Thursday, October 09, 2008

Mandriva 2009 - KDE4 for mass adoption

I confess I am a KDE fan. I had great hopes on KDE 4, I liked it very much for its radical new features. I tried KDE 4 with Debian, Kubuntu, OpenSuSE, Fedora but none were polished and ready to satisfy me. But I think the wait is over with yesterday's release of Mandriva 2009. Here's a review and my first opinions of this wonderful distro.

Mandriva (known as Mandrake) was the first distro on which I had my baby steps in to the Linux domain. Mandriva was the Ubuntu during 1999-2003. During the time when RedHat stopped its community version and forked into Fedora, Mandriva too lost its glory with the introduction of Mandriva Club. 2004 saw the rise of the Ubuntu which revolutionized the Linux arena. Now OpenSuSE, Fedora and Mandriva, the major players have joined the race of making open source software better usable and available to the masses. Mandriva striked back with a bang with its 2008 version which was really impressive.

Test Machine

I installed Mandriva One 2009 KDE version on my Compaq Presario V3000 series laptop. The short specs are : AMD Turion 64 X2 @ 1.9GHz, 3 GB RAM, nVidia Corporation GeForce 7150M display with shared memory, 1280 x 800 screen.

Install glitches

Mandriva 2009 could not detect the resolution and boot into the GUI, I had to enter the CLI and use 'drakxconf' to setup my video card. The steps were easy but the point is the new user has to be familiar with CLI and also be aware of drakxconf.

Mandriva 2009 install from live CD is very simple, it doesn't ask for much information until the first boot. But there is a new script that removes unwanted modules in the installation.

The install went well but after there was an error reporting that the bootloader cannot be installed. So after the reboot, there was no operating system found. I repeated the install from the beginning and it worked fine.

During the first login, I was asked about the locales and to create a new user as well as the root password. After first login, Mandriva wanted me to register, which I have done before, I entered my details, Mandriva wanted me to send my hardware profile which was created in a tar.gz file. I happily uploaded the file and sent to Mandriva.

After install and a reboot, I could boot into the workable OS in 55 seconds and the basic install took about 2.3 GB.

First impressions

Look and Feel

I am very much pleased with the aesthetics of Mandriva 2009. I never thought that KDE 4 could be so beautiful and a pleasure to use. Mandriva 2009 uses La Ora window decoration instead of Oxygen. The theme is very nice and the default wallpaper is elegant. The default mild blue colours are very pleasing. I am truly amazed by the looks which will be a key factor in me adopting this distro.

The launcher is classic sytle like KDE 3 but you can easily change it to kickoff style which is what I prefer. The classic menu style is logically arranged and free of much clutter, but the new kickoff menu has search function (Vista also has this) which is also very easy to use.

Package selection and installation

The default package selection is good with majority weight given to KDE applications. But I found it peculiar to find Ekiga for voip services instead of Twinkle or Kphone. But this chioce must be because of Ekiga's better features and must be appreciated. I would be happy if Pidgin was installed by default instead of Kopete. The office suite is the 3.0 version of OO. OO3 has many improved features like the ability to create tables in OO Impress. The default browser is Firefox instead of Konqueror which sensible. A KDE based distro need not fanatically be KDE based. I am not agains Konqueror, but most of the sites like gmail don't like konqueror, so there is no point to make it the default browser as other distros like OpenSuSE have done. Flash was installed by default but the codecs to play XviD and WMA can be downloaded with the help of codeina.

Installation of packages was breeze through the legendary Mandriva Control Centre. Also package installation at the command line with urpmi was at par with apt-get install. I would like to make a note that OpenSuSE's package installer Yast2 sucks despite their efforts to improve it, whereas Mandrivas package installer felt snappier.

Mandriva 2009 also mounted my windows partitions by default which was not the case in 2008.1.


Mandriva is the first to release a new version this season among the others like Ubuntu, Fedora and Opensuse. Being early to release a cutting edge version with KDE 4, Mandriva has done a really impressive job. In this way they can win a lot of new users who are waiting for an upgrade. I seriously doubt if there will be better implementation of KDE 4 in the near future. I have used Fedora 9 KDE in my home desktop and used OpenSuse 11 KDE in my laptop, but they both had several issues. KDE 4 is ready for prime time use with Mandriva 2009, so grab the iso and try it out.


Down8ve said...

I had fewer install issues than you, but the post-config stuff loses me a bit. For example, what is the correct way to add software sourses? I added some non-free repos via the sources updater, but now it says many of my other packages are "orphaned" and should be removed?

That's the beauty of Synaptic, and why PCLinuxOS uses it, I suppose. Where does one go to learn how to make the most of Mandriva's package manager?


Fabrice said...

Are you sure about the fact that you add the right media ?
use if in doubt

Anonymous said...

Down8ve: the 'orphans' feature is a new one and may have a few bugs. It's just a suggestion - you can happily ignore it entirely, it won't do anything unless you tell it to. It's actually an old apt feature that people have requested for urpmi quite a lot, so we added it for 2009.

josericardo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
josericardo said...

I disagree with you about openSUSE 11.0. Although it was launched with KDE 4.0.4 (which is not as stable as kDE 4.1.2), it didn't crashed on me that often. It really was usable to me. OpenSUSE 11.1 will be much better because the same version of KDE that mandriva shipped in this release will be available (and posibly KDE 4.1.3). However I totally agree with your opinion about Mandriva 2009.0 being a solid release. I even think it will be better that ubuntu 8.10 and openSUSE 11.1

Down8ve said...

Thanks for the info, guys. I've cleaned things up a bit, part of the beauty of these modern distros is you can reinstall pretty quickly if you goof things up while learning.

My next challenge is to attempt to correct permissions of an extra internal drive containing all my multimedia. I'm off to the Wiki.

This is really stable, far better than my OpenSuse experience(s).

Gireesh said...

Mandriva was the Ubuntu!!

Hmm, Mandriva has been around for 10+ years and Ubuntu around 4. No pun intended.

Other than that, the KDE4 desktop in Mandriva is the most stable (of Kde4) and complete incarnation of this desktop I have seen.

The drakxconf step is noted in the Mandriva Errata page. I did run into the same issue but I had read the errata before.

Gireesh said...

Of course, my hardware is also a CompaqV3000. Mine is a compaq v3425 with Nvidia 6150 and AMD Athlon TK53.

Sid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sid said...

"Mandriva was the Ubuntu" : I meant it had so much popularity, it was easy to solve problems and it was intended to be easy and newbie friendly.

jan said...

It's been a while since I've last used Mandriva (Mandrake back then) version 9.2 in fact and since then I've tried almost every distro imaginable. I recently decided to give Mandriva a spin one more time and my version of choice was Mandriva 2009-RC1. The installation process didn't go well as expected compared to my experiences with Fedora, Ubuntu and Mint respectively. First of all I can't install if I used the graphical mode, the only mode that worked for me was good old text mode and I have to use a CRT monitor in order for the install process to finish, coz if I used my 15" wide screen LCD monitor I always get an out of range error. This same thing is true with the just recently released Mandriva 2009 version. One more weird issue I had is that suddenly X stops working, all I get is the LCD blinking in RED, GREEN and WHITE continuously. I guess they should have spent more time polishing it (fix as much bug as possible) before going public with the release so we would not end up with a half baked release.

I used the GNOME desktop if that matters.

Just my 2 cents worth

Down8ve said...

OK, looks like I've learned this well enough to use it daily. This is nay far the best implementation of KDE4 I've seen.

One users need to go to "Easy urpmi" to configure non-free stuff, and add the printer module into drake (left out for some reason).

Take your time and ask for help if you have issues, you will not be disappointed!

Alfred said...

Tried all the Distro(s) shipping KDE 4 and 4.1 as well. on my Pentium M 1.7ghz/512mb laptop.

Mandriva 2008 and 2009 are the fastest of them all.

Will continue to use.

The rest are slow thanks.

dago68 said...


Sorry but I think this is a Mandriva 2009.0 RC3 a lot of bugs and a kernel rc8!!!
I paid to have Mandriva PWP but a STABLE release not this kind of test distro.
I hope to have in my torrents of club Mandriva the next 2009.0.1 a least in decembre.
Best regards

Fabrice said...

dago68> kernel 2.6.27 final have been release just 2 days after the Mandriva release, so really, I don't think that there are many differences between the Mandriva kernel and the final upstream one.

jan> Maybe if you had test the pre-release of the 2009.0, they could have fix your issue. Because IMHO many people are able to do the graphical installation without monitor and resolutions issues.
Please note that you can also pass the vga option for the installation. Please have a look at the options. None of the cooker users who test the distro had your precise issue. So, how can Mandriva fix a problem if they don't know about its existence.

dago68 said...

fabrice> please take a look here:

see differences from final and rc8 (kernel is not like install a software to play game) an do you remember also a little problems with module e1000e? It's good to have a resonable period to test, isn't it?

And what about this?

It's more long than 2008.1 Errata with, I think, more seriously bugs.

Sorry I don't agree about timing to release FINAL and STABLE release of Mandriva 2009.0


Fabrice said...

2009.0 Errata is longer than 2008.1 one, because it contains also the bugs from 2008.1 which are still not fixed.
BTW KDE4 add also many issues in the Errata.

dago68 said...

Than have you tried to install kde3?
Also with task-kde3 you don't have it inside menu of login.
Why doesn't it ask me when I make a new installation?
Have you try k3b?
The worse distro I have installed till now, another think the beautiful graphics ok new Mandriva 2009.0 where???
I'm very disappointed about this version, I hope in new 2009.0.1 maybe

Anonymous said...

dago: the e1000e fix was included in the kernel shipped in 2009. We really aren't that dumb, you know.