10 Jul 2012

Mageia 2 GNOME: not that good

Mageia is a distribution forked from Mandriva some time ago. That's not a secret. Also, it's not a secret that Mandriva's preferred desktop environment was KDE. Even the fact that the latest version Mandriva 2011 has only a KDE option proves that position.
At the same time, Mageia continued the old Mandriva strategy, and released their distribution with two options: KDE and GNOME.
I have only tried Mageia KDE so far, and had no chance to try GNOME.
But there was an order from BuyLinuxCDs.co.uk site which let me do something new. The customer ordered a CD with Mageia 2 GNOME. I always check my CDs before dispatch, so I finally got a chance to try Mageia 2 GNOME myself.
The ISO image of Europe1-Americas version of Mageia 2 GNOME is 670 Mb in size.
I burnt it onto the CD-R which I intended to send to the customer and inserted that disk into the optical drive of my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from the optical drive. Let's go!

The stumbling pace

I made my first attempt to boot the Mageia 2 GNOME operating system with all the default parameters. Unfortunately, the CD-R stopped spinning after about 5 minutes of processing. The screen was dark, the computer was silent. In other words, I got exactly the same issue which I had with Mageia 2 KDE: it did not boot on my Fujitsu-Siemens laptop. If you remember, one of my readers pointed to the bug report, which gave the workaround. The reason of failure is poor driver for Intel video cards, in my case Intel 945GM. The workaround is in putting the parameter xdriver=vesa into the kernel boot string. It worked perfectly for my Mageia 2 KDE boots, and that's why I decided to try the same approach with GNOME.
So, the second attempt was with xdriver=vesa kernel parameter. This time I was more lucky. At least, I was able to see the usual Mandriva/Mageia questions regarding location, language, time and so on. But after that, I got an unlucky message saying that GNOME was not able to load properly, and went to the fallback mode. OK, that's fine, at least I can try the Mageia 2 GNOME operating system with the fallback mode.


My Fujitsu-Siemens laptop has an Intel 3945 ABG wireless card. I was very happy to see that Mageia 2 GNOME could recognise and configure the card. At least, I was able to see my home wireless network in the configuration window.
The next logical step for me was to type in the security key and to connect. Unfortunately, that was the end of the story. Mageia GNOME refused to connect. The command dmesg listed a message stating "Regulatory domain changed to country: US", whereas I live in the UK. This is the very likely reason for my inability to connect.

Give it another chance

Toshiba L500-19X
Does my Fujitsu-Siemens laptop have some unlucky combination of Intel hardware: Intel 945GM videocard and Intel 3945ABG wireless card? I decided to give Mageia 2 GNOME another chance, and put the same CD into yet another laptop I have at home: Toshiba Satellite L500-19X. It has different hardware, for example the graphic card is Intel 4 Series. So, let's try it!
Unfortunately, Toshiba stumbled with the same issue in the boot: system refused to load without the xdriver=vesa parameter. Hence, it went to the same GNOME 3 fallback mode after the loading. Is it an issue with all the Intel video cards?
Was Mageia 2 GNOME any better in networking running on my Toshiba laptop? Unfortunately, no. The same issue with inability to connect to the wireless network appeared here too, even though the laptop has a WiFi card from a different manufacturer: Realtek RTL8191SE. The positive moment, though, is that Mageia 2 automatically configured this wireless card, which was a difficult task for quite a lot of distributions in the past.
At this moment of time, I gave up.


Even though I was in despair about the network and graphical abilities of Mageia 2 GNOME, I decided to have a quick glance at the applications available "out of the box".
Mageia 2 GNOME comes with two browsers included: Firefox and Epiphany. You also get quite a lot of other Internet tools: Remote Desktop Viewer, Desktop Sharing, Evolution mail, Ekiga Softphone, Empathy messenger.
The Office applications are represented by core LibreOffice tools: Writer, Calc, Impress and Draw. There are no optional applications in the distribution, like Base or Math.
GIMP, Image Viewer and Shotwell photo manager are the only items in the Graphics section of the menu in Mageia 2 GNOME. But who says that you don't have enough, if GIMP is here?
The Sound&Video section is well-represented. Rhythmbox and Movie Player are the available players. You also have TVtime television viewer, Cheese Webcam booth, Sound Juicer ripper and Sound Recorder.
There is no disk burning utility in the Sound&Video section of the menu, but you can find Brasero in the section Tools. Other than Brasero, it includes more or less standard package: Calculator, gEdit, file manager (Nautilus), Terminal, Archivers and so on.
There is a separate section for System Tools too, which includes System Monitor, System Settings, Mageia Control Centre, PulseAudio preferences, User manager and similar tools.
In other words, Mageia 2 comes with a pretty much standard set of tools, which makes it usable for the wide range of users from the very beginning.


Unfortunately, I have faced too many issues with Mageia 2 GNOME to announce it as a system recommended to many users. Even though the system is well-packed with applications, it is only the secondary parameter to consider. First of all, you need to boot the system up. And Mageia 2 GNOME failed to boot and operate properly on two of my laptops with different hardware. Not a good sign.


If you want to try Mageia 2 yourself, then why not order it from the Buy Linux CDs site? The disk with the distribution will be delivered right into your mailbox.


  1. From memory, If you read the errata page, you need to load the proprietary firmware first on the CD distro. Connect via wired cable 1st and then select the sources and load the firmware. After that everything will work. Did you at least bother to read the Readme, the errata or ask for help on the forum. Seems that your review are the failure rather than Mageia?

    1. From the pespective of reviewing the distribution that made Linux on the desktop possible through ease of use, I think at least some expectations are in order...

  2. Having in mind that Intel gives open source driver for Linux which makes them the best supported graphic cards vendor, it means that developers of Mageia screwed it up completety on their side. I have played various distributions: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and Arch (which is my choice) on my computers that all have Intel graphic cards (each is different) and it was always been a plug and play experience.

    1. Yes. Intel hardware was a determining factor for me when I was looking for a new laptop. Agree about Mageia developers and "screwing up".

    2. By the way - thanks for reviewing distributions on real hardware not on virtual machine (a very popular approach nowadays). These are the things you can't learn the latter way.

    3. You're welcome. That's my approach to tests. Maybe because my hardware is not too powerful for VM's.

  3. I gave Mageia a try - shame. Not very good.
    For example - Slackware-13.37 - released Spring of 2011 - has Thunderbird and Firefox 14 in the updates.
    Mageia 2, released this year, has version 10.
    I understand sometimes it takes a while for newer packages to filter through, but to ship with a build that was out of date when it was added is just silly.
    SalixOS is your friend.

    1. Salix is based on Slackware. It means it is by default less user-friendly than Mageia. I tried it some time ago. There's a double impression.

    2. Mageia 2 use Firefox ESR

  4. Mageia is still new, I'm sure they'll get it together in the next couple releases. But, yes, I agree with you DD, Mageia is a nice distro but I wouldn't recommend it for serious work.

    Another problem it has is that it does not support MPPE VPN (Microsft VPN). For me, that takes it our of the running. Don't know why some distros get in a tizzy about that, because if Red Hat isn't worried about that, no one else need be either :D

    1. I have Linux Mint and Mageia 2 on different laptops. You can't beat Linux Mint out of the Box. However, after using Mandriva then shifting to Mageia and Mageia 2. I have done pretty well. However, I will say I've had three issues with Mageia. A bad graphics upgrade once. Then two times my Trash Bin has become unworkable and keeps saying its full ( when I can't see anything in it ). Twice I've reinstalled my operating system because of it.

      Your issue with the VPN is well noted. It works fine for me in Linux Mint. I've yet to get a client to work properly in Mageia. Its been frustrating as I can't find a client where I can get the settings to work with Viewtvabroad.com.

    2. Just in case someone else ends up here after googling it like I did, I posted a possible workaround on the Mageia forums. https://forums.mageia.org/en/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3364&p=26965#p26965

  5. @Anonymous: I am not that bothered about Microsoft VPN. I use Mageia KDE at home, and much happy about that. Unfortunately, both KDE and GNOME versions of Mageia 2 have issues with Intel harfware. It questions the ability of Mageia to attract new freshers.

  6. "Maybe because my hardware is not too powerful for VM's."

    What hardware is TOO powerful to run a VM?
    Maybe try a distro which takes more processing by the VM.
    e.g. ARM emulation, (Raspberry Pi); that should slow it down.


  7. I installed Mageia for the first time this week and its pretty much surprise free. I modify my desktop to my own tastes so there is really very little difference when I run various KDE distros.

    Would I try the Gnome one? Why?

    Would a good revue have changed my mind? Nah.

    1. Don't get your point... I use Mageia 2 KDE almost every day, and happy about it.
      This review's point was that GNOME edition of Mageia is not that polished as KDE one.