Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

PCLinuxOS Day 3 – Exploring the desktop

I have used the GNOME desktop for most of the time in the last year and a half, but the series about PC-BSD and DesktopBSD did a lot to build up appreciation for the KDE desktop. PCLinuxOS is running the KDE 3.5.8 desktop (after updates) and let’s see how it is organized and what applications are delivered by default.


Quick access via the panel

The default desktop has a clean look and feel with only three icons on the desktop (Home, My Computer and Trash). The panel provides quick access to three main functions: the Control Center, the Administration Center and the Package Manager. The Control Center is the KDE control center and the Administration Center gives access to the Mandrake-based configuration module. There are various overlaps between, since you can -for instance- configure Samba in both screens and setup the graphical interface.


The Administration Center has a very nice icon set and clean layout. The Package Manager launches Synaptic, the tool of choice for software management.


I have commented on the menupanel in an earlier article on PCLinuxOS. The menu has more depth, more levels than for instance the KDE desktop in the two BSD’s. In the menu System you have to go three levels deep to launch an application like K3b. With a default install it also means that all modules of have their own menu entry. On the other hand, I tried to install Abiword and see where that wound up. And it did end up in Office -> Wordprocessors. It wouldn’t be my choice, but when all new packages are similarly organized it might be a good idea after all.

One peculiarity remains and that is the fact that you have an entry called “System” and one called “System Menu”.


The default software collection

The default software collection encompasses, Thunderbird, Firefox and GIMP, whom you might almost address as “the usual suspects”. Considering the target audience it is a bit strange to find Vi editor, Putty, VNC and TightVNC. The multimedia corner is well stocked with MPlayer, KMPlayer, Amarok, Kaffeine and TVTime Television viewer. The last one I didn’t see yet on a default install, but I haven’t seen all distributions so I might have missed it. K3b is a great tool for burning you cd/dvd’s. You can start communicating with xChat and Kopete.

Overall it is a solid collection with enough applications to get started and definitely not overly bloated. Of course you could argue that having both MPlayer and KMplayer is bit too much, but when it comes to multimedia applications there is always too much to choose from. I have a slight preference for VLC, because it is multiplatform, has a lot of codec support on board and would fit nicely in the list of “usual suspects”.

Tomorrow I will extend the system and make it bloated 😉


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