Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Impressions of PCLOS

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I’ve been fortunate to collect a few cheap or free computers from organizations that no longer needed them.  At the end of 2010, I obtained one with a freshly-wiped hard drive, and decided to try a new Linux distribution.  After some quick research, I settled on PCLinuxOS.  I had already tried Red Hat, Knoppix, Linux From Scratch, Ubuntu, Mint, and openSuSE to various degrees, with Ubuntu having squeaked out LFS for the majority of my time.

Installation was simple enough, and I quickly found enough games to fill my hard drive.  After a month or two, though, I was unable to install anything.  First, I hadn’t been keeping up with the rolling distribution that well, and second, the official repositories were in the middle of an ibiblio server move, affecting even the mirrors.  It was another month before all that was resolved.

Meanwhile, a few quirks had been irritating me.  Chief among them was the dev team’s stance on sudo, which, while sensible in some ways, runs contrary to the way I work.  I would rather not have a root shell open if I can help it, so I end up using sudo very frequently.  I would rather not have a second password to remember, whether that of a root user or a dedicated administrative account.  Granted, I tend to know exactly what I’m doing, and usually don’t share the computer with other users.  I was able to get sudo itself to behave the way I expected, but the graphical administration programs still wanted the official root password to accomplish anything.

On top of that, there were no aptitude or colordiff packages.  Having apt-get and apt-cache without aptitude itself simply felt odd, even with Synaptic as a fallback.  I use colordiff mostly as an alias, so that omission wasn’t really disruptive, but felt amiss, particularly with the nice colorizing less filter.

The huge blow, however, came the second time I was unable to upgrade or install anything.  In the late summer, there was something I vaguely wanted, but not enough to research what I was missing.  By the time I did, somewhere around Thanksgiving, it was far too late; the forum thread mentioned by the huge announcement had been deleted, as had the package required for upgrading the package manager.  There was absolutely no way to go forward without a full re-install.

So, now it’s time for a new operating system.  After this hassle, I’ll be sticking to something more mainstream.  Something I can expect to install things on a year from now.  Something that doesn’t expect me to follow a rapid release schedule, given that it’s on a machine I don’t even turn on every two weeks.

It doesn’t have to be Ubuntu, given that I haven’t enjoyed their Natty or Oneiric releases nearly as much as Maverick, but I want something at least as reliable.  It doesn’t have to be Debian, given that their packages tend to feel a bit dated by the next release cycle, and upgrading to a new release is painful.

Maybe I’ll see if the XP license stickered on the box is still valid.


Written by eswald

22 May 2012 at 10:37 pm

Posted in Linux, Technology

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