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How to customize Mandriva 2011

Mandriva 2011, the latest desktop edition of the popular Linux distribution, was released yesterday. If you have just installed it, you would have noticed, if you mouseover the update manager icon, this message: “No medium found. You must add some media through ‘Software Media Manager’.” That is just telling you that the package (or update) manager is not pointing to any remote software sources or repositories. As a result, no updates can be applied to the system.

If you are new to Mandriva, this brief tutorial will show the simple steps you can take to add (remote) software sources to the system, plus a few other customizations tips, such as replacing the default menu, if you do not like it, and adding a virtual desktop switcher to the panel. (New users might also be interested in Guest account and user management on Mandriva 2011)

The first step is to add software sources or repositories (repos). To do that, click on the menu’s icon on the panel, then click on the first entry on the Welcome column, which should be the icon for Mandriva Control Center. It should be listed as “Configure Your Computer.”

The main view of the Mandriva Control Center (MCC) is shown below. To add software sources, click on “Configure media sources for install and update,” labeled “1″ in the image below.
Mandriva 2011 Software Management

The sources or repository window will open. By default, it is empty. Click Add.
Mandriva 2011 Add Repos

Click Full set of sources.
Mandriva 2011 Add Repo Prompt

At some point, this error window will open. Do not let it bother you. It is not important for regular desktop users. click Ok to close it.
Mandriva @011 Add Repo Error

The repository window should now show a full list of repos. Those enabled will be all you need to install stable applications. Click Ok to close the window.
Mandriva 2011 Repo List

Now that you can install updates, let us look at a few other changes you can make to the system. If you click on the menu, and then on the TimeFrame tab, you will notice that the TimeFrame column is not functional by default. That is because the Nepomuk indexing service is disabled. It was enabled in pre-release editions, but because it can be resource intensive, on low-resource computers, it was disabled out of the box. If you did not know, TimeFrame, when functioning, uses about 37MB of RAM. And that is not counting Nepomuk’s memory usage. By the way, TimeFrame is a fancy and very useful frontend for Nepomuk. To enable it, click on “enable” on the TimeFrame column.
Mandriva 2011 TimeFrame

Nepomuk/Strigi Server Configuration window should open. Click the checkbox box next to Enable Nepomuk Semantic Desktop. That is all you need to get TimeFrame functioning.
Mandriva 2011 Enable Nepomuk

I like the default menu a lot, but I have heard negative rumblings from some quarters about it. If you share a different opinion about it than I do, you can always replace it with a more familiar menu. And when it comes to menus, you have three other options – the Kickoff menu, Classic menu, and Lancelot menu. The applets for the first two, are available out of the box, but for the Lancelot menu, you have to use the software manager to install the plasma-applet-lancelot package.

To install it, click the item labeled “2″ in the first image of this article, that is, on the MCC. Search for “lancelot” in the package manager. The lone result should be the plasma-applet-lancelot-4.6.5 package. Install it.

Before you install a new menu widget, you would, of course, want to remove the existing menu. So, right-click on the menu’s icon and select “Remove this SimpleWelcome.’
Mandriva 2011 Remove SimpleWelcome

Once that is completed, right-click anywhere on the panel and select Panel Options > add Widgets.”
 Mandriva 2011 Add Widget

In the search field of the Widget (Panel) Tool Box, type “launcher.” The available menu options will be shown. The first one will be the Kickoff menu and the second the Classic menu. Double-click on your choice to add it to the panel.
Menu Widgets on Mandriva 2011

With the Panel Tool Box still open, drag the newly added widget to the desired location. Since this is the menu widget, you might want to place it in the original position of the menu you just removed. Close the Panel Tool Box.
Mandriva 2011 Move Panel Widgets

With the Kickoff menu widget added, your desktop should look like the one shown below. I do not particularly like the Kickoff menu, but as they say, “One man’s meat, is another man’s poison.”

And if you feel better using the Classic menu, your desktop should look like this.
Classic Menu on Mandriva 2011

The last customization you might wish to make is to add a virtual desktop switcher or pager applet to the panel. To do that, repeat the procedure you used to add the menu widgets, and search for “pager.” Double-click the icon that appears and close the widget adding panel. By default, the pager will show four virtual desktops, which for most people, should be enough.
Add Pager Widget on Mandriva 2011

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7 Comments

  1. mandy says:

    Thank you for your post.. I love the new Mandriva 2011…

  2. darkduck says:

    As usual, very useful guide from this site.
    If you’re interested in more of Mandriva 2011, please read my post: http://linuxblog.darkduck.com/2011/08/mandriva-2011.html

  3. Carlie Coats says:

    Thanks!

  4. Carlie Coats says:

    …and how do you *edit* the menus?? For example, I want my menu to have a hierarchy for accessing about fifty remote “user@host”s…

    And I wanted it centered around *my* use of the system, not some hypothetical newbie’s!

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