Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring – First Impressions

A few days back, Mandriva released the newest version of its operating system, Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring. As I had already taken a

Mandriva Logo

Mandriva Logo

look at the Release Candidate 2, I know pretty much what was in store. I wanted to setup this new release and get it running as quickly as possible even though the previous version Mandriva 2009 was working like a charm on my laptop. It was by far the most stable OS to have run on my laptop.

Live CD

I downloaded the Mandriva One GNOME Live CD. GNOME has been my default desktop for a few years now and that is what would eventually reside on my laptop. I also downloaded the Mandriva One KDE Live CD to see what changes have gone into KDE 4.2. The Live CD booted pretty fast. The speed bump was already visible in the RC and I was glad to see it stayed that way.

Installation

The installation took about 12 minutes on my laptop. This machine is a 2 year old, Dell Inspiron 6400, with an Intel Core 2 Duo clocking 1.73 GHz, 1 GB RAM and an Intel 945 GMA graphics chip and an Intel 3945 Wireless. I chose the new ext4 file system for the root and home partition. The post installation step of updating the media is where I met my first stumbling block. It seemed to take forever to download the media, but once I pulled my ethernet cable out, things proceeded smoothly. I had to update the media later.

Boot Time

I timed the boot with a stop watch. It took me 36 seconds from the grub menu to the desktop. I don’t have any complaints here. I can see that a lot of improvement has gone into the boot process and it really shows. I guess the ext4 file system would also have helped in this regard, though I have no means to measure it.

Desktop

There is no denying the fact that Mandriva has one of the best looking default themes around. I rarely changed the theme or the window

Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring - Customized Desktop

Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring - Customized Desktop

decoration on Mandy. The only thing I change is the icon theme, since the default GNOME icon theme has become old and boring. Carrying on the tradition, the desktop was slick. The fonts were crisp and have been improved from what existed in the previous version. An idle desktop after boot, consumed about 285 MB of RAM. I also did not install AWN since the auto hide feature did not work well and ended up being intrusive at best. The Mandriva Control Center remains one of the best control centers on the Linux desktop and serves as a one stop shop for all configuration requirements.

Applications

Mandriva comes with kernel 2.6.29.1 and a regular array of software that comprises of the GNOME desktop. However, here are the specifics for a few of them

  • GNOME 2.26.1
  • OpenOffice.org – 3.0.1
  • Mozilla Firefox – 3.0.8
  • Pidgin – 2.5.5
  • The GIMP – 2.6

Flash is available in the One edition. However, Java runtime, audio and video codecs have to be installed as is the case with most distributions. Additional software is a always a couple of clicks away in the Install and Remove Software section.

The KDE Edition

I also had a quick look at the KDE edition. Last time around Mandriva’s KDE implementation was very polished compared to the rest. This

Mandriva Spring 2009 KDE Desktop

Mandriva Spring 2009 KDE Desktop

time too I would say the same. They have also put the desktop which everyone is used to – where one kept files too – back into KDE 4.2 in quite a clever way by using Folder View. The KDE desktop also uses the default Mandriva theme instead of the KDE default Oxygen theme. This edition comes with the regular KDE applications, Kontact, Konqueror, Kopete, Kwrite to name a few.

Conclusion

One of the biggest improvements in my opinion is, I never had to consult the Errata. Also, never once was I required to visit the terminal (command line) for any accomplishing any task whatsoever. Almost all the things work the way they should. The One CD image was only 633 MB for the Africa and Asia edition. The available CD space could have been packed with something useful. On the whole, Mandriva Spring 2009 is a solid release with a great blend of stability and polish.

Screenshots

Here are a few screenshots of Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring – GNOME

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31 responses to “Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring – First Impressions

  1. Thanks for your review. I received the general email from the Mandriva team about the new release and am thinking about trying the KDE version on a separate partition. It’s always good to get some feedback on a new release!

  2. Hi Bala(that’s your name I guess, from the Gnome desktop’s snap), :)
    I too have fallen in love with Mandriva. It has become my default OS now. Hope they continue the great work. Everything seems to work out of the box (edit: avi files did not play, i had to install some codecs for them). Esp the wireless worked out-of-the-box. I had lot of pain getting it to work on Ubuntu.
    One question though. Does the Asia/Africa version come with English language as well? I downloaded European version thinking the Asia version may not have English!

  3. Sai: every One edition has English on it, yep.

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  5. Williamson, you still trolling the forums for Mandriva in your spare time?!! :-)

    Mandriva KDE4.2 is the distro we are using now in our LUG for newbies wanting to switch.
    It just works with minimum fuss, makes the transition from Windows easy, is simply stunning compared to the dated Win95esque Gnome and reminds us that Mandriva has always been the user friendly distro.

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  7. I too was greatly impressed by 2009.1. However, just as with 2009, when to use the full graphical mode in KDE, one must install the proprietary ATI driver for modern ATI based boards. After that the system only works in safe mode, if you understand how to start from the text prompt. OpenSUSE KDE is the same, except there is information on the web site, that if applied carefully, can fix it. Nothing like that works for Mandriva. I would love to use Mandriva 2009.1 KDE, but after many hours of research and experimentation, I have concluded that it just will not work with modern ATI boards and proprietary drivers to enable graphics.

  8. Donald Stewart

    Bill: There is a new ATI driver in the works, ATI claim it to be on par with the nvidia driver, however, there is still a lot of work needing done to get it to work with new X, this might get done for 2010, hopefully it will, as the current situation for ATI users is far from ideal.

  9. I shifted from Mandriva last year, after using it for a year because accessing its software repository took such a long time. I don’t know how its set up or where the repository lies but it just takes too much time. I hope this has been fixed. Its a wonderful distro outside of this repository issue.

  10. There are many different servers around, the default option chooses the closest server to you, which should mean the fastest, however, there are quite a few “bad” servers around. You might try free.fr or distrib-coffee in France, mirrors.kernel.org in the US nluug in The Netherlands.

  11. Oh, one more item. Is there an equivalent of the debian aptoncd for Mandriva or the rpm world?

  12. If that is what I think, a tool for putting packages that you have installed on a cd, then there is one for urpmi, I am just not sure on it. It should be somewhere in the release notes for 2009.1 as it was added then.

    Failing that, you can add
    {no clean
    }
    to the urpmi.conf file

    I think that the option to do that is somewhere in romdrake that you can use to not clean the rpms that you are installing, then burn them to a cd from the rom tmp folder.

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  14. im live in indonesia, how i get request free cd mandriva 2009
    im realy need. couse im poor for buy.
    please

  15. Mandriva don’t have a free cd service, however, if you ask on the Mandriva forum: http://forum.mandriva.com someone might be able to send one to you.
    Or better, if a local community exist ask if anyone there could send you one.

    Also, you can download the iso from here: http://www.mandriva.com/en/download/free

  16. Any problems with sound? I also have an Inspiron 6400. Sound worked perfectly under 2009.0, but it’s totally mute with 2009.1 (Gnome, fresh install, Pulse Audio).

    • Yes, there is a slight problem is the sound. I have to increase the volume above the half way mark to hear anything. I did not have the time to investigate why. Will post if I find out anything. You can try increasing the volume to max and then increase the volume in individual applications to see if sound works.

      • Yeah, that’s what I finally ended up finding out less than an hour after posting. :-p Should have played around more, but I was so surprised that it didn’t work the same as 2009.0 (and others before it).

        The best I can figure is the new per-app volume settings that the new version of Pulse Audio brings. As mentioned, I use Gnome, and now I have to raise the volume for each app the first time I launch them. Worse is Totem, where I have to raise the volume every time.

        Not sure if it’s distro or upstream, so no reports yet. I wasn’t active in cooker at all this release, so I’ll have to try current cooker and report it if it’s still an issue.

  17. You might want to check the PCM volume level as it could be set too low.

  18. i’m ask a cd linux mandriva spring 2009

    • @Mehdaoui, If you are asking for a free CD, then Mandriva does not ship free CDs. You can check with a local Mandriva group if possible to get a free CD

  19. i am not able to see youtube video file on my mandriva springs pls give me a flash installer for mandriva springs then i play the flash game too

  20. You can get an rpm for flash from the adobe site.- http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

    However, are you running a 64bit system? I so, then you can get the 64bit flash from here – http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/flashplayer10_64bit.html

    You need to extract this, and put the file flashplayer.so (I think) in to /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins and you should remove all other traces of flash including nsplugin.

    Any other questions about this there is a very good thread on the forums.

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