also, “just worked”. And that’s two-thumbs up!

3. 3D desktop. Yes, yes, I’m cheesy. I’m using the 3D desktop effects. There’s no real point to it. And no one has seen my machine and oohed or aahed, but I like the bouncy feel to it… for now at least. Another pointer to the enjoyable user experience. The only problem I had with the 3D desktop enabled was that it messed up my Pager settings… and wouldn’t allow me to name my own Pagers. So, I’m down to the default Desk-space 1-2-3-4!

4. Synaptic… for those who work with openSUSE know that it’s YAST updates are a pain. Really, while I like openSUSE’s power, it takes just toooo long to install anything new on it. In contrast, PCLOS has done a good job to stick with Synaptic and it’s quite fast in implementing software uploads etc. The only thing I would wish is that like Ubuntu, I wish it would tell me when I had to update my system, rather than me having to “Reload” and “mark upgrades” everytime through synaptic just to make sure.

5. K3B CD burning: Even in my defection to Windows days I used to use Linux for CD/DVD burning. I now use PCLOS and openSUSE depending on my mood, because somehow I trust it more than the Windows variants.

6. Playing DVDs with errors: This is a new one. But a few of my DVDs have gotten errors because of over-use or something, and they crash my windows. But I’m able to manage the player better in PCLOS. Of course I prefer the Windows Player (powerdvd is quite flexible and comfortable to use), but so far using PCLOS my DVDs have not crashed my PCLOS.

NEGATIVES

1. Network quirkiness: There’s something I don’t understand. When I connect to network, and sometimes a link is placed on a folder to the network. When I restart and try to install network, it says timed-out server and its impossible to connect to the network using that link again. I don’t know why, but that is a pain. I usually solve that problem by going to Remote Places and set up the network again, but somehow it has been a pain to keep having to do that.

2. External keyboard/mouse: One of the most irritating things about PCLOS and sometimes openSUSE is their handing of the external keyboard and mouse. I have a USB to serial connector which allows me to connect to both Keyboard and Mouse through one port. In Windows, everytime I return from Hibernation or Suspend, I have to pull the USB cable out and then put it in, to allow me to use the cable. However, when I am unable to use the keyboard/mouse in PCLOS, I try to remove/restore the USB cable and I am only allowed to use the mouse and not the keyboard. That is, unless I restart my machine, then it works fine. Very very irritating.

4. Hiberation/suspend: I was surprised that PCLOS had issues with standby and hiberation and I had to actually install some software or tools to enable me to do it. worse, since it was trial technology, there were no real guarantees. I must say that while I’ve got PCLOS to hibernate and system (I’ve forgotten how I did), I have avoided it. At least, when I shut the monitor of my laptop it suspends, so that’s fine.

5. Printing is still a challenge (for me): There’s something about CUPS I don’t understand. Partly because my newbie attitude has just led me to attempt to print like a bull-in-a-china-shop, rather than actually gather data of how to work it. So I managed to print (and print well) through openSUSE, but PCLOS, I’ve had to struggle a little more. I managed somehow to configure it to print, but after I did, I wasn’t able to add any more printers to it. I know this does not mean that PCLOS is not good, just that I am too “dumb” too know how to use it… but I must admit that I’ve found it difficult to work around the CUPS programme. My current status is that my printer is now disabled… and when I try to install a new printer, the computer just hangs. Anyway… I like the new Ubuntu’s promise of default printing to pdf… perhaps there’s some sense in that. Wish it was as easy for me to do, as in Windows or openSUSE

6. File sharing between PCLOS and Windows: This used to happen with openSUSE as well… and now here… that sometimes (not all the time!) when I work on a file using openoffice and save it… I can’t access it through windows. yes, I have a file-sharing tool that allows me to access linux partitions through windows, but this happens even if I save the file to a FAT drive. I never understood why this happened in openSUSE and it also happens in PCLOS. How I solve it is that when I need to retrieve a linux file, I go back to Linux, save it in multiple locations, hoping that at least in one place I’ll be able to read it, and then it usually works.

7. Keyboard shortcuts… : I’m sure if we were to do a survey of favourite Linux short cuts, ALT F2 would make it to no. 1! But sadly, the ALT F2 does not work on my laptop. I don’t know why (because it works on my desktop), so after a lot of hassles I changed changed the custom shortcut to ATL 2, which is a little irritating since I keep pressing the wrong one now and then, but it is a little quirky. The number 2 keyboard shortcut would probably be CTRL ALT ESC… to shut down programmes. But that also doesn’t work on my laptop. (it does on my desktop). But regardless, CTRL ALT ESC is one of the things I miss most when using Windows. Too often going to CTL ALT DEL and then choosing to close a programme or process is not as effective as the Linux variant!

Anyway… I think I could add to this list, but no time. I have to head back to work. To summarise. I have enjoyed working with PCLOS. I has not replaced my need for Windows, but it once again reminds me that Windows is not that great. I have strangely found using PCLOS better than openSUSE, except on a few issues here and there… so the quest for the perfect distro continues.

Comments»

1. Ken - August 30, 2007

Good article. Your experience has been similar to mine with PCLOS. I’m dual-booting PCLOS with XP Pro on my laptop, a Dell Latitude 131L. However, the amount of time in XP these days is almost down to zero, as I’m finding PCLOS very much to my liking.

I dual-boot Ubuntu with XP Pro on my desktop machine. I found it much easier to use PCLOS on my laptop, since the wireless setup is so much easier. A couple of clicks and I was on the network. My desktop machine attaches to the network with CAT-5 cable, so the wireless setup there wasn’t needed.

The ALT+F2 key strokes work just fine on my machine. However, I find the Fn keys don’t work, such as the Fn+up arrow is supposed to increase screen brightness (Fn+down arrow decreases).

I’ve found some things that don’t work like they do in Windows but, like you, it’s mostly because I haven’t taken the time to learn as opposed to Linux not being able to perform. Overall, my PCLOS experience has been quite good.

2. Siva - August 31, 2007

I use pclos 2007. To get the process list use Ctrl-Esc (no Alt). Alt-F2 works fine on my desktop, but I understand your frustration!

3. bjb_nyj101 - August 31, 2007

You should try MEPIS. It has better hardware detection than PCLOS does,

4. Ya'akov Hadlai - August 31, 2007

HI there !
Give Ubuntu Studio a try, It’s picked up my wireless, my blue tooth keyboard & mouse… No problems with shortcut keys, even hybernation works!
As for printing, try using the HP Tool Box for configuring your printers..

Looking forward to Gutsy Gibbon’s final release this Oct/Nov 2007.

5. NAyK - September 1, 2007

To Ya’akovHadlai: I too am looking forward to the Gutsy Gibbon release. Yet the main reason why I’m trying PCLOS is that I’m investigating it’s worthiness for students who may wish to use it as an alternative to Windows… therefore I need to have it multimedia (read codec) ready. I can’t make them logon to the internet and installl automatix… it needs to work out of the box.

6. manmath sahu - September 7, 2007

Well I never had any issues in file sharing. Install ntfs-3g, if you are using Windows NTFS partitions. Besides,would you elaborate the on your problems so that I might help you.

7. NAyK - September 7, 2007

To ManmathSahu: thank you for your concern. My problem is not an NTFS issue, but for FAT. The detailed problem is that sometimes (and that’s what makes it frustrating), I work on an openoffice file in pclinux (and openSUSE), and save it in my FAT filesharing partition, accesible to both Windows and Linux. When I reboot and enter Windows, I find (sometimes) that the file I saved in the FAT drive is not present. I then use explorer-fs (something like that), a program to help to view Linux partitions from Windows, and even that cannot find that particular file I saved in the Linux partition. The only solution I have found is that I go back to Linux, save the file in multiple locations, in Linux and Windows, I log back on to Windows and usually, it’s found where it is supposed to be. I reiterate, this is not a consistent thing, but something like a bug… but so unpredictable that I can’t even report it.

8. julie - September 10, 2007

please join this orkut community about pclinux and share views and expertise and experiences
http://www.orkut.com/Community.aspx?cmm=37586510

9. K/Ubuntu 7.10 vs PCLinuxOS 2007 showdown « Tryst with Linux and other Alternatives - October 22, 2007

[…] I have previously talked about PCLinuxOS, this article will focus more on my experience with K/Ubuntu in relation to my past PCLinux (basic) […]

10. Mike - December 9, 2007

What wireless card did you use? USB or PCMCIA? What brand/model number?

I cannot get my wireless to work on PCLOS. I am using Airlink 101 3026 USB on a Toshiba Satellite laptop

11. K° blog» » Recopilacion Ubuntu Vs Suse Vs Fedora - May 12, 2008

[…] (leer el comentario en español de willy) ubuntu vs opensuse vs p…7: https://alternativenayk.wordpress.com/2007/08/30/using-pclinux2007-a-good-bad-report/ (casi ni no lei, willy es muy […]

12. NAyK - May 12, 2008

To Mike: My wireless is one of those in-built (not USB) ones found on the Lenovo (IBM) thinkpads. I think it’s an Intel Wireless something.

13. Richard G - June 17, 2008

I gave up on PCLos2007 after my card reader died, with all the led’s on it staying on all the time, my usb to parallel converter stopped working after a few weeks, (even windows XP doesn’t recognise it any more – message that the hardware was not recognised and or has a problem) My brother HL820 laser started doing strange things like printing in a weird machine code like font and powering up then down and bleeping at me.
My PC began to overheat and shutdown randomly (and before you ask – it is cleaned out of dust hair etc weekly). Peripherals which used to work with PCLos2007 began to *not* work and eventually I gave up and returned to that Microsoft hell hole where at least the products i own *will* work in the way they were intended.
The Brother HL820 has been replaced as the other one was knackered and i now use an Edgeport 21 to run it through USB1.1 and my card readercombi floppy drive is still defunct and a new floppy bay card reader dongle is in use now.
My experience with PCLos2007 was overall very good and it was intuitive and possible a contender to rival XP in most ways, but at the final choice, the hardware was the point at which linux and i parted the way. I still dabble with Linux as it still interests me but to trust it as my main operating system… not yet.

14. ------ - July 31, 2008

pclinux2007 SUCKS!!!! it keeps freezing everytime i want to use firefox and open office.org!!!so i cant save anything

15. KaTo - August 4, 2008

Helo , My system running Windows XP had caused me troubles every since I bought my PC.Last time the sys began to slow down during the start.It became worse and worser. I got the message for a registry update, it said:
“The troubles caused by starting up the configuration might be caused by
problems with Nividia Riva TNT model 64, please update the registry”.
I didn’t know what to do. So I backed up all my files on a external HD and formatted the whole system. No result. So I decided to try my PC Linux 2007 CD and…….. it runned without a problem.My decision was made instantly.. I installed PC Linux immediatly and It worked out tremendously. Although I have to learn how to use it, step by step, I know that PcLinux will stay my favourite system from now one.


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