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

 

 



Comments

  1. says

    I'm using Mageia. It seems basically the same as the Mandriva I've been using for the past nine years (except for the two year period with the abominable Ubuntu), only with updated packages (the reason for the upgrade) and some superficial differences. I'll disagree somewhat with you on page #5: I really had to tweak things to get multimedia support working (largely, it was just a matter of adding me to audio and video in /etc/group; thank goodness, I'm not a total newbie). Similarly with my printer, I had to edit udev rule files to get the ability to even access it (CUPS 1.4 is such a headache compared to 1.3).

  2. Jonathan says

    Nice review. I've been running Mageia starting with the RC and have been very happy with it. It's like Mandriva on steroids. The only slight downside is that some apps, like Firefox 5, are only coming through on the testing repo. Having said that, I have had no problems running with the apps that are in testing. When I really want bleeding edge I use Arch. Nothing like being on the razor's edge.

    I love Mandriva, having recently been drawn back to KDE after several years on Ubuntu and derivatives. For me the visual improvement and some of the apps, like K3B, are a marked improvement over Gnome. I am concerned with the apparent state of affairs of the Mandriva company and having tried, with little success, Mandriva 2011. It is at RC2, but still is pretty rough.

  3. Aris says

    My experience ; I have just bought a Dell Precision M6600 workstation notebook.Mageia runs perfectly on this new hardware. I can run now 3 OS concurrently, Mageia 1 x64 and two other virtual machines (running CAD applications) . I believe that MAGEIA 1 really rocks.

  4. Murali says

    I installed Mageia in one of the partitions and have E17 as the window manager and needless to say it's working as smooth as silk. Everything seems to work flawlessly, no issues until now, hope it remains that way for some time, till i get bored of it :-)

  5. Brian Masinick says

    Great to finally see a review here of a very fine distribution. Mageia got organized and started right after that September meeting, but it took them several months to really set things up. I was watching with interest as they put things together. The initial team apologized a few times for things taking a bit longer than they expected, but they were firm in their resolve to put the entire infrastructure, as well as their plans and goals, firmly in place before creating even the first build.

    The very first build was limited, but it was reasonably impressive to see that the first build was not only bootable, but it had a reasonably good set of software available. By the second build, it was already looking solid. By the third build, Mageia had pulled ahead of Mandriva for their 2011 release; notice that even now, Mandriva has STILL not released, though they finally have a release candidate. Meanwhile, Mageia 1 has been released, was a conservative, but very solid release, and Mageia 2 is well under way in development, with its next release projected for the Spring of next year.

    Mageia's plans suggest that they will probably be making one release per year and that is reasonable.

    As far as the system and the software goes, the released software is current, but not bleeding edge. If you do want the "bleeding edge", Mageia now has a Cooker testing build that is very much like what I used to enjoy so much with Mandriva – the Cooker.

    I agree that this distribution is easy enough for most people to install and use, and it is flexible and capable enough for a fairly wide general purpose audience to use effectively. It does not particularly stand out in any area in its initial release, but it is definitely in the top third to quarter of systems available in terms of features and usability, so I rate it well in that regard.

    Anyone curious about trying systems that they have not used or heard of before would do well to try this one out.

    I believe this review fairly and accurately conveys what you are likely to find in Mageia. I can speak to the helpfulness of the community, since I participated in it in the early days.

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