The Perfect Desktop - PCLinuxOS 2010 (KDE)

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
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Last edited 04/22/2010

This tutorial shows how you can set up a PCLinuxOS 2010 desktop (with KDE) that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge.

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

To fully replace a Windows desktop, I want the PCLinuxOS 2010 desktop to have the following software installed:


  • The GIMP - free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
  • F-Spot - full-featured personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop
  • Google Picasa - application for organizing and editing digital photos


  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Flash Player 10
  • FileZilla - multithreaded FTP client
  • Thunderbird - email and news client
  • Evolution - combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions
  • aMule - P2P file sharing application
  • KTorrent - Bittorrent client
  • Azureus/Vuze - Java Bittorrent client
  • Pidgin - multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat IRC - IRC client


  • OpenOffice Writer - replacement for Microsoft Word
  • OpenOffice Calc - replacement for Microsoft Excel
  • Adobe Reader
  • GnuCash - double-entry book-keeping personal finance system, similar to Quicken
  • Scribus - open source desktop publishing (DTP) application

Sound & Video:

  • Amarok - audio player
  • Banshee - audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
  • MPlayer - media player (video/audio), supports WMA. The MPlayer frontend is named SMPlayer on PCLinuxOS 2010.
  • gtkPod - software similar to Apple's iTunes, supports iPod, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod photo, and iPod mini
  • XMMS - audio player similar to Winamp
  • dvd::rip - full featured DVD copy program
  • Kino - free digital video editor
  • Sound Juicer CD Extractor - CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs
  • VLC Media Player - media player (video/audio)
  • Real Player
  • Totem - media player (video/audio)
  • Xine - media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
  • Brasero - CD/DVD burning program
  • K3B - CD/DVD burning program
  • Multimedia-Codecs


  • KompoZer - WYSIWYG HTML editor, similar to Macromedia Dreamweaver, but not as feature-rich (yet)
  • Bluefish - text editor, suitable for many programming and markup languages


  • VirtualBox - lets you run your old Windows desktop as a virtual machine under your Linux desktop, so you don't have to entirely abandon Windows
  • TrueType fonts
  • Java
  • Read/Write support for NTFS partitions

I use the KDE version of PCLinuxOS 2010 in this tutorial.

As you might have noticed, a few applications are redundant, for example there are two CD/DVD burning applications in my list (Brasero, K3B). If you know which one you like best, you obviously don't need to install the other applications, however if you like choice, then of course you can install both. The same goes for music players like Amarok, Banshee, XMMS or browsers (Firefox, Opera).

I will use the username falko in this tutorial. If you use another username (which you most probably do ;-)), please replace falko with your own username.


2 Installing The Base System

Download the PCLinuxOS 2010 KDE CD iso image (the full version, not the MiniMe version!) from, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. At the boot prompt, select LiveCD:

The system boots and starts a desktop that is run entirely in the RAM of your system (the PCLinuxOS installation CD is also a Live-CD) without changing anything on your hard disk. This has the advantage that you can test how PCLinuxOS works on your hardware before you finally install it.

Select your keyboard layout:

This is how the LiveCD desktop looks. Click Install PCLinuxOS to start the installation to the hard disk:

To start the installation, we must type in the root password (which is root):

The installation wizard starts. Click Next:

The PCLinuxOS default partitioning scheme is ok for our purposes, so you can select Use free space.

The hard drive is partitioned, and the installation begins. This can take a few minutes, so please be patient:

Afterwards we have to configure the bootloader. The default settings are ok, so we can click Next:

The default boot menu entries are ok as well, so we click Finish:

Click Finish to complete the installation:

To use our new installation, we must reboot and remove the PCLinuxOS CD from our CD drive. Go to Leave > Restart Computer...

Then click Restart Computer:

The system shuts down. Remove the PCLinuxOS CD and press <ENTER>:

Afterwards, select Boot PCLinuxOS 2010 from the bootloader menu (or wait a few seconds):

After the first boot, we have to specify the root password...

... and create a normal user account (falko in this example). Click Next...

... and log in with the regular user account you've just created::

This is how your new desktop looks:

Now the base system is ready to be used.

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10 Comment(s)

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From: Anonymous at: 2010-04-27 03:28:27

Fspot with KDE? Thats just silly.

From: Craig at: 2010-04-28 14:01:30

I don't know if FSpot is a silly recommendation since I'm not sure what's out there for KDE that's comparable.But choosing a Gnome app for a KDE install without some kind of explanation... It does muddle unnecessarily a beginner's how-to.

What I don't get is: why install the antithesis of F/OSS, such as Adobe Reader or RealPlayer, when there are very good F/OSS apps which provide the same functions. Flash, I understand. Picasa... maybe. But at that point, the article is more about freebies (as in beer) than breaking any (proprietary) chains.

I appreciate the time Falko put into this tutorial.  I'll be sharing it with others but, it'll be going out with this big caveat:  "To fully replace a Windows desktop," it is not necessary nor advisable to load whatever DRM-riddled apps that Windows users have to suffer.

From: Anonymous at: 2013-04-23 04:07:47,115094.0.html?PHPSESSID=7pa6vp4a91slth12qegv9ba224

From: Anonymous at: 2010-04-26 14:46:54

I enjoy these tutorials, however I do have to ask why would you choose F-Spot over Digikam? If you are using a Gnome UI, F-Spot would make sense. But, with a KDE UI, Digikam is a much better and natural choice.

From: Anonymous Pinguinista at: 2010-04-27 15:11:21

Thank you for these tutorials; they've been a big help to me. They are a great starting point when you've just installed a new distro and would like to get a quick overview.

I'd like to add two tips which you did not mention in your tutorial. I hope new PCLinuxOS users will find them helpful.

To help you select the fastest repository, there is a mini-script available called Repository Speed Test. It will run a test of the available repos and report back a list of ranked results (from fastest to slowest). If I remember correctly, when it finishes it will even give you the option of enabling the fastest repo in your Synaptic sources list.

You can find it under: Software Center > Repository Speed Test. 

To add multimedia codecs (libdvdcss, win32codecs, etc.) in one step:

Start up Synaptic, search for the task-multimedia package and install it.

From: Davey at: 2010-04-27 20:11:08

Nice thorough run-through that shows off PCLOS's amazing ease and functionality. My one quibble is, before opening Synaptic, open Repo Speed Test from the menu, let it do its test and choose the fastest available repo for you.

From: gemilang at: 2010-04-28 13:18:31

Why install both Brasero and K3B ? PCLinuxOS come with SMPlayer. Why install another VLC Media Player, Totem and Xine ?

From: Anonymous at: 2010-04-27 06:39:54

Firewall needs to be put to On. Icon on desktop. Add Locale icon is on the desktop - where do you live/language/time etc Codecs to add via synaptic incluse libdvdcss, lame, win32codecs-all Hint - dont forfet to lock both your icons and widgets when noy tinkering For safety backup your perfect desktop /home regularly

From: Anonymous at: 2010-05-02 22:24:16

I've found these tutorials useful in the past.  Of course not everyone will want the same, or as much, software as the writer, and some have commented on the selection.  That's fine and doesn't change the usefulness of the tutorials, though "The Perfect Desktop" is perhaps not the best name when the software choices are controversial-perhaps "My Perfect Desktop" would be a more accurate choice.

From: Anonymous at: 2012-06-09 03:52:49

Thanks, I am new to Linux and am trying to set up PC Linux OS Zen Mini on my PC. I know what I want, just not exaclty what it is called in Linux software. This really helped. I now know names and functions when using the package manager. I want a minimal install with just the few things I want. Zen is a great starting place. I do know some multi platform open source software, as I have used Source Forge for years on MS Windows. I love Clementine and VLC player and music is the most important thing to me.

Just a suggestion to the posters here. Do not try to look like you are smarter or a better Linux user than the author. He had the knowledge to write the article. If you believe a piece of software is better, say exactly why, and on what hardware. I am installing to an older computer, resources mean alot. Is it better because it has more functions (uses more recources)? Is it better because it is lighter, but does almost the same, and only lacks functions few users would ever want?

Not everyone will want the same desktop, what is perfect, is what works best for me! You see, because of what is important to me, Audacity and Easy MP3 Gain will be on my desktop. Now all I need is a batch audio convertor. I am ready to try OOG files.