9 features I wish Ubuntu had: or why I still prefer PCLinux April 30, 2008Posted by NAyK in Linux.
I’ve been using Ubuntu 8.04 for about four days now and I must admit that that I still prefer PCLinuxOS 2007 as my favourite entry-level Linux distribution. However, I’ve compiled a list of 9 features I wish Ubuntu had, which may help me change my mind. (why 9? I couldn’t think of more at the time of writing, but more ideas will come to me)
1. System Restore (yes, like Windows XP)
My latest tryst with Ubuntu once again disappointed me with the lack of a VIA graphics driver (I use a VIA machine). So I had to install an unsupported (on 8.04) openchrome driver. However, after installing it, my system started doing funny things… like whenever I log onto Ubuntu, I get a resolution of 800/600. Then I have to logout, and log back in, and my system preferences are restored to 1024/768. Whaaaat? Exactly. But you may obviously say, “you deserve this, you fool, for installing an unsupported driver” I admit it. I am a sinner. But I want repentance. I want to go back… and I have no easy way of figuring out how. In Windows there’s a neat System Restore button, which works most of the time, why not in Ubuntu.
Why do I still prefer PCLinux? Well PCLinux doesn’t have system restore, but it does recognise my VIA chipset… no need to install unsupported drivers!!!
2. Integrate (non-free) drivers better
This “free” thing is getting a little tiresome. I know there’s a very noble movement to keep Linux “Free” of all “closed” source applications… but in Ubuntu, all non-free drivers are just a button away. While we may think this is liberating, why can’t we just have a non-free Ubuntu (out of the box) and a free Ubuntu. (of course they should both be “free” as in no-mollah). My point is that this installing drivers when needed starts becoming irritating after a while, especially if it doesn’t work out the first time (as my mpg codecs didn’t quite work).
Why do I still prefer PCLinux? The distribution does not pretend to be “free” and has most of the codecs that you need already integrated. It’s so refreshing, especially for beginning users. I think the philosophy to introduce “free” first and then adopt “non-free” after a warning puts of newbies like me, rather than wins us. But then, these are not my decisions, but my wishes/opinions.
3. Better wallpaper and desktop-beautification processes
I’ve griped about this in my previous review, but GNOME is just not as good as KDE when it comes to changing wallpapers, or even making the desktop look more beautiful. Now I admit that I’m quite sick of the Windows Interface, but I know how to make KDE look like KDE and not just some Windows clone. I really feel web-integrated wallpaper selections, as well as more customizability in panels etc, will certainly help.
Why do I still prefer PCLinux? Because PCLinux has the best out of the box implementation of KDE I have so far seen. It even makes the blue look good. I admit that PCLinux still looks like Windows, but it certainly looks better than Ubuntu (Even though Ubuntu’s new wallpaper is kinda funky!). Don’t get me wrong, my favourite desktop colours are green and brown, so it’s not a colour thing… just the power to adapt.
4. More attractive Boot Splash
Now if you’re like me, you’ve chosen Linux because of its overall experience, rather than just its functionality or philosophy. I love the way openSUSE and PCLinux integrate a bootsplash that makes dual booting pretty! I know you can change the Ubuntu bootsplash, but why can’t it be done by default?
Why do I still prefer PCLinux? Because PCLinux’s colourful/beautiful bootsplash is enabled by default.
5. Smaller desktop icons
Now this is a linux gripe, not just against Ubuntu. Somehow, Windows uses its space better. And doesn’t have these scary desktop icons (especially disk mounts, have you seen them????) They really fill up the screen. Windows in contrast, really uses its icons well… they’re small by default, though can be made bigger.
Why do I still prefer PCLinux? Well, PCLinux is just as guilty as Ubuntu (GNOME) here, because they both use desktop managers that like big icons. KDE is particularly irritating with its huuuuuge mouse over effects that are interesting for .3 seconds after which we want to erase the memory of such space invasion! So maybe I don’t really prefer PCLinux here… and oops… Windows wins… (PLEASE DON’T CRUCIFY ME!)
6. Better Implementation of alternative Desktop Managers (in UBUNTU)
After griping about KDE let me say that my preferred desktop environment has been KDE but whenever I’ve tried Kubuntu (Ubuntu with KDE), I’ve faced huge problems… perhaps there’s a jinx. But I’ve also noticed that the Kubuntu KDE implementation is not as good as PCLinux… but that’s not the point. If I was using Ubuntu, I want to be able to integrate other desktop managers like KDE, but I had a difficult time getting that done in Ubuntu. I think Linux’ strength is customizability… and this should be basic and well-done.
Why do I still prefer PCLinux? Actually, PCLinux’s KDE implementation is so good that I hadn’t thought of using any other desktop manager… so maybe if I tried I would face a similar struggle… so actually, even here I can’t say whether I prefer PCLinux or not in this feature.
7. Better hibernation (or communication why not)
Recently, in Ubuntu, I tried to hibernate. It allowed me to hibernate when suddenly there was a black screen, with a black message, and then it reached the suspend screen. ie. it didn’t hibernated, and I didn’t know why. I tried again, and same thing. I realised that I had to quickly read the black screen message and the third time I did, in the split second it afforded, and got something like… not enough memory… in what I don’t know. But I wondered why there was such a problem in a simple thing like hibernation… and why I wasn’t told about it more intellegently.
Why do I still prefer PCLinux? I have faced absolutely no problem hibernating my PCLinuxOS in both Laptops and desktops. What’s the problem in Ubuntu, I’m not sure, at least I should be told about it more clearly.
8. Better default font rendition
Ubuntu 8.04 has a much improved font rendition (from its predecessor), I must admit. But it’s still not as good as Windows. I know it’s unfair to compare to Windows, but what to do, I’m a post-Windows user… and the people I recommend Linux to are all Windows users, and such things matter.
Why do I still prefer PCLinux? Even PCLinux has a decent/average default font rendition, that improves when you install non-free fonts (which I think should be installed by default). So I guess, even PCLinux is not much better or worse than Ubuntu in this regard.
9. Let’s get an application/desktop dock (yes like the one on the MACs)
OK, I know the even PClinux does not have a application/desktop application dock. But Dreamlinux does. And Dreamlinux’ docking doesn’t look/work so bad. Why not Ubuntu? If I am to ‘leave’ PCLinux, surely better usability and attractiveness would be one reason, and currently Ubuntu does not have that (it’s not better than PCLinux in this regard, just the same… though it uses GNOME).
I’m a Linux fan, not a PCLinux or Ubuntu Fan. Ie. I don’t care if Ubuntu is better or PCLinux or openSUSE as long as the overall spread of Linux is achieved. My problem however with Ubuntu is that most beginners hear about it and use it, and get frustrated with its little nagging flaws and difficulties. I have found that PCLinux has less flaws and difficulties (for new, post-Windows, users). Therefore, I will still be encouraging new Linux users to adopt PCLinux (or at least try to LinuxMint, hope that is easier to use?). But Ubuntu, is good, really good, but for a beginner, it disappoints.