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Adding Software to PCLinuxOS

The title of this page sound like something simple to accomplish. It can be a simple task, or it can be as complicated as you want it to be. One philosophy behind Linux is the ability to be able to add software from any source you wish. However, each distribution has its own set of repositories where software can be installed to that distribution. This is necessary to keep the distribution stable and trouble free. PCLinuxOS is no exception.

PCLinuxOS has only one repository for all installable software, and it is generally kept up to date. There are also numerous mirrors that replicate the repository.

The official policy regarding software installation and updating is simple: All software is to be installed and updated using only the Synaptic Package Manager. If there is a package you want to see that is not in the repository, simply request that package in the PCLinuxOS Forums.

While you can add third party software such as required proprietary drivers to get some devices working, Texstar and others do not recommend you do so. This is because of potential and possible conflicts with the software provided in the official repository, as well as some security risks involved with installing third party software, especially from sources that may or may not be trustworthy.

This does not mean you cannot add third party software to PCLinuxOS, or compile a source package for that matter. If you choose to do so, you are doing it at your own risk. In addition, that software will not be supported in the PCLinuxOS forum.

For software packages such as Eclipse, which come in a tarball and are Java applications, I recommend installing these in an empty directory within your home directory. For example: ~/eclipse.

Traditionally, the /usr/local and /opt directories are ideal for third party software installation. This is true for PCLinuxOS with a few exceptions (notably the Acrobat Reader, OpenOffice.org, and LibreOffice, which always uses the /opt directory for installation, especially when they are installed from RPM packages).

The best place to install third party binaries is ~/bin. (Yes, you must create this directory from within your home directory, as ~/bin is not present after installing PCLinuxOS to your hard drive.)

By using /usr/local and ~/bin, you ensure that third party software will not interfere with your PCLinuxOS installation. If you choose to use /opt, check the contents of that directory to be sure there is not already a software package with the same name in the /opt directory so that your third party package installation does not conflict with anything in your PCLinuxOS installation.

Keeping PCLinuxOS Up To Date

There is only one official method to keeping PCLinuxOS up to date. You must be connected to the Internet when you do this as the procedure can involve large transfers of data from the Internet.

  1. Launch Synaptic Package Manager. You will need to supply the superuser (or administrator) password.
  2. Click on the Reload button. This refreshes the package lists Synaptic uses.
  3. Click on Select All Upgrades.
  4. Click on Apply to complete the process.

If you click on the Status button, you will see a listing in the sidebar within Synaptic. If New in Repository appears in the list, this means that new packages have been added to the PCLinuxOS repository. You may want to select this to see if you want to add the new packages to your installation.

PCLinuxOS Tip: If you really want the latest software from the PCLinuxOS repositories, you should donate at least $5.00 USD per year towards PCLinuxOS development. (I recommend at least $25.00 a year to really keep things going.) For those who insist on paying for the operating system on your computer, consider this: For the cost of a copy of Windows 10, you could fund at least four years of PCLinuxOS development, and ensure that everything works as intended. This cannot be guaranteed with Windows or with Mac OS-X, so the cost of the donation is worth that alone.
While PCLinuxOS may be free to download, install and maintain, it costs money to develop the distribution. Among costs are the hardware needed to develop the distribution, internet access, costs to access the servers to store the repositories, cost of electricity to operate the development facility, and of course costs normally associated with living. (We need to eat and sleep after all.)

Installing and Maintaining LibreOffice and Other Applications

LibreOffice is installed and maintained on PCLinuxOS by the LibreOffice manager, a script that automates the process of downloading the tarball containing RPM packages that make up the LibreOffice distribution. When LibreOffice is updated, you will be able to download an update of the LibreOffice manager (called lomanager in Synaptic).

LibreOffice Manager will check to see if the system has been updated properly before attempting to install and/or update LibreOffice. If there are uninstalled updates, you will be asked to update PCLinuxOS before you can install LibreOffice.

I strongly suggest that you install at least a Java Runtime Environment on your PCLinuxOS installation before you proceed here. LibreOffice require some version of Java be installed. The easiest way to do this is to launch Synaptic and install task-java, which can be found in the Tasks section of Synaptic. Click on Apply to install all the required files.

Since the original writing of this article, Oracle Virtualbox is maintained the same way, with separate utilities.

Important Note: Each time you update Virtualbox, you must reboot your system as kernel modules for Virtualbox are rebuilt on your system.

Don't Forget to Update the Linux Kernel(s)

When we use Synaptic to update the PCLinuxOS system, the system kernel does not get automatically updated.

Currently, there are multiple linux kernels that can be installed from Synaptic, namely:

  • The 4.4.x series enterprise level kernels
  • The 4.9.x series enterprise level kernels
  • The 4.11.x series kernels
  • The 4.12.x series kernels
  • ...and finally, the latest available kernel

To update these, launch Synaptic Package Manager (and login as the administrator, if you have not done so), then click on Sections and select System/Kernel and Hardware.

Next, scroll the listing down until you see the kernel packages (the ones with "kernel" in the name. If there are updates to the kernel, they will be highlighted with a star. Select those packages (and also deselect the previous kernel version(s) to ensure a true upgrade, and not simply adding a new kernel to the system), then click on Apply to download and upgrade the system kernel(s) in your PCLinuxOS installation.

It is OK to have more than one kernel installed. In fact it is a good idea to do so, in case the latest version of the kernel does not work properly, in which case, the alternative kernel is available to ensure you can boot PCLinuxOS. When you have more than one kernel installed, the lastest version of the kernel installed will boot by default unless you specify otherwise in the boot loader (GRUB or GRUB2).