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Mandriva 2010 Spring review

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3D Desktop: While I was not able to log into a fresh installation of Free, One presented a few disappointments of its own. On Mandriva One 2010, the last stable release before Mandriva One 2010 Spring, configuring CompizFusion, the 3D compositing window manager, was not a problem and it worked like a charm (logging out and the back in was not required). On Mandriva One 2010 Spring, however, configuring CompizFusion required logging out and then back in. Even then, CompizFusion did not work.

DVD Video Playback: Totem is the default video player on the GNOME version of Mandriva (Totem is actually the default video player of the GNOME desktop environment). On Mandriva One 2010 Spring, the plugins that Totem requires to play DVD video are not installed. It makes me wonder why the good folks at Mandriva went to all this trouble to give us a desktop distribution and not did not bother to take the extra step to make the very basic tasks work out of the box. Rather than search for the required plugins, or try to figure out how to play DVD video with Totem, I just installed VLC, which is in the repository. Once installed VLC worked. It always has. Why not make VLC the default video player?

totemerror

Totem DVD video playback error

Printing and Printer Configuration: Some of the best Linux distributions will automatically detect and configure a connected printer. I am so used to it that it surprises me whenever I come across one that does not. Pardus will auto-detect and configure a connected printer. Ditto for Mint, Ubuntu and Mandriva 2010. So I was truly surprised when Mandriva 2010 Spring did not auto-detect and configure my HP Deskjet F4280 All-in-One. And that is because CUPS (Common Unix Printing System), the print server, was not installed by default. Also, system-config-printer, the printer administration tool, was not installed out of the box. I know it only takes about a couple of minutes to install these packages, but the question is, again, why? Why were these packages installed and running out of the box on Mandriva 2010, but not on Mandriva 2010 Spring? Is that a sign of progress?

Ok, enough of the negative side of Mandriva, let’s see some of the better features.

The Mandriva Free Installer: Which is the same as the Mandriva Powerpack installer, shows some of the better aspects of Mandriva. While the lack of a back button can be annoying on Mandriva One, the Free installer partially eases the pain that the absence of a back button can cause by giving you the opportunity to make changes before package installation begins. It does nothing to address the lack of a back button during the partitioning stage, but it helps greatly with the other areas. You can change the security level, mess with the firewall configuration (enabled by default), modify user account information, etc, etc.

mandinstall3

The final step before package installation starts

Package Selection: Another neat feature of Free’s installer is the option to select individual packages for installation. This is not available on the One installer, and it is better than the feeble attempt at package selection on the Sabayon installer.

mandinstall2

Package selection page of Mandriva Free installation program

Update Notification: I have already written about Mandriva’s update notification tool. It is so much better than the notification utility of most other distributions that have been reviewed on this site. Definitely much better than Sabayon’s update notifier, and puts PCLinuxOS’s to shame.

Audio CD Playback: Though the default DVD video player on the GNOME version of Mandriva One 2010 Spring failed in its responsibilities, Rhythmbox, the default audio CD player worked as expected.

Mandriva Control Center: This is the administrative hub of any Mandriva installation – One, Free, or Powerpack. It is one reason why I like Mandriva. New users and experienced hands will find it a joy to use.

mcc2010

The Mandriva Control Center

Final Thoughts and Recommendations: Aside from improved hardware and other enhancements in the latest kernel (2.6.33) that powers Mandriva 2010 Spring, I do not see any major improvements over Mandriva 2010. In some respects, I think that Mandriva 2010 is better. And that is really sad.

Under normal circumstances, I will recommend Mandriva Free instead of Mandriva One, but given the fact that I could not even get Free to work, I am definitely not recommending it to anybody, especially new users. If you are considering Mandriva, I will suggest that you give Mandriva One a shot. The installer does not have all the features of Free’s, but at least it works.

Resources: Installation images for all available versions of Mandriva can be found here.

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14 Comments

  1. jms says:

    wanted kde from dualarch and 64 bit cpu. If selected only kde got same problem as reviewer re the glxinfo issue. I had the main media CD and it still would give the same error that he got. I just went and repartitioned and installed the lxde only and from there installed the kde base minimal from the package manger and it all works finally. returned to mandriva from distro hopping and this was more of a headache than the initial 2010 free that I used before. that install was flawless. didn’t find much searching on mandriva forums on this.

  2. Lee says:

    Thank you for your review. It was totally honest and objective. It’s unfortunate that the version you tested failed as miserably as it did, especially since it was a reflection on the quality of Mandriva Linux. I purchased the Powerpack version of 2010 Spring, and it installed like a charm without any hiccups at all.

    I totally agree that the absence of a “back” button at almost every step of the installation and a failure to auto-install CUPS and the unique components for my HP printer are significant omissions; although neither were difficult to overcome, just annoying.

    Being a long-time user of Mandriva Linux, I really enjoy this version, and I think it’s the best yet. The only regression I’ve noticed is that it seems to boot slower than the 2010.0 version by about 15 seconds on the same machine. Other than that, the installation was very easy and I’m very pleased with the features and ease of use in day-to-day use.

  3. Arvi Pingus says:

    The main review was not plain vanilla. uing a netbook without disk drive has its quirks. Every local community can help you out.
    Normal pc/laptop install are due to mandriva installer ‘dull’ :)
    Up and running witin the hour, including network, printer, 3D and basic applications like browsing, e-mail and (Open)Office.

  4. RJohnson says:

    Mandriva Linux has IMO gotten worst about certain aspects of it. In this latest version of it, they eliminated the option to copy the packages to the hard disk, now you have to do it manually which really makes no sense since has been there for so many versions. About Totem, I don’t remember it ever being able to play movies without installing dvdcss and the like because of copyright legalities. The problem me as a long time Mandriva user is I have been using for long and dealing with its issues that I’m just used to it and finding something is yet another curse to bear. I tried the PowerPack version 2k9 and I thought it was actually worst than the free version: even thought it came with drivers for certain hardware that you have to other wise find, download and configure, my hardware has issues with it. The question would be, if they were taken over by I think Canonical, how much worst would it get?

  5. Barista Uno says:

    Will surely install this to my soon-to-be-assembled desktop rig. I’ve always found Mandriva (from 2009 edition) to be a very congenial distro with hardware support that very few can beat. Mandriva 2010 Spring looks like another winner.

  6. Barnabyh says:

    Yes,that’s funny :)) Thanks for the review.

  7. Sam says:

    I thought CUPS was a free as in beer application. Why WOULDN’T that be pre-installed. I’m wondering if perhaps you had some errors in the install process. Did you try wiping the install, double-checking the CD integrity, and re-installing? The whole issue with Drak3d sounds to me like an install error.

    • finid says:

      Being free does not mean that is has to be installed out of the box. And I did verify that CUPS was not installed. It was installed afterwards as part of printer configuration from MCC. Btw, this review involved several installs/reinstalls on real hardware and in a virtual environment (Virtualbox OSE)

  8. DistroLink says:

    Thank you for your review!

  9. Mustafaa says:

    “Mandriva Free 2010 Spring – the free edition that ships with (non-free) applications only. Available for 32- and 64-bit platforms.”
    You meant Free applications only so I home you correct this.

  10. Mustafaa says:

    “Mandriva Free 2010 Spring – the free edition that ships with (non-free) applications only. Available for 32- and 64-bit platforms.
    You meant Free applications only so I hope you correct this.

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