Mandriva Spring 2010 is out! Yes the 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Of note is that the KDE4 kickoff launcher has been replaced by a more traditional launcher reminiscent of KDE3.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.
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.
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:
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.
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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