Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Like everyone else in Linuxville, I've been looking forward to the release of Mandriva's first 2007 beta. When it began appearing on mirrors Sunday, I immediately began the download of the i586-x86_64 DVD. It took almost 24 hours to download, but it made it. Was it worth the bother?
When booting the DVD, the first thing I noticed was SUSE's count down time graphic and their telltail "Boot from Harddrive" entry. Well, all Linux distributions borrow from others, so I thought that was a needed option. They borrowed the Fedora/Red Hat busy cursors too. I no sooner get through the preliminary configuration that some issues began to crop-up. The first came when it was time to probe my harddrive. The installer complained that it couldn't read some of my partition table and as such it could not write to it. My only choices it said was to let it reformat my whole 260 gig harddrive or just to let it ignore the table. Fine with me, OSes don't need to be messing around with my partition table anyway, unless I change a filesystem. So, naturally I chose the latter and preceded with picking my target partition. From that point on in the install things seemed to be okay until time to configure the printer. It detected my printer and port, and suggested what appeared to correct enough drivers, but then it couldn't test or probe for network printers because it couldn't start the network. Augh well, no biggie to me, I don't have any other printers on the network. I guess the rest of the install went okay as far as I recall and then I booted into my new Mandriva install.
The first thing I noticed when the KDE 3.5.3 desktop started was the artsd crash message and the massively ugly fonts. Nothing messes up a computing experience like the 'ugly-font syndrome'. The wallpaper is the same penguin and "Free" on blue that characterized 2006. The panel was sparsely populated with just one quick launcher for konqueror beside the menu start button on one end and a network and update indicators on the other. On the desktop are icons for Trash, Devices, Home, and Welcome, as well as KdeTV and Ekiga quickcam on mine. Half of those, or their corresponding application didn't work.
The Home icon just opens the familiar "application chooser." The Devices icon does open a file browser at that directory showing, appropriately, the storage devices detected. Clicking on the KdeTV icon gave me one of those "unable grab video" errors. In trying to configure that application and scan for channels, I was able to get it to work somewhat sometimes. Sometimes it would almost work and other times it couldn't grab that video again. When it did work, the picture was what might be described as negative with a green tint. By negative, I mean how a photo negative looks. I worked on that app quite a while, longer than I should really, but I wanted to make sure it couldn't be blamed on a configuration option. The Ekiga application didn't work either. Clicking on the icon gave me "couldn't find soundwrapper executable" error, and I didn't have permissions to edit the path in the properties to remove soundwrapper. Trying to start Ekiga at the commandline gave me a "The application ekiga has crashed" error.
I guess I overlooked the Mandrake Control Center entry in the menu, so I started it from the konsole. I was wondering why Frozen Bubble was part of Mandriva's Kiosk and wanted to check if it was still available for free. It was listed in rpmdrake, but I couldn't install anything else from it. Then I remembered that Mandriva development had mentioned that rpmdrake was broke in their readme. So, they know about that one. However, I was able to see what might be installed and what wasn't. Despite the missing entry in the menu for Frozen-Bubble, (in fact, only two games are listed in the menu even though I chose that category during install), it was installed. I tried to start it from the konsole, but it too crashed when it tried to start.
By this point I was getting tired of having to look left at the smaller monitor that the X server nv driver was using and decided to switch to vesa. I knew vesa would clone the output to both of my monitors. But trying to use the vesa drivers brought everything to a screeching halt. Any time I moved a window or scrolled a page in Firefox or Konqueror, the cpu resources were maxed out rendering the system unusable.
That was all the testing I performed. I didn't even get to the applications in the menu. This was all I could stand. Well, actually, I was going to change back to nv, try to fix the fonts and test the applications, but I just didn't see the point or couldn't get motivated or something. I never got back to it. This is enough to indicate that this release isn't even beta quality. I know Mandriva has been plagued with hardware issues amongst other things and their beta cycle was falling embarrassingly behind schedule, but they should have waited a bit longer. Don't bother downloading this one.