Wednesday, September 7, 2011

King of KDistros

Well, done at last!  After some time gathering opinions from readers and quite some more time testing each one of the contenders, I have finished my comparison of the best of the best in KDE distros.

...Want to know the winner??  Read on!!!

THE CONTENDERS

The final list of contenders was not directly extracted from the poll I put together. I decided to include some other distros at some readers request, as well as leaving one behind. The infamous leftover was Chakra, which I didn't manage to install (used both 2011.4 and 2011.9 images and followed all suggestions in the project's own Wiki with identical results: None) and the additions were Mandriva and Fedora. The final list of contenders goes as follows:

  • OpenSUSE 11.4 (12.1 Milestone 5 was still too un stable)
  • Mandriva 2011
  • Fedora 15 (16 Alpha was still too unstable)
  • PCLinuxOS 2011
  • Kubuntu 11.04
  • Pardus 2011.1

CRITERIA & SCORING

Alright, so we have the contenders, the next thing we need to define is the criteria by which they will be judged. Here's the list I will use:

  • It just works
  • User Friend... or foe?
  • Performance
  • Software Management & Applications
  • Hardware Friendliness
  • Aesthetic Uniqueness
  • Media support

Now, all distros will be judged against each of those categories and be given a score based on how they do. Scores will go as follows:

ScoreDescription
5Excellent
4Good
3Average
2Poor
1Terrible

As a technical note, all distros were tested on the same piece of hardware, an HP 2740p Tablet PC (except for Pardus, which was tested on an HP 2730p). I chose to do it that way because I wanted a fair and consistent testing environment, but also because I know it is a great, high performing computer which sports some hardware devices that are not always easy to configure. As such, it would pose a challenge to the different distros hardware support capabilities, clearly showing where each stands in this area. I am aware that this approach would also narrow down the testing conclusions to a very specific scenario, so please keep in mind that scores and overall results described in this article may not apply everywhere.

Alright, we're good to go now... Let's dive right in!

IT JUST WORKS

Whenever I test a Linux distro (or any piece of software for that matter), the first thing that comes to mind is whether it does what it should do. If it doesn't, or if it does in such a cumbersome way that it is effectively not viable for standard users to actually use, then I simply discard such distro. As a result, it made sense to start this comparison here.

Because this is the first item in the comparison, let me explain a bit how I will approach each of these items. Basically, since there is a big number of distros that I have to compare against quite a few criterias, in the interest of time and space, I will only go into detail when something is remarkably good or terribly wrong. Distros that do a good enough job won't get too much attention, so their actual score will be the best indication on how they did.


PCLinuxOS is rock solid, everything works as expected.

Anyways, if there is one distro in this comparison that I can highlight as an example of smooth use and out-of-the-box functionality, that would be PCLinuxOS. It pretty much required nothing from my side to get things working, providing a satisfying experience right off the bat. At the other end of the spectrum we have OpenSUSE and Pardus. The former was often a nightmare to configure and use, both in hardware and software terms (more on this in my REVIEW) while the latter did not even boot due to problems with the onboard Intel HD graphics card. On different hardware, though, Pardus works OK, but to be fair to the rest of the contenders which did manage to get things rolling on the 2740p, I have to give it the lowest score in this category.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.42
Mandriva 20114
Fedora 153
PCLinuxOS 20115
Kubuntu 11.044
Pardus 2011.11

USER FRIEND... OR FOE?

Even acknowledging the big late improvements in this area, KDE itself is not an example of an extremely intuitive and user friendly environment. Therefore, it is quite critical to find which distros smooth out the path for the end user. Along the same lines, none of what was discussed in the previous category makes any sense if users can't understand it. Therefore, I personally see this category and the previous one as the most important ones, and consider they go hand by hand.

So, how did I measure ease of use? It certainly is subjective to a certain extent, but I was specifically looking for wizards, popup messages and any kind of information that helps the user get things done. If the OS required the user input to configure something (like software repositories), was there any message providing the required information or was the user left on his/her own to find out? Similarly, I was considering each distro community size, documentation availability and average forum/IRC channels response times.


Pardus provides an extremely clean and user friendly installation wizard.

Looking at it from that angle, Pardus is slightly ahead of the bunch. The installation process is probably the most informative and best documented. Once on the desktop, users get introduced to their desktops by Kaptan, a wonderful wizard that allows for some basic tweaks that can prove time and frustration saving. It is a bit of shame that Kaptan only shows up on the first boot and is not easy to find thereafter, though. On a different note, software management in Pardus is by far the most user friendly of all distros compared here, as we will see in that specific category later. Mandriva gets second place, even if its installation is not as user friendly as Kubuntu's, but it does a much better job at informing the user on screen. The Mandriva Control Center is also a great tool that makes system management easier to deal with, specially for users coming from Windows. PCLinuxOS benefits from its Mandriva inheritance here, even if on-screen messages are nowhere as informative, as well as the fact that most configuration work is taken care of from square one. Kubuntu goes next, not because it is particularly intuitive, but mostly because of its top quality installation wizard and the huge community of people behind it, which results in a plethora of resources available on the web. OpenSUSE's Yast and great community support leave Fedora on last position in this category.

Note that no distro got Excellent scoring and there were no terrible scores either. That's because all distros are a bit weak on this area and in all cases there is big room for improvement. In addition, each distro has strong and weak spots, so at the end of the day I am concentrating on which ones provide a smoother experience for the Linux novice.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.42
Mandriva 20114
Fedora 152
PCLinuxOS 20113
Kubuntu 11.043
Pardus 2011.14

PERFORMANCE

For this similarly important category, I will base my scoring on my experience over (approximately) a week of continued use of each distro. In other words, I didn't use any fancy benchmarking software or anything like that, just my experience over quite a big number of hours and working on very similar tasks.


PCLinuxOS felt faster and most responsive than its competition.

Yes, KDE 4.6.x already did bring significant performance and responsiveness improvements, so I must say all distros provided more than reasonable performance. Having said so, PCLinuxOS proved to be the most optimised and best tuned of the group, performing great both on my 2740p (whose solid state drive could have had a lot to do with it) but also on less powerful computers. OpenSUSE and Mandriva would follow with similar response times and overall performance feel to them. Pardus did OK, as did Kubuntu, but the latter did provide a bit of an inconsistent experience (menus freeze at times for no apparent reason). Fedora got to the checkered flag last once again, but not by a significant distance.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.44
Mandriva 20114
Fedora 153
PCLinuxOS 20115
Kubuntu 11.043
Pardus 2011.13

SOFTWARE MANAGEMENT & APPLICATIONS

This category involves a number of concepts, ranging from the application provided to manage application installation to the number of applications available, as well as the ability of the distro to keep its applications up to date at a decent rate.

In my opinion, Pardus and PCLinuxOS cross the finish line together, each leading for different reasons. Pardus stands out due to the quality of its software manager application, which is the best there currently is in KDE land, if you ask me. It does OK in terms of keeping up with external application releases, but its relatively low popularity usually means third party software will not be installable until it's packaged on the distro repositories, or until the user compiles from code (if the option is available).


PCLinuxOS provides lots of applications that almost always are completely up to date.

PCLinuxOS' strength, on the other hand, comes from the awesome job its developers do at packaging software and keeping it current. The sheer amount of apps available from its repositories is overwhelming, as is the fact that updates come as quickly as system stability allows. Because of that, it hardly suffers from third party software developers not packaging for it specifically. Having said so, while Synaptic is a good software manager, it is quickly getting obsolete, plus it looks out of place inside KDE.

Fedora, Kubuntu and OpenSUSE provided similar experience, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. For instance, one could offer a better software manager while suffering from lower third party software availability or a slower rate at maintaining software current. Mandriva suffers from all three problems, not offering that many applications on its repositories, not managing to keep them that much in synch (Firefox and Thunderbird are still on version 5 as I type these lines), and not getting that much attention from third party software makers when they package for Linux.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.44
Mandriva 20113
Fedora 154
PCLinuxOS 20115
Kubuntu 11.044
Pardus 2011.15

HARDWARE FRIENDLINESS

Some of you may consider this category the most important of all, and I would have to agree to a certain extent. After all, nothing really matters if the computer won't boot because no drivers are available to support the hardware in use. The only reason I didn't position it first is because all distros in this comparison (except for Pardus, perhaps) did a fairly good job in terms of hardware support. As a result, I expect most users to be able to get a reasonably good experience with any of them.

Note that I am not taking into account (just like I think most users won't) legal constraints here. I understand and many times share the open source view, but at the end of the day, users want an OS that allows them to get the most out of their computer. Because of that, I will score higher the distro that best manages hardware, regardless of whether it does so using open source or proprietary drivers. The way I see it, even if a certain distro does not include proprietary drivers out of the box, it should still provide an easy way for the user to install them if in need to do so (it's all about choice, right?).


PCLinuxOS managed to detect and correctly configure all devices in my HP 2740p.

PCLinuxOS leads this one by a significant distance, providing a satisfying experience for the end user and being able to recognize and correctly configure about any piece of hardware under the sun. Kubuntu comes second, if not for a particularly thorough catalog of drivers (proprietary ones are almost always left out), but because it does a great job at identifying what is missing and providing an easy way for the end user to overcome the problem. Mandriva follows closely, even if it failed to configure the onboard Broadcom wireless card (again, seems the final version didn't fix this problem). It did a great job with the rest of the hardware on board, though, plus it supports 3G mobile modems, something that still makes a difference (at least until NetworkManager0.9 shows up alongside KDE 4.7). Fedora was about the same as Mandriva, minus the 3G support. OpenSUSE was a bit of a nightmare and only after hours of tweaking provided partial support (the onboard mic never worked, quite a limitation when using applications like Skype). Pardus was by far the worst of the bunch, not even allowing me to boot on the 2740p. I had to test it on my 2730p, but even if that computer is usually Linux friendly, the wireless card wouldn't work.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.42
Mandriva 20114
Fedora 153
PCLinuxOS 20115
Kubuntu 11.044
Pardus 2011.11

AESTHETIC UNIQUENESS

Alright, these are all obviously sharing the same KDE desktop, so how to decide which one looks best, specially when that is such a subjective thing? Well, I thought about it and decided to leave my own taste aside and talk about which distro has made a stronger effort to develop a unique character, a branding of sorts, if you will.

High scores in this category simply show which distros look more "customized", as opposed to others which may sport more of a pure KDE desktop Look&Feel. Therefore, scores here don't necessarily mean better or worse.


Mandriva's unique Look&Feel.

With the above in mind, Mandriva hits the top podium stand with its recent 2011 release. An almost entirely original icon theme, the rosa dash launcher, a completely revamped (and awesome looking) KDM theme, window decorations and controls, all make Mandriva stand out and look... only "KDEish". Pardus also adds many original touches, bit of a shame that the strong branding displayed during the installation is not properly translated to the desktop. On a similar level, OpenSUSE looks quite original, incorporating eyecandy of its own here and there. PCLinuxOS does include many of its own elements as well, from a custom GRUB screen to a PCLinuxOS splash screen, a couple KDM themes, custom plasma theme, etc. Unfortunately, and this is where subjective kicks in, I find them ugly myself. Fedora brings a very distinctive and beautiful KDM theme and wallpaper on an otherwise "stock" KDE setup, while Ubuntu sports an almost totally pure KDE desktop.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.43
Mandriva 20115
Fedora 153
PCLinuxOS 20113
Kubuntu 11.041
Pardus 2011.14

MEDIA SUPPORT

We all know computers have become full blown media centers, capable of playing music, movies, manage and display photo collections, organise and read eBooks... you name it. Most of that functionality is offered by KDE itself, so instead of focusing on things all distros cover, I will concentrate on their readiness to play different media formats, as well as their choices in terms of media players, etc.


PCLinuxOS can play about anything you can think of.

If one is looking for a KDE distro capable of playing about any media format in existence, that must be PCLinuxOS. It's choice of applications is also great, including VLC, digiKam, Gwenview, Clementine and more. It also includes all kinds of plugins for browsers, such as Flash, Quicktime, Java, etc. Pardus comes loaded as well, and then the rest are pretty much on the same level, requiring the infamous "Things to do after installing XX" to get all media formats and plugins in place.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.42
Mandriva 20112
Fedora 152
PCLinuxOS 20115
Kubuntu 11.042
Pardus 2011.14

OVERALL SCORES AND CONCLUSION

Ok, you still with me? If you are, thanks and congrats, this is a looooong article!

Summing up, PCLinuxOS shines in many categories and deserves the King of KDistros crown. I have already covered many of its strengths, but let me add its rolling release nature as yet another benefit. Users can install and pretty much forget about obsolescence of applications, downloading ISO images, testing, configuring their desktop after installation, etc.

PositionKDE DistroScore
1stPCLinuxOS 201131
2ndMandriva 201126
3rdPardus 2011.122
4thKubuntu 11.0421
5thFedora 1520
6thOpenSUSE 11.419

Mandriva's bold move with their latest release deserves recognition as well. I think they have got it all right this time, and if luck is with them, they can become the next Ubuntu now that Unity is in the way and KDE is looking so strong. Pardus, Kubuntu and Fedora follow and are closedly matched, while OpenSUSE's poor behavior in a number of categories relegate it to last position.

I guess it's easy to figure it out, but I will be explicit about it: These are six of the top KDE distros out there, so they are all good quality products. Minor details can go a long way when comparing back to back, though, and that's where the results in this comparison come from. The most important thing is that KDE users can confidently smile looking forward, because their favorite desktop management is a truly impressive piece of work, providing a great user experience under many different distro combinations... and looks like it's only going to get better!

60 comments:

  1. Very interesting. I had been looking for such a review for my next distribution.

    My current distro is PCLinuxOS and I love it. Unfortunately, probably because I always install ALL the updates in Synaptic, I encountered some annoying problems like having problems with the X.org server (the computer froze on me a couple of time. The only way to solve this was with an Ubuntu live DVD) and the boot and shutdown time increasing considerably.

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  2. Great review! You should try Simply Mepis. My current system is also PCLinuxOS.

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  3. Thanks!

    I have tried Simply Mepis, but I didn't include it because it doesn't seem to be as current with updates as the rest in this comparison. What I tested was still on KDE 4.5.x?

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  4. Thats true, Simply Mepis is not so bleeding edge. They go all in for stability. One of the most stable KDE distros out there.

    When it comes to PCLinuxOS they have weakness you do not mention at all. No automatic update (Update Manager) and the installation process is not user friendly like Kubuntu/Pardus. For a newbie that wants try a rolling release should have possible to have automatic updates.

    It is also much easier in Kubuntu/Pardus/Opensuse/Mandriva to pick language setup in PCLinuxOS they have addlocale. Not the best solution for newbies.

    I think you are to hard against Kubuntu. Kubuntus new packages manager bits PCLinuxOS. More user friendly. Also multimedia is really easy to get in Kubuntu. You only need to open amarok or browsing you will be asked if you want all codecs/multimedia support. Also based on Ubuntu you can get more packages out of the box then PCLinuxOS can. Add also PPA to Kubuntu, PCLinuxOS can not honestly compete with Kubuntu.

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  5. In my experience, Kubuntu can't even compete with PCLinuxOS in terms of performance and stability. The simple fact of PCLinuxOS being able to render Ubuntu fonts better than Kubuntu itself speaks volumes to me.

    The automatic updates thingy is very much a matter of taste. I personally rather keep it that way because it puts me in control, but I admit novices can probably benefit from a different approach. In any case, I did mention that my ratings would reflect my opinion better than the text I could fit in such a long article. Yes, I considered what you point out before giving PCLinuxOS my rating and I still consider it excellent in terms of software management.

    On a different note, you consider Synaptic or AddLocale not user friendly but consider one of those "things to do after installing kubuntu" lists user friendly? That's odd... Those lists usually limit their contents to a bunch of terminal commands most novices won't understand.

    AddLocale is literally just a couple clicks, not complicated at all?

    Installing media in Kubuntu is not straight forward at all. When playing media, yes, codecs may be claimed by the system, but more often than not it fails to locate/download them. In fact, Kubuntu may not benefit from its older brother popularity in that regard. The flash player plugin installation is a good example:

    If you go to YouTube, it will complain that Flash plugin is not available and recommend its installation. The system download does not work, so off you go to Adobe's page, but what they offer for Ubuntu is a PPA link that only works with Ubuntu's software center, NOT with KpackageKit. How's that for user friendly?

    Last but not least, you mention PPAs, which are usually great, but adding them is a potentially dangerous process for novices, not to mention the fact that 95% of the time, they are added through the CLI. That's definitely not user friendly, maybe not even safe, for they could end up adding unofficial repositories with unstable software, or worse yet, malicious software.

    I don't think I am against Kubuntu, but let's face it, it's never been considered a truly good KDE distro and there must be a reason for that.

    Having said so, to each his own. If you like Kubuntu, please go ahead and use it... As long as it is Linux I can only applaud you!!!

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  6. Nice review.

    I have tested PCLinuxOS and it is fast and very nice distro, but it doesn't support x86_64 yet.

    I'm a happy user of Arch Linux with KDE 4.7.1 (updated every month), but Arch is not as easy of use as other distros.

    There is also PC-BSD that could be an option for some.

    Cheers.

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  7. PCLinuxOS 64 bit.

    http://distro.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/distributions/pclinuxos/pclinuxos/live-cd/pclinuxos64-test03.iso

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  8. PCLinuxOS - Automatic Updater

    Enable (apt) updater in System Services in the Configure Your Computer -> System -> Manage system services.

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  9. I'm not much of KDE fan but I agreed with ontobelli. This is the best three KDE distro with the least bug.

    Arch Linux bleeding edge+rolling release distro. Too many ncurses and you must have an internet connection to get your desktop up and running. Not suitable for newbies.

    PC-BSD has PBI installer and nice user interface for newbie, but you can't expect PC-BSD to recognize all x86/am64 base hardware. Plus BSD is not popular in desktop universe it was server base operating system.

    PCLinuxOS has no x86_64 yet but it will be out shortly. Fast, ease of use has all multimedia codec. As fork of Mandriva you'll get max resolution with SIS VGA (no 3d). But then again I choose Gnome flavors over KDE if you were talkin' bout PCLinuxOS.

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  10. Is refreshing to read a review from someone that really installed and used a distro, is becoming less common each year. I've been a PCLinuxOS user for several years, I hated the transition from KDE 3.x to KDE4 but Texstar waited until he considered KDE 4 was ready enough to finally make the switch and that gave us a very stable/friendly KDE.

    You can read about PCLOS 32 bit versions beating 64 bit distros or run in par with them, that's good work from the devs; unfortunately, life goes on and sooner or later 32 bit software will be legacy so PCLinuxOS 64 bit is in the works and I think it will be great since the devs are really good.

    Thank you for a good read

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  11. One thing you forgot to mention is that PCLinuxOS doesn't come in 64bit. Big show stopper for us that have over 4GB RAM. PCLinuxOS 64 has been in the works for over a year now,and still a no show. what is taking so long!?. How long is shortly!. A month, a year, two years!. Same was said for Gimp 2.8. Shortly.

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  13. My List:)

    1st Mandriva 2009 64bit
    2nd Pardus 2011.1 64bit
    3rd Kubuntu 11.04 64bit
    4th Fedora 15 64bit
    5th OpenSUSE 11.4 64bit
    6th PCLinusOS 2011 32bit ONLY
    7th Mandriva 2011 64bit (only released last week)
    8th Linux mint KDE 64bit (usually behind everyone else in terms of release)

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  14. @Robert, if your only problem is "Big show stopper for us that have over 4GB RAM." wait no more, install any of the pae kernels in repos, supports up to 64GB.

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  15. Yeah, I was gonna say, the 4GB limit should not be a show stopper. First, because installing a PAE kernel is a piece of cake, and second, because standard users have to try hard if they want to hit the 1GB mark, not to mention 4GB!

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  16. Very satisfied with PCLinuxOS! I do wait for 64-bit, but in the meantime PAE lets me take use of my 8GB of RAM. If you are worried about the development of 64-bit, they already have beta builds out and you can follow Texstars work on Identi or Twitter.

    Great to see you installed the distro and used them for a time!

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  17. PCLinuxOS 64 bit runs just as great as the 32 bit version. The only thing lacking is the number of packages available for 64 bit. Most of the major applications are available. Packages are being added daily. I believe 7400 was the last count.

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  18. Hey Chema!

    Thanks for your long post on my reply about Kubuntu vs PCLinuxOS.

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  19. i disagree about performance -and the score of pclinuxos!..as mentioned above th system freezes in shutdown many times,..i had a crash with my system and many other users who update that day when synaptic during an update wants to remove gnome-panell-but i know it s a rolling release so i expect that prbems from time to time...in other hand i totaly sugest pclinuxos for someone who had problems with other distro in wireless network,drivers e.t.c ....overall it a good distro i am still using it!

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  20. Nothing can beat Debian+KDE4 (look for -kde-CD-1.iso image name ending).

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  21. Still waiting for the 64 bit, and yes I downloaded the test03.iso, I need official release. Come on guys we all know PcLinuxOs is great, just complete the circle :P

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  22. A 32bit only distro cannot win anything.

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  23. Good review but aesthetic uniqueness is arguable. Stock KDE looks gorgeous imho.

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  24. Thank you for the in-depth reviews. So welcome in a world of install it-look around-write a review-all in an hour. It was your review of PCLINUXOS about a year ago that inspired me to give it a try and I'm still using it. Please keep up the good work. You do a good service for the community. I agree that it is not the prettiest but having something that works - priceless.

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  25. 64bit only is a big issue for me, because I usually have Windows running in a VirtualBox for my work. I have 8gb of ram, for that reason, and I like the fact that a vm running all the time doesn't impact things too much. I worry that going to a 32bit OS would be a problem.

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  26. Hey!

    I wonder if you tried to install Chakra only on the tablet or on any other normal laptop/desktop computer?
    We have never tested Chakra on tablets, so I'm not sure if it works on it.

    Anyway, if you have problems to set it up, always step by #chakra-devel on freenode. So far we had many positive responses about installations and hardware compatibility and we'd like to fix any remaining issues.

    Did you use a CD or USB disk to install? If it's the latter, unetbootin or dd?

    Lukas

    PS: Please also post the date you downloaded the ISO, because it might be that at least one of the ISOs was broken.

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  27. First of all, it was refreshing to read an actual review instead of the usual 5 minute recap of features that most people already know exist! I have used PCLinuxOS on my laptop and on other family member's machines, but the fastest KDE experience that I've seen has been with Chakra! I will echo the comment above about having a bad ISO, my Chakra installation was effortless and Pacman is the best and fastest package manager around! Definitely worth trying again if you have time!

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  28. By the way, I also use PCLinuxOS thanks to Chema's inspiring review in the past. Chema, I hope you keep doing this excellent job for a long, long time.

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  29. Yep, PCLinuxOS is a best of the best. It has wonderful powersave mode for laptop! It's very useful feature of the PSLOS.

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  30. @Lujas: Thanks for stopping by and reading my review.

    In all honesty, I tried three times, twice with .4 and once with .9. My tablet has no CD bay, so I am forced to use LiveUSB, which I put together using the instructions in your site. Having said so, I did try LiveCD in the past and had the same issues.

    I will try to download another ISO today and report back.

    Cheers

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  31. @Lupi and all who appreciate this review: THANKS!

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  32. @Lujas: Alright, finished my tests, same result.

    I downloaded a 2011.9 ISO today (64bit) and created a LiveUSB using dd as shown in your Wiki. The LiveUSB doesn't get past BIOS on my HP 2740p tablet. Having said so, I do get the start menu on my HP NX7400 (an old laptop that is as Linux friendly as it gets). Same luck, regardless of whether I try the start with free or non-free drivers.

    Take care

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  33. @Chema: Does it say why it fails? Does it boot fine until X?

    Lukas

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  34. @Lukas: No, no error messages whatsoever. On the 2740p, the BIOS screen stays there forever while the LiveUSB is apparently doing something, but many minutes later, nothing changes.

    On the NX7400, everything seems to work OK on the language selection screen, but once I select an option on the screen after that (the one which allows users to select whether they want to start with free drivers or non-free drivers), the screen seems to freeze and nothing happens after that.

    Hope that helps

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  35. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  36. Hi Chema, I posted 2 comments which after page refresh disappeared.
    I am totally new to Linux and want linux for following things
    - Speed
    - Safety
    - Playing HD movies (mkv)
    - browsing and online flash games
    I need the OS to have
    - easy installation
    - easy removal
    Please suggest me one
    Thanks,
    Sachin.

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  37. Hi Sachin,

    Apologies, not sure why, but your comments were considered spam by blogger and kept aside until I reviewed them (unfortunately I didn't know that was the case!).

    I brought back one of those comments and will remove the rest (they are almost identical in content).

    Now, to give you a quick answer there, I would go with either ZorinOS 5 or PCLinuxOS, it depends on the kind of desktop manager you like the most. I suggest you find screenshots of both over the net and decide upon that. In my opinion, they are both great and very user friendly.

    Good luck!

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  38. Hey again Chema!

    “In my experience, Kubuntu can't even compete with PCLinuxOS in terms of performance and stability. The simple fact of PCLinuxOS being able to render Ubuntu fonts better than Kubuntu itself speaks volumes to me.”

    That is not complete true. PCLinuxOS is more responsive/performance because some elements are disabled in PCLinuxOS and not Kubuntu. Disable visual effects, unchecked Strigi and Nepomuk you will see more responsive Kubuntu. Also Kubuntu have more thing in background running.

    Stability is more about hardware related then anything else. I have had no single problem in Kubuntu or Ubuntu. Same thing can almost been said about PCLinuxOS.

    “The automatic updates thingy is very much a matter of taste. I personally rather keep it that way because it puts me in control, but I admit novices can probably benefit from a different approach. In any case, I did mention that my ratings would reflect my opinion better than the text I could fit in such a long article. Yes, I considered what you point out before giving PCLinuxOS my rating and I still consider it excellent in terms of software management.”

    The problem is not only lack of automatic update manager, it lacks update manager that are user friendly. I love Synaptic, because I am long time Ubuntu/Debian user. That said Synaptic is not near user friendly like Kubuntu software centre. It is easier to search in Kubuntu software centre then Synaptic in PCLinuxOS. Remenber PCLinuxOS does not ship with the latest Synaptic. I think in near future they will go for yum/yumex.

    To get automatic update is not easy. Enable (apt) updater in System Services in the Configure Your Computer -> System -> Manage system services. Yeah thats user friendly.

    ”On a different note, you consider Synaptic or AddLocale not user friendly but consider one of those "things to do after installing kubuntu" lists user friendly? That's odd... Those lists usually limit their contents to a bunch of terminal commands most novices won't understand.

    AddLocale is literally just a couple clicks, not complicated at all?”

    If you are member on PCLinuxOS forum you will see that many user have had problem with addlocale and when that happens people can not easily use there native language. Is that user friendly? Like I wrote Synaptic is good, but not user friendly.

    You know PCLinuxOS comes with a lot things preinstalled that I user do not need. When I have installed PCLinuxOS I have seen to graphic icon (NVIDIA/ATI) when the person only has one of them. That is not user friendly that is confusing. If you try to remove drivers that you do not need or use then X-server will mess up. I prefer Kubuntu/Ubuntus jockey more then bunch of driver I really do not need.

    I have had no single problem with codecs/multimedia support after opening let say Amarok in Kubuntu. But if a person have problem, they only need to install restricted packages. Remember PCLinuxOS do not come with win32-codesc, unrar and libdvdcss2 pre-installed.

    Many user do not need PPA, but if they want it is easy to do the GUI way. Software source is a GUI that handles that. You do not need to wait on packages to arrive like in PCLinuxOS or make request that takes a lot more time then handle PPA. You have more packages in Kubuntu then you can find in PCLinuxOS with PPA, PCLinuxOS can not even compete.

    Also Kubuntu/Ubuntu in general have much better hardware support then PCLinuxOS. If you have hybrid cards or something similar you can not run PCLinuxOS. Only solution is to disable one of the cards in BIOS. If that is possible.

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  39. Part-2:
    “Installing media in Kubuntu is not straight forward at all. When playing media, yes, codecs may be claimed by the system, but more often than not it fails to locate/download them. In fact, Kubuntu may not benefit from its older brother popularity in that regard. The flash player plugin installation is a good example:

    If you go to YouTube, it will complain that Flash plugin is not available and recommend its installation. The system download does not work, so off you go to Adobe's page, but what they offer for Ubuntu is a PPA link that only works with Ubuntu's software center, NOT with KpackageKit. How's that for user friendly?”

    Yes it is straight forward to install media in Kubuntu. If there is any problem it is easy to install all missing media from Kubuntu software centre. You can add PPA with software sources the GUI. Not all PPA works with Kubuntu if they are Ubuntu (Gnome/Unity) specific, but all the PPA I have tried works. If not, it is easy to download .deb file. In PCLinuxOS installing things outside the repo is nightmare and if you do so you will not get support. They force there user to be member at there forum and let me say it is one of the worst linux forums out there.

    “Last but not least, you mention PPAs, which are usually great, but adding them is a potentially dangerous process for novices, not to mention the fact that 95% of the time, they are added through the CLI. That's definitely not user friendly, maybe not even safe, for they could end up adding unofficial repositories with unstable software, or worse yet, malicious software.”

    Thats true, but I person should only use trusted PPA. Many of the application developer have there own PPA they put stuff. If they only use trusted PPA, they will not see any problem.

    “I don't think I am against Kubuntu, but let's face it, it's never been considered a truly good KDE distro and there must be a reason for that.

    Having said so, to each his own. If you like Kubuntu, please go ahead and use it... As long as it is Linux I can only applaud you!!!”

    That is your own thoughts and that can not be applied on everybody. Some likes other KDE distros more then PCLinuxOS. Your last words was exactly. The most important for me also a person uses Linux, which distro is not the most important. I only wrote does comments because I felt you were not totally honest.

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  40. I'm not sure why there was a lack of detail every time Fedora was mentioned. I only hope you were using the KDE spin to atleast be fair, but that part wasn't fleshed out either. I don't quite know what your test involved other than "make things work without user interaction" but that leads a strong rally to dumb down Linux as a whole. I see tests like yours offer no other results than "derp it works derp" without giving a real clear description as to why. I hope people don't take this blog to heart, since many of the best distributions made a name for themselves by being modular more than anything. You can take any Debian/Ubuntu/RHEL/Fedora/ScientificLinux disc and put it on a netbook or a high end rendering workstation and it will work. You can make your netbook host a game server or run Tux Racer on your workstation.
    Making up a best of simply by lack of effort on the end user is a great way to distract users from great distributions. It's really the derp awards like this that keep the "Linux isn't ready for the desktop" chant going. Someone like you will argue "Windows just works" but with a very small bit of reading are able to be far stronger users that will get more done on any Linux distro. Good luck on your future quests but I hope you take caution on your next "best of"

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  41. Anonymous Kubuntu vs. PCLinuxOS: Like I said, please stick to Kubuntu if that's what you like. I won't answer to your points because it will not take us anywhere. I can only say I stick to my opinion.

    Anonymous Fedora fan: I think you are making lots of wrong assumptions here. I respect your opinion, but please take the time to read other articles and understand the perspective I take when approaching articles like this before you start telling me to be cautious.

    As to whether I don't go into that much detail about Fedora (or any other distro which does OK), I recommend reading the article again, I clearly state it.

    Oh, and Linux is not any smarter for making complex, un-informative and un-intuitive GUIs, that's just wrong. Linux can clearly do better and we shouldn't be self complacent and settle with less.

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  42. Hey Chema!

    I hope you do not have any hard feeling? I like all your reviews even if I do not agree with all. Keep up your work.

    (Kubuntu vs PCLinuxOS) :)

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  43. No hard feelings at all, buddy, I simply think you have a very good understanding of what you want and Kubuntu seems to cover that perfectly, so it won´t be me trying to convince you to follow a different path!

    I like Kubuntu myself, and like I said at the end of this article, I consider it a wonderful distro along with the others.

    Take care

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  44. I switched from SuSe to PCLinux 4 years ago.
    FullMonty (new edition is out in September and I am downloading it) is a Gorilla of a distribution and its FM layout is the best (one can switch back to KDE4 if one wants) I have used.
    Try it and see.

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  45. Hi Chema
    Great review.

    I've installed Mandriva, used it for a week, then installed PCLinuxOS, then Full Monty, now I need to make a decision!!!!!

    Love all three, perhaps Full Monty is a bit cumbersome, I'll just have to toss a coin, or dual boot!!

    By the way....how did you set your PCLOS desktop up in the screen shot above? Looks great.

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  46. Thanks, SalineBoy!

    Not much of a secret, really. I keep my own collection of icon favorites, which I then assign to applications I use most.

    All plasma themes in this article can be obtained from the KDE Admin center, simply filter by rating.

    As for Conky, well, it's not hard to set up, but I don't recommend it under KDE, it clashes with plasma widgets and forces you to hard code the wallpaper in conky's config file.

    Cheers

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  47. However, the openSUSE team has been doing too many things for KDE, such as firefox-kde.
    P.S. I believe that Chakra is the best KDE distro.

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  48. Chema!

    Kubuntu Low-Fat Settings

    Kubuntu introduces Kubuntu-Low-Fat-Settings: a collection of configuration options that reduce memory usage and even speed up KDE's loading time. This will help Kubuntu run better on older, lower-end systems.

    Some of the many tweaks include:

    Turning off compositing by default.
    Disabling the automatic loading of various modules, such as bluedevil, the free space notifier, some Nepomuk services, and a other components.
    Reducing the number of default Krunner plugins that are loaded automatically.
    Reducing the amount of graphical effects used in the window decoration.

    Significant reductions in memory usage (up to 32%) and the subsequent savings in KDE's loading time (up to 33%) can be had simply by installing the package "kubuntu-low-fat-settings"!

    Source:
    https://wiki.kubuntu.org/OneiricOcelot/Beta2/Kubuntu

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  49. Very interesting stuff, thanks for sharing! I do use many of the tweaks you mention, but compositing is a must for me, so I am very excited that improvements are coming with 4.7 and specially 4.8.

    Thanks

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  50. great review, I was looking for some recent kde distros comparisons, thanks a lot, im bored of kubuntu. I must give PcLinuxOs a run now

    thanks

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  51. I love Opensuse. Great review Chema! good job!

    Adib.

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  52. i've just bought an acer aspire 5750 laptop, intel 810 graphics with 1366 x 768 resolution. i have pclinuxos running smoothly on my desktop....but no version of pclinuxos will install on the acer; there is a known problem with the resolution...i have been on the forum and tried everything...nothing works...i hope the x64 version doesnt have this problem

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  53. I was once looking to buy an Acer myself, one of the high end models that was both powerful and good-looking. I did some research before hand, trying to find issues some other people might have had using it. As it turned out, I realised the model I was after had plenty of hardware support issues, so I forgot about it and both an HP instead.

    I am sorry you are suffering from such issues, and PCLinuxOS is a good choice due to its superb hardware support, but you may want to try other distros to find out whether support is better. First off, on the KDE side, I would recommend Kubuntu 11.10 when it goes live later this month, mostly because it will incorporate Kernel 3.0 and that may allow some of your computer devices to catch up.

    On the GNOME side of things, you may want to try Zorin OS, perhaps Linux Mint on their current versions (5 and 11 respectively). If none works, I'd try again when the new releases of both come out in November (my guess anyways!).

    Good luck

    PD: This is great advice to every Linux user who's about to buy a new computer. Do a bit of research before hand and always prioritize tried and true over bleeding edge, even if you have to stick to a slightly less powerful machine. 99% of the time, Linux will have more than enough resources as long as the computer specifications are current.

    If you can get to an agreement with the salesman, take a live USB with you and boot from it at the store. That will give you a very accurate picture of whether the machine you are after will give you a smooth ride or too many headaches!

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  54. Sorry to bring this one back up, but I'm still really curious about the 64bit issue with PCLinuxOS. There are a few mentions of above about how you can install a PAE kernel, but what does that mean, and what are the drawbacks? I'm assuming if it were that simple, we wouldn't still be waiting for a 64bit release.

    Seems like the atmosphere over on their forums is either "I DEMAND MY FREE OPERATING SYSTEM HOW I WANT IT NOW!!!" vs. "YOU'LL GET IT WHEN IT'S READY!!!" Seriously, it would be nice to just have an idea as to when it will be available. I've been meaning to wipe out my hard drive and start over with a fresh install, but kind of want to know what is going to be out there in the near future before I do.

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    Replies
    1. Hi there,

      I would be very interested in the answer for this question, my intention is to use PCLinuxOS 2011.9 KDE Full Monty but I have 12GB of RAM and I use virtualization intensively.

      Appreciating the HELP

      Delete
    2. A PAE kernel can take advantage of RAM, even when there is a lot, like in your case. Having said so, with so many 64 bit alternatives available out there with more current KDE versions (PCLOS is stuck on 4.6.5), I would try something else. Fedora 16 or Kubuntu 11.10 should do a really good job, and you are patient enough, I would recommend waiting a couple months to get the April/May releases, which should be even better.

      good luck

      Delete
  55. @chema and montee. I own an Acer 5750 and opensuse 11.4 runs beautifully. Also Chakra(2011.9) did alright (Wireless was not detected, but did after an update via ethernet). PCLOS truggles with resolution (1366*768). in Kubuntu 11.10 muon crashes so frequently that it's impossible to update manually via gui. Mandriva 2011 corrupted the bootloader somehow, Fedora 15 installs ok from DVD, but has some issues installing from live kde cd.
    (anaconda crashes!)
    Hope it helps a bit..
    --Anirban

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  56. WiFi card Broadcom BCM4313 (on Laptop Samsung Q330) don't work in AD-HOC mode on any Linux distro (tested on the newest Mandriva, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint, Knoppix, Puppy etc.), driver discover Ad-HOC Network fine but nothing happened when I try connect :(

    On my other Laptop Asus F3U with Atheros WiFi Card AD-HOC work good on Linux

    Only PCLinuxOS I don't tested yet...

    PS. Sorry for my poor English

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