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Mandriva 2007: Why is this distribution still around?

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Naming distribution versions after a calendar year sounds familiar to me. I'm thinking of Windows 95, of course. And my experience with French distribution Mandriva 2007 brought me back to those frustrating times I used to have with Microsoft's decade-old offering.

Before I get to the meat and pommes de terre of this review, which I think is going to be disappointing to anybody associated with Mandriva, let me first point out that, some years ago, I was an unconditional fan of the original Mandrake. I leapt to their defense when the company declared bankruptcy and was glad to have not misplaced my optimism when they emerged from it successfully. It seems that the years have jaded me, however. Perhaps more than jaded, I have been jilted. After trying a few recent lackluster versions of the distribution, I began to ask myself why Mandrake, or Mandriva, as it's now known, is still around.

As for their latest version, I had heard through a standard press release that the appropriately named Mandriva 2007. I say appropriately named, because they should have spent the last few months of 2006 polishing it up and then really releasing it in 2007 (if at all). Anyway, in the press release was a link to the download page and there were three versions available. There was a live CD called Mandriva One, a version called Mandriva Linux Free, a 4 cd set of only free (as in liberté) software applications and a third, which advertised itself as a 'mini' CD, which you could use to install a base system and install additional packages later. Since I live in the world of 1mbps connections, I figured I'd try this last method. Besides, my office drawers are overflowing with potential drink coasters, if figured I'd save a little plastic. So I downloaded this mini-cd image, burned it and plunked it into the CD drive of my first test machine.

Full Story.

Why is this distribution still around

Mandriva has superior hardware detection in my opinion. It configures things other distros miss.

Mandriva has aixgl and xgl. Not only that but it attempts to identify if your video card can support it and a simple click of the mouse allows the user to enable the 3D features. It doesnt get any easier than that.

The Control Center makes it super simple for the user to configure various pieces of hardware. No need to go to the konsole to sudo this and sudo that. I also like the fact if you are wanting to setup say additional items via the control center such as samba the system will automatically tell you what packages it is going to need then goes and install them for you.

Mandriva is newbie friendly yet has enough tools to keep the power user happy.

It makes me cranky but ...

I get cranky with Mandriva but I keep using it because (1) somehow it muddles through eventually and (2) it gives me the freedom, which other distros don't, of installing software direct from independent vendors (in working order, I mean).

Linux distros typically bind the user to their repositories so you take what's there (regardless of whether you want an earlier or later version), with all sorts of unnecessary dependencies.

With Mandy, I can install the Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice versions I want direct from Mozilla and OpenOffice.org and they work. Fonts are correctly displayed and everything works as advertised. Isn't that what an OS should do?

Having said that, the PCLinuxOS and the Sabayon livecd installations worked superbly. Mandriva's Kde1 livecd installation is crude and nasty. I'm going to give it one more chance and then, I don't know what.

For seekers only

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