Switching to Linux which distro to use, Mandriva?

This is the third of a sequence of posts where we’ll take a look at a few of the main Linux distros to find out which are the most welcoming to Linux newbies. In our first article of this series, we took a look at Fedora 9 Beta, and the second article we spoke about openSUSE.

We’ll do this test with the live (Gnome) CD to analyze: parts of the hardware that are recognized, software package installed, general usability (setup adjustments, software installation). Computer tested specs: AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600, 2GB RAM, nVidia GeForce 6100.

Mandriva One 2008 Spring

 

First Mandriva’s live CD takes me through a few questions such as my language, location, keyboard layout, and even had me accept their terms and conditions. Then, the next thing I saw was beautiful!  My screen was perfectly configured to the correct resolution and size. Plus, I was even able to have compiz running through a live CD. Marvaleous!! Mandriva’s 2008-1 spring live CD was the only Linux distro I’ve ever tested that was able to give me this. How so? The folks in Mandriva packaged the nVidia drivers in this live CD.

 

Mandriva desktop

The visuals of the desktop and entire theme is very well designed and looks pretty professionally done. The desktop is the pretty familiar Gnome layout, with two panels and the “Applications”, “Places”, and “System” menus.

 

Hardware?

Monitor was perfect, it just worked. Microphone and speakers also worked very well. Since it seems Mandriva isn’t shy to place proprietary material in their distro, I guessed (correctly) that it would play mp3 files. Even Firefox did whatever I needed to do, including play embbeded videos.

All my partitions were visible, with read and write access.

 

Software:

The complete basic package is present: Firefox, Pidgin, VNC, Ekiga, OpenOffice, GIMP, Brasero and quite a few others.

Another really neat feature I found was the Mandriva Linux Control center. There is a convenient shortcut to it on the taskbar right beside Firefox and Evolution. Here I’m able to configure pretty much anything, install programs, setup automatic backups, configure my printers, network, change the visuals and desktop preferences, organize HD partitions, firewall, and even Parental Control settings.

 

Mandriva Control Center

Mandriva has an RPM package system to install new programs. It isn’t the prettiest or the most user friendly but it works pretty well.


First impressions results?

Three pinguinsWow, I was quite happy. Everything just worked, no glitches, no bugs I could easily find, or any thing I wasn’t able to do from lack of drivers. In my opinion, the perfect choice for a Linux newbie. Mandriva 2008-1 spring gets three pinguins.

For a newbie, just fresh out of Windows this would be a perfect choice of reccomendation. Everything that I tested at least was running out-of-the box so the transition would be to learn the way around Linux and not having to wonder how to get stuff working.

Next, we’ll take a look at the all mighty famous Ubuntu.

 

Now I leave it up to you our dear readers, share with us your experiences with Mandriva.

7 thoughts on “Switching to Linux which distro to use, Mandriva?

  1. An interesting article, however I thought you might be interested in the fact that I have just switched from Mandriva 2008.0 to PCLinuxOS. Why? Well wanting to reinstall my system a couple of months ago I ran the Mandriva 2008 Powerpack dvd which I had purchased. Unfortunately when it came to setting up my webcam (Logitech Quickcam) and pcmcia network card (Netgear – using Atheros driver) I was informed that I needed gspca for the webcam and madwifi for the network card. These files, however were not included on the dvd but I could download them from their website. Question – How do you download a file when your network card isnt recognised?

    So I just happened to have a copy of a dvd which had been on the front of one of the Linux Format magazines, this has a number of bootable distros on it including Mandriva One, Knoppix and PCLinuxOS. I decided to skip Mandriva One and try out PCLinuxOS instead. The Livecd recognised both my webcam and network card from the word go and once up and running I decided to give the install a try to see how that worked. Once again both the devices were recognised during the install and configured correctly.

    I have been using PCLinuxOS ever since without any problems whatso ever and find it very stble. If anyone wants to try a simple to set up and use distro I can heartily recommend it

    Regards

    Dave Le Huray
    Guernsey

  2. Thanks for the tip Dave! Last time I saw PCLinuxOS it didn’t do too well on my machine. But, from your recommendation I’ll surely take a second look.

  3. A comment on what Dave said,

    “Unfortunately when it came to setting up my webcam (Logitech Quickcam) and pcmcia network card (Netgear – using Atheros driver) I was informed that I needed gspca for the webcam and madwifi for the network card.”

    And:

    “I decided to skip Mandriva One and try out PCLinuxOS instead.”

    I’m sure if you were to have tried the Mandriva One distro, your network card and webcam would have worked. Also, you can do an install from the One CD. Once the install cd is in place, you can install the comerical software from the PWP dvd.

    So, the point of your comment is????

  4. I think Dave’s comment was regarding Mandriva itself, not this specific distro. Also, the fact that PCLinuxOS might be worth a shot too.

    I forgot to test my webcam with the live CD but as you said Joe, I’m pretty sure it would’ve worked perfectly too.

  5. Actually I tried out Mandriva One and it has compiz-fusion working out of the box on my laptop which has an ATi Xpress 200M. So not only does Mandriva come with nVidia drivers on the LiveCD it also comes with the ATi drivers. 🙂

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