When I first got in the
Linux movement back in the late 1990's, I went out and purchased a
couple of distros to play with. The first of these was Mandrake-Linux
and I was always happy with how Mandrake worked, especially on the
installer side of the house. But as with anything, as soon as anyone
makes any money at anything, someone sues and so the name Mandrake is
being tied up with some silly lawsuit about comic strips, magicians or
something or another so a while back Mandriva was born. So for many
years I always had one or two versions of Mandriva or whatever you
wanted to call it laying around, installed on something or another.
Even as they emerged from Bankruptcy I had little issue with the group,
but then as with many others in Linux, I had a change of heart.
my first issues with Mandriva happened in 2005, and really started when
they purchased a company call Conectiva and started re-organizing and
eventually early in 2006 they pretty much fired their Founder, Gael
Duval. Now I don't know Mr Duval from Adam, but I read a lot of what I
saw on the internet about this because I am a paying subscriber to
their Mandriva Club, so I want to know what my money is going to. What
we in the community (I personally think that the entire community idea
came from Mandrake community, but that is just my two cents) saw as a
personal slap in the face, Duval saw as a sign that the company was
looking more to corporate customers and profit and away from that which was more involvement from the community. As he quoted "feeling
is that they are focusing more and more on the corporate market.
Mandriva is more and more looking like a standard company, which is
trying to sell services to fortune 500 companies, abandoning its
initial roots. But at the same time, it's keeping on released geeks
products. This sounds like a fuzzy strategy."
So like many I
tried to cancel my membership only to be told I was stuck until
November. So quite honestly if this would have come out next month, I
wouldn't have ever even tried it. But just like many other things in
life, once you move yourself away from the politics that many don't
really care about, and you look at this distro that took over one year
to put together, you see that they really did things right in many,
many ways. I can honestly say that if I wasn't so upset about all the
crap ongoing in France that I would be jumping for joy on this package.
For the newbie who doesn't want to know about those things, welcome to
Linux and a system that will work beyond all your expectations.
Let's head to France and see what is happening, shall we?Details:
Kernel - Kernel 2.6.8 (and various fixes from 2.6.9rc)
Desktop - KDE 3.2.3 / GNOME 2.6 main
FAQs - http://www.mandriva.com/en/community/resources/features
- There are two FREE!!! One LIVE Version and the the Community Free.
Powerpack with all Proprietary features sets is $40 Discovery, $76
Powerpack, $184 Office (wow!!!)
Special Features - Full media support including Licensed LinDVD, XGL/AIGLX Version for ATI/Nvidia, and Cedega Gaming engineNitty Gritty:
Installation ( )
If you want a Free Linux (as in Beer), Mandriva has two offerings; Live
and Free. The Live version is a Live CD that can be installed. The Free
version is 4 CDs that can only be installed. Each of these have their
downsides, with the Live CD being pretty much static, which cannot be
upgraded very easily and the Free version not having any proprietary
packages. Both are very viable packages, but the goodies everyone
really wants is only found in the powerpack. If you want to try before
you buy, I would recommend the Live version to check hardware
compatibility, but honestly the Discovery version is great for the
newbie, while the others really don't make much sense. Compare this to
the other distros of similar offerings and this would be like SLED
which runs $50/year.
For me, being a Club member one of the
perks (and now really the only one left) is that I get to download the
Powerpack DVD iso. So what I am reviewing here is the Powerpack
version. There are many excellent reviews of the Free versions that can
be found on Distrowatch.
When you launch the DVD you get the
standard boot message that defaults to boot from Hard Drive, so you do
only have 10 seconds to select your Installation option.
This screen looks like so many others, so not much to add here.
I will try English this time. Below the license is pretty long, so I didn't check it all out.
is where you will default your firewall settings, which for most people
will just be the default setting of High. Just be careful when adding
NIC cards later because your firewall defaults can be tough.
partitioning tool is pretty simple yet also very misleading. Here in my
install on VMWare all I have is to choose from is Free Space or Custom.
Now, don't let custom fool you, all it really does for you is start a
graphical partition tool. If you need one, or you need to select what
partition type you wish to have, I would suggest going that route. If
you have Windows on your machine, you will also get the option for
resizing that partition to make room.
my partition was empty, I didn't have to setup anything. Just know
this; if you use the option to use existing Linux partitions WITHOUT
deleting them, you will get to select the partitions you want for use
of root, home, use, var, etc...or you can also create custom partitions
for existing distros like other Linux or Windows. But one thing you
won't be able to do is change the partition type, so you better be
happy with what you have. If you have Linux partitions already and you
know your way around a graphical tool, I would strongly suggest using
the Custom Option and forgo the simple ones.
next step will allow you to design your packages installed with this
process. You can go with the default, which selects KDE, leaves off
Game System (but wasn't Cedega a selling point????) and LSB (Not really
needed, more of a throw back to older Linux issues) so you can select
these and they have little impact to the overall storage requirements.
You may want to select Gnome on older systems or even IceWM as they are
not as memory intensive as KDE. I personally prefer Gnome, but some
people live and die by KDE, a more Windows Like environment that tends
to attract more user comfort and less learning time. One can also
select the Individual Package Selection, which then will break each of
these down even more, but if you really are that silly, I don't think
Mandriva is for you anyway. Go back to Slackware people, this is for
This is where you would do package by package from each of the main categories...Good Luck!!!
missed the last window which just double checks what you want to do
before installing, but once you do, you get the wonderful slide show
that explains what is going on in the new packages, or you can go to
detailed mode (boring). Overall this wasn't too painful. The key is to
keep ahead of the process of partitions by using the Custom tool, which
really should be called Graphical Partition tool.
does seem a bit odd to me, but I like the Root password before the
install, but that is just me. Just make sure you remember what it is
folks. If you want to use this on a network, you can also change the
password Authentication Method on the bottom there, but I have not
is where you setup your user account and please don't skip and run as
root. That is by far the silliest thing ever. I try to liken that to
leaving signed blank checks lying around town, then expecting people
not to use them.
I do wish they would get some better icons, oh well. I do like the blue, did I ever mention that is my favorite color?
next screen is networking but I am going to skip that here and discuss
in more detail below. If you need networking immediately you can go
down and check it out there. Wireless people will not be disappointed.
here you are finished after adding the user. You can see a couple of
links here, but don't worry, you will be able to get there soon.
oddly, there is a wizard here to setup Mandriva Club, Mandriva Online
and Mandriva Expert. If you don't know what these are, well basically
it is the support arm of Mandriva. If you buy the boxed version you get
typically a one month Free to silver club, online and access to Expert.
If you are a silver member you get this support for one machine. If you
want to set this up later, you can skip it, but I was going to test my
Silver account and see if this works.
On the second screen I setup if I have
you bought the box set, inside will be an install key. If this is from
a downloaded ISO, then you have no key unless you purchased the full
download from mandriva store. You really don't need the key to run, so
skip it if you have any doubt.
Ok, this states that everything registered successfully. I know it says that but later we will find out something different.
Oh well, it was fun and nice graphics...more blue!!!!!
next screen you will see is the login. By default the system selects
GDM, but honestly I don't really care much either way from KDM or GDM.
One gives you only the name then after enter you get the password.
you do care about is the Session, which is where you will decide if you
want to use Gnome, KDE or run Drake3D. Drak3D is what will enable XGL
or AIGLX, which does require the installation DVD/CD-ROM.
Starting ( )
of the big marketing aspects of Mandriva 2007 is the inclusion of XGL
and AIGLX. This is easily done via the login page by selecting Session
and then Selecting Drake3D. Now, you need to have the install disc
nearby for this as two packages will need to be loaded. Once they are
loaded you will get a screen that will allow you to select XGL or
AIGLX. The main difference between these two is that XGL runs on top of
the desktop enviroment as a program while AIGLX is more embedded and
native, requiring less memory and working a bit smoother for most
experiences. Now that is just my understanding and simple way of
putting those too, so if there is more, which I am sure the frothing
fans of both understand by heart, please do some research on your own
for that, but try not to worry too much about what I state. Either
gives you the eye candy appeal that you are looking for, try them both
and see which one works the best for you.
My issue was that I
did install and run Drake3D but for some reason I was not able to
enable the 3D features. Instead everything was greyed out. Now, I know
that this works as I also have SLED installed and it is functioning
fine, but it seems that Mandriva is too reliant on the supposed
"database" of working hardware that exists somewhere. This is rather
disappointing for me as I love these features for both their fun and
function both. I was able to turn these on with my desktop which did
not work with SLED, which is both ironic and frustrating at the same
The one aspect of Mandriva that I always enjoyed, which I
think sets Mandriva above other Linux distros for newbies, is its
fantastic Control Center. The organization of items, the ease of
getting things done and the descriptions associated with icons makes
managing this Linux distro both easy and flexible.
previously I mentioned that you could install network drivers during
installation, which is awesome, but I wanted to really include this
here to focus on the after the install support that the control panel
offers. This will be of special interest to Laptop users trying to
install network drivers for WiFi.
Generally speaking Wireless
cards can be installed two ways; include Linux drivers in the kernel
and support native, or use some sort of additional software that uses
windows drives to run within Linux such as NDISWRAPPER or FWCUTTER.
There are other tools out there that are commercial, such as Linuxant
that do the same thing, but you have to pay for the right to use and
that just doesn't make much sense to me.
Once in the control
panel to configure a wireless card, one would simply need to select the
Network & Internet tab. Now this may confuse people who try and go
to the Hardware tab, where one would expect to configure all hardware,
but in the case of Network cards, they do fall under Network &
Internet. Go figure. From that tab, the user needs to select 'Setup a
new network interface (LAN, ISDN, ADSL,...)
this leads you to choose which type of network card you wish to
configure. Please note that this is the exact same dialog you would
have seen in the installation, so if you are reading before install,
you can follow along from here to do the exact same thing. I just can't
do screen captures during install very well except via VMWare, which
then doesn't allow for wireless card setup. Just select Wireless and
next step will show you what wireless devices the system knows about
and also offers you the option to use NDISWRAPPER. Now, the cool thing
is that for my Broadcom BCM94306 built in PCI card, the system is
already trying to use the fwcutter module associated with the compiled
driver that is half baked. You see, there is a kernel module called
bcm43xx installed but it isn't complete. FWCUTTER allows the
proprietary data from the windows driver to complete the portion that
it doesn't have. Now the down side of FWCUTTER from what I have read is
that it doesn't support 54 Mbps, only 11 Mbps mode of operation. If you
are working on a LAN this might be an issue, but at home on your own
WiFi, your network is only as fast as your internet connection. At
most, with Cable, one can hope to burst up to 12 Mbps, so having 11
Mbps wouldn't kill you, just keep you capped. If you want and/or need
the 54 Mbps then you need to use NDISWRAPPER option here.
I love my Cable modem and its bursts to 12 Mbps, I want my 54 Mbps
speed I am used too. So I choose the Install via NDISWRAPPER option
which leads me to the next screen. Here it will show you the currently
installed drivers to select from or the option to install a new one. If
you want to install a new one, what you need are the Windows drivers
assoicated with your card, specifically two files, the *.INF and the
*.SYS files. If you don't have these on your old windows partition
under drivers, or on a recovery disc, the go to here
there is a great repository on the ndiswrapper wiki where most common
drivers can be found. If you can't find it there, do a Google search,
usually with words like "chipname vendor windows XP driver file
download" and you will generally be able to find them.
select to add a file, you will be prompted for the directory location
and then select the *.INF file associated. Since my system is 64 bit,
there are two broadcom options for me, with the bcmwl5a being 64 bit.
On this install, which was a 32 bit version of Mandriva I have to
select the bcmwl5 version and select OK.
the driver is accepted by the loader, the next screen allows you to
input your wireless settings, such as SSID, encryption mode, Operating
mode and your encryption key. If you know what these are, then input
them now. If you don't know what these are, then why are you following
along???? You obviously have not set up a wireless network before, so
you might want to work on that first, get these settings and come back.
We will still be here.
you set up your wireless network settings you need to set up your IP
configuration, which typically should be at boot time with DHCP. If you
use Static IPs, then enter the IP here via Manual Configuation.
you select DHCP, the next window sets up where you get the address
from. 99.9% of you will get this from the DHCP server itself, while the
0.1% of you setting this up for a corporate work environment may have
DNS servers in your system to allocate. If you don't know what these
are, you can look on someone else's machine with 'ipconfig /all' in
windows command prompt or via your properties in your network card.
last main step in setting up any network card is to select when the
drivers will be installed and initiated and who can perform install
operations of the network card. Allowing Access Point Roaming is
important if you are operating the laptop in a work type environment
where you could move through the building(s) and go from one access
point to another. If you don't enable this, you might get onto one
Access Point but as you go to a meeting you will lose coverage.
Enabling is not much of a security risk so when it doubt, just click.
Allowing users to manage is a small security risk, so I wouldn't do
this unless you really want too.
you complete the configuration, then back in the control panel under
Network & Internet, select the Wireless connection Icon. This will
basically allow your device to scan and lock onto wireless networks. If
you are using the one configured in the setup, this should
automatically get found and lock in and provide you with an IP. The
icon in the tool bar should change to the signal stregth icon and a pop
up window with the network name and IP address should appear.
you travel and need to find a new network, this Network connection tool
scans and allows you to configure and connect to other wireless
you select to use FWCUTTER and any half baked drivers such as bcm43xx,
then what you need to select when browsing for the driver is the *.SYS
file instead of the *.INF file. Once you get past that selection,
configuring the card is the same. Again, the key difference is that the
device will run only at 11 Mbps.
My one main grip with Mandriva
2007 at this time is the Kiosk feature, or the ability to automatically
manage key updates and security patches. This is key to running any OS
and when working, is an excellent tool. We ran the wizard as part of
the setup, but as you can see in my screen shots there is an icon in
the tool tray that shows an orange question mark. If there was an
update to be found, there would be a Red Check mark and when up to date
the check mark would be Green. The question mark means my system is not
configured, not in communication with the server, or just plain broken.
In an email to the address listed when I clicked on the Question mark,
I got the following reponse,
> keep getting errors when trying to register my new install of 2007.
> When I run the wizard it says completed successfully.
The Mandriva 2007, Kiosk and Online services cannot work together for the
moment. We already
know this bug and our development teams are trying to fix it as soon as
possible. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.
To manage your Mandriva account please visit: http://my.mandriva.com
Mandriva Online website:http://online.mandriva.com
Thank you for your interest in our products.
Sophie - Mandriva online
thanks Sophie. Seems that the service doesn't work with the new
software but a fix will be coming. However, there is a ton of irony
there, in that the tool to tell me there is an update is broken, so how
will I know to go and get my update when the update is available?????
than that, everything is working extremely well with my system. I was
able to install Wine and get my poker up and running. The graphics
drivers that came with the package for ATI and NVIDIA both work well. I
truly feel that I have an OS that is up and running and don't need any
support from any windows related pieces. Now if I only could turn on
XGL/AIGLX for my laptop, and get my updates that I am paying $12 a
month for, I would be claiming victory for Linux worldwide.
Bonus Stuff ( )
Bonus stuff with Mandriva is second to none. First, you get XGL/AIGLX
included. Then you add in Cedega for the gamers out there. All the
packages you want are included; Productivity, Programming,
Entertainment and Communication. And finally someone actually included
a licensed DVD player in the install without having to take the time to
go and download or pay additional funds for third party support. All
American users will be happy to know they are not violating one of the
most odd interpretations of legislation ever.
All in all, this
is by far the best combination of packages I have seen, where there
isn't just crap crammed into the install discs to impress, but rather a
complete set of OS and software that will satisfy any users needs up
front and allow for complete migration away from MS for Desktop and
Laptop users both. Extrêmement bien cuit Mandriva, Extrêmement bien
Overall ( )
am honestly pleased to give this package a 5 Pennie review. After my
years of frustration with politics combined with poor policies about
subscriptions, payment and service, I am able to overlook all of that
and really tout this as the first commercial Linux distro that lives up
to its own hype and the hype of reviewers world wide. Much has been
written about the time it took Mandriva to get this out, taking almost
double what others see as a 6 month cycle, but similar to MS and Vista,
Mandriva seems to have taken its time to try and get this right rather
than just keep pumping out a package, just to say that there is a new
one out. This is truly worth the money and I would recomment anyone
looking for a Linux package that will work, try the Free version first
and once you know this does indeed work for you, invest a little and
get the Discovery pack, which will suit most every users' needs and
allow you to enjoy Linux the way it should be: Full of Function and
Flash while keeping you in control of your hardware.
took so long to publish. My laptop decided half way through to melt
itself into a paper weight and after a trip to the Best Buy Warranty
service center, a new mother board and a brief session trying to keep
the monitor working, I was able to finally get back to work and
complete my review. As always, if you appreciate what you have read
here, or any Linux site for the matter, please remember that Free as in
Speech is not the same as Free as in Beer. We need your help in
supporting what we do, so please if you can donate here by the link on the side of the review. We truly enjoy bringing
our view of various Linux distros and helping newbies get on track with
their hopes of becoming free of MS and Patent Lawyers, so anything you
can do to help will be greatly appreciated.