Mandriva 2007 Beta 2 – short review

[ Tuesday, 29 August 2006, Lukasz Ros ]


Beta versions of Mandriva 2007 have been appearing for a while now and the final release is coming soon. Bugs gets fixed, new features appear, together with the new looks… Thus, we have decided to give Mandriva 2007 beta 2 “Odin” a shot. This short review covers the key changes introduced in beta 2 – the Live-CD version with GNOME desktop onboard. Some screenshots are attached as well :)

Author: Łukasz Roś,
Translation: Borys Musielak

New looks

The first and most noticeable change is the looks. A new theme has been developed to replace the old Galaxy theme. It’s called la Ore and is provided in a few versions, depending on the Mandriva flavor used. For now, only Gnome went through the face-lifting and actually this is the main reason we took this version for the review.

Gnome in Mandriva 2007 Odin
Pic 1. Gnome in Mandriva 2007 Odin

Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, Mandriva with stays among the worst-looking distros. The la Ore theme tries to resemble the old traditional looks but at the same time, add the bliss known from Mac OS X or the upcoming Windows Vista. So, all in all, one of the first things you will probably do after installing Mandriva is changing the theme… which is nice since it’s not a good thing when all desktops looks the same, anyway :D

Selection of software

Mandriva beta 2 behaved in a very stable manner when run from a Live-CD. We could focus on testing the functionality, not debugging. The apps selection is pretty bold. There are latest versions of Firefox (1.5.0.6), Gaim (2.0.0 beta 3) and GIMP (GIMP 2.3.10). GNOME is also provided in beta (the second beta of 2.16 release). All in all the system is very fresh and breezing (creeping? :P ) edge.

Firefox 1.5.0.6 in Mandriva 2007 Odin
Pic 2. Firefox 1.5.0.6 – nicely integrated into system looks

Evolution 2.7.91 in Mandriva 2007 Odin
Pic 3. Evolution 2.7.91 in Mandriva 2007 Odin

OpenOffice.org 2.0.3 in Mandriva 2007 Odin
Pic 4. OpenOffice.org 2.0.3 in Mandriva 2007 Odin

I personally has been especially anxious to see GIMP 2.3.10. In most distros, older versions are delivered, although GIMP is a very active project and gains a lot of functionality with every new edition. In 2.3.10 the most visible changes are:

  • the filters layout change – all types of filters are (eventually!) put into one menu.
  • color management options – moved to a separate menu

The official changelog for Gimp 2.3.10 can be obtained from the project’s website.

GIMP 2.3.10 in Mandriva 2007 Odin
Pic 5. GIMP 2.3.10 in Mandriva 2007 Odin

GNOME desktop in Mandriva is (as usually) very usable. The default apps selection is a bit conservative though. For CD and DVD burning there are two apps: GNOME CD Master and Gnome CD/DVD Creator (see the pictures below). Mandriva developers seem not to notice the great alternatives fro K3B like GnomeBaker or Bonfire. The default multimedia player is Rhythmbox (another GNOME default). Same applies here – why use Rhythmbox when we have Quod Libet, Listen or Banshee which provide a much cleaner interface and superior functionality?

On the other hand though, the defaults in Mandriva do not differ from what you may be used to from other distros. It’s a personal opinion whether it’s a good or bad decision. I just wish it was different, since different is better in this specific case.

Gnome CD Master in Mandriva 2007 Odin
Pic 6. Gnome CD Master in Mandriva 2007 Odin

Gnome CD/DVD Creator in Mandriva 2007 Odin
Pic 7. Gnome CD/DVD Creator in Mandriva 2007 Odin

Rhythmbox in Mandriva 2007 Odin
Pic 8. Rhythmbox, still the default in Mandriva

Localization

What may be important to non-English speakers, localizations are not included on the Live-CD. One needs to install them separately afterward. It doesn’t mean that the quality of the localizations is lower than usually. To the contrary – it’s actually as mastered as before – good point for Mandriva here.

GNOME Volume Manager mounts the digital cameras automatically
Pic 9. GNOME Volume Manager mounts the digital cameras automatically

So, what is missing?

What I miss in the latest Mandriva is – by no doubt – the search integration. After what we’ve seen in Ubuntu 6.06 and openSUSE 10.1, this should be a standard in all modern distros.
In Mandriva, you cannot find any of those quick-search panels displaying the desktop and web search results delivered by Beagle and other search engines.
The fancy-desktop lovers are in a better situation, though. There is an quite easy way to add AIGLX or XGL+Compiz support. You can either do it graphically or use a config file for that.

Mandriva Control Center in Mandriva 2007 Odin
Pic 10. Mandriva Control Center – a bunch of great wizards for system configuration hasn’t changed a lot

The Live-CD installer known from Mandriva One 2006 has been kept in Mandriva 2007 Odin
Pic 11. The Live-CD installer known from Mandriva One 2006 has been kept

Summary

Except for the software update which has been awaited by the Mandriva fans for a long time, there are no revolutionary changes or something that could put Mandriva 2007 in front of the competition. Still, not many distros provide such easy installation and configuration process. In Mandriva, almost all works out-of-the-box (including an MP3 player) or network setup. And this is the reason I think Mandriva can be still recommended for the newbie users.

About the Author

Łukasz Roś

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