Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mandriva 2008.1 KDE hits a sweet spot

I've been installing some of the latest Linux releases for the past week to better understand what's available. I've taken the time to scrub the install system's (rhea) primary drive so that there's nothing on it any more except Linux. And I've tried to spend some time after the initial installation running some builds and installing other applications such as the latest Java and Netbeans, then running additional tests and comparing the results with past experiences. And the surprise, for me at least, is that the best distribution for me in this latest round isn't my old favorites openSUSE or Ubuntu, but Mandriva 2008.1 KDE. And for the record, I installed and tried to work with Fedora 9, and found that that particular dog just don't hunt.

Working with Mandriva 2008.1 KDE reminds me of the past working with SuSE Pro and early versions of openSUSE, especially version 10.2. I have come to respect and even like Gnome, but KDE is my preferred desktop environment and Mandriva helps remind me why I personally preferred it over Gnome. This is not a 'one-is-better-than-the-other' troll. I would no more have KDE 'win' over Gnome than I would have Gnome 'win' over KDE. I'm thankful there is choice, and that I can choose KDE for personal use.

One of the best features of this version of Mandriva is Mandriva Linux Control Center (MLCC). MLCC brings everything together into a useful cohesive whole. It's the application Suse's Yast should be. The Software Application section of MLCC makes software installation and management every bit as easy as Ubuntu's Add/Remove Applications and as powerful as Ubuntu's Synaptic.

One key gripe I've had with Ubuntu, starting with 7.10 and continuing with 8.04, is the poor functionality of K3b 1.0.4. I use K3b to rip DVDs to my local media server. I started to use the tool heavily with openSUSE 10.2, and when I switched to Ubuntu 7.04 I found that K3b from the Ubuntu repositories worked as well as the version supplied by openSUSE. But when I upgraded to Ubuntu 7.10, the ability to view and rip a DVD wound up broken. I eventually rebuilt a properly functioning K3b from sources and with the proper development libraries installed on Ubuntu 7.10, thinking that the LTS version would fix the K3b build problems.

Turns out the problems were not fixed. I installed a fresh copy of Ubuntu 8.04 on rhea and went through the same build process on rhea that I did earlier on europa and Ubuntu 7.10. When I finished K3b was still broken. That's when I made the decision and installed Mandriva 2008.1 on rhea. After the installation I tested K3b and discovered it needed libdvdcss and transcode to make it fully functional. Once those two packages were installed then I was back in business. Getting the proper repository (PLF) to install libdvdcss is dead simple. Just go to Easy Urpmi and follow the very simple instructions. Then use Software Manager to find and install libdvdcss.

It is amazing how well Mandriva performs on what is now considered limited hardware. It may not be the most exciting distribution you can install, but it runs as expected and performs the complex multimedia tasks I want it to run in the manner to which I have become accustomed with earlier distributions and releases. It has truly come a long way and is worthy of first consideration as an alternative OS.

Update

Speaking of europa and Ubuntu 8.04, I removed Mono (mono-common) from the distribution, and it took Tomboy, Banshee, and F-Spot along with it. I will not have C#/Mono running on my Linux machines.

Update 2

I find it interesting that many problems I encountered with the Mandriva Gnome release didn't show up on the KDE release. Or perhaps I've gotten better at installing Mandriva (whatever that means :). But Mandriva KDE installed and ran smoother than Mandriva Gnome. And in both cases is was a completely new installation including a fresh home directory.

7 comments:

  1. Hi there!

    I liked the review very much. I think Mandriva 2008.1 KDE is in the right path, although 2008 version worked better on my laptop.

    I just want to recommend you to try Big Linux 4 RC. Great distro! Get it here http://www.biglinux.com.br/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4202&start=0

    Keep the good work. :)

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  2. Mandriva is the best.. It has got the best control center among the linux distributions.

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  3. I installed Mandriva 2008 with KDE & GNOME.

    After switching off beagle (that tries to index every piece of file in my hard-disk) the GNOME version ran lighter on resources than KDE. Also, GNOME offers a more pratical set of "destkop applets" (like the network monitoring).

    Also, I don't like the two panels in GNOME so I dropped the botton one and made the other one as small as possible. Now I have nearly 100% of my screen for myself, not for my desktop "widgetry".

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  4. Hi Bill, and it's great to see you're enjoying Mandriva! I found your comparison of the GNOME and KDE versions of One interesting; as it happens, there's a guy in the Ubuntu forums who reported the exact opposite experience (he had trouble with the KDE versions but found the GNOME versions worked perfectly). As the two versions are built from the exact same base but just have two different sets of desktop packages, it's a bit hard to know what could cause that. If you'd explain some of the problems you had with the GNOME version I could look into them, though.

    For what it's worth, I only use GNOME on my desktop, but probably a majority of staff at MDV use KDE. Officially we support each desktop equally.

    Maybe you can add Mandriva to your 'Linux linkage' section now? :)

    Adam Williamson
    Mandriva

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  5. Mandriva 2008 was a fantastic distribution, and 2008.1 brings great new enhancements. I just had to turn off PulseAudio due to problems with flashplayer, but the problem is the same with the other distros that integrated it.

    Thanks to all Mandriva Team, you have achieved a great job.

    I'm now waiting for the Mandriva 2009, with KDE4.1. Sure it will be the best distro for years!

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  6. I tried Mandriva 2008.1 recently and was amazed at how far it has come! I use OpenSuse as my main desktop of choice (Probably because I'm a system admin), But I am putting Mandriva as my very close second and will recommend it to others.

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  7. I use Mandriva Spring KDE also. Best distro out there I think. I don't use gnome just because it bores me quickly, and I don't use compiz anymore. I also find KDE to be faster on newer hardware, but YMMV :)

    ps, I'm in Florida also

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