Mandriva Spring 2010 is out! Yes Mandriva Logothe premier desktop distro has rolled out a new release. Yesterday I looked at the Gnome Edition, today it is the turn of the KDE4 version. Right of the bat I can say that PCLinuxOS has been dethroned as SaGeek’s “Best KDE Distro.”

Mandriva 2010 Spring KDE is better, read on for why.First Impressions

As with Mandriva Gnome, the KDE edition is very pretty. You know how I like pretty stuff. Problem I have with KDE distros though is that they are all rather pretty, but they have major shortcomings. Kubuntu is a good example of this.

Of note is that the KDE4 kickoff launcher has been replaced by a more traditional launcher reminiscent of KDE3. PCLOS KDE does the same, but Mandriva gets it right. It is simple, devoid of clutter and looks good.

Live Desktop

What you are greeted with in the Live Session (Click To Enlarge)

The Mandriva Control Center and Desktop Management center is placed next to the Mandriva Icon on the bottom left of the desktop. This allows you to easily access all the needed housekeeping tasks.

Installation

Installing Mandriva KDE is exactly like installing Mandriva Gnome. Rather than rehashing the installation commentary of yesterday I will point something out – it seems that whatever you do in the live environment is carried over to installation. While tooling around in the live environment I set a network proxy and manual DNS. Once I had installed and rebooted the machine the network proxy was still set up! That is very nice.

Problem is that network proxy and DNS was a bit of a cow to get rid of. More on that later.

As an example of the lengths that was gone to in order to provide a unified visual experience have a look at the Grub menu, below:

Grub Menu

It really is pretty isn't it? (Click To Enlarge)

Twenty Part Test

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

Predictably, and rather disappointingly, KDE4 fails Mandriva as far as my test goes. I have included a wider range of distros for comparison, as well as the usual Windows 7. The version of PCLOS is the KDE edition, and the only Gnome distro here is Mandriva, since it is our best scoring distro.

Tests MdrvKDE MdrvGN PCLOS Kubuntu Win7
Join Wifi Network 100.00 100.00 100.00 80.00 80.00
Join Wired Network 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 50.00
Set Proxy 57.14 100.00 80.00 50.00 57.14
Get Network Info 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 25.00
Change Desktop Background 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 80.00
Change Theme 100.00 100.00 100.00 80.00 100.00
Set Screen Rez 80.00 80.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
Set up Network Share 57.14 57.14 33.33 33.33 80.00
Access Network Share 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 66.67
Get Hardware Info 40.00 66.67 50.00 50.00 100.00
Get System Usage Info 40.00 66.67 2.02 50.00 100.00
Play Audio CD 100.00 100.00 66.67 66.67 100.00
Access USB Drive 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 50.00
Play Youtube 100.00 100.00 100.00 50.00 33.33
Play MP3 50.00 50.00 100.00 50.00 100.00
Open PDF 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 33.33
Look For Specific Software 50.00 66.67 40.00 40.00 28.57
Check For System Updates 50.00 66.67 50.00 40.00 50.00
Supported Architecture (32bit/64bit) 75.00 75.00 50.00 100.00 100.00
Shut Down 100.00 66.67 100.00 50.00 66.67
1,599.29 1,695.48 1,572.02 1,440.00 1,400.71
79.96 84.74 78.6 72 70.04

So you see, Mandriva 2010 Spring KDE bests all tested KDE distros to date, including PCLinuxOS KDE. As per my previous review of Mandriva 2010 Spring Gnome, I docked a percentage from Mandriva KDE due to the 64bit full version being paid for only.

For a better explanation of how the Mandriva Powerpack works, here is one of the commenters:

There’s three editions of Mandriva. Free, One and Powerpack. Free and Powerpack are ‘traditional installer’ editions; One is an installable live CD. Free is free-as-in-speech and free-as-in-beer. One is free-as-in-beer but not as-in-speech. Powerpack isn’t free in either sense.

Free and Powerpack come in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, One only comes in 32-bit. This is really just to keep things simple more than anything else. It’s not got anything to do with trying to get people to pay. One already comes in a bunch of versions for different desktops and languages, doubling that for 64-bit just seemed a little excessive. It’s not intended to be difficult to do a 64-bit installation without paying if that’s what you want to do.

So there you have it, you can have 64bit Mandriva One if you want, it just takes a little extra effort.

Desktop Readiness

Mandriva Gnome is desktop ready. Mandriva KDE edition is just as desktop ready, with a few minor comments. Settings seem to get “stuck” in the KDE edition. I have had a whale of a time trying to convince KDE4 that I do not want to use my pre-set proxy, nor my pre-set DNS server. It took several trips through the Mandriva Control Center to get both of those de-configured, and then re-configured to what I wanted them to be. I am not sure what caused this, but I know that it caused quite a bit of frustration on my part.

The software selection is what you’d expect from a desktop OS, no surprise that it is better appointed than PCLOS.

Everything you need in an elegant package. I give it a 2/5, only losing out on the Gnome edition because I had to wrestle with the network configuration.

Two Out Of Five

User Friendliness

Applications Menu

The well laid out and simple Menu

I have to admit – When I saw that Mandriva KDE used a custom KDE3 style menu a-la PCLOS I was a bit disappointed. I was also a bit worried that no option was (apparently) provided to easily switch between the kickoff menu and the default one like PCLOS provided. (If you know how and can’t wait to point out how I missed it you are more than welcome to inform me via the comments!)

I was glad to find that I did not yearn for a kickoff menu. The menu layout for Mandriva KDE is nearly perfect. It is simple and easy to understand. Everything is within easy reach.

KDE4 does fall a bit behind the Gnome version in my 20part test, and there are minor niggles here and there that would need optimizing over time.

Overall the heritage of a Twelve year old Distro is apparent throughout. I give Mandriva 2010 Spring KDE a solid 3/5 in user friendliness.

Two out of FIVE

Q Rating

Right, down to the sharp end of this here stick.

I am going to spend a week with Mandriva 2010 Spring KDE edition for my “7 Days with KDE” challenge. The fact that I chose it ahead of the other KDE4 based distros is telling. It really is very good.

One thing of note, and I should’ve mentioned this with my review of the Gnome version, is the default screensaver. One of the best in Linux distributions out there. It is tasteful, well presented and neat. I really like it.

Pretty Screensaver

The Screensaver is a very classy Pictures Slideshow (Click To Enlarge)

One thing that is also often overlooked, or simply murdered, is the system sounds. In Mandriva, both the KDE and Gnome versions, the sounds really complement the OS and what it is doing. A real plus point there.

Overall then I give Mandriva 2010 Spring KDE4 an almost 4/5. I say almost because it cannot score the same as the Gnome edition after faring a bit worse in the 20 part test, and since I don’t do fractions it will be 3/5.

Q rating of 3/5!

Summary

There you have it. If you are a fan of KDE this is the distro to go for. If you want to give KDE a try, this is the distro to go for. This is the best KDE based distro available today, bar none. The heritage, the software selection and the general presentation puts this streets ahead of its peers.

The noticeable lack of plasma crashes that I have been plagued with by KDE4 distros that I review is really an indication of how well put together Mandriva is.

Beauty of a desktop

One Final Look at the Desktop (Click To Enlarge)

If you want the best distro available today you should head over to the Gnome based Spring edition, and if you really want a good 64bit distro there is always Ubuntu Lucid. Mandriva just has less blanks on its resume than Ubuntu does at the moment.

Mandriva 2010 Spring KDE4 – Very good.

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