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The last time we reviewed PCLinuxOS was 2014. That was enough time for many distributions to have come and gone, but PCLinuxOS still has a cult status, drawing continual devotion from its users. Originally based on Mandrake back in the early 2000s, this distro keeps chugging along regardless of outside trends. PCLinuxOS is known for doing things differently than other distros, so what makes its users so happy, and how does it stack up for the Average Joe? Check out our PCLinuxOS review below.


From the get-go, it’s apparent this is not a distro for novices. For instance, the homepage gives a terminal command to transfer the ISO image onto a USB flash drive rather than recommending a graphical program. Whatever ISO format it uses is weird and wouldn’t work properly with several USB boot creators, though Etcher got it working in the end. Once running, the installer is quite different than any Ubuntu derivatives. You may even have to reset once or twice to get through the whole process.

Thankfully, it has the kind of desktop installer most distros are now using. You can do whatever you like while the OS is installing, safe in its own window. Though unique, its brash color scheme was visually disorientating during hard drive partitioning. Unlike something from Ubuntu or Linux Mint, you may be second-guessing yourself and treading very carefully through its technicolor maze.

Like a Fedora system, the timezone and password setup were configured on its first boot post-installation. This may be annoying for a single computer but perfect if you are going to install this over many machines. You can install it, then leave users to define passwords and timezones on their first boot.

On subsequent boots we found loading times were fast, even from an old mechanical hard drive.

Desktop Usage

The desktop theme is unique to say the least, with a dark theme and highlights that go for all-out color clash rather than tasteful minimalism. Think ’80s Doctor Who, and you’ll get the idea.

Weirdly, the main menu isn’t split into the same categories as normal, with the System and Utilities sections nowhere to be found. Instead, the menu entries are spread through other categories, with Konsole relegated to the Miscellaneous section.

Like its Mandrake ancestor, PCLinuxOS comes with its own centralized settings manager, similar to SuSE’s YaST. This sits alongside KDE’s normal System Settings application and is featured in other PCLinuxOS variants.

The desktop is extremely quick and responsive, but then again the compositor is disabled by default, so expect screen tearing. After enabling compositing, we were pleased to find the OS stayed smooth and fast. Overall, the system’s RAM footprint was around 1 GB, with the CPU sitting idle below 2%.

This was especially impressive on a machine that was sluggish when running KDE Neon – itself a fairly lean distro. Even with something as bloated as Firefox, it stayed smooth and felt substantially more responsive than the old copy of Windows 7 we still had installed. If you want to try running KDE on an old machine, this may be your best bet.


As for software, Timeshift is installed by default. Online video such as BBC News and YouTube works out of the box. The maintainers don’t seem fussy about proprietary software, with packages like Skype available in the repositories. Virtual Box comes with a quick installer in the system menu for those wanting to stay bleeding edge.

Interestingly, PCLinuxOS uses the apt package manager, something normally used by Debian/Ubuntu-based systems. On top of this is the Synaptic software manager, which will immediately exclude anyone used to something like Ubuntu’s Software Center, but will be greatly welcomed by Linux veterans. Unlike Ubuntu derivatives, PCLinuxOS doesn’t use sudo, preferring the old-school root method.

Some Caveats

Unfortunately, Synaptic isn’t split into categories like most distros, making navigation more tiresome. It also seems there aren’t many games on offer, not even many Linux staples. There’s also no easy way to install Steam – doubly frustrating as the website tries to provide a DEB file for this RPM-based system.

Diving into the terminal, it doesn’t bother giving an installer command when you try launching an application that isn’t installed, which is something Ubuntu variants normally provide. We also had a random problem with our sound chip in this PCLinuxOS review that didn’t affect other distros or Windows 7.

Overall Thoughts

This distribution may not be for novices, but it makes no claim to be. PCLinuxOS users like things to stay just the way they are – you install it once, then forget about it. The demographic seems to lean strongly toward older computer users, and these people probably couldn’t give two hoots about the issues we describe. If you’re sick of today’s bloat and yearn for a Linux distro the way things were before Ubuntu, this may be just what you’re looking for.

Still not sure which distro is right for you? Try our list of the 9 Best Linux Distros for 2023.

John Knight

John Knight is a writer, most notably for Linux Format (UK), Linux Journal (US), and Maximum PC (US). Outside of open source and general computing material, John has also written for automotive publications, and is currently writing material on vintage gaming and drumming. Other areas of interest include Psychology, French, and Japanese.

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Xiaomi Mi Qled Tv 75 Review: Great For Movies, Not So Much For Gaming


See price at Flipkart

About this Mi QLED TV 75 review: I used the Mi QLED TV 75-inch television for six days running software version QTG3.200305.006.1328. The unit was provided to Android Authority by Xiaomi for this review.

What you need to know about the Xiaomi Mi QLED TV 75

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Mi QLED TV 75-inch: Rs. 1,19,999 (~$1,600)

The Mi QLED TV 75 is a 4K TV taking a value-focused approach towards large-screen displays. Priced at Rs. 1,19,999 in India, it undercuts other QLED sets by a significant margin, and the only competitors price-wise stick to regular LCD panels. The television can be purchased via chúng tôi and Flipkart and is available only in gray. Xiaomi has not announced plans for a global launch.

The feature set includes most modern codecs and formats including Dolby Vision, HDR 10, HDR 10+. Built on top of Android TV with a serving of Patchwall on the side, it offers access to a wide range of streaming services as well.

How’s the design?

The Mi QLED TV 75 takes a lot of inspiration from the 55-inch model and looks suitably premium. It’s affordable in the broader scheme of large-screen televisions but is still Xiaomi’s most premium television. It’s very evident that Xiaomi has paid a lot of attention to detail.

What’s the Mi QLED TV software like?

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

A key differentiator for Mi televisions is the Patchwall interface. It’s not as flashy as, say, WebOS on LG TVs, but it makes up for it with integration across a wide range of regional and international streaming services. More importantly, the television pulls DTH or Direct to Home services and seamlessly integrates them into the interface.


Xiaomi has talked up the audio prowess of its new television. Offering up a total of 30W of output using two tweeters and four woofers, there’s plenty of volume. However, that volume doesn’t really translate to a well-separated sound stage. Despite the drivers being spread out across the expansive size of the television, I found myself constantly adjusting the volume to hear dialogue.

The TV supports eARC over HDMI and can shoot over Dolby Atmos audio to a receiver if you want to integrate it into a home theater system.

How is the remote?

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Xiaomi has a unified remote across its television and streaming device portfolio, and that’s exactly what you get here. It would have been nice to see a more premium remote considering the high-end positioning of the television, but what’s here is functional.

Xiaomi’s included remote gets the job done, but a premium television deserves a higher quality remote.

There’s a direction pad, direct shortcuts for Netflix and Prime Video, as well as buttons to drop you into Patchwall or the Android TV interface as well a back button. I wish some of these were customizable. The volume button doubles up as a mute button by double pressing. However, it is way too easy to mute TV audio while quickly tapping down the volume levels and Xiaomi should add a function to disable this feature.

Smart Hub functionality

Xiaomi has also talked about smart hub functionality for the TV, but, realistically, this is just an extension to the Google Assistant built into every Android TV. You can invoke the function by tapping the Google Assistant button on the remote and voicing out your command. It is possible to toggle the mic off.

What’s different here is the inclusion of four far-field microphones which should let you simply call out for the smart assistant by using the “Hey Google” command and the TV should pick it up. I had reliability issues here and it rarely worked for me.

The Nissan Leaf: Nicely Done, Not For Everyone

The Nissan Leaf is the first of its kind: a truly mass-market battery-electric car. Starting in December, Nissan will begin selling and leasing the car in North America, Europe and Japan. Globally, it will build 50,000 Leafs for the 2011 model year.

Check out the photo gallery

What’s New

A 600-pound, 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which lines the floor underneath the cabin, powers the Leaf for approximately 100 miles, a number that will grow or shrink depending on conditions and your driving style.

The Leaf draws a full charge in approximately eight hours from a 220-volt “Level II” charging dock; Nissan is leaning heavily on the Leaf’s first buyers to have a such a charger professionally installed in their garages, primarily because the company is aware of how profoundly annoying it will be to charge that big battery from a 110-volt outlet (it will take some 20 hours).

What’s Good

The Interior: The Leaf is surprisingly roomy for a little hatchback. Legroom in the driver and passenger seats was perfectly adequate. (I don’t know how I’d feel if I were taller than 6′ 6″), and Nissan says it has successfully mounted three car seats at the same time in the backseat. The cargo bay is remarkably deep.

The User Interface: The instruments and control panel are all suitably tech-tastic. A sharp-looking digital instrument cluster performs the usual functions (speedometer, odometer), tells you your remaining driving range, and gives you feedback on your energy usage, although the easiest way to figure out how efficiently you’re driving is to watch how quickly your remaining range drops. (By the way, push this car hard on the freeway, and that number will plummet.) In one mode, the bright, easily readable navigation screen displays the radius in which you can operate the car without running out of charge. Charging and interior climate can be controlled remotely via the Leaf’s smartphone app. And of course you’ll find the usual suite of mid-grade automotive gadgetry: Bluetooth, voice command, cruise control, an optional backup camera.

The Price: Lithium-ion batteries are expensive, and Nissan hasn’t released the price of the Leaf’s battery pack, but a reasonably informed guess pegs it somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000. Yet after the $7,500 federal tax credit, the Leaf starts at $25,280—cheap enough that no one understands how Nissan will make money on it. Lease rates are reasonable too: $2,000 down, $350 a month. And in states such as California and Colorado, which offer additional incentives (a $5,000 rebate and a $6,000 tax credit, respectively), the Leaf starts to become very attractive, particularly when you consider that you’ll never buy gas for the car, change the oil, replace the spark plugs, and so on.

What’s Bad

The Price: For people who don’t live in states with additional tax credits, $25,280 is a lot to spend for a compact car that can’t go farther than 100-something miles without stopping for a several-hour recharge—that is, for a second or third car.

For Many People, The Exterior Design: The car’s looks have grown on me—and it is certainly distinctive—but to others, the Leaf can look like a cartoon insect. Many of those design tweaks were made either to improve aerodynamics or reduce wind noise; for example, the bug eyes are there to deflect wind around the side-view mirrors, reducing noise at high speeds. But still.

The Verdict

The Leaf is a quick, nimble, fun-to-drive car that is, at least theoretically, more than adequate for the daily driving needs of 90 percent of Americans. Are you a dentist in Denver who bought a Land Rover for weekend ski trips, but now you’re tired of needlessly torching barrels of oil during your daily commute? The Leaf is a perfect workweek car for you. But when the weekend comes and it’s time to drive 300 miles in a stretch, the Leaf will not do, which is why you’ll be keeping the Land Rover in the garage.

The Nissan Leaf

The Leaf’s Charge Ports

Profile View of the Leaf

The Leaf’s “Engine”

The Leaf’s Navigation Screen

The Leaf’s Instrument Cluster

A Straight-On View of the Leaf

Shutterfly Photo Book Review: Great Photos, Not

Founded in 1999, Shutterfly has been in the online photo printing business the longest among all its DIY photo book competitors. It’s very popular, with millions of customers ordering photo books, prints, cards, and other photo products every year.

Shutterfly has three options for creating your photo book: Make My Book, Custom Path, and Simple Path. The Make My Book service is where Shutterfly’s designers create your book for you. Custom Path has you make your book and arrange your photos. And Simple Path is where you make the book but the photos are automatically arranged for you.

The books come in six sizes (all measured in inches): 8×8 (starting at $19.99), 8×11 (starting at $24.99), 11×8 (starting at $24.99), 10×10 (starting at $29.99), 12×12 (starting at $69.99), and the new 11×14 (starting at $74.99). Various styles are available for additional costs, including hard or soft covers in leather and other materials, matte, glossy, and layflat pages, and more.

In our review, we made a Custom Path book with a matte hardcover and standard pages in the newest and largest 11×14 size. The book came to $102.37 excluding shipping. Our theme: a yearbook of PCWorld’s “The Full Nerd” YouTube show.

Editor’s note: This review is part of our best photo book roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them

Creating the book

Shutterfly’s app was at times disorienting and cumbersome. But after playing with the photo book builder for 15 to 30 minutes or so, you should hopefully have the hang of it.

The same small scroll space also lets you view the pages, which makes re-ordering them equally annoying. Instead, hit the Arrange tab to more easily review and move pages around.

Dieter Holger/IDG

Shutterfly’s Arrange tab is a much more pleasant way to order photos compared to the tiny scroll space you can see on the bottom of this image.

Dieter Holger/IDG

You’ll find a wide range of layouts for placing your photos. Here’s an example of a three photo layout we used.

Shutterfly warns you right away when it thinks a photo’s resolution is too low. It does this with an exclamation point, which basically means you need to choose a new photo or resize it so it’s smaller.

There’s also a huge range of clip art you can put in the book under the Embellishments section. Finding clip art is easy thanks to the search bar—just type in what you’re looking for to bring up stickers.

The final printed product

Shutterfly includes 6 to 10 business day economy shipping on all orders of $39 and more if you use the code “SHIP39” at checkout. Looking for something faster? You can even order 2 business day rush shipping for an additional cost. The price for faster shipping varies depending on the size of the book. (See all of Shutterfly’s shipping options here.)

The photo book came in a branded, bright orange cardboard packaging that protected the book in transit. Like other photo books, it was wrapped in cellophane. But you can also choose to have your photo book sent in a gift box.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Unlike some photo book services, Shutterfly was able to print the same images on a larger surface while preserving quality.

The pages were fairly thin, though, because we didn’t order the premium lay flat option. The front and back cover was also thinner than the other books we reviewed. And the blank white paper pages at the front and back of the book were somewhat flimsy and seem prone to tearing. The white pages don’t share the same paper stock as the photo pages, and create a rather jarring disconnect for the book as a whole.

Probably the worst thing about Shutterfly’s book is that some text was trimmed off the page. We didn’t receive any warnings about the trimming risk in the editor, and by all accounts the text was correctly placed in the margins. This should be a major concern if you’re working with text. The good news: You can request a refund or new book via Shutterfly’s customer service for situations like this.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

As you can see in the lower left corner, the “I” in “Installing” is missing. This shouldn’t have happened because the text was never flagged in the web editor, and was placed within the printable area. The caption at the top was trimmed as well.

Another frustration is the white barcode in the bottom right of the outer and inner back cover. Shutterfly did charge us to remove its logo, but there was no option to get rid of this barcode. None of the four other services we reviewed print a barcode on the back. It just looks tacky.

Bottom line

We ordered Shutterfly’s largest available 11×14 photo book for $74.99, paid $9.99 to remove the logo on the back page, and paid $15.99 for the matte finish, totaling $102.37 with free economy shipping. Of course, we went with a very large size and there are definitely cheaper options out there for as low as $24.99 for an 11×8 book without customizations.

Still, we find Shutterfly pretty pricey considering we didn’t even get the premium lay flat options or additional customizations. AdoramaPix makes a much thicker, sturdier 10×12.5 book with silk lay flat pages for $75.99 including shipping.

But if want a huge 11×14 photo book, Shutterfly is the way to go. No other services capable of printing high-quality photos on a photo book of this size are out there—yet.

The Best Star Wars Gadgets For Techies (Not Trekkies)

Now that Star Wars: The Last Jedi has hit theaters (and broken records), force fever is in full effect. It can be hard to wade through the endless stream of Star Wars merchandise, so we’ve done it for you. We’ve identified six great pieces of Star Wars gear that are perfect for any Apple fan, or gadget lover.

A lot of these gadgets are best to see for yourself. Check out the hands-on video with all of our favorite Star Wars gear.

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Propel Drones

I tested out the Propel 74-Z speeder bike battling drone. This was a special edition version that included a whole light and sound show when you crack the seal on the box.

Once you open it, the box lights up, and the epic Star Wars theme song starts playing. This is the collectors display that you can keep your drone in if you choose.

Flying the drone is pretty simple with the included remote. The remote looks a little over-complicated, but you have additional buttons for controlling the music, as well as battling other drones.

I was overwhelmingly impressed with the amount of detail that went into everything. The drone has hand-painted detail work, and it is even sealed with wax for collectors who want it in good condition. Even the instruction manual is laid out as an instruction manual for the storm troopers that would be reading it.

They have a few options other than the speeder bike, though that was my favorite. You can also pick up a Tie fighter, or an X-Wing.

They can each be found from $122 – $169 on Amazon.

Sphero R2-D2

My favorite droid in the galaxy is still R2-D2. That’s why I was so excited when Sphero announced that they’d be releasing a remote control R2 unit.

It has tons of detail work like the little lights on his head, and of course the characteristic R2-D2 sound effects.

The tracks on each leg make it easy to control on nearly any surface, compared to the round bots that can have traction issues on hardwood floors.

The app has tons of additional tricks you can do with the little bot, and you can even learn to code. That makes it educational as well as awesome!

You can pick one up on Amazon for $129.

Sphero BB-8

While I prefer my R2, there are large swaths of people who are solidly in the BB-8 camp. BB-8 stole hearts when he premiered in the Force Awakens a couple years back.

Sphero did an admirable job translating the on-screen droid into the real world. The little touches are amazing, and it is nearly magical as you control a physical BB-8 around your home.

There are a couple different versions of the BB-8 droid, the standard version, as well as the special edition one. The special edition model is way cooler and also includes a metal case as well as the Force Band. The Force band allows you control BB-8 without your phone, just by waving your arm around. It also has the “battle worn” finish which is matte instead of glossy.

You can pick up the standard version for $129, or the more impressive special edition for the same price.

Sphero BB-9E and R2-Q5

Last but not least are our evil mechanical friends. BB-9E and R2-Q5 are newer in the Star Wars saga, though they look sharp in their all black exteriors.

These representatives of the dark side are a great foil to the heroic BB-8 and R2-D2.

They have many of the same features as the other droids, but with their own look, sounds, and animations.

BB-9E runs $137.99 on Amazon, and R2-Q5 is $153.22.

OtterBox iPhone cases

There are a host of different Star Wars cases out there, many overpriced simply because of the movie tie-in, while offering some pretty terrible protection.

If you are going to pick up some Star Wars cases for your phone, why not go with one of the most known, and respected case manufacturers?

OtterBox has a whole lineup of Star Wars-themed cases out for the iPhone 7/8 and iPhone 7 Plus/8 Plus.

They are all pretty awesome, though the storm trooper one sticks out as my favorite.

Unfortunately, right now they aren’t available for the iPhone X, though OtterBox assured me they were working on it and would be released soon.

The cases run $44.95 and $55.95 for the regular, and plus sized versions.

Plox Levitating Death Star Speaker

Ever wanted to own your own Death Star? Thanks to Plox, you can.

This speaker magnetically hovers above its base, and is able to rotate in mid-air.

The speaker ports are on all sides, which gives you 360º of audio.

This is surely a display piece that will look great on any shelf.

Since it is Bluetooth, you can connect to almost any modern device like your Mac, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.

For the size, it also sounds quite good. I can see how audio quality could be lacking a little bit compared to other speakers in the price range, but if you are getting this, it is for the cool-floating-Death-Star factor.

You can pick one up for $154 on Amazon.

Wrap up

Any (or all) of these are great gifts to yourself, or to any other Star Wars fan. They are unique, and perfect for any gadget lover.

Let us know which of these sticks out as your favorite, or if you’ve got another option that we haven’t listed.

Review: Vellum, The Ebook Generator For Mac With Added Prettiness

One of the great things about technology is the way it has democratized the publishing world. Today, anyone can publish an ebook on iBooks and Amazon, whether as a freebie or a commercial book.

But as I found out when I came to create my own ebook, generating an ebook that looks attractive on all of the different devices available is a rather tougher challenge. That’s the job the Mac app Vellum claims to do, so I put it to the test … 

Vellum attempts to intelligently parse the file as it is imported. If you have a table of contents, Vellum should recognize this and mirror the structure. In my case, I’d written my technothriller in scenes rather than chapters, so Vellum had few headings to go on. It picked up the page-breaks in my pre-amble, and decided these were chapters, and also split the story itself into three.

Once left with only one ‘chapter’ for the preamble, I renamed it to Preamble. However, Vellum still thought this was a chapter, and numbered it. To persuade it to lose the numbering, you return to the Chapter menu, select Convert to and choose Uncategorised. If if had been a chapter, and you just wanted to lose the numbering, this can be done by selecting the gear menu top-right and unchecking numbered.

My scene breaks were three asterisks centred, and Vellum recognized these, turning them into horizontal lines in iBooks, for example. The text remains fully editable, in case you spot any last-minute typos.

You also need a cover image, which needs to be created in external software. Vellum checks that your image is the right size and shape for all platforms. Note that while most device screens are small, you still need a high-resolution image: anything up to 2400 x 3840 pixels, depending on the ratio of the book.

If you have a conventional chapter structure, Vellum will use your own book in these examples. As mine doesn’t, it instead uses the opening of Moby Dick.

Of course, one issue with attempting to control the appearance of an ebook is that it will look different on different devices. Vellum has a handy preview feature to show you how your book will appear on the iPad, iPhone, Kindle Paperwhite and Nook Simple Touch. Each view provides a simulation that allows you to page through the book.


Were the app a free one, or if it cost a small, one-off sum, my conclusion would be a no-brainer. It’s really easy to use, and generates great results.

My hesitation is over the cost. Vellum offers a choice of three ways to pay for it. Unlocking it to generate a single ebook (in all three formats) costs $29.99. A 10-book license costs $99.99, bringing the per-book cost down to ten dollars, while an Unlimited license is a rather eye-watering $199.99.

If you’re creating a free book, thirty bucks might seem a steep price just to make it prettier, when there are plenty of free tools around. But for commercial books, I think it’s a lot easier to justify. Writing a book is a pretty major investment of time and effort, so $30 to ensure that the end result is as pleasing as possible to readers is, I think, not as unreasonable as it might seem.

There is also some good news. You can edit the book as many times as you like (it just locks the title, sub-title and author to prevent cheating); there’s no time-limit for the 10-book deal; and your credits remain valid for all future updates of the app.

All-in, for a commercial book, I think it’s worth the cost.

Vellum can be downloaded direct from the website or via the Mac App Store. If you’d like to check out my technothriller, 11/9, it’s being launched as a Kickstarter project.

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