Mageia 3

Mageia 3 has been out for a while, and I’ve finally had time to do a review. Mageia is a fork of the Mandriva distribution, and offers quite a bit to desktop Linux users. It comes with a great selection of preinstalled software, and it is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions on DVD (3.96 GB). You also have the option of getting it on CD (700 MB).

Mageia offers a number of different desktops including KDE, LXDE, XFCE, Razor-QT, Enlightenment and GNOME. I picked the KDE version for this review. You have the option of choosing your desktop environment during the install.

Mageia 3 Boot Menu

Mageia 3 Boot Menu

What’s New in Mageia 3
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Linux kernel 3.8.13
Updated installer
Firefox 17.09
Grub 2 available
KDE 4.10.2
GNOME 3.6
LibreOffice 4.0.3
Steam for Linux in repositories

System Requirements for Mageia 3
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • Processor: any AMD, Intel or VIA processor;
  • Memory (RAM): 512MB minimum, 2GB recommended;
  • Storage (HDD): 1GB for a minimal installation, 6GB for a full setup;
  • Optical drive: CD or DVD depending on the ISO you use (network, USB key installation available);
  • Graphic card: any ATI, Intel, Matrox, nVidia, SiS or VIA graphic card;
  • Sound card: any AC97, HDA or Sound Blaster sound card.

Mageia 3 Download
You can download Mageia 3 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 3.96 GB.

In addition to the classical install downloads, you can also download live DVDs and CDs for GNOME and KDE. The live DVDs weigh in at about 1.4 GB, and the live CDs are about 700 MB. The live CDs are 32-bit only, however, while the live DVDs come in 32-bit or 64-bit.

There are also 32-bit and 64-bit network install options available for download as well. They range in size from 35 MB to 55 MB.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Mageia 3 Installation
The Mageia installer is quite easy to use. There’s no manual partitioning required though you can do so if you prefer it. At one point you’ll have the option of choosing your preferred desktop environment. You can pick GNOME or KDE, or choose the Custom option in the desktop  selection menu if you want something else.

Mageia 3 Install Desktop Selection

Mageia 3 Install Desktop Selection

Mageia 3 Disk Partition

Mageia 3 Disk Partition

It’s not quite as slick as Ubuntu or some other distros since there’s no slideshow to watch while you do the install. But this is a minor point, and I wonder how many people bother to watch slideshows while installing a distro anyway.

I opted, by the way, for the classical installer and skipped the live version. My install took about twenty minutes or so. Please note that toward the end of the install you have the option to download updates, I recommend that you do so you don’t have to bother updating after your system is installed.

The Mageia 3 Desktop
One thing I really liked about the Mageia KDE desktop is that it defaulted to the classic KDE menus. There are no “sliding menus” to be found when you boot into your KDE desktop. I’ve always loathed the sliding menus, they just seem too inefficient to me compared to the classic ones.

Mageia 3 Desktop

Mageia 3 Desktop

Mageia 3 Menu.ping

Mageia 3 Menu.ping

The Mageia 3 desktop is uncluttered with icons, and it’s quite easy to find your way around. Just click the blue button on the far left of the panel to access application menus, the software management tool, and the Mageia control center.

Everything is laid out in a clear way so you’ll feel right at home even if you’ve never used Mageia before. You can also access system settings and the control center right from the panel, along with Firefox and the Dolphin file manager.

Mageia 3 Control Center

Mageia 3 Control Center

Linux Software Included in Mageia 3
Mageia 3 comes with a very good selection of desktop Linux software. Here’s a sample of what’s included in the release. Browse the application menus to see a full list of software.

Games
Available in the software manager

Graphics
AcquireImages
digiKam
DNGConverter
ExpoBlending
GIMP
Gwenview
KColorChooser
KolourPaint
KSnapshot
Panorama

Internet
Akregator
BlueDevil
Ekiga Softphone
FileZilla
Firefox
Import Wizard
KDE IM Contacts
KDE IM Log Viewer
KMail
KNetAttach
KNode
Konqueror
Konversation
Kopete
KTorrent
Network Center

Multimedia
Amarok
Audacity
Dragon Player
Kdenlive
KMix
KsCD
PulseAudio Volume Control
Videos

Office
LibreOffice
KAddressBook
Kontact
KOrganizer
Okular
Scribus
skrooge

Linux Software Management Tools in Mageia 3
Mageia 3 uses RPMdrake 5.49 for software management. It’s functional but not particularly elegant. Applications are listed according to category. There are no user reviews or star ratings available, unlike Ubuntu’s Software Center or Linux Mint’s Software Manager tools.

Mageia 3 Software Manager

Mageia 3 Software Manager

Mageia 3 App Install

Mageia 3 App Install

To install an application, just find it in the software manager. Click the checkbox next to it, then click the Apply button. Removing an application works the same way, just uncheck the already installed application’s check box then click Apply.

Problems & Headaches Found in Mageia 3
Mageia 3 worked very well for me. However, there are some problems that have been noted with this release. Be sure to browse the full errata list on the Mageia site before doing an install.

If you’ve noticed any problems with Mageia 3, please list them in the comments below for the benefit of other readers.

Where To Get Help for Mageia 3
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you.

You might also want to check out the Mageia support page. You’ll find documentation there, as well as links to community and professional support.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Mageia 3
Mageia has matured in this release, and it certainly should be considered by anyone looking for a full-featured Linux desktop. It deserves to take its place alongside Ubuntu, Linux Mint and some of the other top desktop Linux distros.

Mageia is also a good option for those seeking to leave Windows behind. It offers plenty of software to replace most Windows applications, and it provides a range of desktop environments for users to enjoy. It’s a good place for a Windows user to land if they want to try Linux as an alternative.

Mageia 3 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Mageia 3? Tell me in the comments below.



Mageia 1

Mandriva had been around a long time and is a popular desktop distribution. I was intrigued to find that Mandriva now has a fork called Mageia. The first release of Mageia came out recently and I finally found some time to sit down and give it a go. Mageia was created by former Mandriva contributors. For more background, be sure to read the original announcement about Mageia.

Here’s a brief snippet from the announcement that explains why Mageia was created.

Paris, September 18th 2010

As you may have heard, the future of the Mandriva Linux distribution is unclear.

Most employees working on the distribution were laid off when Edge-IT was liquidated. We do not trust the plans of Mandriva SA anymore and we don’t think the company (or any company) is a safe host for such a project.

Many things have happened in the past 12 years. Some were very nice: the Mandriva Linux community is quite large, motivated and experienced, the distribution remains one of the most popular and an award-winning product, easy to use and innovative. Some other events did have some really bad consequences that made people not so confident in the viability of their favourite distribution.

People working on it just do not want to be dependent on the economic fluctuations and erratic, unexplained strategic moves of the company.

Corporate shenanigans are always irritating for everybody, but it sounds to me like the Mageia developers saw some bad things happening and decided to do some good anyway. I commend them for their foresight and willingness to take the bull by the horns and press forward with this fork. They seemed to have had the best interests of Mandriva users at heart, and that speaks very well of these developers indeed.

Desktop

The Mageia KDE Desktop

What’s New In This Release
Since this is a first release, there’s no real “what’s new” to cover. But here are some tidbits about Mageia.

Available in KDE 4, GNOME 2.32, XFCE 4, LXDE
Also available are Openbox, WindowMaker, ICEWM, Fluxbox and Fvvm2
Includes kernel 2.6.38
Includes system config tools drakconf, drak3d, drakguard, rpmdrake, drakx-net, userdrake.
Includes package management tools urpme, urpmf, urpmq, urpmi.update, urmpi.addmedia, urpmi.removemedia

Please note that if you are an existing Mandriva user who wants to migrate to Mageia, be sure to see Mageia’s migration guide. It speaks well of the Mageia developers that they took the time to try to make migrating from Mandriva as easy and trouble-free as possible. It wasn’t something they had to do, but they did it anyway. Kudos and thanks for having the foresight to know that there would be some folks interested in switching over existing Mandriva systems.

Migration Guide

Migration Guide

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • Processor: any AMD, Intel or VIA processor;
  • Memory (RAM): 512MB minimum, 2GB recommended;
  • Storage (HDD): 1GB for a minimal installation, 6GB for a full setup;
  • Optical drive: CD or DVD depending on the ISO you use (network, USB key installation available);
  • Graphic card: any ATI, Intel, Matrox, nVidia, SiS or VIA graphic card;
  • Sound card: any AC97, HDA or Sound Blaster sound card.

Installation

Mageia comes in DVD or CD formats. You can also opt to download a Live CD ISO that will let you preview Mageia without needing to install it on your system. The install is not difficult and shouldn’t take very long. However, it’s always nice to have the option of simply booting into a Live CD to get a taste of a distro before installing it.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

Install 9a

Install 9a

Install 9b

Install 9b

Install 9c

Install 9c

Booting & Login
Here’s what the boot menu and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop
Since I installed the KDE version of Mageia 1, the screen shot below shows you a KDE 4.6.3 desktop. The desktop isn’t cluttered up, there are just three icons: Home, Join Mageia Community and the trash can. Everything is where you’d expect it to be in the menus, so it’s quite easy to find your way around even if you’ve never touched Mageia before.

Desktop

Desktop

If you click the Join Mageia Community icon, a page will load in Firefox that lets you see different roles that you might be able to play in the Mageia project. I really like this approach since it makes it easy for people who might want to help Mageia grow by helping out in various roles. If you really like Mageia, it’s a good idea to check that page out and see what you might have to offer the project.

Contribute to Mageia

Contribute to Mageia

Themes
There are three themes to choose from: Air, Air for Netbooks and Oxygen. You can click the Get New Themes button in the Workspace Appearance menu in System Settings to spice things up by adding additional themes.

Wallpaper
To change your wallpaper, right click the desktop and choose Folder View Settings. There are some beautiful wallpaper available in the default install, and you can easily get more.

Wallpapers

Wallpapers

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Various K games (arcade, boards, cards, puzzles, strategy and others)

Graphics
AcquireImages
digiKam
DNGConverter
ExpoBlending
GIMP
Gwenview
KColorChooser
KolourPaint
KRuler
KSnapshot
Okular

Internet
Akergator
BlueDevil
Ekiga Softphone
FileZilla
Firefox
KAddressBook
KGet
KMail
KnetAttach
Knode
Konqueror
Kontact
Konversation
Kopete
KOrganizer
KPPP
KRDC
Krfb
KTorrent
Network Center

Multimedia
Amarok
Dragon Player
Kdenlive
KMix
KsCD
Movie Player
PulseAudio Volume Control
Sound Recorder

Office
LibreOffice
Okular
Scribus
skrooge

Others
OpenJDK Monitoring & Management Console
OpenJDK Policy Tool

Software Management
Mageia uses Rpmdrake 5.26.10 as its software manager. It’s a reasonably attractive and very functional software manager. You can easily read descriptions of software packages, see details, files, changelog, dependencies, etc.

However, it lacks user reviews and ratings so it lags a bit behind some other desktop software managers. I’d like to see those features added at some point, but if those things don’t matter to you then Rpmdrake should be fine as your software manager as it is.

Rpmdrake

Rpmdrake

Adding & Removing Software
It’s simple to add or remove software. Find the package you want to add or remove, and then click or unclick the check box next to it. If you are installing an application you will see an “additional packages needed” menu that pops up. Just click the Okay button and then click Apply. You’ll see a confirmation menu; just click the Yes button to install your packages.

Adding Software

Adding Software

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
Flash didn’t seem to be installed in Firefox by default. It is available though if you search in Rpmdrake. After I installed it I had no problems running flash based content.

No Flash

No Flash

Add Flash

Add Flash

Flash Installed

Flash Installed

Multimedia Applications
Mageia comes with Amarok, Dragon Player, Kdenlive, KMix, KsCD, Movie Player, PulseAudio Volume Control and Sound Recorder. It’s a pretty good selection of basic multimedia apps, and you can find more in Rpmdrake.

Kdenlive

Kdenlive

Problems & Headaches
Mageia ran pretty well for me in VirtualBox. I initially thought I had a problem with it since it was trying to install software off the CD; then I realized that I’d left the CD mounted. I removed it and restarted, and then Mageia downloaded the software properly. So I can’t blame Mageia for my own forgetfulness. Heh.

That minor burp aside, I didn’t see anything that gave me a problem in Mageia. It ran well for me; everything seemed stable and pretty fast. I’m glad to see that it’s in such good shape given that this is a first release. It bodes well for the future of this distro.

Have you run into any problems with Mageia? Share them in the comments section below. I’m interested in knowing about any burps or headaches you might have had.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Mageia support page, forum and wiki.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
It’s unfortunate that as venerable a distro as Mandriva ran into some corporate trouble. However, I’ve always been the type that believes you should make lemonade out of lemons and so apparently are the Mageia developers. They have taken a bad situation and turned it into something very positive indeed! Mageia is off to a very good start and I look forward to seeing more releases of this fine distro.

I particularly like how community-oriented Mageia is; the Mageia developers have made it very easy for users to participate and help develop this distro. That’s a great approach and I think it will reap a lot of dividends for Mageia as the years go by and this distro matures.

Mageia should work well for beginner, intermediate or advanced users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Mageia 1
Web Site: http://www.mageia.org
Price: Free
Pros: Offers an upgrade path to current Mandriva users. Easy install, good selection of software. Comes in a number of different desktop environments including GNOME and KDE.
Cons: Software manager lags behind Ubuntu and Linux Mint since it doesn’t include user reviews and ratings.
Suitable For:  Beginner, intermediate and advanced users.
Rating: 4/5