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Countdown to Final: Mandriva 2007 RC2

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Even though Mandriva 2007 Final is due out at about any time, RC2 was released Sunday and most of the news sites carried the news on Monday. I decided I'd go ahead and test rc2 since I'd not seen Mandriva since beta3. At that time things were really beginning to come together for Mandriva developers and some vast improvements were found. Were they able to maintain their upward curve or did this release fail to impress?

I downloaded the 5 gig dvd installer last time, so this time I downloaded the One livecd. In fact, I downloaded both the kde and gnome versions. They both sport this new not-terribly-unattractive orangy theme. It starts at boot.

        

And it follows us on into the desktops. Like I said, it's not terribly unattractive, in fact, it's not that bad. But it is orange. Since beta 3, the la Ora theme has made it's way into kde. Fortunately, the new Free wallpaper is included in a lovely blue hue. There is even an la Ora Blue color scheme already in the KDE control center, so it was just a few clicks and I had a comfortable blue desktop once again.

    

Like with beta 3, xgl wasn't working for nvidia graphic chips (at least for mine). It wasn't too much of a disappointment this time. This was the case with both One versions I tried. The Gnome livecd features version 2.16 this release and it seemed complete and worked really well. I didn't see anything else really new though. The la Ora theme was looking good just as we found before.

The number of included apps on the gnome livecd seemed quite substantial enough for a livecd. There's evolution for mail and other person information management, firefox and epiphany for browsing, OpenOffice.org, gaim for im, the gimp, Pan for newsgroup reading, totem for video viewing, TVtime Television Viewer, and of course the wide assortment of Mandriva's system tools and utilities.

        

I had trouble with audio apps this time. Echo mixer and Envy24control wouldn't open on the gnome cd and the cd player wouldn't play audio cds on the kde livecd (or hard drive install). In fact, the audio problems extended themselves into kdetv as well. I was quite tickled that kdetv just almost worked this time. In fact, it scanned for channels, save them, and then played any channel I wanted to watch. I was almost happy, until the sound kept fading out. It'd play for about 4 seconds if I changed the channel, but then fade out. Up in the audio menu was 4 entries: Language 1, Language 2, Mono, and Stereo. My card is supposed to be stereo, but it's common for only mono to be supported by the apps, and it's no big loss to me either way. I could click to select Mono and yeaaa, I'd have sound - for about 4 seconds. Then it would revert back to Language 1 and the sound cut out. I looked all over the place and never did find anywhere to set it to Mono for good. But it's getting there. I bet I'll actually be able to watch tv on the Final. I have no idea what was wrong with the cd player. It would find the audio disk and even display the album name, but it wasn't gonna play it. <shrugs> It would just sit there with the play button depressed, but the counter didn't increase and no music played. Totem and KMPlayer performed well and emitted sound.

The KDE livecd menus seem a bit healthier, but KDE comes with a long list of its own applications as well as the extras Mandriva included. It too came with OpenOffice, Firefox, and the gimp. But it also included things like Amarok and KMPlayer. In this release Firefox was version 1.5.0.6 and OpenOffice.org was version 2.0.3. Other interesting version numbers include Xorg 7.1.1, kernel 2.6.17.5, installable gcc was 4.1.1.

    

On both livecd desktops we find two interesting icons. One is for the hard drive install and the other is called 'live copy.' The hard drive installer is no mystery, but live copy is apparently for making your own livecd. This could be handy I suppose for making a copy for friends, or even better, to make a livecd after all your personal customizations. This icon remains after the hard drive install.


The hard drive installer hasn't changed much from the last time I used it. It's a simplified, very user-friendly, no frills installer. Basically, it brings up Mandriva's world class partitioning tool, and it's off to the races. It completes copying the software in less than 10 minutes. Afterwards, it asks about bootloading preferences. The option to skip the bootloader isn't available, but you can just install it onto the root partition of the install if so desired. At this point, the installer is finished. After you boot your new system some configuration screens appear. The first to appear is Network and Internet Configuration. One has several choices here such as Ethernet, Satellite, cable modem, DSL, Wireless, bluetooth, and analog telephone modem. Although there were reported problems with the installer version and the network configuration, this step worked fine here. I selected Ethernet and dhcp. The next step is root password followed by setting up a user account. Then the First Boot Wizard appears designed to sign folks up at the Mandriva Club. You can skip this wizard if you wish. Then one is taken to the login screen.

        

Earlier in the day I was having quite a bit of trouble with RPMDrake. I had read where the "add" button in media configuration was broken, after I tried to use it. Since I used to be a Mandriva user, urpmi was always a close friend of mine, so I was still able to add a source. However, nothing would finish installing or updating. I concluded due to the nature of some of the errors that the mirrors must be in transition. Later that evening I was able to complete some updates and install a few things. RPMDrake was the first application I updated. I guess the mirrors were indeed being updated during that first attempt. So, RPMDrake (updated) seems to be working fairly nicely The different tasks of adding a source, installing software, applying updates, and uninstalling are still separated in the Mandriva Control Center, giving the impression of 4 individual applications, but only the media module is actually still separate. The other options simply open RPMDrake v3 with a corresponding filter. I had trouble with the menu entry for "add, update or remove software." It shot an error and exited, but RPMDrake worked fine from the MCC. My only issue is that installing something rather large and broken down into several packages seemed to required clicking on each individual package. There didn't seem to be an easy way to install KDE on the Gnome livecd install or vise versa. If I didn't overlook some obvious checkbox or something, Mandriva might want to think of adding checkable catagories. There are the "task" packages, but they still don't bring in the whole or even the most of KDE. Another glitch I observed was when choosing one package, its dependencies are listed for user verification. After that installation, if one chooses another package with some of the same dependencies, RPMDrake will download these packages again and attempt to install them again. Then it will shoot the error that installation failed because they (those dependencies) are already installed. Seems the originally desired package does get installed and the only real harm is downloading some packages more than once. But this can be a drag if it includes many large packages.

        

Some known issues this release include:

  • Add... button in rpmdrake's media configuration module does not work. This is fixed in rpmdrake 3.4 in Cooker.

  • if you configure the network to use DHCP and attempt to bring it up, it will fail with a message stating that dhcp-client cannot be installed. A similar problem will occur with printer configuration.
  • you must run the command hciconfig hci0 piscan as root to make your bluetooth adapter discoverable by other devices
  • upgrading from 2006 to 2007 via the installer is not recommended at present due to several bugs
  • Don't use the official Nvidia installer to install the Nvidia proprietary drivers. This will cause problems if you try to use Xgl desktop acceleration. Instead either use the One discs that contain the proprietary driver. (hmmm.)

Changes since 2007 RC1:

  • Several bugs fixed in rpmdrake

  • Text installation fixed
  • Various fixes to Ia Ora themes
  • arts patched to prevent some problems (apps dying on startup, arts being launched in non-KDE environments)
  • various other bugfixes
  • RPMList (kde livecd)

Changes since 2006:

  • New 3D desktop support (both with AIGLX and Xgl) and new tool to configure it (drak3d), also in the One CDs

  • Overhauled rpmdrake with combined installation / removal interface
  • GNOME 2.16
  • Kernel 2.6.17
  • KDE 3.5.4
  • New 'Ia Ora' Mandriva theme
  • New VPN configuration tool (drakvpn)
  • New tool to configure a redundant firewall with ucarp

If you look on mirrors, you will see a dozen of Mandriva-One livecds. They have created each with differing language support. For RC2, they are merely designated with increasing numbers such as mandriva-one-2007-sunna-kde1.iso or mandriva-one-2007-sunna-gnome4.iso. English seems to be included in just about all of them, but if you prefer a livecd in your own language you may wish to consult the qa twiki for its listings of which languages are on what cd.

All in all and overall, I didn't see that many big changes since beta 3, except the new wallpaper and la Ora has made its way into KDE. Gnome is 2.16 now. RPMDrake may have had some bugfixes, but again, I didn't see any major changes since beta3. The fonts were rendered beautifully in both the KDE and Gnome livecds as well as the hard drive installs this time, a much welcomed bug fix. I'm not sure the problem with the sound, but I'm feeling it's an isoloated incident and probably isn't something a lot of people will experience. Other than the two or three apps not opening, I found Mandriva rc2 to be very stable and fast even in the livecd format. In fact, I found myself a bit surprised at the speed of this new Mandriva. Hardware detection and support was in very good form. Components are included to convert your desktop from One Orange to Free Blue if desired. Ignoring the frustrating mirror updates snafu, the whole Mandriva experience was pleasant. I think we can look forward to a wonderful release.

UPDATE: Here's a review from someone who had a little better luck with the 3D Desktop.

    

download and community repos?

Great sneak peak! Thanks! Big Grin

I've a ques. What's the difference between the donload/final repo and the community one -- like in easyurpmi we've a "2006" and a seperate "2006 community". "2007 community" is already there and I guess "2007" will be there as well after the final release. So meanwhile is it safer to go with 2007 community than cooker?

re: download and community repos?

I'm afraid I'm a bit lost. I see devel and stable on the mirrors. I don't follow the easyurpmi community stuff. I ran cooker for years and rarely had a problem. I like cooker, or did then. I'm kinda rusty now. I'd probably have more problems these days. But it all depends on if you know several ways to get something done in case something breaks, and if you can sometimes fix the things that break. If you follow the cooker mailing list, many times someone will have posted a fix or workaround before or soon after you encounter it. Or that's how it was back then. I've been using gentoo since the fall of 2003, so things may have changed a lot since then.

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Great review...

... but I think I will hold off on Mandriva for now. You experienced a lot more problems then you should have to deal with, really. Though, I experience the same amount of problems with Suse and SLED, and look how popular they are, heh.

That orange wallpaper is not too bad... but that would HAVE to burn the eyes out after a while.

Another Solid Review

Thanks for the typically good write-up. I want to focus on drakrpm for the moment, which is Mandriva's graphical software installer, updater, remover. For this application to be in such an unreliable and shaky state in the last release candidate just before the final release concerns me very much. Plus, I think that Mandriva may need to do some work on the dependency relationships of their packages.

I downloaded the 64-bit DVD version of Mandriva's RC2 release, and drakrpm still sucks rotton eggs.

Linux has finally reached the state where it's basically easy to install, and configure. So, a critical feature of modern distributions is the ability to install new programs, and update existing programs, with ease and reliability. A for-profit distro that won't do this reliably and easily is destined for the graveyard. I do hope Mandriva realizes this, and removes all the glitches and flakeys in drakrpm before the final release.

For many Mandriva users, Ubuntu/Kubuntu or PCLinuxOS aren't a big step away.

re: rpmdrake

Yeah, after I wrote the review, I was still playing around with it. I was trying to install KDE on a gnome (livecd) install. I went through and picked all these kde packages and with the dependencies, it came out to 190 packages. Well, it took probably 3 hours to download them all, then installing failed. Something about two packages conflicted. So, I went thru and unchecked the problem rpms and hit apply again. It started to download all those packages all over again. Why in the world didn't it save them or ask if I wanted to save them? That kinda annoyed me. Needless to say, I haven't booted back to it.

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Yep

Yes, I had a nearly identical experience with rpmdrake (more than once with different large package groups). Very frustrutating.

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