Ways to get PCLinuxOS

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  • Relevant to All editions of PCLinuxOS.

This page will explain how to get a copy of PCLinuxOS for you to install and use.


PCLinuxOS is free software. It is supplied as a large file known as an ISO image file which can be downloaded from the Internet. Once downloaded you need to transfer it to a suitable medium which can be booted by your computer. Nowadays, this is usually a USB memory stick or SD card but could also be a DVD. It is not sufficient just to copy the ISO file to the medium because special information is needed to allow your computer to boot from the chosen medium. The steps needed will be outlined below and differ depending on the type of media and whether you are using Windows or Linux.

Once successfully booted you can preview PCLinuxOS without actually installing it. The OS will run entirely in memory and will not change data on your existing hard drive(s).

Downloading PCLinuxOS

First you need to decide which Desktop Environment (DE) you wish to use as there are separate ISOs for each of the available Desktop Environments. More information about each of the DEs can be found here.

Once you have chosen there are 2 different ways to download PCLinuxOS.

Points to note:

  • PCLinuxOS is only available for Intel 64bit platforms. There is no support for ARM, MIPS or 32bit platforms.
  • All ISOs are hybrid which means they can be imaged ("burned") to DVD as well as USB memory sticks/cards.

Checking the integrity of the downloaded ISO file

Before using the downloaded ISO file you should check that it has been downloaded OK. On the download site you will see that as well as the .iso file there is a .md5sum file with the same name. In this file there is a long hexadecimal number which forms a checksum for the file. If you recalculate this number using your downloaded file it should match exactly the value shown in the .md5sum file.

On Linux systems

On a Linux system we can use the md5sum command in a terminal window to calculate the value.

[user@localhost ~]$ cd Downloads
[user@localhost Downloads]$ md5sum pclinuxos64-kde5-darkstar-2020.03.iso
35e7d91b5fd0b387b6c276f529fa3ab2  pclinuxos64-kde5-darkstar-2020.03.iso

If you want a GUI solution then some of the image burning tools in Linux will display the md5sum value. For example the K3B tool in KDE:


On Microsoft Windows systems

On a Windows system (Windows 7 and later) you can use the CertUtil in a command window to calculate the value.

cd Downloads
CertUtil -hashfile pclinuxos64-kde5-darkstar-2020.03.iso MD5


Alternatively if you want a GUI solution you'll need to download a free MD5sum generation program. One example is md5summer


Creating Installation Media

Once you have successfully downloaded and checked the ISO file the next stage is to create a medium which can be booted by your computer. Whatever media you choose it must be sufficient in size to accommodate the ISO image. Nowadays this precludes using CDs since all the ISO images are larger than 700MB but DVDs can be used. Modern PCs often don't have DVD reader devices so the best method is to use a USB memory stick or SD card.

On Microsoft Windows systems

To create a bootable USB memory stick or SD card on Windows you will need to download and install an application. One popular example is balenaEtcher


With Etcher (and most applications of this type) you just have to specify the ISO file to be used and the device to write it to and then press Flash!

On Linux systems

Most Linux distributions provide GUI tools to create a bootable USB memory stick or SD card. Some examples are:

  • IsoDumper on Mageia
  • On Ubuntu the Disks application has a "Restore an image" action
  • Minstick on Mint
  • ddCopy on PCLinuxOS

With these (and most applications of this type) you just have to specify the ISO file to be used and the device to write it to and then press Go.

For example using ddCopy on PCLinuxOS:


  • On any Linux distribution you can use the dd command in a root terminal to write the image directly to a device. The format of the command to use is:
dd if=name.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=4M status=progress && sync

Replace the name after if= with the path/name of the ISO file you downloaded.

You must replace the X in sdX to make the correct device name for your media.

When using the dd command you MUST use the correct DEVICE NAME or you risk OVERWRITING YOUR HARD DISK WITHOUT ANY WARNING