The bull doesn’t seem to be part of PCLinuxOS anymore, as it was in 2010 when I first started using it. The distro changes its look with each new release and nowdays the logo is something akin to a CPU usage graph. Other than that, I can’t tell you a thing about the greatest and latest version of PCLOS.
I became a PCLOS user when someone gave me an old Dell laptop running XP. The first thing I did, of course, was replace Windows with Linux. Up until then, I would’ve installed Mandriva without thinking twice, since I’d been using Mandrake/Mandriva since version 9.0 was released in 2002. However, in 2010 Mandriva was rumoured to be on the verge of floating face down in the water, which helped me make the decision to finally switch distros and try something new.
After doing some research and exchanging a few emails on PLUG, the local Linux users’ group, I decided to try running a live CD of PCLOS to see how it performed on the laptop. As the distro had started as a fork of Mandriva, I was comfortable with this move; I would be in familiar territory.
The live CD worked perfectly, recognizing and installing the proper drivers for all hardware. I liked this distro very much, finding it to be much like Mandriva, especially since it used most of the same graphical configuration tools. It was fast and stable. The user community on the forums was both helpful and polite the few times I logged on to attempt to fix a glitch. No issue ever went unresolved.
A couple of weeks ago I realized that my installation was out-of-date, so I set aside a day to upgrade to the latest and greatest PCLOS has to offer. I planned a clean install, so I downloaded and burned the ISO image to a CD and rebooted the system. A text screen asked me what I wanted to do and I selected “Live CD.”
The boot took forever. Several times I thought the system had stalled, then the progress bar would creep ever so slightly forward. After more than a few minutes I was prompted for the keyboard language, so I used the USB mouse I attach to the laptop whenever I’m at home and selected “English.” After another two or three minutes the desktop started showing up, piece by piece, but still very slowly. I killed time by playing with the mouse a bit, watching the cursor play across the screen.
Unfortunately, when the installation was complete, the mouse and keyboard suddenly quit working. With no way to address the system, I took it down cold with the power button and rebooted. Again, it took forever to load and I lost use of the mouse, trackpad and keyboard the instant the boot was complete. This was only a minor inconvenience. I’d soon get help on the PCLOS forums and would have this problem fixed in short measure.
I searched the forum first, to see if someone else had already reported the same problem and found an answer. When I was unable to come up with a thread about this particular issue, there was nothing else to do except log-in, pose a question and wait for a reply.
When I tried to log-in, however, I was told my username did not exist. That could be, I have memory moments just like everyone else and it’d been a couple of years since I’d used the forum. I opened Thunderbird and found the “welcome to the PCLOS forums” email I’d received two years earlier when I’d first registered. My memory was good; my login had been correct. Evidently the folks at PCLOS had closed my account due to inactivity.
This was still no problem. I registered for a new account, using the same username but with a different password. The system said my username was available and sent me an email welcoming me to the forums, repeating my username and password and explaining that a moderator would have to approve my account before I could login. I was assured I would be getting another email shortly.
That was two weeks ago and I’m still waiting. I’m not holding my breath. If I attempt to login, I’m told my username doesn’t exist. It’s as if my favorite distro has run off with another user.
To tell the truth, I don’t care anymore. After about a week I grew tired of waiting and started looking for another distro. To my surprise, I found one I like much more than PCLOS. About a week ago I installed it on the laptop, wiping-out the old PCLOS install in the process. I’ve had no trouble accessing the forum at the new distro and I’ve found the user community there to be even more helpful and knowledgeable than on the PCLOS site.
I’m still a little upset that I was left out in the cold, without access to the support forums, to fend for myself. It’s just a little matter, a hiccup at their server perhaps, but I expected better.
At this point I would not consider using PCLOS again nor would I recommend it to folks who need a user-friendly “first” distro. In this case, my need of tech support wasn’t great. It was only a problem getting a live CD to work. My computer wasn’t down. I wasn’t facing a loss of any kind. I could simply move on and try another distro or continue to use the system that was already installed on the hard drive.
What if circumstances had been different? What if I had a broken installation and couldn’t access my data? What if I was an absolute newbie who only knew how to start a browser and open an email client who needed help on a brand new PCLOS installation? What if I was a student with an unbootable system who needed to find some way to rescue an important essay?
We penguinistas are always telling people that, with Linux, help is only a click or two away. All that’s necessary is to go to the distro’s forums and inquire of the user community. This won’t work if the forums aren’t accessable.