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