PCLinuxOS 2007 Beta 2 (Test 1)
The time is drawing near. The highly anticipated release of the all new PCLOS is right around the corner. Tex and the gang are uploading a beta to mirrors for public testing, but this lucky gal has been running an early beta on my new laptop for a coupla weeks now. I know, I can feel it in my bones, that this release will cause quite a stir. PCLOS already has one of the most loyal fan-bases in the game, but this release will bring more users than ever. I even think some larger distros will be feeling a bit of dread as announcements go out. Not only is the all new PCLOS the most beautiful yet, but it is updated to include some of the latest and greatest software available - all on top of an all new modern code base. Development has been long and hard, but the results will soon be known far and wide. Here's a bit of a sneak peek for those interested.
This release is all new, rebuilt from the ground up. Gcc is now version 4.1.1, Xorg is version 7.1.1, and they are using a 2.6.18 kernel. KDE is the newly tagged 3.5.6. Here's the full Package List. This system is faster than ever on my hardware and what's more, it's still incredibly stable. As stated, I've been running an early beta and I've yet to have crash one. Somehow Texstar takes the Mandriva base system, rebuilds it, and adds his applications to result in one of the most stable systems available. This is perhaps one of the key reasons for the ever growing popularity of PCLOS.
Of course, he can't take all the credit this time. The list of PCLOS developers has grown quite a bit since the beginning. A few have come and gone, but currently there are several key developers we'd like to mention. Most of these folks are known in the PCLOS forums and mailing list. The chief kernel developer out of Australia is known as Ocilent1. The mklivecd developer is from Canada and is known as Ikerekes. Some wonderful packagers out of Italy and Sweden are Neverstopdreaming and Thac, respectively. Sal and Etjr are on the quality assurance team. The executive and legal consultant is Tom Kelly from the USA. We owe these gentlemen enormous gratitude as they are doing all of this work without financial compensation. Their contributions are immeasurable and most appreciated.
I think the first thing anyone will notice in using the new PCLOS is the wonderful new look. The beautification team has done a marvelous job. The new theme starts at the grub splash screen and stays with the user throughout their experience. It's a whole new look for PCLOS. Upon boot one is greeted by a customized grub splash that appears to be derived from Mandriva's, that derived from (open)SUSE. From there one can begin to see the work from the beautification team. The booting splash begins the whole startup theme. As you can see it is an original graphic utilizing a Diamond Plate metal background with the new PCLinuxOS logo and tasteful progress bar. Hitting esc brings to the forefront the verbose boot messages output, still on the same background as if overlain at the bottom. Before one reaches the login screen, there are some configuration questions to answer such as timezone and net connection preferences. I believe this is borrowed from Mandriva as well. Then one is brought to the login screen that also features the Diamond metal plate background and PCLOS logo, but also a wonderfull customized login text area container. The usual login cheatnotes reside in the upper left corner and at the bottom are various login choices. One of which is used to invoke a 3D desktop using aixgl or xgl with compiz or beryl interfaces.
Most of the thanks for the look in this release of PCLOS has to go out to the wonderful 'beautification team' home-based at http://mypclinuxos.com. Members include the project lead, Devnet, and KDulcimer as head assistant. Other contributers are Gryphen, SwordSaint, Tame, Ja5on, Weric, Wasco da Gama, brownfam, Fargo, patred, jmiahman, and probably others. Tex told me of their efforts, "I think they did a killer job, especially on the control center. That just freaking rocks to me." Devnet said of his team, "This team really has outdone what I expected of them...I honestly didn't think they'd grow to encompass many themes, wallpapers, Beryl Splashes, window decorations, font, icons, etc. for PCLinuxOS and the next coming version .94. But there are so many talented artists in this project that they have made PCLinuxOS fantastic polished distro." Yes, they have. PCLOS has always been one of the best looking distros available, but now they have set a new standard.
As stated, I've been running a pre-beta on my new laptop for a coupla weeks now and I've just been pleased as pie with it. The hardware detection was impeccible. My graphics were correctly detected and the desired resolution set. The touchpad reacts immediately and accurately. My sound worked out of the box, including the earphone jack. My wired nic chip is supported natively, and my wireless works wonderfully using the windows drivers through ndiswrapper. And best of all, fonts look great. I was almost resigned to having to live with mediocre fonts on the laptop until I installed PCLOS. On the desktop, my scanner and printer were no problem.
One of the staples that got a facelift was the PCLinuxOS Control Center. With customized icons and added functionality, this is the center for all system configuration. One can set boot options and themes, configure or reconfigure hardware, work on their partitions and set mount points, setup or reconfigure net connections, set up a firewall, manage fonts, pick your menu style and so much more.
Another staple is the Synaptic package management system. It is retained this release and comes with pclos 2007 repositories already set up. One of the more noteable inclusions for me was the vast array of icons and window decoration/styles available. As space is of the essence, PCLOS doesn't ship with a lot of choices in this area any longer, but install til your heart's content through synaptic. Of course that's only one area. You will find more software on the mirrors than can be contained in several cds. Synaptic is the convenient way to customize the PCLOS system to meet your needs. (Some software packages are still being updated for the new system at this time.)
Have no fear, PCLOS still ships with lots of great apps to complete your desired tasks. Due to popular demand, Firefox (188.8.131.52) is now the default webbrowser and OpenOffice.org (2.1) is back. Also in the menu are Frostwire, KTorrent, Ekiga, Krusader, K3b, Gkrellm, Logjam, NVU, Lightscribe, showFOTO, Gimp, XSane, MPlayer, Amarok, and so much more. PCLOS is complete as delivered.
Multimedia has always been one of PCLOS strong points. It's nice to have a distro delivered with capabilities to play music and video files and enjoy the internet with all its modern demands. This release is no different. I was able to play any local video file desired and enjoy today's hottest websites such as google video and youtube. Flash 9 included.
And last but not least, PCLOS still retains its newbie-friendly installer. Again the beautification team has performed a graphic update. Otherwise, the installer has kept most of its previous functionality. In as few as seven steps, one can enjoy PCLOS on a more permanent basis. Beyond the basic steps, one can customize their install to fit their needs such as repartitioning their drive or using partitions already present and customizing the bootloader for other installs or even their choice in bootloader, among other things. It's one of the easiest in the business. But, if you need help, there is this wonderful graphically enhanced help file right on the desktop, the root's desktop at this time. As of this beta, one must login as root to find an installer icon on the desktop.
Texstar has uploaded a beta to public mirrors for mass testing today. I thought it was ready to release last beta, but being a perfectionist, Texstar is hoping for some final confirmation from testers that this release is almost soup. It looks like it's going to be a really great release - their best yet.
Known issues still present are:
- Alsa sometimes gives harmless warning at shutdown
- Synaptic doesn't allow one to re-install already installed software
- Missing some wireless firmware for various wirelss cards.
- 3D support is still experimental and doesn't work with all video cards yet.
- Missing a lot of applications in the repository. We will be adding more as time allows.
- Menu editor gets wonky from time to time.