In the prehistoric times, when Mandriva was at the helm of Distrowatch Ranking, Ubuntu brutally displaced Mandriva. However, this astronomical rise was backed by a strong financial backing by Canonical and the free Ubuntu CD contributed a part in it. PCLinuxOS does not enjoy any such privileges. There is no corporate backing, no free CDs; in fact they are cash strapped to the point that they always ask for donations. Under these circumstances, their rise to the top at distrowatch is nothing short of magical.
Magical, the word acquired a new meaning since JK Rowling wrote the fantastic Harry Potter series. Thinking more pragmatically, I found many similarities between the phenomenal success of Harry Potter and PCLinuxOS. Here is my take on this.
1) Harry Potter is boy next door.
Most people can associate themselves with Harry, he just looks and feels like we know him well. It maybe in the form of our younger brother or maybe our own childhood.
PCLinuxOS mimics this behavior. It looks and feels just like Windows, the OS we are very familiar with. We know how to get work done in Windows and we just follow our instinct and work in a known fashion. There is hardly any learning curve associated with PCLinuxOS.
2) Harry is very cute and Lovable.
I remember JKR always mentioning Harry is a lovable student, even in the movie he looks cute.
PCLinuxOS gives a lot of emphasis on aesthetics. The look and feel is pleasing to the eye. I am not talking about beryl yet. The default plain desktop looks good. It is not too flashy, nor too bland. Its just perfect and pleasing.
3) Harry is not the greatest dueling wizard of his time.
When it comes to pure magic ( minus love and luck), Hermione is much better than Harry. She reads more books and have much better knowledge about magical artifacts. However, when it comes to winning tournaments or facing "You know who" it Harry all the way.
Many other distributions like Slackware, Arch, gentoo, debian etc are more configurable and traditional Linuxes. They have more software, use traditional command line tools and are perceived as geeks Linuxes. PCLinuxOS on the other hand recommends minimal command line usage and shield users from directly interacting with core Linux utilities. However, when it comes to an average user, PCLinuxOS takes geekiness out of Linux and provides possibly the best desktop experience.
4) Harry does not shy of taking help.
Since the very first book, when Ron helped him win the chess game, Harry is not averse in taking help to accomplish the mission. A classical example is when he takes Cedrick's help in the tri-wizard tournament, despite the fact that Cedrick was his opponent.
The biggest drawback of PCLinuxOS is that it is an RPM based distribution. We all have read numerous stories about rpm-hell in many distributions including RedHat and Mandriva. PCLinuxOS went out of its way and adopted a well established and proven tool for managing its rpm packages- Synaptic, a common tool in debian/Ubuntu world. PCLinuxOS was very comfortable in shaking hands with its rivals for much bigger goal of providing trouble free package management to its users.
5) Harry is firm on his decisions
Harry had many chances to join the dark world. First he refused to join Slytherin house and subsequently said no to many offers by the Dark Lord. Voldemort even offered to bring back his parents, but Harry was rock solid.
PCLinuxOS provides a very stable OS with minimal crashes/hangs. It does not incorporates the latest packages, but strives more for usability and stability. We will hardly find any development packages in PCLinuxOS.
6) Harry does not perform any complex magic.
Harry depends upon simple spells and gets the work done. He can even counter an Avada Kedavra with a seemingly simple spell, expelliarmus. He in general follows KISS policy.
PCLinuxOS makes working on Linux easier. It does not require a user to understand the complexities of command line Linux. It used simple GUI tools to get accomplish a task.
7) Harry does use Unforgivable Curse when he feels like
Harry has used Crucio and Imperio when he felt the need for it. Though he did not try AK, but he can use any curse, be it legal or even Unforgivable.
PCLinuxOS has default support for MP3, flash, java etc, which are considered taboo in the "pure open source world".
8) Phenomenal Success
Both JKR and PCLinuxOS have received more success then they could have hoped for. Today Harry Potter is the best seller and PCLinuxOS is on top of distro ranking.
I enjoyed writing this fictional analogy, please read this with a pinch of salt and ignore the apparent/hidden technical errors.
- This article is a pure work of fiction and just for fun. Its as real as Harry Potter himself. Hence some of the facts mentioned might be inaccurate.
- This is not a comparioson between Canonical released distributions and PCLinuxOS.
- The combined DW ranking od all the Canonical released distributions far exceeds and other distro ranking; and lastly,
- This blog does not claim that PCLinuxOS is better than Ubuntu.