20 Jun 2012

Mageia 2 KDE: first glance

This operating system captured my heart from the very first day I saw it. Unlike its predecessor Mandriva, I felt very comfortable with Mageia.

Mageia 1 was, to a very large extent, a rebranded spin of Mandriva, let’s admit that. The team fixed many things I disliked in Mandriva, and changed the branding. But they did not have enough time to make serious changes from Mandriva. The comparative test of Mageia 1 made by one of my guest authors confirmed this.

After almost a year after the first release, Mageia 2 saw the world at the end of May 2012.

I could not get my hands dirty with the new release for a few weeks because of various reasons, but finally I got the time to try it.

As you may know, Mageia 1 KDE is one of the systems I have installed on my laptop Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505. Therefore, I could simply run an upgrade for my existing system.

But this would not be that interesting. Or, otherwise, this could be too risky.

That’s why I decided to try a Live run of the Mageia 2 KDE operating system first.

You can either download the ISO image file of Mageia 2 KDE from one of many mirrors, or use a torrent. I chose the second option. The ISO image itself is 696 Mb for the Live CD version. The entire downloaded size, though, is 715 Mb, because it includes additional files like MD5 sum.

The official guide says that you can create a Live USB from the ISO using command dd or application mandriva-seed. Unfortunately, neither of them worked for me. The USB stick, created using these methods, was not bootable. The very likely reason, though, is in the BIOS of my laptop.

Unetbootin was slightly better. I was able to see the boot menu and even the splash screen. But after approximately 15 minutes of waiting at the splash screen, I decided to give up. Live USB boot did not happen.

Finally, I burnt the ISO image of Mageia 2 KDE onto the DVD-RW disk.

So, the disk was ready and loaded into the optical drive of my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let’s go!

First boot

The operating system refused to boot on my main laptop. I could see the boot menu with different boot options (language, screen resolution and so on). I tried different combinations of them. But whatever I did, the boot process stopped after the 2nd bubble appeared from the Mageia-cal bowl on the splash screen. After that, the screen became black, the optical drive stopped and no visible effects of life were seen on the computer for few minutes. I think something similar happened during the Unetbootin Live USB boots too. Or maybe I did not have that much patience? Anyway, I expected the system to boot faster.
Update 22.06.2012: The possible error is described in Mageia Bug Tracker. Solution is in 6th comment. Thanks to my reader who posted comment with this advice.

Finally, I gave up the attempts and I decided to try a Live run of the Mageia 2 KDE on a less powerful laptop HP Compaq nc6000. This is the computer I usually use as a fileserver.

Second boot

To my surprise, the boot process went OK on the Compaq nc6000. It means, first of all, that non-pae processors are supported by Mageia’s kernel.

Of course, the boot process was not the quickest and the most simple I've ever seen. But, once you have tried Mandriva and its derivatives (Mageia and ROSA) several times, you can get used to the long boot time and 1001 unnecessary questions asked during the boot.

The only thing, which I’d like to mention separately, is that the image on the splash screen is not well-rendered. The edges of the bowl on the Mageia logo are ragged.

But that is only valid for the splash screen. The wallpaper image does not have this problem.

Default desktop

Unfortunately, there are only 2 wallpapers in the default distribution of Mageia 2 KDE: Mageia-specific image and KDE's "vertical stripes". They are both in blue tones, which is kind of standard for both Mageia and KDE.

The panel is at its usual place, at the bottom of the screen.

The left side of the panel has a button with Mageia icon. This button calls up the menu. Next to it, sit the Show Desktop button, Activity manager icon, switch between 4 virtual desktop (square 2*2) and a set of quick launch icons: file manager, System Settings, Mageia Control Centre (MCC) and Firefox browser. There is nothing unusual, apart from the fact that the icon of MCC is reworked since Mageia 1.

The taskbar itself, though, is not usual. Applications, appearing on the taskbar, only have their icons shown. Also, running applications have a small white triangle at the bottom of the icon, while the active application also has a triangle at the top. In general, it is similar behaviour to the Unity Launcher. The KDE analogue is named "Icon-only Task Manager", which has many more configuration options compared to the above mentioned Unity.

For example, the icons have additional animation when application starts: a moving circle around them. You can switch this animation off, of course.

The right part of the panel has the usual suspects in the set of notification area elements: clocks, volume control, network centre, clipboard monitor and a few more. The only unusual item there is Telepathy's icon. Moreover, this icon is different from the others, because it animates when you hover mouse over it. Telepathy is a KDE-native instant messenger.

For those people who like numbers, I tell that Mageia 2 runs KDE 4.8.2 on Linux kernel 3.3.6.

Right after the boot, I added two of my favourite widgets onto the desktop: CPU and memory monitors.

The memory widget showed me values in Gb instead of usual Mb. That’s why I can’t tell you precisely how much memory was taken by the fresh Mageia 2 KDE system. This is something in the area of 0.3 Gb. That makes very little sense. The explanation, though, maybe in the fact that my Compaq nc6000 laptop has 2 Gb of memory, rather than 1 Gb on my Fujitsu-Siemens one.
Default Mageia 2 KDE desktop with 2 widgets
The default style for the system menu in Mageia 2 KDE is "classical". KDE’s famous Kick-off style is also available, just two clicks away.

Desktop effects were available from the very start. Shadows and virtual desktop movements were working fine for me. I have not tried to activate or deactivate anything else during my Live run.

Network connection

Mageia 2 KDE automatically recognised and configured the wireless network card Intel 3945 ABG. A few usual clicks and keystrokes, and I am connected.

It just works…

Keyboard layouts

You can configure keyboard layouts in 2 different places in KDE. Mageia 2 is no exception.

First of all, System Settings has the standard tool under Input Devices section.

Second, you can follow the Xfce route and add a keyboard layout indicator to the panel before configuring the layouts themselves. You can call up the configuration from the right-click menu of the panel item.

The second option has a downside: once you have more than one layout in the list, the system automatically places the indicator in the notification area. Thus, you end up with duplicated elements on the panel.

What is included in the menu?

The distribution image of Mageia 2 KDE is averagely stuffed with additional software.

Firefox 10.0.4 and KDE’s native Konqueror are the two included web browsers. Apart from those two and the above mentioned Telepathy, the Internet section of the menu contains KPPP dial-up tool, KNetAttach, Network Centre and BlueDevil bluetooth manager.

LibreOffice applications are the main ones in the Office section of the Mageia 2 menu. These are only the core LibreOffice applications, without the less common Draw, Base or Math. You can also find Okular viewer and couple of DigiDoc applications there. It was quite strange to see DigiDoc applications, because, as far as I understand, DigiDoc are applications for Estonian ID cards. They are not too popular in other areas of the Globe. Though, I may be wrong in interpreting the application.

The same Okular viewer is available in the Graphics section of the menu, as well as GIMP, KSnapshot, Gwenview, DNGconverter and AcquireImages scanning tool.

Amarok is the central part of the Sound & Video menu section of Mageia 2 KDE. Other than this powerful tool, you can find DragonPlayer, KsCD, Pulse Audio control, Kmix and even the TVtime Television Viewer. You may have noticed it right: the multimedia section of Mageia 2 KDE menu does not contain any disk burning software. Moreover, no disk burning tool is present in default Mageia 2 distribution at all!

The usual Ark, Calculator, Konsole, KWrite and some other utilities can be found in the Tools menu. Other than these standard programs, you can see there are some less popular ones. For example, ChBg is the tool for automated change of background image. The name of the application "ID-card utility" tells what it can be used for.

To add more

If you need more applications in your Mageia OS, the Mageia Control Centre (MCC) is your place to add more packages, like in all Mandriva family tree members. Although, before doing this in the Live session, you first need to add media into the list of available repositories, and then update the list of available packages.

The initial list of Media is empty. I think this is inconvenient for the unfamiliar user, because it quickly throws an error when you try to update the repository for the first time. I would prefer at least the main repository to be active by default.

To test the installation process and to give me some personal convenience in the Live run, I installed couple of applications.

The first was Chromium. The installation went smoothly. It was Chromium 18. It is a slightly outdated version of the browser, because version 21 has been available since mid-May 2012. But, after all, the Mageia team is not known for quick updates of their repositories. I feel it in my installed system, too.

The second application was Skype. Though, the Skype package itself is not in the repositories, but rather an installer which downloads the package from the main Skype server. Anyhow, the result of the installation was positive.

Unfortunately, I could not find my favourite internet messenger Qutim in the repositories yet.


Mageia 2 KDE includes necessary codecs for multimedia playback. I was able to start an MP3 file immediately in Amarok, without any additional installations.

Although, Amarok again disappointed me by the question related to my region... This is a commercial part of the project, which wants to earn commissions on my potential purchases of multimedia content through Amazon. Of course, I clicked the "Cancel" button on that dialogue window.

As opposed to MP3 codecs, Mageia 2 KDE does not include Flash player. Neither Firefox, nor Chromium were able to start video playback from YouTube.
Mageia 2 with Chromium and Flash plugin

The installation of Flash plugin sorted this out for me, but unexpectedly required a restart of the Chromium browser. I always thought that Chrome and Chromium activated plugins on the fly, but this was not the case.

System performance

System performance was very good. Even on low-resource laptop Mageia 2 KDE was responsive and quick. I noticed some slowness, but this is OK for the Live run working from optical disk on the single-core 1.6 GHz processor. You can see a processor usage diagram in the widget in the screenshot above.

What is next?

So, I am happy with the first glance at Mageia 2 KDE. It may have some applications, which I would need to install or uninstall. It may have lack of desktop wallpapers. But that all is tolerable and can be easily fixed in the installed system.

What would be my next step? To upgrade my existing installation of Mageia 1 KDE to version 2 on the Fujitsu-Siemens laptop. I will do it using the upgrade process. I'd like to see how Mageia manages the process. In the unfortunate case of system breakage, I can install Mageia 2 KDE from scratch… or try something else.
Update: upgrade from Mageia 1 to Mageia 2 as it happened.

Have you tried Mageia 2 KDE yourself? What are your thoughts and experience?

If you have not tried yet, but want to get your hands dirty, then why not order a disk from the Buy Linux CDs site? It will be delivered into to your mailbox.

Video used on the screenshot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npBrsHeycCI.

You may also like to read other reviews of Mageia 2:

This post was edited by djohnston.


  1. I would highly recommend upgrading to Mageia2.

    I have been a Mandriva user since version6, now a Mageia user since last years events...

    Was running Mageia1, and it itself was a very stable, clean, and easy to use version, as is always expected from MandrakeMandriva/etc releases.

    Magiea2 has been faster, more stable, and probably one of the best installs of Linux i've had in a long time.

    Good work Magiea team, keep up the great work!!!!!!!

    1. Thanks for the advise, Logan! Subscribe and stay in touch. You'll not miss my article about Mageia upgrade too!

    2. unfortunately I can't have a localize setting of Malaysia in Mageia 2!

  2. Hi,

    I use the "win32 image writer" to create live USB for most of my distro hopping tasks. You can grab it from here.


    win32 image writer or unetbootin always worked for me.


    1. Balaji, I rarely boot into Windows, so using win-application would be a long and windy road.

      I know the issues with BIOS of my laptop, so I don't blame developers in this.

    2. Forgot to mention a thing. When we create a live USB using win32 image writer, linux or windows doesn't report the actual size of the USB drive when we try to format it next time. I use "HP USB Format Tool" to format such live USBs. You can grab it from here.



    3. Thanks, this is really helpful.


  3. Well, I see you finally went to a reputable dealership to test drive a car (distro) that just works. It would have helped if you didn't go there impaired (hardware), your experience would have been better.

    As a long time Mandrake/Mandriva/KDE user since 1998 using Toshiba/HP/Intel hardware, I never seem to have issues using Mandriva.

    1. I have other reputable "car makers" running on the same hardware too. Like Debian and Xubuntu at this moment.

      But I am adventurous and sometimes try other manufacturers too.

      BTW, Mandriva is not a right dealership for me.

  4. This is a desktop oriented distribution. Why font rendering is not a priority? I usually disregard this (and many others) just for that reason alone...

    1. I've never seen any issues with font rendering in Mageia. Just for this occasion, I reviewed screenshots from this post: both show ideally rendered fonts. If you see it differently, maybe you can point me?

    2. Comparing to Ububntu (and Ubuntu based distributions), fonts look blurry and washed out. Fonts here are readable but not as sharp as it could be. To my eye, it always sticks out. Try to compare side by side with your Xubuntu install. Also, don't limit the comparison to desktop apps, compare font rendering inside Web pages too.

    3. Well, maybe my eyes are not that sharp, but I don't see significant difference in fonts on Mageia screenshot compared to Xubuntu screenshot.

    4. Well, I am not claiming to have eagle eyes, but I can see the difference in the quality of font rendering loud and clear (and on the screen shots you provided). Google "Ubuntu font patches" - it should help to understand what I have in mind.

    5. I also don't have eagle eyes... But from my perspective Mageia's fonts are sharper.
      Maybe I'm looking at wrong direction.

    6. I can clearly see the difference. It's as if Ubuntu is using anti-aliasing, while Mageia is not.

  5. FYI, it boots fine from USB on a Compaq NX5000. OTOH, Ubuntu PP fails miserably since there's no support for PAE on Pentium M 725A.

    1. I have mentioned this already.

      The BIOS of my Fujitsu-Siemens laptop is responsible for USB-boot failures of any hybrid image. I don't blame developers here.

      Ubuntu and Kubuntu require pae support. Mageia and Xubuntu do not require it.

  6. DarkDuck I have had the same bad luck with one of my usb when it comes to hybrid image. Even if a create liveusb the command line way:
    dd if=/path/to/the/downloaded/iso of=/path/to/the/USB/device

    My other usb I did manage without any issue create liveusb with a hybrid image. So I think this problem is more about some usb not playing nice with hybrid iso, but others are. I have now 2 usb, one for non-hybrid image and one for hybrid image. So I do not think your issue is BIOS relatead. I also have Fujitsu Siemens laptop btw.

    Mageia 2 is superb!

    1. I tried different USB sticks, bud with bad luck all the time.
      At the same time, Debian's [non-hybrid] image specifically created for Live USB works fine all the time.
      That's why I think it is the BIOS problem. 8-(

  7. Mageia is really Nice and very stable distro. I am impressed that the kde version only uses 300mb in ram. That's impressive.

    1. The installed Mageia 1 used 177 Mb of memory in idle.
      This post has a screenshot proving this.

  8. Sounds pretty underwhelming to me. Just another distro with the same old s##t as all the others. Although most distros these days are riddled with bugs and problems KDE seems to give me even more trouble than gnome. When will someone get it done right?

    1. I think many people disagree with you.

      Maybe you can be more specific about the issues you have?

    2. Wow that was a big bold blanket statement. I've not tried Mageia but I've tried loads of distros out and to say they are all riddled with bugs is harsh. There are so many 1000s of packages and each package will have it's own bugs or inconsistencies. That I'm afraid is the same with Windows.

      I've tried the latest KDE on Mint and it runs really well. The plasma effects are great.

      I've tried the Gnome 3 shell on Fedora and whether you like it or not style wise it isn't heavily flawed with bugs.

      I really don't see what your real point is. Just another distro with the same old s##t as all the others? Well the same in that they share packages sure but do you expect each distro to have its own set of applications?

      Each distro lives or dies by its uniqueness and fan base. For example Ubuntu lives for its ease of use and the support network. Puppy survives because it is ultra light in resources. As long as a distro gives somebody something they want that they can't get elsewhere better the distro is relevant.

      Clearly Mageia has won a lot of people over and so just another distro? clearly not.

    3. Mageia is #4 in Distrowatch's rating now. It's even higher than Debian and OpenSuSE.
      This means something in terms of popularity.

    4. #2 in the last 7 days!!

    5. Heh, I'd say that 7-day statistics is too volatile to be meaningful. 8-)

  9. I'm not trying to be an ass here, just giving my honest opinion.
    As an example: the new PinguyOS has been officially released but before you even get to the download you're told that VLC is broken. I tried Sabayon 9 and really liked the look of it but LibreOffice would crash EVERY time on startup and their new Rigo software installer gave me repository errors and I couldn't download anything.
    Now I know there are fixes for these things but why should there be a need to "fix" something that has just been released and is a fresh installation?
    How long has Linux been around now...forever? Why can someone buy a smartphone with Android that works across several different hardware configurations without problems but when installing Linux on a PC, several things are broken EVERY time, out of the box? Obviously mobiles and PCs are different beasts but in this day and age people expect things to work. Time for the developers to stop adding "new" stuff and make sure that the "old" stuff is working first.

    1. Actually that is a fair point.

      What I would expect from each distro is that in general every application should work without tweaking.

      Where you might get a failure is on specific pieces of software working on specific pieces of hardware because there are so many millions of combinations that can make things different.

      Ask a web developer the hardest thing about their job and they will say getting their site to look the same on every different browser (especially internet explorer).

      What you do have to allow for is that distros that base themselves on Ubuntu will generally have the same flaws as ubuntu unless there was a specific driver to fix those flaws. The same can be said of distros that base themselves on Red hat, slackware etc. You also have to look at the size of the teams building the distro. If you have a team of 3 guys working on a project it is much harder for them to regression test.

      If you want an all singing distro with huge support then go for the ubuntus and mints. If you are happy to work at it a bit to tailor it for specific needs then you could look at some of the smaller distros.

      It is all about choice.

    2. You're right and I appreciate your input and I do understand that there's a lot of work involved in what the people and teams are doing.
      However it just annoys me so much that Linux is touted as being so secure and stable yet all of my Windows 7 installations (I format very often) have all worked flawlessly without any app or system crashes. When you consider that Linux basically gives you an Office application and internet connectivity and a few other standard apps, at this stage in the game they should just work.
      I agree that choice is good but what price should we expect to pay for different icons and default packages (IE: different distros)?
      Some consolidation is in dire need throughout the Linux community.

    3. I don't think that consolidation would ever happen. That's against the Open Source soul of diversity.

    4. I agree. It is like distributions in general. The best will survive for a number of years, others will just become dormant and will die naturally.

      For example the best music players will continue to be supported by the largest number of developers, testers and followers. Those that don't perform will either cease to be used or will have a much smaller following.

      And... naturally what will happen is if one of the music players incorporates a brilliant idea another music player will come up with its own version of that idea.

  10. About the not booting PC, it might be related to this bug;


    According to comment 6 in this bug report, you can workaround it typing xdriver=vesa as a kernel command. I did it, installed the system and then I was able to use the intel driver.

    1. Very possible this is the error I had! Thanks for the link! I'll put it into the main text!

    2. Hi, I tried this option in another Mageia 2 KDE Live run, and it worked for me.


  11. Some screenshots of Mageia 2 kde here: http://linuxscreenshot.netsons.org/mageia-2/

  12. I got no luck with Huawei E353 USB-modem, that's why i had to give up.

    1. Hi Matsu, I am pretty sure that you can solve the issue using Sakis3G :) Ciao

  13. Recently I installed 4 Linux Distros on my new Lenovo G780: Ubuntu, Mint, Mageia and Mandriva.
    I met some network problems in Ubuntu 12.04 and Linux Mint 13 until I found the right drivers.
    No problems with the oldest of the 4 Distros, Mandriva 2011.i586.1 (the uncle of Mageia), except
    a missing driver for the Atheros ethernet chip (but wired connections are not so important for a
    Laptop). With the newest of all, Mageia 2 (release date: 19.05.2012), I have still a lot of
    troubles. After I won the "Loader strugle" (GRUB2 has also some quirks concerning 'initrid'),
    Mageia startet to spit a lot of dirty words, like:
    [Nouveau 00...010..0]: invalid ROM contents
    [drm]: no valid VBIOS image found
    Failed to start: Load legacy module configuration
    Dependency failed ...
    an so on.
    Applying some palliatives found in Web (acpi=off, noefi, xdriver=vesa, ... as kernel parameter),
    I could reach eventually the console, but only for an elegant 'reboot'.
    My verdict: Mageia 2 is not yet mature enough.
    Christian B.

    1. Any luck from the errata-pages?

  14. "You may have noticed it right: the multimedia section of Mageia 2 KDE menu does not contain any disk burning software. Moreover, no disk burning tool is present in default Mageia 2 distribution at all!"

    Would you please clarify the second sentence? It sounds like there's no burning toool in Mageia 2 at all, which is just plain wrong. Maybe just write "There is no burning tool present on Mageia LiveCD environments" or something like that?

    "It was Chromium 18. It is a slightly outdated version of the browser, because version 21 has been available since mid-May 2012. But, after all, the Mageia team is not known for quick updates of their repositories."

    Well, for one, there was a rather long freeze period, where no version updates were allowed, end after the release, everybody was happy to have some free time, as you can maybe imagine.
    Then you can just install Chrome directly, so you get updates directly from upstream via a dedicated urpmi repo from Google.
    Instructions for that are available as a MAQeia in the forums.

    And for the rest, feel free to contribute to packager and QA teams to help improve the reaction time for updates ;)

    1. You're right about CD burning software. It is NOT in the LiveCD, but it is for sure available in repositories. I can't say about Live DVD, as I have not tried it.

      The speed of repositories update is OK. I can cope with this. As you can imagine, Mageia is not bleeding edge, and never aimed to be. Debian updates its packages even slower, still has lots of followers.

  15. Mageia 2 is really better than ¨1¨ and it is a nice distro just needing a bit of Linux experience to install it properly without getting any error about Grub or video driver, for instance. If you experiencing some problem Mageia Forum is your best friend :) Cheers!

  16. mageia 2 installer is very slow it take about 30 minutes fedora and ubuntu take half of this time and bit easier to install than mageia. I am not a big fan of KDE but i want to try it now with mageia until now it work fine after few hours from installation

    1. Good news! I hope you'll write up about your experience?

  17. unfortunately I could not install via usb mageia2, tried with several different programs, uneboot, WinSetup etc, did not work, when you start stands on a black screen, algem can help me? I'm from Brazil, so I'm translating into English for posting.
    my email is wan_com@ig.com.br

    1. Unfortunately, I faced the same issue in my experiment. It is described at the start of this article. I used an optical media.

  18. I do not have DVD/CD-ROM so the only way to install Linux distros is through USB stick. DarkDuck, have you found a way to make boot successfully with a USB stick the Mageia ver. 2 distro?

  19. I've read the previuos answer.. just checking for update of the situation. :)

    1. No, I have not investigated this any further.

  20. The DVD version comes with K3B installed. Had issues with VLC at first, but fixed by uninstalling it, adding the tainted media repos and reinstalling VLC.

    1. Thanks for pointing out. DVDs usually contain more applications than CD versions.

  21. I did install mageia 2 in a compaq presario 700 in 15 minutes.
    Even the wifi was not working in windows vista, now is resurrected from among the dead, is working.
    I used to run ubuntu in another pc with more difficulties, quite a lot actually in compare.

    1. Yes, in some terms Mageia does better than Ubuntu. Let's see what Mageia 3 will give us.

  22. Installed it yesterday. Was running Kubuntu 12.2 but it got mucke dup, so tried KDE Mint and Netrunner, but both kept crashing, so decided to try Mageia, and so far all is good. A bit lacking in the repositories but enough to keep me happy. Wondered about an upgrade to KDE 4.9, but miss look this up in the community centre.

    1. Happy to see yet another friend of Mageia!