Welcome to my blog. This is not meant to be a tutorial, but a welcome and to relay my experiences as a new Linux user. Also I hope to share how I also stumbled onto the most new user friendly Linux distribution out there, and perhaps make it easier for a first timer to make the choice and install PCLinuxOS.
A bit of history:
Long time windows user, 3.1, 95, 98, 98se, XP and that’s where it ended 🙂
We have 5 computers in our household. My desktop, my wife’s work laptop, my Wife’s desktop, 2 Sons in University and College both with desktops. All originally running XP. For a simple household, that is a lot of money to go through upgrades, virus scanners, software purchases and on and on. Not to say making sure everything is secure, spyware, malware and virus clean all the time. Almost a full time job in fact. When my kids hit the higher education I started to look at other computing alternatives, to reduce costs, and also to give me a bit of peace of mind while they were off at school, hauling those desktops out of my protection. I started researching Linux heavily and decided to take the plunge. At the time I ordered Ubuntu 6.06 and managed to work my way through getting it installed on my own PC. A good OS it is, but for a new user a fairly steep learning curve. Once I’d worked through, synaptic, apt-get, aptitude, envy for software installs, then drivers and codecs, I kept wondering if there wasn’t a better way. So I went Linux crazy (distro hopping) and purchased a bunch of cd and dvds. Suse, Mandriva, Debian, Slackware, and quite a few more. Trying them out, one by one. All good distributions but they all seemed to be lacking in some respects. At least for beginners, and windows converts. I understand the philosophies behind proprietary drivers and codecs, and why they aren’t included, but could never understand why it is made so difficult for a new person to install them to get their PC to function. You have to jump through a lot of hoops in many cases. It was through necessity actually after I broke an install, and was going to have to reinstall, that I went through my pile of discs and stuck in the PCLinuxOS 93a Big Daddy disc. All I can say is WOW. I ran the live disc for a time, to check out my system. Internet working, great software, hardware all detected and after browsing the website, checking out the forum for instructions, installed. When you read about this distribution, there is a reason why it is called the distro hopper stopper. It stopped me cold in my tracks.
I would highly recommend PCLinuxOS to new users as the distribution that is most inexperienced user friendly. Easy to install, great hardware detection, the PCC control center, Synaptic Package Manager all go to make this one of the best Linux distros out there, especially for people like me, who at the time had much to learn.
If you are thinking about giving Linux a try, make sure to include PCLOS in your trials.
The present version, at this moment in time, is PCLinuxOS 2007. An updated version is apparently coming soon.
You can download the ISO at pclinuxos.com.
Purchase at On-disk.com.
I highly recommend that you read through the website, check out the wiki and documentation before you do your first install. This is important for any new software venture you take. Also browse over to the forum. The first thing you should do is read the forum rules for posting, registration etc. You will find that the forums there are magnificent. They are populated by some developers, enthusiasts, graphics people etc, as well as people like you and I. Be respectful in your inquiries, and thankful in your solutions. Always search in the forum, and read the results before you post a question. Chances are there may already be a solution provided to someone else with a similar problem. If your first search does not turn up results, change the wording, and try again. The people there are very knowledgeable and friendly and so willing to help. Also read through the issues of the PCLinuxOS Magazine, you can download them or read them online. Some wonderful tips and advice there.
A FEW TIPS FOR FIRST TIMERS
If you are unfamiliar with burning ISO images to disc, purchase the distribution from on-disc. Some of the money from that purchase is returned to the developers. It aids in future development and helps support all the costs involved. Once you are up and running, check out the donate link on the homepage. By making a minimal donation you are supporting and actively becoming a part of a community, and again aiding in future development. In doing so, you also get access to the Pass-Server, which is a software repository that receives updates first, before they are released to the public mirrors for distribution. A bit of a perk 😉
One thing new users have to learn is the use of root and for that matter, what it even means. Root is kind of similar to administrator in windows. It is a password protected account, that is used to make any major system wide changes and settings, including installing software. Normal users cannot do this, unless they are logged in as root. Use this root account only when needed to administer your computer, or when asked for it to do something. Never just log into it and run your computer like that, all the time.
Familiarize yourself with the live cd options, read the forum. Once you have the disc, make sure your PC can boot from disc (bios settings). Stick it in, restart your computer and let it load. Hopefully, you will be presented with the default KDE desktop. The live disc will not harm your computer in any way, it is just giving you a preview of your future operating system. Check it out, make sure your internet is working, sound, you can install video drivers after you install the system. Very easily actually. All computers are different, and you may find that something isn’t working for you. Go back to the wiki and forum, check and ask, make sure your hardware is supported. In most cases, things can be made to function, just as well if not better than windows. It comes down to preparing, a little knowledge goes a long way. Browse the internet and try out things. There are many tutorials on line about the installation procedure, I suggest you read a few of them. Some even give you a visual breakdown about what to expect. I suggest all new users dual boot, keep your windows installation on a separate drive partition. That way it can help to ease your transition to Linux. You can always fall back on it if need be. Check out the PCC control center, look at the options in there for settings. There are more in the KDE control center as well. Also check out synaptic package manager which is really the sweet spot for PCLinux.
Once you feel comfortable and have the live cd up and running, hit the install icon on the desktop and go for it. When installed, if things were working on the live cd, they should be working now on your installed system. Check that your network is up and running, and functional. Assuming you have internet access, load up synaptic. Once it is loaded, click on the reload button. You must reload each time you use it. That assures that you are getting the updated files from the mirrors. Failing to do so can result in errors. There are options under repositories to change your mirror if you wish. You can only have one checked at a time. So if you try a different mirror, make sure you uncheck the last one. Again, hit reload before proceeding. It is recommended that ALL software and updates you do, be done through synaptic. You will find thousands of programs in there, pretty much everything you will ever need or want. The exceptions may be some commercial programs or games, but you still have windows for that ;). Once synaptic finishes reloading, click mark all upgrades, apply, and apply. It is also important to always upgrade all upgrades at the same time. Don’t do one or two programs individually. PCLinux uses a rolling update distro which means it is always updated. They don’t follow a set release schedule like some other distributions. But what that also means, is you are always up to date. They add in security upgrades and individual program updates as they come out, and we don’t have to wait months for new versions in many cases. Any individual programs you wish to install, or remove, must also be done through synaptic. Once synaptic has downloaded and installed the updates, it’s time to customize a bit. First thing, go into PCC control center, under security, set up a firewall. The firewall is not turned on by default, so it is one of the first things you should do. If you are using a proprietary video card, such as nvidia or ati, you should now install your video drivers. Do a little research before hand for your particular card, find out the suggested driver to use. Click on search in synaptic, type in nvidia or ati, select proper driver, mark for installation, apply. Once you’ve logged back in, you now have a fully functional desktop to explore and configure to your hearts content. After getting your hands dirty for a while on it, endless customization options etc, you will come to appreciate the hard work that has gone into this distribution. While bringing it to a level that ordinary users can come to appreciate, it also offers all the power under the hood that power users require.
Once again, if you have any problems with hardware etc, read and ask. The help is there. If you go to purchase any new hardware, research it before hand, make sure it is Linux friendly.
Thats it for now, more to come
Thank you Tex, Ripper Gang, Forum members.