Few months ago I promised to dump Mandriva Linux. I was not happy with it and did not want to return to it. But later I had another review of it, because I had an opportunity to try another flavour, new release.
Mageia 1 is available as installation DVD and Live CD version, and also netinstall. Of course, my choice was for Live CD. There are several flavours of it, and I chose Europe 2 KDE option, because it includes Russian locale and my favourite desktop environment.
My first attempt was to use Unetbootin to "burn" this image to USB drive. Even though Unetbootin did its job without any error, USB was not workable. Yes, it booted system up to the splash screen and I could see progress bar slowly moving right. But 10 minutes of wait time was more than enough.
Finally, I burnt CD-RW. It is loaded into my Compaq laptop's drive. Reboot. Let's go!
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BootingRelation of Mageia and Mandriva Linux was visible from the very beginning. Again I was asked about a dozen of different questions before I saw real desktop: language, keyboard layout, timezone etc. I am not sure that all of these questions are so much important in Live mode. What was interesting, language selection contains separate lines for "English (US)" and simply "English". I hope that just "English" means British variant. I selected that option.
Boot time of Mageia again, like with Mandriva, was very long. It took system about 5 minutes to get me from cold start to the desktop. Later I also noticed that all the program took significant time to start. Of course, I can blame Live CD version which has to read everything from CD, but I had other CD systems which worked much faster with same software and disk. To be fare, once started programs work fast in Mageia.
First impression: theme and wallpaperDefault desktop wallpaper in Mageia is very boring. It reminds me set of default tiles from Windows 95. Luckily, there is good selection (about a dozen) of wallpapers on CD, so you can chose whatever you like. There is even one very similar to Kubuntu default splash screen, I believe this is standard KDE wallpaper. If you're not happy with delivered set of pictues, nobody stops you from using your own.
Default colour theme is quite strange. White control elements on light-grey window headers for non-active windows are not the best idea from my point of view.
NetworkOnce booted, Mageia did not find drivers for my WiFi card Broadcom 4311. Log in dmesg sent me to kernel.org page with instruction to compile fwcutter and driver. Unfortunately I did not manage to compile fwcutter: command make was not recognised by Mageia.
Further Internet researches took me to the page http://hany.sk/~hany/RPM/f-updates-14-x86_64/b43-openfwwf-5.2-5.fc14.noarch.html . It contains RPM file with driver for my WiFi card. RPM itself was created for Fedora Project (Fedora 14), but users on Mageia forum claimed it worked in their system.
I installed driver and it worked for few seconds until I entered security key and pressed "Connect" button in Network Manager. And then... system was frozen. I was quite suspicious what caused this effect, but decided to give it another go. Second attempt was much better. My WiFi card was activated, I could find my network, enter my security code and use Internet. This post was drafted in Mageia.
I still don't understand why this RPM was at all required in Fedora which supports Broadcom 43* WiFi cards out of the box. But developers can have their own view. What is more important for me is result.
SoftwareWhat is included in Mageia?
- KDE 4.6.3, very fresh release
- Firefox 4.0.1, latest stable release of famous browser. Of course, I would prefer Chrome or Chromium, but that is minor issue. Google has RPMs for installation.
- Mageia contains lots of other Internet tools. I won't even try to list them all. They are mostly KDE-specific applications, like Kontact.
- Libre Office included if you need to process documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
- There are several tools in Graphics section of Mageia's menu, but GIMP is not here.
- Amarok is default audio player, Dragon Player also included.
- Unfortunately MP3 files are not played out of the box. I could not manage to play them at all which was quite confusing. Probably some 3rd party repositories are required.
- My usual way to install MP3 decoder is to get VLC player. Unfortunately, VLC is not included in default repository, at least not available in Live version.
- Youtube videos did not play out of the box, but Adobe Flash player was installed in few clicks.
Of course, both these lists are far not comprehensive.
If you need more software, you can use Software Management tool which is actually Rpmdrake 5.26.10.
I'd like to mention here that there are 2 configuration utilities in Mageia: System Settings (KDE standard) and Mageia Control Centre. From first glance, they duplicate each other, and I don't understand why both are required. From my point of view, design of KDE standard tool is more convenient.
Network drive, keyboard layoutsI managed to connect to me external network drive from Dolphin without any issues from Mageia. It automatically supports Russian characters in file and folder names. Unfortunately, as I wrote above, my connection did not allow me to play music which is stored on network drive. Simply because there was no decoder. But otherwise I had no issues with this functionality.
Dolphin itself has new feature - columns view. It is default layout when you have enough space in window. I have used it for few minutes, and it seems to be very interesting and intriguing feature.
I also managed to add Russian keyboard layout without any issues. This configuration is placed in System Settings - Hardware - Input devices. Whole operation took me 1 minute maximum.
General impressionMageia is fork from Mandriva Linux which itself is one of the most popular in the world. Independent team now puts efforts to make this OS even better. And from what I have seen today, these efforts are very productive. I am very positive that this OS will gain supporters and fans. Will I become one of them? Why not? I am still looking for replacement of my *buntus. Mageia is very good option, in my opinion.
Decision was made to replace *buntus, but there was no decision so far about the replacement system. Let me think about this for some more time, and I will tell you about my choice.
PS. I only noticed after reboot that I have not done anything in terminal mode, except for command dmesg and attempt to compile driver. Is it user-friendliness? Yes, as I understand this word.
Do you want to try Mageia 1 yourself? Why not order it from Buy Linux CDs page?