A quick look at Mandriva 2009.1 Spring

[ Friday, 22 May 2009, tzglobic ]



They say first love never dies, and I guess there is a degree of truth in that. Mandrake the predecessor of Mandriva was my first Linux, and despite the fact that over the years our ways parted, I have a sentiment for this distribution and I come back to it every now and again to check what’s new. This time round I decided to have a look the newest addition to Mandriva family; Madriva One 2009.1 Spring, boldly promising to bring the best of the latest cutting edge technology to your desktop. As promises go this is a big one, and after reading the release note on the Madriva website I wondered if this once probably the most popular distro is ready regain the leader position.

First Impressions and Installation

After popping the live CD into the drive, rebooting my laptop and waiting for a couple of minuets for the system to load I was welcomed to new, shiny KDE 4.2.2 desktop. The default theme is aya with a light blue background and Mandriva logo on it, even though I’m not an aya lover I have to admit, things were looking very good indeed.

Mandriva developers spend a lot of time and pay a lot of attention to visual aspects of the system, and this immediately shows-what you get is well thought out and balanced desktop. Leaving visual aspect aside I went to the central control panel to check the hardware detection; Mandriva lived up to its reputation and all but the webcam was correctly detected. The Ricoh webcams installed in some of HP and Sony laptops including mine are a constant nuisance to Linux users, and none of the distros I’ve tried so far managed to recognised it. I’m not going to pick on Mandriva in that respect. My wireless card was correctly detected and so I proceed with establishing the connection to my home network, a task that took me about 30 second and was painless and straightforward; another point scored for Mandriva here.

As responsiveness of the live CD was becoming an issue and my first impressions were excellent, I decided not to wait any longer and install the system on my hard drive. After clicking the appropriate icon on the desktop, the installation wizard has started offering partitioning options including resizing of the Windows partition if you have one, the option I decided to test. Wizard proceeded to do the necessary work while I was still able to use the Internet to check my email and the latest news on BBC website. The whole instillation process took just under 18 minutes and I have to say I was very impressed by it.

This is a bold claim but to me the newest Mandriva installation wizard is probably the best I’ve ever used. It is simple, intuitive and very fast and I can’t see a single reason why anyone with no previous Linux experience and limited computer skills would run into a problem using it, well done Mandriva team. After rebooting all the settings and changes from live CD session, including my network password were remembered, something that is still lacking in some other live CD distros and adds another points to so far nearly excellent record. Overall in terms of installation and hardware detection Mandriva scores the highest mark with a small minus for the webcam recognition.

Software and Multimedia handling

Mandriva One comes with a decent selection of software; all the usual utilities found in other leading distros are available here as well. For any additional software just fire up rmpdrake, using Install & Remove Software tab in kick off menu and vast Mandriva repositories will provide you with almost any software you might need. Installing and removing software is very straightforward, if you know what you are after, just find and select the require packages, approve the selection and wait for the system to do the rest for you. If you new to Linux and don’t know much about what’s on offer or if you just browsing to see what’s available, tabs grouping available software in thematic categories can come very handy, just click on a chosen category tab and in right-hand pane you’ll see the selection of available packages. Software management tool is very intuitive and works smooth and fast, over the curse of last few weeks of testing and a large number of different packages I installed or removed I didn’t experience a single problem with it, my overall experience was very pleasant, and I have to say this is probably one of the best software management tools I’ve used recently.Whether you’re an advanced user or a just discovering the Linux grounds you should quickly find you’re way round it and just enjoy using it.

When it comes to multimedia Mandriva One does very well, it will play common formats out of the box which is a nice feature , especially for less seasoned users. If you attempt to play a multimedia that require a proprietary codecs not available by default, system will launch codeina web shop offering you an option of purchasing an appropriate solution. Obviously you can opt out and stick to free packages available for the Linux platform which in most common case scenarios will do good enough, if however you are prepared to dig out few pennies it might make sense to upgrade to powerpack edition which will include all the proprietary codecs out of the box along with other commercial software you might find useful (list here) and on-line support should you require it. It this place I’d like to highlight that Mandriva is a powerful system available free of charge and you don’t have to spend a penny to get the full functionality. However unlike some other major distribution Mandriva is a commercial venture and as such will offer you several additional paid for options, like support and commercial software and this is not a bad thing at all, some users might require it. At the end of the day it all comes to personal requirements, for those on a tight budget or those just not willing to dish out money on software most of the functionality offered in Power Pack can be archived with free solution and a little creativity just like in any other major distribution. If on the other hand you are looking for ready made solutions and technical support, Power Pack might be a right option for you. My advice is get the free version first and see if you like it then carefully evaluate your needs before clicking the purchase button, it is simple and best method to avoid latter disappointment. To sum up – Mandriva does an excellent job in terms of software management and multimedia handling, new users will appreciate intuitive interfaces and ease of use, and more advance users will appreciate the wealth of configuration options and fast and solid performance.

Conclusion

The newest Mandriva is no doubt an excellent system, easy to configure and use, appealing visually and offering a very powerful system under the hood. I really like the look and feel of it, but somehow I doubt it will dominate the Linux word or challenge the dominant position of Microsoft Windows. In comparison to Ubuntu the most popular Linux distro at the moment, Mandriva has nothing to be ashamed of, if anything many things are going to be easier for new users and I bet if you take 10 Linux novices and let them play for half an hour with both OS, the majority will point to Mandriva as more friendly. This however doesn’t matter much as if asked I will still recommend Ubuntu to any new user, and there are few reasons for that. The first one is the community, whatever problem you might have with Ubuntu, there are countless forums and websites dedicated to Ubuntu and the chances are you’ll find a solution to your problem sooner rather than latter. In case of Madriva community support in comparison to other major distribution is very poor; the result of ill thought Mandriva approach to community in last few years. Mandriva club available only to paying subscribers proved to be a big failure and recently Mandriva opened it up to everyone, still though it is a bit of a ghost town. If you walk into your local bookshop you’ll find at least few books on Ubuntu, one or two on Red Hat / Fedora and openSuse and absolutely nothing about Mandriva. Searching Amazon for any kind of introduction to the OS returns nothing. Uncertainty about which direction is going to be adapted by the company in the future remains an issue, probably the last thing you want is to get involved into a community project that is going to be fully commercialised sometime along the way or the other way round – to pay for software that will fail to gain a significant market share and disappear into oblivion. Judging from the recent announcements, people in Mandriva headquarters finally realised that without strong and vibrant community achieving success in the Linux word is nearly impossible. I genuinely hope that the recent attempts at rebuilding community spirit will work out as the OS is definitely worth it, but no doubt this will take time and lot of effort. To give justice to the company though they managed to develop one of the best Linux distributions around, it is available for free, and if any of the above doesn’t pose a problem for you, it is a distro worth a try.


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24 Comments

fold this thread Betty  Saturday, 23 May 2009 o godz. 1:09 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

Mandriva 2009.1 is one of the best, if not the best, KDE based distro. It beats OpenSuse and PCLinux in almost every category that I deem important, and has an excellent control panel on par with anything Windows has ever produced. In fact, the Mandriva control panel is so good, PCLinux copied it on their distro.

Having said that, I’d take Ubuntu 9.04 over any other operating system,(KDE or Gnome) and that includes Mandriva, Vista, or Mac. The latest version of Ubuntu has so many little things that show attention to detail that it hards to believe we can download and use this system for free.

So, if you can’t live without KDE, go with Mandriva. Otherwise, I’d advise you to use the Ubuntu 9.04.

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fold this thread Linux KDE User  Saturday, 23 May 2009 o godz. 3:42 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

What is that weather Plasmoid in the last screenshot any link for that??

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fold this thread TeaAge  Saturday, 23 May 2009 o godz. 8:27 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

The plasmoid is yawp (yet another weather plasmoid). It’s installed by default.

Have you ever tried the HybridISO-Idea? With Mandriva Seed (for Windows and Linux) it was never easier to create a Live-USB-Stick … fascinating!

The Mandriva community might be small in comparison the the ubuntu one. But it’s still growing and big enough to help you with all problems you might face to.

All-in-all a very good review. Thank you for that!

Regards,
TeaAge

 
 
fold this thread Chunkey Munkey  Saturday, 23 May 2009 o godz. 4:43 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

I can’t agree with your opinion about the Ubuntu and Mandriva communities. I have been an Ubuntu user since 4.10, but their community leaves a lot to be desired. The majority of the users at http://ubuntuforums.org are rude, ignorant, or unhelpful. And the sheer volume of new threads causes a post for help to quickly get lost in the oblivion of “Page 2″, and by then you’re out of luck. Generally, only interesting topics like “How to play encrpyted DVDs” or “Which filesystem is the best” get answered. Other uninteresting but critical things relating to error messages, obscure hardware failures, etc. go unanswered. Bugs reported to launchpad stagnate and go unfixed, often for years. On the other hand, on the Mandriva forums, at least an attempt is made to answer all threads, and the moderators are helpful and informed.

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fold this thread stephen  Saturday, 23 May 2009 o godz. 6:33 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +3

Mandriva 2009.1 SPRING has the best KDE and Gnome. It is much easier to use than Ubuntu 9.04 and comes with lots of stuff out-of-the-box. What more could we ask for? Its FREE!

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fold this thread shamil  Saturday, 23 May 2009 o godz. 8:49 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

@ Betty
There’s mandriva 2009.1 in individual xfce, lxde, kde4, and gnome flavors that you can download as different iso’s. Take a better look and stay away from ubuntu’s disgusting use of sudo.

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fold this thread Hussam Al-Tayeb  Saturday, 23 May 2009 o godz. 9:15 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

If you’re been using Linux since the early 90s, you’ll know Mandriva is an excellent distribution.
Only people who have been using Linux or 2 or 3 years like Ubuntu.
Sudo is a very very bad thing. I’ve been using Linux since 1993 and I can honestly say that sudo is the worst thing I’ve seen in UNIX/Linux computing.

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fold this thread Hussam Al-Tayeb  Saturday, 23 May 2009 o godz. 9:18 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Just to clarify the above, try any old 90s distribution like Slackware and you’ll find out why later Mandriva became the best.

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fold this thread Bala  Saturday, 23 May 2009 o godz. 12:34 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

Mandriva 2009.1 is one of the best linux distros available today. It does what I need, is stable and polished. I am not going to run any other OS for daily use.

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fold this thread shamil  Saturday, 23 May 2009 o godz. 12:47 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

2009.1 gave me enough incentive to switch over to mandriva for all of my computers. This is a solidly stable release. This is what ubuntu should be. Despite the shortcomings of mandriva as a company in the last year. This distro did not seek to dissatisfy just like 2008.1 didn’t.

For my rant about sudo. Ubuntu is so graphically and command line tied to sudo it’s disgusting. Sudo in ubuntu is just a different way to login as root in reality. This is why mandriva still using root as default for admin tasks is more secure than ubuntu.

This distro is much better for new users than ubuntu is. Even pclos is better for new users than ubuntu is. Mandriva is solid, easy to use, and the control panel makes administrative tasks by cli much faster and easier than before. This distro even outshines opensuse and fedora. It’s a complete desktop os with ease in mind with the default install of 2009.1 not leaving much else in desire aside from games.

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fold this thread E. J. van Waasdijk  Saturday, 23 May 2009 o godz. 3:59 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

This is a good review of “first impressions”, but I would not recommend Ubuntu to new users fresh from Windows. Mandriva Linux is simply the best choice. Neither will I dissuade new users from buying the Power Pack. Try Mandriva Free, and if you like it, buy the Powerpack. It is worth it, and the company deserves support. It is true that the company made some wrong decisions in the past, but a financial token of appreciation is simply “just”.

Erik Jan

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fold this thread shamil  Sunday, 24 May 2009 o godz. 6:29 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Before you people recommend downloading mandriva free, know what you’re talking about first.

There’s three different kinds of mandriva up for download. There’s mandriva free which has nothing but FOSS. There’s mandriva one which has codecs for video and audio playback of stuff like divx, mp3, and wmv, also flash and java, and other non-free binaries like nvidia or other firmware and drivers for hardware.

Finally there’s the powerpack edition. For new users, get them mandriva one.

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fold this thread Rvl  Sunday, 24 May 2009 o godz. 9:41 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Mandriva is very good, but not everything works, with ubuntu its work so for new users take ubuntu

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fold this thread TeaAge  Sunday, 24 May 2009 o godz. 2:44 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

That was your experience.
For me Mandriva works far better than Ubuntu.

All-in-all both have the same level of hardwaredetection, i think.

So, it’s neither a pro nor a con.
But for me the draktools are a big pro for Mandriva, expecially for new users.

Regards,
TeaAge

 
 
fold this thread Bill  Sunday, 24 May 2009 o godz. 8:59 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I have been using Ubuntu on my second pc for over 3 years and on some systems at work; and I do find it a bit boring. However, I have an ATI HD 4670 video board, and neither of the two most recent KDE versions of Mandriva will work with it, including 2002.1, other in safe mode, if the user is knowledgable enough to boot from the command line. And this appears to be the situation for any ATI board produced in the last few years. I know that the problem is either in the ATI drivers, or in KDE 4, but a nonfunctional os is still the result. Of course this is also true for the recent version of Fedora. OpenSUSE 11.1 KDE can be made to work with some glitches, if one installs the “respun” 64bit cd. So if you are stuck with gnome, why not stick with Ubuntu which works? My friends and employees want a system that just works.

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fold this thread G Dobbs  Tuesday, 26 May 2009 o godz. 9:03 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

If during installation you configure the display for the xorg vesa driver it should work with any display adapter!

 
 
fold this thread Steve  Monday, 25 May 2009 o godz. 12:46 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

To the poster who said Ubuntu is less secure, thats not accurate. Sudo is used by Ubuntu to make it easier without the user losing any security. Basically, sudo is the “user” mode, and the “root” mode is locked. MacOS does it this way as well. In fact, an argument could be made that systems that have root and user,ie, Mandriva, make it more confusing for the new user to Linux. I’ve read many posts by newbees who didn’t know which mode they were supposed to be in when on the net, some mistakenly were using root, not knowing any better. As for overall security, any of these systems can be hacked with a Live CD no matter what system it is, so the whole issue of “sudo” is overblown.

The real test for security is which system provides timely updates…Mandriva does a good job, but Ubuntu has a paid staff that keeps on updates fresh as well. Whereas the mom and pop systems like PCLinuxOS aren’t nearly as updated.

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fold this thread Frankie  Monday, 25 May 2009 o godz. 10:24 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  --4

After using Mandriva 2009.1 gnome for about a day, my hard drive started on fire. Needless to say, I’m going back to using Windows.

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fold this thread jole  Monday, 25 May 2009 o godz. 12:19 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

My laptpop has Mandriva for two years. And I’m so happy with this OS, that this year I bought a Powerpack to support them. If you want to take a look to KDE 4, Mandriva is the best option so far.

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fold this thread ovan  Monday, 25 May 2009 o godz. 1:18 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

Mandriva still the best

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fold this thread Zac  Tuesday, 26 May 2009 o godz. 12:12 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

I had known Mandrake for before and when the time was ready to try one out, Mandriva was my first choice. Unfortunately it didn’t work, so in the end I installed Ubuntu which over the years does all I need, is dependable, gets very regular security updates, a no fuss. I moved from Windows because of it. Yeh! I have a soft spot for Mandriva as well, but I haven’t returned. I only try the liveCD’s now, this version looking good. I share your sentiments in your conclusion.

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fold this thread Decilio M Sales  Tuesday, 26 May 2009 o godz. 12:49 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

I’ve been using Mandriva for almost six years now both at home and work. To me it is the best distro available. I’ve updated to mandriva one 2009.1 recently and my computer works flawlessly like a charm. Good luck, mandriva!

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fold this thread Viking60  Thursday, 28 May 2009 o godz. 2:26 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +3

I came frome Windows and wanted to try Linux some while ago. This was basically because I hated the fact that I could not by a laptop whit XP so I had to take Vista – which I disliked very much.

Naturaly I started whit Ubuntu (If you google Linux the way to google is short).

I right klicked on My computer -> chose hd-drives in Vista and made an empty partition.

Installed Ubuntu dual-boot and had everything working (exept for the wireless atheros).

I did not how to start and searched the Ubuntu forums and found the answer to almost every problem. The quality of the information was good and most of it worked fine.
As this review states – the Ubuntu forums are awsome.Help is never far away. If Ubuntu is not easy to understand – the solution is bound to be in the forums so you acomplish your task.

Since Ubuntu was my first instalation I thought I needed something to compare whith. So I installed opensuse 11.1 I tried a Live CD many years ago whith this distro and have been curious on Linux since.
Huge distro – hardware detection was fine (again wireles did not work).
I can see that people coming from Windows, like this distro – but after having installed the lamp server SUSE booted realy slow. This is what I hated about Vista so I went for Fedora. Liked it -but Hardware detection was so-so.
Then I thought I give Mandriva a go.

It installs well and I chose the gnome desktop. The boot is lightening fast in comparison to XP Vista and Win7. The controle panels are easy to use and they just work. Hardware detection is exelent. My wireless was detected. (Ubuntu’s last version also detects my wireless now).
As a desktop i just installed everything I needed and started working.
I tried to install a lamp server – ran into some problems and searched the documentation and the forums – no obvious answers and no How-to that would work out of the box.
I managed but it took me some days to figure it out.
I installed Ubuntu on another PC and set up the server there whith Ubuntu – the How-to was easily found and it worked. It took me an hour or so to have everything up and running.

So Know I have Mandriva 2009.1 on my desktop and Ubuntu on my laptop.
Madriva is just the best distro, but the forum at Ubuntu has an answer for every problem.
This article is 100% correct but I would change the conlusion a bit – I would recomend Mandriva over Ubuntu because you are not as likely to need help whit Mandriva.

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fold this thread Mike M.  Tuesday, 23 June 2009 o godz. 3:43 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Mandriva Enterprise Server was a huge disappointment, however the desktop version was acceptable.

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About the Author

Tomek Zglobicki

I’m a technology enthusiast, with a particular interest in the internet orientated technologies both in terms of technicalities and wider social aspects. My adventure with Linux started about 10 yea (more...)

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