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Author:  Hollow
October 18, 2008



Mandriva (One) Linux

The newer release of Mandriva has also been reviewed – please check our other Linux reviews for the Mandriva 2009.0

Mandriva (one) Linux Default (Fresh Install) Desktop Screenshot. Click to enlarge.

Mandriva (one) Linux Default (Fresh Install) Desktop Screenshot. Click to enlarge.

This distribution is of French origin, but it is very much an international distribution. You can localize it’s installation very easily, and after this review we HIGHLY recommended for new Linux users. Mandriva comes fully loaded out of the box, it has the full Open Office Suite installed by default, it comes with Firefox web browser and Thunderbird mail client installed out of the box and in general it just feels professionally done and very very solid.

One of the first things that attracted our attention and put this distro in front of the others was it’s ability to interact immediately with it’s environment. Most Linux distributions require a fair bit of work to get up and running in a Virtualbox Virtual Machine, Mandriva however just worked, both the Live CD and the final installed versions just worked without any intervention. It required NO tweaking whatsoever to get seamless mode working and higher screen resolutions were available immediately.

Mandriva Cascading Menu - Screenshot. Click to Enlarge.

Mandriva Cascading Menu - Screenshot. Click to Enlarge.

So most of our customers won’t care about a Virtualbox environment, they want to know how it’s going to perform on their own hardware, well let’s put it this way, Virtualbox imitates actual hardware, although some of the hardware your virtual machine uses is the actual hardware on your computer the majority of it is Virtualbox specific, for Mandriva to be able to install all of that hardware itself out of the box, as well as the drivers required to operate in seamless mode, is HIGHLY impressive and it shouldn’t have much of a problem installing normal every day hardware.

On to the good stuff, Mandriva has an excellent layout and design, it just feels like a corporate, yet fun, well put together, professionally designed operating system. I honestly think a Windows user could pick up this operating system in half an hour and be doing almost everything they were doing on their Windows installation in no time flat.

Mandriva Linux Control Center viewing System Tab - Screenshot. Click to Enlarge.

Mandriva Linux Control Center viewing System Tab - Screenshot.

Now then all apart from the standard stuff that everyone needs to use a computer effectively Mandriva also has all that really fun stuff you’ve heard Linux can do installed “off the shelf”. It isn’t configured and you will have to play around with the settings yourself to get it up and running in a way you’re happy with, but everything you need to configure your graphical settings is in the main menu, and very easy to understand.

We have to give down sides to our reviews as well, we can’t just have everyone thinking that we only write the good stuff about the things we review now can we.

Mandriva Linux Control Center viewing Network SharingTab - Screenshot.

Mandriva Linux Control Center viewing Network SharingTab - Screenshot.

Unfortunately Mandriva has chosen to use Konqueror for it’s default file system browser. To the un-initiated or unfamiliar this will mean nothing until I explain further. One of the things about Linux that makes it so good, is that you have a choice about everything. Not just which distribution you use but once you have your distribution installed, you can choose from an abundance of programs, to carry out almost every task possible. With the KDE (K Desktop Environment) interface (The interface we’ve used in all of our reviews here) there are several possible programs that you can use to view your file system. Many hard core Linux users will tell you that their preferred program for this purpose is Konquerer (A lot of hard core users also prefer Gnome as a desktop environment but for someone migrating from Windows I think KDE is far more intuitive), this I believe is more through force of habit than actual ease of use and practicality. The other main option for a file system browser in KDE is Dolphin (sometimes known as D3lphin). This is a newer program and hasn’t been available for that long, but in my personal opinion it is a far better program for the purpose of browsing a file system and it’s certainly much easier to use and come to grips with when transitioning from a Windows environment and it is far more self explanitory than Konqueror.

Mandriva Linux showing screen resolution menu - Screenshot. Click to Enlarge.

Mandriva Linux showing screen resolution menu - Screenshot. Click to Enlarge.

Something that a lot of Linux distributions suffer from is that the installation media is not usually the most up to date release of all software, now this is something that can’t really be gotten around, making the installation media is a relatively long process and the amount of software that comes pre-installed on Linux by default is so large that with the regular release schedule of most Open Source Software, keeping every single piece of software at it’s most up to date state would be a mammoth task. Mandriva however suffers quite heavily here. After the installation we found over 200 updates were required, this takes a long time and requires a lot of bandwidth, in addition we also found there were quite a few programs that errored during the update and I think new users would find this very worrying. As it turns out the errors were nothing to worry about at all, another update run corrected the errors and installed the required programs perfectly. This is still a very bad point for new users to have to deal with.

The only other real downside to Mandriva for a new user from our point of view is the installation procedure, although being very straight forward and easy to use, has some lengthy surveys for both personal information and useage. Now if a customer is having the installation done by Symsys or another similar company then that’s not an issue, but for some new users who’ve chosen to do the installation themselves this could be quite a put off for them.


So in summary then Symsys highly recommends Mandriva Linux to new users, it’s extremely easy to install, very easy to use and it really does have an extremely well put together and thought out feel to it. You don’t feel like you’re using a piece of software that has bugs in it or isn’t all that well put together. When you install other operating systems (No manufacturers mentioned) you usually find that a lot of your hardware isn’t installed or doesn’t work out of the box and you have to go off hunting for the drivers and/or installation software you need from the manufacturers site. Worse yet if your network device doesn’t install then you can’t even do that online from the machine you’re trying to install, Mandriva doesn’t seem to suffer from this problem at all. Try downloading Mandriva for yourself or give us a call to have your system installed for you, whether it be a new machine you want or you just want to use it on your existing machine we’ll get it sorted for you.

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Author:  Hollow
October 12, 2008



You know what, I think it might be!

Click to look at the full elemt inspector and page highlights

LXDE Menu a pleasure to use - screenshot

I’m stuck at home this weekend with a cold and a second head (A Cist) sticking out of my cheek, so I started reading through some Linux news reviews on other sites. Low and behold while I was looking through the release announcement for one of my favorite recovery/helper distributions on distrowatch I noticed they had switched from using XFCE (A Very lightweight desktop based on KDE but not particularly pretty and not all that functional IMHO) to LXDE. Now I’d heard of LXDE and seen some write-ups on it before but never considered it to be all that much use to anyone really. ThisĀ  opinion changed over the course of this weekend.

After installing LXDE on our company laptop (Dual boot HP NX9420 with Windows XP and Kubuntu 8.04) and logging into it, I found an extremely fast (And I’m talking lightning), relatively attractive (Not gorgeous but doesn’t make you want to look the other way in disgust either), useful and functional desktop infront of me.

Chrome Right Click Features

LXDE Clean desktop, fresh load - screenshot

File manager and My Documents - screenshot

File manager and My Documents - screenshot

I decided to delve further with this new Desktop of mine and see where it would fall over, there had to be a problem with it somewhere, it was too fast and too useful at the same time to be perfect. Sure enough it did struggle to load a couple of the KDE apps I had installed but for the most part it actually handled everything very cleanly.

The menu in LXDE is a pleasure to use, it’s simple, straightforward, does what it says on the tin and it’s very functional. This menu doesn’t have all the bloat of more recent modern menus and just allows you to do what you need to with it, without being over the top.

Why haven’t I used this desktop before, I asked myself? Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be using KDE3.5.9 as my main desktop for another 10 – 20 days until the release of Intrepid Ibex comes out from Kubuntu, that’ll have KDE4.1 on it, if that doesn’t please me I may well be switching my main distribution over to Mandriva, but LXDE is definitely staying on the company laptop and going to be used extensively in the coming months.

Adept package manager and Konqueror Home Page - screenshot

A Linux desktop which not only looks quite nice but is actually functional and super fast, I really do think this might be the new KDE in the next year or two. Several people are unhappy with KDE4.1 (Me being one of them, although I have mentioned in my Mandriva 2009.0 review that they’ve done a great job of making me like it) and KDE4.1 is definitely more of a resource hog than KDE3.5.9 was. Given another year or so and I think LXDE might be the default desktop on several distributions. LXDE ALREADY is the default desktop on some distributions but they’re all the minimal distributions, I’m talking about it being the main desktop for Ubuntu in 9.04. This may all be rubbish and the cough syrup might be finally kicking in but I think LXDE could and will go a lot further than it has up to now.

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