I got another review request recently, this time for Mandriva Linux. So I snagged a copy of Mandriva Linux One (a free download) and thought I’d give it a whirl. I picked the KDE version as I wanted to spend more time playing with KDE.
Mandriva Linux comes in a number of different versions:
Mandriva Linux Free 2009
Mandriva Linux One 2009
Mandriva Linux Free is the version without any proprietary software or drivers. It’s for those who are truly committed to “free” software at its most…well…free.
Mandriva Linux One is a free download that also contains some proprietary drivers and software. The Mandriva Powerpack is a version that you must pay for and it includes all of the stuff on the free versions as well as additional value-added software. You can get the Powerpack via a one time payment or a subscription.
You can also buy Mandriva in a portable, flash version too.
I downloaded Mandriva Linux One 2009 for this review. I’ve never been an ideologue as far as “free” software goes and the Powerpack is far more than I’d need if I were going to use Mandriva as my main desktop operating system.
I like the idea of the flash version though. If you are a Mandriva user it might be quite handy to have your preferred desktop distribution your pocket with you wherever you go.
Requirements & Installation
In order to install Mandriva Linux One your system will have to meet the following specs:
Any Intel, AMD or VIA processor.
RAM : 256 MB minimum, 1 GB recommended.
Hard disk : 2 GB minimum, 16 GB recommended for a full setup.
nVidia, ATI, Intel, SiS, Matrox, VIA.
3D desktop support requires a 3D instructions set compatible card.
Any Sound Blaster, AC97 or HDA compatible card.
CD drive required.
SATA, IDE, SCSI, SAS : most controllers are supported in non-RAID mode, and some are supported in RAID mode.
Mandrake Linux One comes as a Live CD so you can try it without installing it. As always I attempted to do an install from the Live CD.
I used Sun’s VirtualBox for my main test install (and also played with it in VMWare and Parallels) and it took just a few minutes for my install to complete. The install is no more difficult than installing Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.
Desktop & Apps
Mandriva Linux One uses KDE 4.2.2 (or Gnome 2.26 if you download the Gnome version). It also comes with Xorg Server 1.6.
Here’s a sampling of what you’ll get in terms of applications:
Akregator Feed Reader
Knode News Reader
KTorrent BitTorrent Client
OpenOffice.org (Spreadsheet, Word Processor, Database, Drawing and Presentation)
GIMP Image Editor
Gwenview Image Viewer
KSnapshot Screen Capture
Sound and Video
Amarok Audio Player
Dragon Video Player
TVtime Television Viewer
KsCD CD Player
You can get plenty more by using the Add/Remove Software tool (rpmdrake) to add sources and then download additional software.
One thing that sets Mandriva Linux One apart from some other distributions is its control center. Everything you need to configure your computer is available by clicking the Configure Your Computer icon on your desktop panel. Here’s a list of configuration categories available via Mandriva’s control center:
Install/Remove Software, System Update, Configure Media Sources, Package Stats
Remote Control Linux/Unix, Windows
Configure Hardware, Sound Config, Configure 3D Desktop, Set Up X Server, Mouse & Keyboard Config, Printer & Scanner Config
Network & Internet
Set Up Network. Network Center, Share Connection, Configure VPN, Proxy, Network Profiles, Remove Connections
Menu Style, Authentication, Manage Fonts, Date and Time, System Services, Manage Users, Import Windows Settings & Docs, Backups
Configure Windows Shares, Configure NFS Shares, Configure WebDAV Shares
Manage Disk Partitions, Share Disk Partitions, DVD-ROM
Permissions, Firewall, Parental Controls, Security Level and Audit
Autologin, Boot Setup, Display Manager, Boot Look and Feel
The Mandriva control center is very well designed and is definitely one of the pluses of this distribution. There’s quite a bit of computer configuration control placed right at your fingertips and you should not have trouble being able to do what you need to do in terms of getting your Mandriva system running the way you want it to.
Problems & Headaches
I didn’t see a lot of problems with Mandriva Linux One, just a couple of things and they were pretty minor for the most part.
I found the Mandriva Galaxy popup annoying when booting into my Mandriva desktop though it wasn’t a big deal as it can be turned off.
I also noticed that boot time could have been better. It seems significantly slower than Linux Mint, Fedora 11 and some of the other distributions. It would be nice if this could be improved in future releases.
In general it seemed to perform slower in the virtual machines I tested it in (Parallels, VMWare and Sun’s VirtualBox). I generally don’t hold performance against distros or other software when testing them in VMs but there are quite a few people who use VMs to test and evaluate operating systems so making sure that Mandriva Linux One performs better is certainly a good idea for the developers.
In a nutshell, I’d like to see some speed increases in future releases.
Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Mandriva Linux One is certainly worth a download for anybody in the market for a desktop Linux distribution.
While it doesn’t quite match the overall slickness of Linux Mint, it is a fine desktop operating system in its own right. Given that there are free versions available I see no reason not to download it and give it a whirl. It stands up pretty well in terms of usability and it provides a pretty good range of software for most desktop computing purposes. Plus you get the added bonus of the Mandriva Linux control center.
|Product:||Mandriva Linux One 2009.0 (KDE)|
|Pros:||Comes in KDE or Gnome versions. Also offers a truly “free” version with no proprietary software or drivers. Good range of desktop software. Fairly easy to install. Mandriva control panel provides excellent system configuration controls.|
|Cons:||Somewhat slower boot time compared to other desktop distributions. VM performance could be a bit speedier.|
|Summary:||A solid desktop distribution that is worth taking a look at as a possible Windows replacement.|
Edit: A reader (Shashwat) in the comments (the same one who requested this review) has alerted me to the fact that this review is of the 2009.0 release and the current release is actually 2009.1. My bad on that. I must have grabbed a slightly older version off one of the mirrors.
To see the differences between the release of this review and the current one be sure to view the changelog. Note that they have apparently fixed the boot time issue I raised earlier. I’ll keep an eye on Mandriva (well two eyes actually so I review the right version next time) and I’ll do another review when the next major upgrade is released.
My apologies to everybody for the error.