Again PCLinuxOS delivers a release of impeccable quality in the face of a community that demands the highest standards. This distribution is becoming increasingly user-friendly, and the features continue to mount up.
I was again thoroughly impressed by this release, and the PCLinuxOS team goes the extra mile to deliver many extra little bonuses which I will point out. PCLinuxOS is available with several different desktop environments and installation solutions.
This time I am looking at the PCLinuxOS KDE release which stood out in my opinion. KDE is slightly heavier than many desktop alternatives but it certainly is full featured. An excellent choice for users with relatively modern hardware. Be sure to enjoy the video as well, it is slightly out dated but still very relevant.
After starting your system you can choose to browse the Live CD or you can simply begin installing PCLinuxOS. The Live CD offers several advanced options for more experienced users as well.
Installing PCLinuxOS KDE
PCLinuxOS offers a convenient graphical user interface that makes installation quite simple for new users. When the installer begins you can first select your keyboard layout.
Next choose your partition layout, PCLinuxOS will then format the partitions and begin copying files. The installation was prompt and there were no errors to be seen. After waiting a few minutes you can begin setting up the boot loader, it's best to just leave these options and press next. The security password is for the boot loader. You can then restart your system.
When your system restarts you will be prompted with further options, first select your timezone, and time settings. You can then add a system root password for the administrative user. Next add your desired user name, and a password for that user. All finished, an unrecognisable but highly customized version of the KDM display manager will then load prompting you to login to the desktop.
I was again impressed by the desktop this time around, though it is not too far removed from the default KDE plasma desktop. For features, the KDE Plasma desktop comes fully-loaded.
The desktop layout is intended to be quite simple, but still highly expandable. The vast amount of customization options makes KDE the perfect choice for those who are not satisfied with Gnome Shell and Unity.
KWin Window Manager
The default window manager for the KDE Plasma desktop is KWin which is highly customizable and loaded with powerful features. Desktop compositing is supported offering a variety of advanced graphical animations and effects. Of course themes are supported and almost every aspect of the user interface is yours to control. Naturally several virtual workspaces are included as well for even more efficiency.
Plasma Desktop Widgets
Widgets and activities are a very important part of the KDE Plasma desktop environment. This version really does not make significant use of desktop widgets or activities offered by KDE. But of course you can still add all the additions you feel are necessary. Widgets can be used on inside the panels, on the desktop, or inside activities, keep that in mind.
More High Quality Software
PCLinuxOS is designed to ensure that users always have the best software at their fingertips, but everything has been well planned for efficiency. The Live CD remains as small as possible, all the bulky applications can be added with convenient installers that can be found inside your menus, or using the icons on your desktop. There are installers included for LibreOffice, the AddLocale tool, and a powerful firewall utility.
Launchers for all of your applications can be found in the main menu. The default menu in this release is extremely impressive, the layout is simple and even the theme makes everything look very clear.
The menu can be found on the left side of the main panel. From here you can also customize the contents of your main menu which is extremely convenient.
Easy Menu Customization
Just right-click on the menu icon that sits inside the panel and select the application launcher menu settings button.
It's the same old KDE panel that we all know and love. Panel customization is easy, as long as the widgets are not locked. This can be done simply by right clicking on any panel.
The KDE panels offer a variety of useful options for users that want to do some customization. You can move, resize, and fine tune your panels easily. I would have customized the panel myself, but it already matches the default theme very well.
I do love that KDE offers a vast amount of helpful widgets that can be used in the panel, on the desktop, or in your activities. The only thing I don't like is the user interface for adding them, but that is probably a personal grievance.
Users won't be shocked to discover that Dolphin is the default file manager for this release, this is expected but also quite convenient. Dolphin offers excellent integration with the desktop manager and many installed applications.
Although Dolphin is a bit heavy, it is a full featured file manager offering multiple customization options. Image thumbnails, and multiple viewing modes are available of course.
When you are finished customizing the user interface you can add several useful keyboard shortcuts that will help you speed up your work. That is if the current keyboard shortcuts are not enough.
Alternative File Managers
Users will also find Konqueoror and Midnight Commander installed as well, these are both high quality file managers designed for more advanced users.
The Synaptic package manager is available to install new software, or to update your existing software. This tool offers a very convenient graphical user interface that can be used to search for available packages, manage your repositories, or get package information.
Other Software Solutions
Users can even use the APT Advanced Packaging Tool to install software from the command line. Apt and Synaptic have both been tweaked to work with RPM packages.
PCLinuxOS also offers a well-chosen variety of over 12000 packages for users to enjoy. Each package has been highly tested to ensure stability.
As always KDE offers a convenient settings manager that resembles the Gnome settings manager, or control center. Several settings modules are available for desktop customization.
PCLinuxOS Control Center
This is the strong point of PCLinuxOS, a control center that can be used to set up hardware and important services is offered to aid new users. This tool makes several useful settings visible to the user all from one location.
Finding Your Settings
Both the settings manager and the control center are very easy to reach, there are launchers provided in the main KDE panel for anyone that is looking.
As usual this KDE release is using the popular KWin window manager which includes its own compositing manager, and many of the excellent effects seen in Compiz. Only the default KDE window themes are available with the default Oxygen theme as the only reasonable choice.
KDE does however make it very easy for users to add new themes, icons, even wallpapers for their desktop.
Installing New Themes
Users can add themes from the workspace appearance window, just select get new decorations and begin searching. After finding the theme you want just select install, head back to the workspace appearance window, select the theme you want, then press apply. Your windows will then have a stylish new look.
The default wallpaper is the only one provided as far as I can find, but again more are easily added with the Get Hot New Stuff interface.
Finding More Wallpapers
After opening the desktop settings window you can simply select the get new wallpapers button, then search from the long list of available artwork. When finished just install, and apply. The wallpaper seen in the screenshot is NightFeaR 4 by pinanaro.
Folder View Widget
By default the folder view widget is being utilized so customization may seem confusing at first. The folder view widget is used to display the files and directories on the desktop. The current wallpaper is simply set as a background for the folder view widget activity.
This distribution is a good choice for moderately experienced Linux users, and new users will certainly find a home with PCLinuxOS. I am always impressed by the hardware compatibility and automatic setup of proper display settings when using PCLinuxOS. All devices are working well with no problems to report. KDE offers a higher number simplified customization options than any other desktop currently if I am not mistaken, so for anyone that has been reluctant to try KDE, now is the perfect time.
I will be taking a look at the KDE 4 Full Monty desktop offered by PCLinuxOS soon. This release is rather exciting, and a little but different. Full Monty expands upon the idea of using KDE activities to separate related tasks. The full monty desktop also provides a highly customized interface that is already prepared to maximize your efficiency.
The PCLinuxOS team has really gone the extra mile to ensure that users have all the tools that might be required by default. There are countless toys, tools, and extra applications that will help with a variety of tasks.
With only 12000+ packages in the repositories some users may find themselves searching for other less friendly solutions. But for anyone interested in stability, you can be sure that all packages are thoroughly tested before being released to the public.
Don't forget to check out the latest issue of PCLinuxOS Magazine which is released every month. Then you can see the latest tips, tricks, and news about the PCLinuxOS project.