Testing Linux: PCLinuxOS 64-bit

This blog has, for the most part, been produced on my home computer. It’s also been edited from my phone, and my netbook computer. What do they have in common? They all run Linux! In the case of my computers, they run PCLinuxOS.

So, I hear you ask, how do you edit a wordpress page using Linux? The answer is: as you would in Windows or on a Mac. Obviously Internet Explorer is not available to you, but the alternatives, Firefox, Google Chrome (aka Chromium), and Opera are. Because Linux is a different operating system to Windows, this means that, under the bonnet, the programs have to be different to work through the operating system. But, for the user, the desktop you see, looks very familiar indeed!

Free Programs

As Linux is part of a free set of programs (called GNU, don’t ask!!), it can be redesigned in a number of ways, so you get lots of distributions. They can be very different, but as they are free, you can try lots of them. I’ve pretty much settled down with a distro (geek speak for Linux distribution) called PCLinuxOS.  Over the last few months, I’ve been testing a 64-bit edition, and at the weekend, I installed its 5th test release.

Just as with Windows, you can get 32 and 64 bit versions. And just as with Windows, the 32-bit versions are tried and tested, but in the Linux world things rarely stand still. So what is so special about PCLinuxOS and is it OK for everyone?

In order to install Linux, you need a CD, DVD or memory stick that can boot up. You get the system onto the media by downloading a disc image and then burning it to the CD (or DVD, or memory stick).  But once you have it on a disk, ready to start up, the difference between Linux and Windows is staggering.

Try out without installing

When you install Windows, it takes a long time. The latest Linux disk boots up and you get a normal desktop screen – but it’s not on your computer’s hard drive, it’s running totally in memory from the CD etc. So you can try it out without installing it. You will get from putting the disk in and restarting the computer, to this desktop, in less than 5 minutes. There is an icon to click on the desktop in order to install Linux. On a modern, fast computer, I’d say that in about 10 minutes, you can have Linux installed on your system. Once installed it boots up and closes down really quickly and runs VERY fast.

Next thing you will find that an amount of software is already installed. You will have icons on your desktop that enable you to download and install Libre Office, and your own language pack (if not American English). You can select more stuff from a program called Synaptic, which pulls programs off the internet and installs them. As it is designed for Free Software, this is perfectly legal.

Some of the Programs

At the moment, typing this, I am logged into my WordPress account using Opera. This is an internet browser that you can get for Windows, they also do a version for Linux. I have a chat program open called Kopete, but I could use Pidgin instead (which has a Windows version). Both handle Google Chat, MSN chat, Yahoo chat, Facebook Chat, AIM chat, and others. I am using a File Manager called Dolphin which is equivalent to File manager.

I made the header for this page, and for my Facebook page, using GIMP.  This is complex bit of work like Photoshop, and just as powerful. I have also used other graphics and layout programs, notably Inkscape and Scribus, to create some of the elements on my Facebook page. For my digital camera, I have a simpler program called DigiKam, which allows me to index and do simple edits to my photos. It’s a bit like some of the programs you get with a digital camera, except that it works pretty solidly, and you don’t have to pay to upgrade it to one with all the features. GIMP, Scribus and I think Inkscape are also available for Windows.

I create CDs and DVDs using K3B – also a program called 4L to burn the top side of Lightscribe disks. There are many “basic” games, including a quite powerful chess.

Viruses

I edited the videos for my Collibosher pages, using Kino – this pulls in video from a DV Camcorder and allow you to edit it. I keep track of my finances using KMyMoney though many prefer GnuCash. I’ve indexed all the musical tracks on my hard drive using Clementine, which allows me to create a playlist and leave it going in the background! I have TWO printers both of which work perfectly. And ditto a scanner. There’s little this machine won’t do. But I’ll tell you about one for them. It can’t run a Windows virus!! Because the systems are not compatible! – a real advantage! And because of differences in the two systems, it’s much harder to write a virus for Linux that will actually do any damage – those written are generally “proof of conept” and are not “in the wild”.

Given that many people buy a computer which they use for two things: browsing the internet and wordprocessing, why do more people not use Linux? Generally I’d say it’s because when you buy a computer, Windows is already on it. But these Linux people are clever, the disc that installed Linux on my computer can also set up what we call a “dual-boot” so you can run either when you start the computer. In fact I have a quintuple boot, 4 versions of Linux and 1 of windows on my PC.

More Stable, More Secure

But for the new user, you can just let the Linux installer do this all for you! You don’t need to know the technicalities. Once your desktop is set up properly, you’ll find that Linux is faster, more stable, more secure, prettier, and easier to install and use. That’s how I started, at first 90% Windows 10% Linux, but soon 99% Linux 1% Windows. Why don’t YOU give PCLinuxOS a try?

 

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3 responses

  1. Nice post Dave, keep up the good work!

  2. the problem is, pclinuxos not supporting 64bit yet…. Maybe…. (how knows…) in the …. far … future… 🙂

  3. PCLinuxOS 64-bit has now been released. I was starting to lose faith in the 32-bit version, but my initial reaction to the 64-bit release is: PCLinuxOS is Back! I will do a review…

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