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PCLinuxOS 2007 observations -- how simple is it really?

  • Subject: PCLinuxOS 2007 observations -- how simple is it really?
  • From: The Ghost In The Machine <ewill@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 19:13:15 -0700
  • Bytes: 10715
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Organization: www.TeraNews.com
  • Xref: ellandroad.demon.co.uk comp.os.linux.advocacy:647293
Observations on the PCLinuxOS bootup sequence and GUI.
for the LiveDisc.  How consistent is this, really?

[1] The test environment is a little weird; it's QEMU,
running on my laptop, displayed on another box using
SSH tunnelling.  This shouldn't make much difference,
though it might slow things down some.

[2] Interesting blue bootscreen.  The general idea is
that of a selectable set of options; the default is
"LiveCD".  Apparently it has a timer; it ticked down and
then transferred to a largely black screen except for a
metal-like pattern around the logo.  Not a bad start,
actually; I'm continually surprised by the customization
of these screens.  (I'm not entirely sure it makes that
much difference to me personally, admittedly; I'm a bit

[3] "Booting the system...press Esc for verbose mode".
This is not consistent with Gentoo 2005's "press F2";
Escape usually means cancel or abort.  I'll admit I'm not
sure F2 is any more intuitive, but what precisely are
we escaping from?

[4] The startup of X showed a strange multicolored hash for
a moment -- a display artifact of the emulator, probably --
then asked me to "Please, choose your keyboard layout".
I'm all for politeness but the comma, seems, well,
somewhat, unnecessary, in, this, context.  Please, get rid
of it. :-P  The actual coloration is light gray/tan border,
white background, black text, blue list highlighter -- not
quite consistent with the "ribbed metal" of the background.

[5] "Which is your timezone?", displaying a very long
list of timezones, thankfully sorted in alphabetic order.
I've seen better; NT and Fedora used a global Mercator
map, for example.  Once I selected PST8PDT, interestingly,
it then prompted me for "What is the best time?" showing
me what it thought the time is if it used local time or
UTC for the (emulated) system clock, and it prompted me
for automatic time synchronization (using NTP).  Both are
nice touches.

[6] "Choose the connection you want to configure".  Eh?
Does this mean I can configure more than one connection
type, or that I should indicate my preference as to
which I should use?  Also, it uses POTS (the more modern
term is PSTN [*] -- but I hate the acronym soup anyway) for
dialup modems.  Interestingly, it includes Satellite,
Wireless (presumably, WiFi), GPRS/Edge/3G, and Bluetooth.
The defaults are reasonable for a DHCP, and after a short
pause I got "Congratulations, the network and <new line>
Internet configuration is finished".  (It wasn't that hard,
you dumb program, but how were you supposed to know that?)
Clicking on Finish gives me a login screen, white text
on black with white input text areas, plus two accounts
(one of them "root").  I suppose for a liveCD that's not

[7] "Initializing system services"...uh, didn't you do
that already?  Blue marbles; the initialized ones are
opaque, but the ones that aren't initialized yet are
nearly invisible.  Interesting theme, I suppose.

[8] Dang...there went the metal.  Now I get a blue
background with a wave in it, with a blank gray lower
panel.  (Apparently I didn't configure sound; it complained
with a dialog box about /dev/dsp.  Oh well.)  After a few
seconds, I do get a panel...and a configuration dialog box,
which is probably because I impatiently clicked on the
right mouse button.  Oh well, easy to close.  The general
theme: gray, white, black text, blue highlights, blue
title bar with subtle shadings to white, and a red close
"x" widget.  Rather clean and good looking, actually.

[9] This is clearly based on KDE, though with some
interesting visual modifications -- one might see "PC in
a circle" in a number of places where the K-logo or the
start button usually is.  Clicking on "My Computer" fires
up a Konqueror window.  The system for some reason known
only to the artists shows the users folders as an igloo;
clicking thereon shows an A-frame house with a red door
marked "guest (guest)". Clicking on *that* shows a bunch
of colored folders: Green for Documents, brown for Movies,
red for Music, purple for Pictures, and slate blue for tmp,
which appears to be a symbolic link.

God and the artists only know where the colors are fetched
from, but an "ls" in the home directory at least shows
the same names as in the Konqueror window (including the
aforementioned symlink "tmp", which does point to "/tmp/").
An "ls -a" indicates some interesting extra stuff, which
is probably not of interest here.

[10] From a visual standpoint, Konqeror is the usual
black-text-on-white affair; for some reason known only to
the designers, the Konsole (which is KDE's answer to xterm)
is white text on black.  Not sure I consider that consistent,
though I can't complain too roundly; it makes Konsole stick
out as an obvious text screen.

[11] The Installation Help (I guess "Installation
Instructions" wouldn't have fit as easily) opens a
Konqueror window with PNG images; these PNG images walk
the user through a wizard.  Stupid in some respects (in an
ideal world we'd have metafiles similar to Windows so that
instead of having to store bitmaps, we'd store drawing
instructions -- not sure Postscript or SVG would do it
here, though), but not totally unreasonable, especially
for those who have never seen this sort of thing before.

[12] Partitioning the hard drive uses color coding for
some extremely odd reason -- and furthermore the colors
may be hard to see for some.

Ext2 - bright red, black text.
Jounalized FS (which one?? there are *three* available
on most other distros: Ext3, reiserfs, jfs) - darker red, black text.
Swap - bright green, black text.
Windows - dark blue, black text, hard to see.
Other - black on light gray
Empty - black on a slightly lighter gray

[13] After creating the swap partition, one can indeed
see a green area -- it's a differently colored green, and
furthermore chopped off the text within the green area.
(To be fair, it's not that big a partition with respect
to the rest of the drive, which is apparently about 10
GB in size.  Also, they might use bright green to indicate
the current swap partition.)  I hope they have flyovers
in the actual application, and if one selects the partition
apparently one does get some auxiliary text.

[14] For some reason the instructions suggest creating
/home first, and furthermore suggest using ext2 for such.
That might work for some people, but I have a lot of
stuff in /home.  The black text in swap has now vanished.
Not good from a display standpoint.  I wonder how bright
this tool is if one specifies /etc as a mountpoint.
(Since the system mountpoint defaults are stored in
/etc/fstab, one runs the risk of extreme stupidity -- but
we did have a Unix system where the sysadmin did exactly
that at one point.  We never did get it back.)

[15] "The partition/s you have selected will be formatted.
All the data will be wiped".  Big white exclamation point
on a red button, then a green arrow, then a schematic of
an opened disk drive (complete with a head and a blue
indicator light in the front -- or maybe that's just a
style thingy; it's obvious it's a drive to those that know
what a drive is, and the obnoxiousness is understandable).
Of course here's redundant information for you:

"Press Next to format selected partitions or Cancel to quit.
[Cancel]   [[Next]]"

Um...wouldn't "Format" have worked better here?  Sigh.

[16] "Please wait...formatting partition hda6".
Fortunately, the partition tool did indicate the partition
devices during setup; it's also nice to see they are using
a progress bar.  It would have been even nicer had they
shown the mountpoint, though:

    Please wait...formatting / (hda6)

or some such.

[17] "Press next to install or Cancel to quit".  At this
point, quitting would leave one with an interestingly
broken system.  The left side has changed from an
obnoxious bang to a gray box with a blue-and-black "tongue"
(actually, it's probably supposed to be a representation
of the PCLinuxOS CD-ROM disc).

[18] The bootloader setup is a little busy, and omits
things such as the units for "Delay before booting
default image" (it's most likely seconds but that could
be clearer).  The scrollbar at the bottom is apparently
because someone got lazy; visually, the extreme right
of the spinners got sliced.

[19] The installer is then expected to set the password --
and here's Snit's favorite dialog bug; one of the buttons
says "Authentication m...".  Where's the rest of it?
Covered up by "No password", of course.  Ouch -- and right
in their installdocs, too; I haven't even started anything yet.

[20] And finally, "Please halt your computer, remove your
live system, and restart your computer" will probably cause
the Crabby Office Lady (or her opensource equivalent)
to pull her hairpins out and throw them at the monitor.
I would have highly preferred something a little more
reasonable such as "Please restart your computer", with
an automatic eject of the livedisc during the shutdown
sequence as a hint to the user that he should remove it.

[21] Doubleclicking on "Configure your computer" gave
me two iconbars for a moment, then both disappeared.
Not sure I like this.  At this point the desktop became
unresponsive, though it still tracked mouse movements.
I have no idea why, so I quit the emulator.

All in all, I'd give it a B+ in the artistic
department...it looks nice, but there's some cleanup work
in the dialog boxes needed.  I'm not about to do an actual
install, though with QEMU I could define a hard drive and
walk it through.

[*] Plain Old Telephone Service, Packet Switched Telephone Network.

#191, ewill3@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Windows Vista.  Because a BSOD is just so 20th century; why not
try our new color changing variant?
** Posted from http://www.teranews.com **

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