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Интервју со Texstar, создавачот на PCLinuxOS


Gaining Experience
21 мај 2007
Интервју направено со Бил Рејнолдс a.k.a. Texstar, создавачот на PCLinuxOS. Интервјуто е направено за априлскиот број на италијанскиот Linux Magazine, а превземено од PCLinuxOS форумот.

1) Hi guys, thank you for your availability. We want to introduce you to our readers. Can you tell us something about you? What's your work? What do you do in your life and your sparetime? What are your hobbies?

My name is Bill Reynolds aka Texstar. I am a 46 year old former banking professional with 17 years experience in retail banking management. I retired from banking in 1997 and started a small home based computer repair business. Most of my time is spent either repairing computers or working on PCLinuxOS. I enjoy bbqing, hanging out with friends by the pool in the summer months, watching Nascar auto racing and American football.

2) From how long do you use GNU/Linux and why?

It got started with Linux using Red Hat 5.2. I had become disenchanted with Windows. I wanted to get away from an OS that wouldn't let me have control over my computer. It was forcing me to install things I didn't want or need. I soon moved on from Red Hat to Mandrake Linux because it was a revolutionary operating system for its time. Mandrake Linux had its roots in Red Hat but featured KDE instead of Gnome and had the ambitious goal of providing graphical installation and configuration tools. I became hooked.

3) You are the main developers of PCLinuxOS, one of the most interesting GNU/Linux distribution nowadays. What is PCLinuxOS? What's its philosophy and how and when was born? Why do you decided to create another GNU/Linux distribution?

We have many people who assist us as PCLinuxOS is a community style distribution. Our core team consists of 13 individuals from around the world. You can find a complete list on our website under the Development Team Link. We are proud to say one of our core developers is based in Italy. Neverstopdreaming handles many of our packages such as the Evolution mail client, Xine and many multimedia applications.

PCLinuxOS is a Live Linux CD that is self bootable and can be installed to your hard drive provided it is compatible with your system and you like the operating system. Our philosophy is to keep it simple and avoid the command line by utilizing as many point and click applications as possible. Our goal has always been focused on the desktop and the user out of the box experience.

In the summer of 2003 I became interested in livecd technology after looking at knoppix and a fresh distribution from a fellow named Warren called Mepis. I was interested in helping Warren with Mepis at the time but I had no clue how to build Deb files. Coming from 5 years of packaging rpms and not really wanting to learn a new packaging system I happened to come across a South African fellow by the name of Jaco Greef. He was developing a script called mklivecd and porting it to Mandrake Linux. I along with Buchanan Milne (Mandrake contributor) and a few others began working with Jaco to help debug the scripts. I got an idea to make a livecd based on Mandrake Linux 9.2 along with all my customizations just for fun. I had previously provided an unofficial 3rd party repository for the users of Mandrake Linux for many years but had since parted ways. Mandrake was a trademarked name, so myself and others decided to name the livecd after our old news site and forum pclinuxonline thus PCLinuxOS.

Preview .3 was my first public attempt to make a livecd. I distributed it initially to about 20 people to get their reaction and feedback. Everyone who tested it loved the livecd but there was one thing missing. There wasn't a way to install the thing to the hard drive! srlinuxx from tuxmachines.org came up with a novel way to copy the livecd to the hard drive and posted it on our forums. Jaco utilized this information and inspiration from the Mepis installer and wrote a pyqt script to make the livecd installable thus the birth of a new distribution. Our first CD was released October 24th 2003.

3.1) PCLinuxOS is based on Mandriva. Why?

My development skills were based on many years working with the Mandrake Linux (Mandriva) distribution providing unofficial 3rd party package updates to the users of Mandrake Linux from my personal repository.

4) PCLinuxOS is famous also because in few months was rated the top distro at DistroWatch. What you think made PCLinuxOS this successful?

I think it is because we have made it easy for Windows users to switch to Linux. In addition to the OS we also provide a user friendly support forum where our members are ready to help with even the most basic questions. Our users believe in what we are attempting to do and help to get the word out by promoting PCLinuxOS to family, friends, school groups, churches and places of employment.

5) Why a new user should use PCLinuxOS? What are the advantages? What could he do with PCLinuxOS?

Ease of use, friendly support and graphical tools to handle just about every task. We try to avoid the command line as much as possible. We provide a complete out of the box experience for everyday tasks a normal desktop user would use such as surfing the web, mail client, webpage design, music, videos, games, file sharing, bittorrent, letter writing, publications, slide presentations, spreadsheets, graphics manipulation and more. One of our more popular features with the user that most other distributions do not include is the ability to remaster your hard drive installation into a self bootable iso. Simply customize your desktop and applications then use mklivecd to make your own installable iso. Great for backups in case something goes wrong.

5.1) How do you coordinate your works? How many developers are involved in the project?

We utilize IRC chat, forum, mailing lists and a development server to coordinate our work. We have 13 core members and many many associate members from all over the world. In addition to pclinuxos.com our community site mypclinuxos.com is the home to various projects related to the PCLinuxOS distribution.

6) PCLinuxOS and hardware support. How does PCLinuxOS work with old and new hardware? How do you want to define the hardware support of your distribution?

PCLinuxOS is constantly being updated to work with new hardware as well as old. For older systems we have a couple of community remasters available such as TinyMe and PCFluxboxOS. In addition there is a PCLinuxOS hardware database website created by community leader and team member Jeremiah Summers. This database allows our users to assist in certifying various hardware that is known to work with PCLinuxOS.

7) PCLinuxOS is based on RPM packages. What system tools do you have for package management? How large are your repositories (if present)?

PCLinuxOS currently uses apt-get with Synaptic as the graphical frontend. In addition to Synaptic we also have the Smart Package Manager available however it is geared toward the more advanced user as the interface is not as easy to follow as the Synaptic Frontend. We currently have been looking into the Conary Package Manager from rPath as a possible alternative to Synaptic. The main goal will always be ease of use especially when it comes to installing or removing software on your system.

Our current repository consists of approximately 8000 packages and growing daily as we import more packages based on user requests. Most of our applications are geared to desktop applications however we do maintain some server packages.

Cool RPM vs. DEB. Who win for you? And why do you prefer RPM in place of DEB or source package? How PCLinuxOS manage the system upgrade and packages update?

I don't buy this thing where one packaging system is better than another. If you get the dependencies right, you don't get a problem. The old RPM "dependency hell" thing is based, in my opinion, on incorrect packaging in the past. I learned to package using RPM, that's what I'm good at, and why I still use it.

PCLinuxOS is currently setup as a rolling release distribution. This means you can install once and just update your system through the Synaptic Software Manager.


Gaining Experience
21 мај 2007
9) Maybe PCLinuxOS is one of the best suitable GNU/Linux distribution for multimedia codec. Why do you decided to use restricted/proprietary codec by default?

PCLinuxOS does not ship with Win32codecs or dvdcss dvd decryption software. Most multimedia playback is provided through opensource libraries. In addition we also provide a MiniMe edition that does not include multimedia playback without additional user configuration. Most of what we use and create ourselves is GPL, and that's good, we can all take each other's ideas, improve on them, and Linux can get better. But for us, the user experience is top priority, so if we can use something that makes it better, we will.

9.1) Gnome or KDE as default desktop environment? Why? Do you plan to use KDE4 as default DE for the next major release? What do you think about the development progresses at Gnome and Kde?

For people coming from Windows, KDE is more intuitive in my opinion. It is easier to customize and I think new users have a lot of fun configuring their desktops. As well as being easy, practical and productive, Linux should be fun as well! I suspect we will move to a KDE 4 based desktop after KDE 4 matures a bit more. There are a few unfinished pieces that need to be completed in the next 2-4 months. I think KDE 4 will be impressive when completed. In the mean time we will provide updated KDE 3.5.9 packages when available as well as updated Gnome packages. Ken Dotson provides a community remastered PCLinuxOS Live CD based on the Gnome desktop for those who want an alternative to KDE.

10) Are there some problems to use PCLinuxOS on other architectures? I see there aren’t many versions for other arch. What are your plans in the future?

We are a very small team and we can only make PCLinuxOS for 32-bit Intel-PC type architecture, i586 or later however it runs quite well on many 64 based systems. We lack the man power and resources at this point in time to provide versions for other architectures. There is a community project started to port PCLinuxOS to 64 bit but hasn't had much activity yet.

11) Do you think that PCLinuxOS could fight Ubuntu or other major GNU/Linux distributions?

We don't have their money, that's for sure. We're a genuine community distro. We're not about fighting other distros. They all have their place. Ubuntu has done great things getting the word out there is an alternative OS available and you dont have to be tied down to one operating system dictating how you can use your computer. This means there are more computer users trying Linux and overall this means more users will be testing the waters trying various Linux versions to find the one that works best with their hardware and meets their needs. This benefits all distributions.

12) What sort of help have you received in these years (from community, from sponsors, etc)? Do you need some? How we can contribute?

Almost all of our support has come from the community in the form of donations, assisting other users on the forums and development activities. We have a partnership with Karlie Robinson from on-disk.com to provide our OS on CD for users who dont have broadband or prefer to have a cd mailed to them as opposed to downloading an iso and burning it to cdr. A portion from each sale goes back to PCLinuxOS to help us cover the operating cost of the distribution. In addition to on-disk.com we have a partnership with enkiconsulting.net who stepped up and provided us with a hosting solution last year when we had out grown our current hosting needs.

Donations are always welcome but there are many projects available at mypclinuxos.com where one can write articles for the online PCLinuxOS magazine, international translations, package building classes and custom PCLinuxOS remasters.

13) How do you define the interest in PCLinuxOS? How large is the community behind PCLinuxOS? What tools do you provide for users (forum, mailing list, chat)?

I believe community spirit is the driving force behind the interest in PCLinuxOS. Everyday you will find me and other developers on the forum or in IRC chat. We listen to our users and try to meet their needs and expectations. We get people involved who are interested in helping so everyone plays a part in the success of the distribution. Our forum currently shows 17000 members with about 1200 new members joining each month. There have been over 700,000 trackable downloads of PCLinuxOS over the past year.

We provide member forums, a development mailing list and irc chat support for our users. mypclinuxos.com also provides forums for various projects related to PCLinuxOS

14) Do you want or expect any commercial benefit from PCLinuxOS?

At the present, it would be nice to have the funds to purchase a wider range of equipment to test on in addition to having funding available to reward the development team for all their hard efforts. The more developers and rpm packagers you have the quicker any new project gets completed.

15) What are the next PCLinuxOS’s plans? Are there any interesting initiative in progress?

Our plans are to continue to focus on the desktop and providing a complete out of the box experience for the end user. We are behind schedule on our international DVD but hope to have one available in the next month.

16) What do you think about other gnu/linux distributions? What do you prefer if you couldn't use PCLinuxOS?

I believe there is something for everyone when it comes to Linux. Users have different needs and expectations so I'm glad there are various flavors of Linux to meet those needs. Our goal has always been to focus on the desktop and try to make it as easy as possible while providing the tools most desktop users would want or need. My first love will always be Mandrake (Mandriva) Linux but my two favorite alternatives to PCLinuxOS are Mepis and Mint. Both of these distributions focus on the new user experience and provide a complete out of the box system without additional configuration.

17) Does PCLinuxOS have a future?

Well of course it has a future. We have been around for 4 years now and are still enjoying Linux and sharing it with friends who might like it too. Our community is growing and more people are volunteering to help with the distribution by setting up torrents, providing documentation through our wiki and learning to package rpms. Other members are providing associate websites outside of the USA. We currently have 14 international sites ran by volunteers who have taken the initiative to assist us. Some are providing PCLinuxOS remasters in their native language.

18) Do you think that GNU/Linux is “really” ready for the desktop users? In which way could be improved?

I think for the most part Linux is ready for the desktop user. Just about everything you can do with that other OS you can do on Linux and without having to worry about trojans, malware, adware and big brother watching over your shoulder. There are a few weak areas such as wireless and additional peripheral support but Linux is evolving fast and support is constantly being improved with each new kernel release.

19) Our interview seems to be completed. Congratulations for your work and thank you for your time!

Thank you and may 2008 be the best year yet for Linux!


Gaining Experience
18 мај 2007
Многу ми се допаѓаат идеите и плановите н тимот на PSLinuxOS за иднината. Истотака е интересно објаснувањето што го даде за тоа како се префрлил на Линукс. Се надевам дека PSLinuxOS ќе успее во намерата и дека ќе го донесе Линуксот поблиску до нормалниот компјутерски корисник.


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