Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
As you know Mandriva 2006.0 was released to club members on October 6, and then it was released to the general public yesterday, October 13. It is available at the time of this writing only as an ftp install. No word at this time of when isos will be made public but if you can download an iso, then you can do an ftp install. In fact, I prefer ftp installs in a way because you only have to download the packages you actually need. In addition, when you define a mirror for your ftp install, the information is usually stored for later and continued use through urpmi. In addition one doesn't need to waste more cdrs to have to dispose of later. Ftp is the way to go.
As we followed Mandriva through the 2006.0 development cycle we found many new features and vast improvements in other areas. Today we summarize the operating system that Mandriva 2006 has become.
So, pick a mirror and navigate to the official/2006.0/your_arch/install/images directory and download the boot.iso or network.img. The boot.iso is a 12.5mb iso to be burnt onto a cdrom while the network.img is a 1.4mb image to be dd'd onto a floppy disk. Both are used to boot your machine and start the install. If you prefer to use the floppy disk method, you may wish to read the readme as you may need additional disks such as for uncommon device drivers or the like. Note your mirror path to the arch directory. Upon boot of the boot.iso you are presented with a menu asking what type of install you'd like to do and in this case choose ftp install. After configuration of your internet connection, you can either use one of their predefined categories of mirror types or choose define your own. I'd suggest you have a mirror backup written down in case the mandrake predefined mirrors don't work out. I usually choose list your own and fill in the information. Then the install goes as usual. Pick your language, type of install, where to install if necessary, partition work if necessary. Then you choose your package groups or individual packages if desired and wait. If it's a network install, this will take more time than you might be accustomed to. After the packages are installed you are given the opportunity to set up users and passwords, configure your hardware and system, and setup a boot loader. Then you can boot into your shiny new Mandriva 2006 desktop.
The first and most noticably striking improvement is Mandriva's new blue penguin theme. A wonderfully tasteful choice after the 2005 Monster Tux. I'm not sure if it was ruined by the use of the new Disco Duck start up wav or not. j/k The new theme runs throughout Mandriva 2006 sporting pretty graphics, interesting sounds and colorful icons everywhere. Mandriva has become absolutely beautiful.
New this release is the Kat Desktop Search tool, which was covered fairly well in my Beta 2 report or my RC1 report. Kat is a desktop search engine that can index a directory or your whole system for comprehensive searching. Results can be as extensive as you define. A wonderful tool written by a really nice guy.
Also new in 2006 is the Smart package manager. Smart is different from other package managers in that it can use different types of packages, other than what the system specifically uses. It has configurations available for urpmi repository, rpm directory, apt-get repos, apt-rpm repos, Slackware repos, deb directories. This topic too was covered in more detail in my RC1 report. I'm not sure of the fate of Smart in Mandriva as I heard the developer has since moved on. Have no fear, for Mandriva's original package manager is still intact and performing to near perfection either by commandline or graphical interface.
And of course, Mandriva wouldn't be Mandriva without their famous Mandriva Control Center. From this one application one finds modules to configure their entire system, from network connection to firewall rules, from software installation/uninstalls to distribution upgrades, and from booting/startup options to hardware configuration. It is their flagship application where you can do all these thing and so much more.
All in all, as I've followed the development of Mandriva 2006, one thing has become clear. Mandriva is ever improving and it is reflected in this new more polished stable operating system. Featured here is only a taste. Throughout the entire development cycle I experienced very few applications crashes and never a major X server crash or system lock up. The compromises between bleeding-edge and stable applications has paid off tremendously for Mandriva. I've found the upgrade process perfected to a dream and the installer remains one of the key features that drives Mandriva's popularity. In this release not only is the look and feel improved, they have introduced new technologies and features for the novice and experienced alike. Mandriva provides enterprise level software and support as well as a free-for-download version and support in the form of mailing lists and forums. There are also unsponsored newsgroups, forums, and irc channels. To me, Mandriva is a world class system that can meet any user's needs, as it comes with just about any application in existence and many server applications as well.
Mandriva, the people's Linux.
All Tuxmachine's Mandriva coverage can be found HERE.
Mandriva's own Press Release is chocked full of further information.
Changelog since RC2: