Mandriva

I am sure you know, but in case you didn’t – one of the most exciting and long lived desktop Linux distros has rolled out a new release.

Yes, Mandriva 2010 Spring is out – and I love it.Mandriva Is Recommended

This week Mandriva will feature three times – Two reviews; Gnome and KDE edition, and then I will be using Mandriva 2010 Spring KDE edition for another “7 Days Challenge Series.”

On to the review of the Gnome edition then…

UPDATE – The review of the KDE edition is on the site – READ IT HERE

First Impressions.

Mandriva 2010 Spring is awesome. The Gnome edition is as polished and complete as you can get. I love it. The version I downloaded is the installable Live CD.

2010 Spring Gnome sports a very suave blue theme, resplendent with blue splash screens, Grub menus and a pretty blue background.

Mandriva  Desktop

The Beautiful Mandriva Desktop (Click To Enlarge)

All the software you expect are there, office suites, tools for the power user, and of course the excellent Mandriva control center.

Of note to people trying out Mandriva as an alternative to Ubuntu [based] distributions, Mandriva makes use of a dedicated root account, where Ubuntu makes use of SUDO. On the face of it this works exactly like Sudo would work in the interface, with gksudo asking you to authenticate to do certain tasks in the case of Ubuntu, where Mandriva lets you run programs as root. Only once you dive to the shell will you notice the two different ways of handling things.

Installation

As expected, the Mandriva installation is rather easy. Ubuntu makes is maybe a little easier, if only by hiding Grub config from the user – you need to click “advanced” in order to customize your Grub, whereas Grub configuration is a part of the installation in the case of Mandriva – boils down to personal choice I guess, and I really like how Mandriva does it.

Grub Config

Grub Configuration During Install

Partitioning is predictably straightforward, and this is to be expected for every modern desktop distribution. Mandriva Spring 2010 really has installation rather well sorted.

Partitioning Screen

Partitioning is rather straightforward in Mandriva

One thing I found very interesting is that some unneeded packages are removed from the installation, this is really cool, and makes for a cleaner install. Also makes for more focused updates during the lifetime of the installation, other Linux distros should do this as well.

Removing Packages

Removing Unneeded Packages

Post install during first boot some extra packages or updates of packages are downloaded and installed. I am not sure which since the packages are named rather cryptically to my eye – maybe someone can enlighten me, screenie below.

Updating Packages

Updating Packages on first boot.

Once that is done you are asked to set up the user and root account. With Ubuntu based distro’s setting this is done as part of the installation, and with Mandriva this is done before you can log in the first time. Like or dislike of this really boils down to what you are used to – either way is good.

Setting Accounts

Setting Up User Accounts

Twenty Part Test

If you are new to SaGeek, read here about the twenty part test, the methodology and the why of it.

Mandriva did extremely well in my twenty part test. The best of any distribution tested so far, in fact. I was not overly surprised, though. Mandriva has been around for more than twelve years. It used to be known as Mandrake Linux – but a dispute with another company led to an eventual name change in April 2005.

If you are older, like me :(, you will remember Drake the Magician. He was the Mandrake version of Clippy the annoying helper. Problem was that another company had a guy named MANDRAKE the Magician.

Enough of that though – on to how Mandriva 2010 Spring Gnome fared during the test. For comparison I used Windows 7, Ubuntu Lucid Lynx and Linux Mint 9. I decided to avoid comparing with KDE this time around, no loss though since KDE fares rather badly in these tests at the moment…

Tests MdrvGN Win7 Ubuntu Mint
Join Wifi Network 100.00 80.00 100.00 100.00
Join Wired Network 100.00 50.00 100.00 100.00
Set Proxy 100.00 57.14 66.67 57.14
Get Network Info 100.00 25.00 50.00 50.00
Change Desktop Background 100.00 80.00 100.00 100.00
Change Theme 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
Set Screen Rez 80.00 100.00 80.00 100.00
Set up Network Share 57.14 80.00 100.00 100.00
Access Network Share 100.00 66.67 100.00 100.00
Get Hardware Info 66.67 100.00 66.67 50.00
Get System Usage Info 66.67 100.00 66.67 50.00
Play Audio CD 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
Access USB Drive 100.00 50.00 100.00 100.00
Play Youtube 100.00 33.33 50.00 100.00
Play MP3 50.00 100.00 50.00 100.00
Open PDF 100.00 33.33 100.00 100.00
Look For Specific Software 66.67 28.57 66.67 66.67
Check For System Updates 66.67 50.00 66.67 50.00
Supported Architecture (32bit/64bit) 75.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
Shut Down 66.67 66.67 66.67 66.67
Total 1,695.48 1,400.71 1,630.00 1,690.48
Percentage 84.77 70.03 81.5 84.52

There you have it, SaGeek’s best scoring Operating System to date has (just) been edged by Mandriva 2010 Gnome!

Do you notice the 75 I gave for the “Supported Architecture” test? Well you get a 64bit port, but you need to pay for it. You can get yourself a 64bit installable of Mandriva if you buy the Mandriva Linux Powerpack. It is an interesting move by Mandriva, one that some may dislike – but if you MUST have yourself a 64bit build of Mandriva why not go for the Mandriva Linux Free edition – uses entirely FOSS, and has a 64bit build available for free. I docked a few percentage points for Mandriva Linux Spring not having the 64bit build available readily, just to keep things fair.

Desktop Readiness

Mandriva does well in the Desktop Readiness area. It is a strong contender as an Office Computer OS, and it has been around long enough to have sorted out many of the issues that newer distributions *cough*Ubuntu*cough**cough* are trying to figure out – things like what is the most user friendly look and feel, for instance. It does not feature an App store or music store like Ubuntu, and depending on who you are that might or might not be an issue. I think that App stores, gimmicky as they sometimes are, will be a feature of the future for Operating Systems – a way to monetize an otherwise free product, will we see one on Mandriva soon?

If you want 64bit support on your computer you will have to buy it – if you are a business you might as well pony up the bucks for the Mandriva Linux Powerpack, and why the heck not? Mandriva certainly is good enough to pay for a few extra features. Sure the rest of us who would like to use 64bit Mandriva on their laptop will not have it unless you go for Mandriva Free, and I am a bit irritated by this decision of theirs and how it affects the guy who can’t pay for his OS.

Then again, if you really really want yourself 64bit Mandriva and can’t buy it, why not go completely free and download yourself Mandriva Linux Free and rest assured that you are not using anything that you should in the end be paying for.

After that long winded discourse I need to give it a rating then… and I give it a 3/5 rather good, in my opinion, verging on the great.

3/5 for desktop readiness!

User Friendliness

Mandriva 2010 Spring Gnome edition is user friendly. That is to be expected of a distro that has been around for twelve years (this month is actually the 12 year anniversy – go figure!) and the maturity shows.

The lighter Gnome theme is really easy on the eyes, and make the menus easy to read. The menu layout is easy to use and understand, and there are helpful balloon popups to help the user along. On first boot there is a very nice welcome menu that allows you to set up a Mandriva account, tells you a bit about the system and invites you to contribute.

Welcome Menu

The Very Nice Welcome Menu (Click To Enlarge)

I am glad to give Mandriva a 4/5 for user friendliness. It is pretty, complete and tends to stay out of the way of the user. I like the way that it uses the default Gnome layout, some users might prefer a customised Gnome layout like the one that Linux Mint offers – with that brilliant menu of theirs – or even KDE, but I am fond of Gnome and the way it works. Mandriva does not need a custom menu system to improve it’s interface.

It also features the best Control Center of any Linux Distribution.

Mandriva Scores 4/5!

Q Rating

Giving Q ratings have lately become a bit of a challenge. No OS today deserves a perfect 5/5 in my opinion. Most of them are average and I rate them 3/5. In this group feature Windows 7 and Ubuntu Lucid Lynx. Most of them (Kubuntu, the various versions of PCLinux OS among others) are below average and I scored them 2/5.

Very few, only one to date (Linux Mint) have been just that little better than average. Linux Mint 9 takes everything that is good in Ubuntu, and add a few things on top of that to improve the user experience.

In my humble opinion Mandriva 2010 Spring Gnome is better than Linux Mint. It is more mature, looks just as good – maybe even a little better, and crucially feels better. There are a few gripes – I would not be me if I did not find something to harp on, and in this case it is the boot into the live environment.

First, there is a EULA – A license agreement. I am not going to ponder the why of it, I am sure there are good reasons. I am not going to ponder the putting it in your face before you boot into the live environment – if you think about it that certainly makes sense.

It just irks me that it is there.

That EULA

The License Agreement

Then there is the loading of packages on first boot after install. And some of them failed. I would have liked if they could have loaded after boot, and possibly even in the background.

I have to stress that Mandriva is really pretty. Even the load screen is pretty.

Load Screen

The Loading Screen (click to enlarge)

It even features the Gnome Splash that has been dumped by Ubuntu and other Gnome distros. Pretty Pretty Pretty.

The Gnome Splash

Pretty Blue...

Yep, if you want to impress me give me something pretty…

Based on my experience with Mandriva 2010 Spring these past few days, and how it scored in the tests and the way it looks and behaves I must give it a good score. I really like the Gnome edition, not so sure if I will like the KDE edition as much… but time will tell…

Mandriva 2010 Spring Gnome edition scores a Q Rating of 4/5 then.

Mandriva Gnome Scores 4/5!

Summary

There you have it then. I think it is safe to say that I really love Mandriva 2010 Spring Gnome edition. Having played around with the KDE edition I can already tell that this one should be the main version. It takes everything that is good in Gnome and makes the best of it. Then it takes all the lessons learned from twelve years of maturing and incorporates that into the OS. It then takes the backing of a large company and offers a really awesome Destktop Operating System.

Love it.Mandriva is Recommended

Recommended!

Mandriva Gnome is an SaGeek Recommended Product! I really believe this to be one of the best Linux distros around, and if you want to try out a full fledged Linux distro this one should be it.

Check out other SaGeek recommended products by clicking on the image.

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