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

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.

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TOPICS: Linux
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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

Topic: Linux

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

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 Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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17 comments
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  • I heard PCLinuxOS was going to merge with Ubunutu. The new distribution would be called

    ....wait for it...

    P.U. Linux

    heh heh
    Brock Landers
  • I completely agree. In my opinion PCLinuxOS is better. My reasons for that is because I like KDE a lot more than gnome and kubuntu just isn't up to speed at all. Never had a problem with PCLinuxOS. I like how it downloads drivers and everything on the first update instead of having to do it myself :)
    Yarrgh
  • @jw: "So, which one is "better"?"
    I think this can be summarised with "Any OS, so long as it's Linux" ;)
    Jake Rayson
  • I haven't used PCLinuxOS, however it sounds like it's a very nice distribution. I think the community support is very important, too. I've tried some distributions in the way past that originally had a lot of momentum, but then fizzled away. Caldera is one. I've always stuck with the top ones mainly from familiarity and support. However it's good to know there are others out there like PCLinuxOS, that are smaller yet providing great value.
    Chris_Clay
  • The article is very good and makes some really valid points to consider. However,
    when speaking of Linux competing with Microsoft Windows, one Ingredient to be successful
    seems to be overlooked, Quality. I read very little about this in most comparing of OS's.
    I do think this the real difference between OS's.
    PCLinuxOS excell's in quality.
    Mike H
    wildman27283
  • @wildman - I agree with you about quality being important, but it isn't clear to me from your comment whether you are talking about quality in comparison with Windows (which is not a difficult comparison to win at all), or quality in comparison with other Linux distributions. In any case, I agree with you about PCLinuxOS having excellent quality - check my new comment on my original PCLinuxOS post.

    @apexwm - I try to keep up with a variety of distributions, both large and small. I am always particularly pleased to see the smaller distributions doing particularly well. I think it shows how well a few good people working hard out of dedication and pride can do.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

    jw
    j.a.watson@...
  • I used Ubuntu fron 7.04 to 10.04, and up until that point was pretty satisfied with it bar one problem. About 4 months after installation, it would become a little unstable, and problems would appear. PCLOS is the first distribution with KDE that for me is very usable, and a rolling release is awesome. It's only been a couple of months now, but there haven't been any signs of wear and tear yet, and packages are updated fairly quickly.
    limE777
  • Ha Ha now that was funny

    "I heard PCLinuxOS was going to merge with Ubunutu. The new distribution would be called

    ....wait for it...

    P.U. Linux"
    youcantoo_linuxguy
  • The comparison of the forums differing responses in time & attitude is what sold me on PCLOS. Try it yourself. Register at both forums. Post a question on both forums. After verifying that neither forum has the answer. Then decide for yourself.
    zapjb
  • @Brock Landers
    "I heard PCLinuxOS was going to merge with Ubunutu. The new distribution would be called

    ....wait for it...

    P.U. Linux"

    No I hear Microsoft is going to buy Ubuntu and PcLinuxOS and combine them with windows 8 the release will be called

    ....wait for it...

    P.U. Windows 8 myPC
    IceTheNet@...
  • Has anyone here tried Pinguy OS? It's an out-of-the-box working operating system. I would love some feedback.
    pinguy
  • @Pinguy It looks like it is yet another Ubuntu fork with some features already installed for you from the get go. My suggestion would be to fire up a virtual machine with something like VMWare or Virtualbox install it and see if you like it. If so, go for it, if not, blow away the virtual machine.
    rbrickler
  • Different Strokes for different folks. We should be thankful that we have a choice and leave it at that. In comparing distributions one first needs to assess your own needs. That is a step that most people skip and getting a poor match often leads to people having a bad experience when it could have been avoided.

    There is no magic bullet and the sooner we get that, then sooner we can stop wasting our energy with "my distro is better than yours" kinds of arguments. I am happy with my distribution. It works for me. You cannot convince me otherwise with superficial analysis and built in prejudice. I use Kubuntu BTW.

    I do not like rolling releases. It is frequently an excuse for doing nothing and for justifying stale repositories. PCLinuxOs has been faulted by its own community for doing nothing for years at a time. When you download an ISO of a rolling release then you will often have to do it twice, download two year old applications and then upgrade them all. There are some people who do not mind running an old version of OpenOffice. For them a rolling release is a good fit. I like the latest and greatest and prefer to live on the bleeding edge. I can deal with any instability and problems that such distributions may present. Most people can't. That is why we have both types of distributions. It does not make one type right and the other wrong.

    Ubuntu is not for everyone. PCLinuxOS has a place for those who like its type of distribution. It is by its nature a small distribution. Its users would like it otherwise. But that puts enormous strain on the resources of the developer and the community. Texstar's health and strain in the community have been problems in the past. From my experience with it I cannot see it being more than it is right now. That does not mean that it shouldn't be promoted, but to build it up we do not have to do it at the expense of other distributions. These discussions are such a waste of time and energy.

    I have been active in K/Ubuntu for many years and have never seen any attempt by Ubuntu or its advocates to put down another distribution or make gains at the expense of another distribution. It has always been about trying to enlarge the pie. I think users of some distributions need to reflect on that.
    linuxcanuck@...
  • PCLinuxOS is a rolling release distribution. This means you install then receive updates daily from the Synaptic Package Manager. This allows you to have the latest applications delivered to your computer soon after they are released.

    PCLinuxOS also provides quarterly updated ISO's for those doing first time installs. This saves you time from having to download a stale ISO then running a large update to get current. The last release was in July 2010 and fresh ISO's are due the first of October 2010.

    PCLinuxOS is very stable. I've never had an update take down my system. Occasionally a buggy package will make its way into the repository. The developers are quick to address such issues.

    PCLinuxOS is a popular distribution and has been ranked in Distrowatch top ten for many years now.
    Brock Landers
  • I look at things pretty much the opposite of "LinuxCanuck" above. Although I agree that a "rolling release" can be painful to install, if you have to start from a relatively old base distribution and then install hundreds of updates to bring it up to the "current" state, I think that if PCLinuxOS is able to stick to their commitment to make quarterly base releases for initial installations, that will minimize this problem.

    Likewise, if a "rolling release" is allowed to stagnate, perhaps because of the lack of a clear commitment to a "new release" date, that is a problem. But PCLinuxOS has been doing a very good job of "keeping up" with an impressive array of package releases and updates, as I mentioned in the original post. This is where a rolling release can really shine. Look around, how many releases have KDE 4.5 available, not in Alpha/Beta/RC releases, right now? This situation could get even more extreme if the Firefox 4.0 release comes too late to make it into the Ubuntu 10.10 distribution; Ubuntu users could end up having to wait nearly six months to get it in the next release.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

    jw
    j.a.watson@...
  • What is the big deal about updating the rolling release. About once a week I turn on my PCLinuxOS system, go to Synaptic, choose 'Installed' then mark all updates then click on "APPLY". Then I go take a shower and shave. When I come back it is all done and ready to use with the latest and greatest of all the apps I have installed. Is that such a hard thing to suffer through?
    lliinnuuxx
  • One thing,
    comparing windows to Linux, is really like comparing apples to pears (or oranges).
    Windows has DirectX, which no Linux version can come even close to.
    This DirectX allows for most games to be played well on a Windows machine, not on a Linux machine. On top of that, most up to date display drivers are supported for Windows, not Linux.
    Linux usually have to do with older (6mth to one year old) drivers.

    So in that case, Windows Wins!

    As far as pcLinuxOs vs Ubuntu, those games that do work on a linux, often work flawlessly through the update manager (synaptic or apt-get).
    Quite often other Linux distributions will have to download and compile the binaries, and that's definitely not for a beginner.
    In fact, I've tried many times many different programs, but only once got a game installed compiling binaries.
    Most of the time doing so resulted in one or another error, and you're stranded.
    My opinion is, that (unless PCLinuxOs supports the installation of .deb packages) installing games could be a hassle, and Ubuntu would be a clear win.
    I prefer compatibility to newer looks.
    I prefer the speed of Xubuntu though, but I still need to see if PCLinuxOS has the same wide game/program/driver support as Ubuntu. If not then Ubuntu clearly is a winner.
    No use for fancy OSes with no program support!

    KDE is more aimed towards educational programs, Gnome has a wider base or variety of programs available.
    PerroOxide