PCLinuxOS vs. Ubuntu - or - Linux XXX vs. Linux YYY

Summary:This blog post was actually written as a comment to my previous post about PCLinuxOS, in answer to a question posted in the comments there. It quickly exceeded the length limit for comments here, so I have moved it to its own blog posting.

This blog post was actually written as a comment to my previous post about PCLinuxOS, in answer to a question posted in the comments there. It quickly exceeded the length limit for comments here, so I have moved it to its own blog posting. I hope that is considered a fair move, because the subject matter can actually be extended from the original question of PCLinuxOS compared to Ubuntu, to the more general question of comparing two different Linux distributions.

@tentimes: I can see at least two different issues in your "How would you rate PCLinuxOS against Ubuntu" question.

1. First, and perhaps most importantly, not everyone who runs Linux, or is switching to Linux, is looking for a "Windows experience" in terms of familiar applications and useability. If that is what you are looking for, you are likely to be happier with a Gnome desktop rather than KDE, at least "out of the box", so try comparing the PCLinuxOS Gnome distribution. But whatever version you compare, you're likely to find that in terms of applications and useability, Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS are very similar, or can be very similar depending on how you look at them. In fact, if anything, Ubuntu might be drifting a bit away from pure "Windows desktop" looks, with their moving of window decorations, for example. However, if your real "Windows" criteria is having a large organization behind it, then yes, Ubuntu is probably "better". I know a lot of people who would say smaller organizations are more agile and more responsive, though.

2. Of the people who are running or switching to Linux and do NOT want a Windows look-alike, many are looking for a "better" user experience, where better is defined as more modern, more flexible, more customizable, things like that. In this regard I would say that PCLinuxOS is ahead of Ubuntu, in particular because of their "rolling release" distribution. The KDE desktop is a perfect example, PCLinuxOS has it now, and Ubuntu won't have it in their general distribution until their 10.10 release comes out, next month.

Finally, "is it better than Ubuntu for replacing Windows on your PC"? Wow, you could start a lot of religious wars with a question like that! Oh, look, in fact you did - just look at the "distribution xxx is better than distribution yyy" comments that have been made already. In my opinion there are very few cases where I would say one distribution is simply "better" or "worse" than others. Here is what I see as the most important difference between these two - and this is only my opinion, of course. PCLinuxOS comes primarily from a relatively small team of very, very good Linux people. That makes them very responsive, it tends to get things done very quickly, and it means that the key people take a lot of direct personal pride and responsibility in the end product. You can see that from the two posts above, and I think that is a wonderful thing. If you want to see it for yourself, try posting a question or a problem to the PCLinuxOS forum, or drop into their IRC Live Chat Support. The speed and quality of the replies you get will probably amaze you. Ubuntu, on the other hand, has a very large and very well-funded organization behind it, and they have established a lot of name recognition and general credibility. If you have read my blog before, you will have seen that I think one of the few ways that Linux is going to make any significant headway in the general desktop market is to be sold, and promoted, on equal footing with Windows by some of the major OEMs (HP, Dell, IBM, and the likes). I think that in turn will require a large organization behind the Linux distribution, which the OEM will feel comfortable in dealing with, and will have some reasonable amount of confidence that the distribution will still be available, up to date and well supported for the foreseeable future. That would more likely be Ubuntu than PCLinuxOS, or more generally "one of the larger distributions" rather than "one of the smaller".

So, which one is "better"? It depends on how you look at it. I like them both, and I keep them both loaded on all of my systems, along with a number of other distributions. That's one of the beautiful things about Linux, in my opinion. You get to choose, if you want - and one choice is not to choose at all, just take all that you want!

Thanks again for reading and commenting.

jw

Topics: Linux

About

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital... Full Bio

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