Mandriva Plunge: following the 2009 release
I believe that each Linux user should -if only once in a while- follow a complete release cycle of a new distribution from alpha to final release. It’s highly educational, it helps to hone your problem solving skills and by submitting your bug reports you actually contribute to making a better distribution. Plus, and that is the main reason, it greatly contributes to your appreciation for the hard work of the developers. Most of the people who will migrate in the coming years will be having more Windows-only experience than the previous generations of migrators and expect to see fully functional polished Linux distributions. But what is needed, is being done to make that happen? For that reason I decided to plunge into Mandriva 2009, which has been released as an Alpha 2.
Why Mandriva 2009 and not Ubuntu 8.10? For a number of reasons, one of which is that I have been working with and writing about Ubuntu extensively over the last months and I need something new to put my teeth in. Secondly, Mandriva is a major European distribution that is head to head with Ubuntu and some other distributions in order to be part of migration strategies, especially in government institutions. Hence, it deserves a closer look to see whether it is evolving in the right direction.
Installing Mandriva 2009 Alpha 2 was uneventful. I ran into a problem when I wanted to add an HTTP source to the installation, but selecting only the dvd resulted in a painless installation. I opted to install KDE and GNOME, both of which are the most recent ones available. Mandriva uses the classic KDE menu instead of the new Kickoff menu. Strange enough you won’t have access to the configuration menu this way, which you do with the kickoff menu.
As I installed Mandriva on my Acer Aspire 3681 WXMi laptop, the next problem was to get wifi up and running. It took an hour of fiddling and testing various solutions to get it done. I don’t have a clue which solution finally worked. Compared to OpenSUSE 11.0 and Ubuntu 8.04, Mandriva doesn’t do well in this area.
On the plus side, this Alpha 2 release is far more stable on this laptop than the previous stable release. It’s fast, snappy and the screen doesn’t freeze or lock on me. If this is the starting point I am more than curious to see how it pans out in the coming months.