Chris J Powell

OS Sunday – When a Fork is more than just a Fork – Mageia 2.0

If the world of Ubuntu had never come along and wooed me away from the stability and feature set of Mandriva Linux (well at the time it was Mandrake Linux) but the Distro has always had some underlying drama associated with it (most recently there has been the long standing demise of the distro) so along with that came a call for the Mandriva Linux  Community to take up the charge and build a newer, faster, stronger version of the venerable RPM based Distro.  And along comes Mageia.  I can honestly say I missed the news of version 1.0 coming out but from tracking back some reviews…I am glad that I waited for version 2.0!

Mageia 2

For those who know me, I am a Debian/Ubuntu kind of guy so taking a step back and giving an RPM based distro a whirl is a big step for me.  I grabbed the 3.4GB 64Bit DVD image from the Mageia Site and set up my standard VM in Oracle VirtualBox (4 GB of RAM and 20 GB of disk space).  The Download was surprisingly fast and installation was a breeze, a far cry from my last Mandriva Install!  The Installation asks if you would like KDE or Gnome…I chose Gnome (my preferred desktop environment).

Included with the Distro is a wide array of selections for software:

  • Firefox, Opera or Chromium Browser
  • The Gimp, Blender and a host of Image Software
  • LibreOffice and Calligra are included for Productivity
  • Media options include VLC, RhythmBox and even XBMC for those who want a full featured experience
  • Wine and VirtualBox also come preinstalled

Because of the multitude of options that come with a DVD install, the installation took a little longer than I have seen in my previous demo OS reviews but considering that they were all CD or small DVD ISO’s I will forgive the team at Mageia for this one.

A solid start to a morning as the initial boot took less than 60 seconds to get to a working desktop (and that included 2 fat fingered attempts at my newly minted password).  Looking through the installed Applications, I was impressed by both the variety and choices made but when I went to try to add a new piece of software it kept asking for the Mageia DVD.  I poked around the system looking for the options to setup the sources for updates and unfortunately, it is vastly different then Ubuntu and many of the other setups I have tested recently but I did locate the Mageia Control Center which gives the user all the access needed to configure and build out a custom Desktop.

The big question is whether or not I could get past my love affair with Debian Based Files and make even a temporary switch over to the darkside of another package manager format?  Well I can say if all of the RPM based distros have gotten as easy to use as Mageia…that is a real possibility.

All said and done though…from the time that I configured the VM to initially boot Mageia to a working desktop it was 20 minutes all said and done.  Pretty respectible.  In poking around under the hood though there are some things that concern me:

  • The Interface looks dated…it is a throw back to a simpler time but looks very much so like a Distro that rolled off the line in 2005 not 2012!
  • Version of Firefox installed is 10.0.4 which dates back to April 2012…ok that is getting nit picky
  • It did not locate my Home Network to be able to connect and pull down my media…this would be a huge turn off for a novice user trying out the distro and would cause undo frustration…simple Samba setup should be included
  • Because of the Network Issue, I could not configure my 3 Printers…that is a problem

Overall, I think that Mageia 2.0 is a step in the right direction, there are still some things that need to be built out but if the future of the Mandriva family is to continue beyond the death of the company that supports it…well it is going to need a strong Community Based Distro like Mageia.

Overall on my Dozen Donuts Score:

My Quest for a full Dozen continues…stay tuned for next week when I might just give Fedora 17 a spin…or not…it will be a surprise.

Cheers,

Chris J Powell

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