Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

PCLinuxOS Day 8 – Between a desktop and a server

Another day at the control center. I am impressed with the scope of tasks that can be executed via one tool. Earlier I mentioned Webmin and the control center shares quite a few characteristics with that tool (though the functions are different, of course). Let’s continue digging deeper.

Hardware

The page Hardware has five tasks that deal with setting you graphical environment: Configure your monitor, Change the screen resolution, Configure 3D Desktop effects, Set up the graphical server and Set up TV card. Five others deal with your peripherals (keyboard, mouse/pointer device, printer, scanner and UPS).

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First, I took a closer look at “Look at configure the hardware”. At first it gave a list of the hardware components of the computer. Under options you can extend the autosearch to printers, modems, jaz drives and parallel zipdrives. When clicking on one of the found devices, the option “Run config tool” appeared at the bottom of the screen. The config tool is context-specific. Meaning: it will launch the partition manager when the device is a hard drive and the graphic card configuration when it is ….uh… a graphic card. With the sound card and ethernet card I also got the option to set the current driver options. Neat! One word of caution though: if you don’t know what the options mean, don’t change a thing.

The 3D desktop effects were next on the list. I didn’t expect any to be available on the virtual computer and wasn’t disappointed (nor surprised) when all options were greyed out. I will have to play with that later this month. There are various options for 3D effects (native and Xgl for the graphical server and Compiz-Fusion and Compiz as window managers).

The scanner and printer options both scan the system for attached devices. When no scanner is detected you can add it manually and set it up, for instance as a shared device. The scan for a printer resulted in another download of packages. A lengthy download. The wizard to add a new printer shouldn’t pose a problem to novice users coming from Windows. It’s similar enough to the Windows-based tool.

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Mount points
Setting up various mount points does require background knowledge of Samba and the various permissions. If you do, you can use the various tasks to manage your shared folders and partitions, manage how users are allowed to share their folder and set up your NFS and WebDAV mount points.

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While playing with this I couldn’t escape the conclusion that PCLinuxOS alternates between two thoughts: that of a desktop system and that of a server system. Linux has strong roots as a server system that predates the push to the desktop. A lot of tasks in the control center are meant to set up PCLinuxOS as a server system.

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