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Mandriva Linux 2008 October 19, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions, Reviews.
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Mandriva released their new Mandriva Linux distribution entitled 2008. Touting the new versions of GNOME and KDE as well as XFCE how well does this thing stand up? To do this review I have two Dell PowerEdge 500SC both with 768 mb of RAM, Nvidia GeForce 64mb video cards and both running at 1.2 ghz on Celeron processors. The difference is that one is running the KDE version and the other is running the GNOME version. I used the One version of each system.

Interface likes and dislikes….

Im gonna pound on Mandriva on this one. The GNOME version uses the Tango icon set while KDE uses a vastly outdated crystal icon set. Really outdated. Why they cant update crystal or modify Tango or the new Crystal icons to run on both for the uniformity is beyond me. The only thing thats similar is the Mandriva Control Center and the network control interface. The network center is very intuitive and easy to use and after trying multiple USB and PCI adapters, some using ndiswrapper and some not, the results were the same and all interfaces were easy to use. This ease of use followed Mandriva through both versions. The GNOME version of Mandriva was slower than the KDE version but had a more uniformed look which I liked, you can skin GTK apps with the QT theme with a Kcontrol plugin but its not available by default. Overall, speed and functinality KDE won but for great looks a more attractive iconset GNOME won hands down.

Hardware support…

Hardware support was lacking in some areas. My printer I use with PCLinuxOS wouldnt work in Mandriva. My SD card reader/writer could read SD cards but wouldnt transfer data to the card. This device works flawlessly in PCLinuxOS but not in Mandriva ’08. Plugging in thumbdrives and external hard drives worked well, the only complaint I have is in the GNOME version the media appears on the desktop in the KDE version it does not do so by default. 3D acceleration worked out of box as did the cheap sound cards I put into both systems purchased at TigerDirect for $9.99. On the laptop I did install it on, A Dell Inspiron 2500 it was the best distribution for it and I more than likely wont be removing Mandriva from that system. The Sansa e250 I have worked, the Zune didnt and my iPod was DOA so pretty much like all Linux distros flash based players work the best.

Functionality….

After using easy urpmi to download all the goodies such as DVD capabilities and WMV/mp3 support all worked well. The Mplayer plugin and the Totem plugin wouldnt work in Firefox, it would buffer and then stop. I used the MediaPlayerConnectivity extension to take care of that and installed mplayer on the GNOME version specifically for the purpose of linking to it for media playback from the browser. So far this workaround has worked well on all the media I have wanted to see thats not flash based. Sun Java does not come installed by default so to use Java apps you have to go through the installation. If you are a developer, sorry the packages have to be downloaded. I really am learning to dislike Amarok but I started using Rhythmbox which has a neat interface and works great. Updating software on the system was better than it is with Ubuntu and PCLOS. Uninstall the old version of OpenOffice, go get OpenOffice 2.3. I just downloaded the tar.gz with the RPM’s and installed all the packages. Dont forget the Mandriva menu integration package. For PDF reading got the new Reader 8 from Adobes website. Mandriva seems more apt, no pun intended, to allow you to play with the system than Ubuntu is. Playing with the add/remove software package manager revealed a plethora of packages and system enhancements so check there first before you have to go get the source and build anything. This is the first system aside from PCLOS that I havent had to build source packages which for new users is great. If you are looking for a server system, while you can build this system into a server with packages and add-ons I would recommend a more server oriented system like Fedora or OpenSUSE. Mandriva is a desktop system plain and simple and if you want to just put up a few bucks you can buy the server edition for $361.00. Costs less than Windows Vista.

System dislikes….

The num lock key is on by default. I hate that and mobile users will likely find it annoying as well. The boot system sucks. I like knowing what my system is doing so the Press Escape jazz just didnt work for me and when I tried to change it in Mandriva it would work for a couple of boots then revert back to the original. PCLOS maintains the user preference and I wish Mandriva would as well. On the GNOME install I had a couple of hard crashes but overall it was a stable system. Of course it just takes one bug to piss me off and the num lockwas it with this one.

Conclusion…

If you hate the word Ubuntu and just dont like the system, Mandriva works well and the PowerPack contains everything you need unlike the Ubuntu default install. I personally didnt get why Dell chose Ubuntu outside of purely political and fanboy hype as there are better systems with more out of box and a better out of box experience than Ubuntu. Anyway, for new users who want a package that is supported and you can call and get tech support, I would recommend this. If you are a power user and just want to dive into Linux head first and sink or swim this works too. If you are looking for a distribution for your grandmother to use, we are almost there. For ease of use, package availability and being just a cool system to work and play on you cant go wrong with Mandriva.

Overall Score: 8.5

EDIT: Sun Oct, 21 2007ย  More Problems arise….

More problems have arisen with Mandriva Linux 2008. I partitioned and formatted a 80 gb Western Digital disk that I was going to use for data storage. Upon format, the disk wouldnt mount. I decided to use a thumbdrive that I had to store the data and now no external removable drives will mount at all on this system. I was going to burn the data to DVD and the DVD writer refuses to recognize the disk and refuses to write.ย  When I put in a CD to read the entire system goes down.ย  To make sure it wasnt a hardware issue I put another drive that contains PCLinuxOS 2007 and put it in as the system disk and everything works fine hardware wise.

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Comments»

1. Adam Williamson - October 19, 2007

Thanks for the review!

What’s your printer model? I’m sure we can figure out whatever stops it working.

Mandriva is a general-purpose distribution. This means it’s just as much intended for server use as for desktop use. We have several staff and community members who work hard on Mandriva’s server packages. It’s true the One editions have desktop-tailored package selections, but this is just because that’s the big market for One. Personally I run both a mail and web server (http://www.happyassassin.net) on Mandriva (the regular edition, not the Corporate ones) and it’s very convenient. We have excellent packages for Apache, MySQL, PHP and so forth, and even packaged versions of popular web applications like WordPress. There’s also the drakwizard package, which contains wizards for setting up basic server configurations for web, mail, FTP etc. Mandriva is certainly as good as Fedora or SUSE, or better, for server use, IMH (and obviously biased) O ๐Ÿ™‚

You can just turn off the ‘numlock’ service (chkconfig numlock off, or use the graphical tool in the Mandriva Control Center) to stop numlock being turned on at boot. Maybe we should change this default on laptops. It’s a very, very old default.

2. Adam Williamson - October 19, 2007

On the numlock thing – I’ve checked, and apparently when the installer detects the system it’s installing on is a laptop, it does not enable the numlock service.

3. rjdohnert - October 20, 2007

Thanks Adam I have resorted to e-mail for further communication.

4. sander85 - October 20, 2007

about the fedora/suse thing.. i have to admit, i’m working on servers and mandriva ise better than any other red hat based distro for servers except red had itself maybe.. mandriva has a LOT of server oriented packages that you can’t find in any other distro.. for example eaccelerator for php, it’s very hard to find as a package for other distros but you get it by default in mandriva..
also most server services have very good preconfigured conf file and if you are not expert you could use webmin that is also very advanced in mandriva..
it rocks on servers same well as on desktop ๐Ÿ˜‰

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7. Frederic Crozat - October 22, 2007

For the record, GNOME One edition doesn’t use Tango icon set. We use GNOME default icon set, but a lot of icons have been modified by GNOME upstream project to be compliant with Tango color palette.

Giving the url you tested with Firefox + Totem plugin would be useful too.

8. gquaglia - October 22, 2007

Why did Dell choose Ubuntu? Well lets see, its the most popular and easiest to use and probably has the best chance of putting the best face on Linux and take on M$. I have used Mandriva, Suse and PC Linux and find Ubuntu to be the most friendly.

9. Steve - October 22, 2007

“Mandriva is a desktop system plain and simple”

I would have to argue with this statement. Mandriva makes for a fantastic server platform. If you were to install 2008 and not change any of the packages (when you pick GNOME KDE etc you could instead pick Advanced, then choose individual packages) you can put together jsut what you need. You can even then save the packages you chose to a file for use on other systems you may install. If you like RPM red hat type distros, then I think Mandriva is as viable as a server as most. If you like Debian based systems, then obviously you probably will not Mandriva. To recap, Mandriva makes a GREAT server.

10. Steve - October 22, 2007

Sorry I meant to say if didn’t change any packages you get the desktop as reviewed, but if you use the advanced button you can customize your server as you like.

11. JAFO - October 22, 2007

My brother downloaded Mandriva 2008 FREE and installed it and complained he didn’t have Flash working in FireFox…I told him he needed to use Mandriva 2008 One if he wanted it to work out of the box…there will always be somethings working in one distro and doesn’t in another…….just find the right distro ..i tried several before i settled for Mandriva…

12. QWERTY - October 22, 2007

My first distro was Mandrake Linux 6.0. There is just a certain soul a certain lovableness of Mandriva I keep coming back to… I have tried everything from ubuntu (keyboard didnt work?!?) to LFS and Slackware and I find it easier just to edit the initrd through the man pages and all with Mandriva. Your sd problems work after the update… Mandriva honestly should be the face of Linux not the fanboy Ubuntu! Even as slow as gnome is on Mandriva ’08 it is faster than Ubuntu for me… Your thoughts? Maybe I just have bad luck with the *buntus they never booted and had nothing but problems for me and when they did work for me things always seemed to die on me for no apperent reason… Really not to friendly for me…

13. Arun - October 23, 2007

Mandriva Rocks Man!!!!!! Its the easiest and best Linux distro available. No other distro has such a superb packaeg managing software. MCC is really wonderful.

14. syahidali - October 23, 2007

mandriva rocks since a long time ago. i’ve even run an ibm domino server inside it in a live envrionment without hitches (it is not officially supported but it runs well enough).

great for newbies to linux too!

15. QWERTY - October 23, 2007

“great for newbies to linux too!”

And Linux guru’s too ๐Ÿ˜‰

16. Sanu - November 4, 2007

My first Linux dist was Mandrake 9.2 and was a dedicated user until mandake2006 (when it changed name to mandriva and became more like a commercial version). So i shifted to Kubuntu (KDE rocks). Well okay i install the free versions of mandriva now and then but i always get disappointed and get back to kubuntu. Yesterday i installed mandriva 2008.0 FREE edition. Well i cant say its that bad though am trying to resolve some problems. I hope i don’t get the disappointed this time

17. sanu - November 7, 2007

Well after trying the mandriva free 2008 dvd, all is can say is WOW WOW n WOW!!! Congrats to the team for making this perfect distro!!!

Everything worked!!!! Much better then the disappointing kubuntu gusty.

This is i can confidently say the perfect replacement for windows. Kudos mandriva!

18. kuku - November 9, 2007

any body use linux 2008, give a comment

19. dl036 - November 10, 2007

Mandriva 2008 is amazing. The most usable Linux distribution I have ever encountered. The inclusion of a legal, licensed DVD player that will play all my movies puts it head-and-shoulders above all the other distributions right off the bat, in my books. I don’t mind paying a couple of bucks when I’m getting such a great value right out of the box.

20. Chris - November 13, 2007

Hello everyone.

I’m trying to develop a tech/business journal site and online community and really could use some help. I’m currently going to school for Management Information Systems and have a strong skills with computers and am learning the whole business world. I already have a site up, but could use some content help. If anyone is interested in helping or has any advice or tips to share please feel free to email me at biztech.admin@gmail.com.

Thank you everyone for your time.

Chris

21. manmath sahu - November 28, 2007

Hi please somebody help me.

I am using Mandriva 2008 One. During shutdown it shows up:

Mount proc already mounted
Unmounting proc file system: umount / proc: not mounted [FAILED]

After the above error message, it takes long to shutdown.

Please suggest me a solution.

Thanks in advance.

22. manmath sahu - November 28, 2007

Please mail the solutions to my email id: manmaths@gmail.com

23. alex j. flex - December 28, 2007

WOW, so much stuff here, an excellent blog, I like it. Thanks guys, and wish you good luck!!

24. danan - January 1, 2008

very useful information

and very nice blog

Happy new year

http://www.myposts4u.blogspot.com

25. edu - April 13, 2008

hi.i,m new to linux. i,ve tried pc linux2007,linux mint,sabayon and fedora. i have only one problem_with all of them.i can,t surf the web.i,ve tried firefox,konqueror… i have cable conection,wide band.it,s recognize the ethernet card(sis 190),the dhcp link..but it can,t conect to the internet. it says :” waiting for the site…”. i hope anyone can help me. thanks. my email is : eduard_milea@yahoo.com.


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