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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
Wow, 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.