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Mandriva 2008.0 Power Pack Review

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Mandriva Linux has a history of inconsistency; one release will be superb, and the next one will be so bug-ridden and feature-weak that it's unusable. The only commonality among all releases are the excellent system configuration tools, which have continued to evolve over the years to match an increasing level of complexity in the desktop software stack. True to form, Mandriva 2008.0 is an excellent release, following the terrible 2007.1, and the just as excellent 2007.0. Some of the important things that were dropped from the previous release (Cedega, LinDVD) are back, and some of the problems (huge K menu button, cluttered menus) have been mitigated.

 

Full review at Software in Review.

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First of all I didn't read it thoroughly but 2007 is superb 2007.1 stinker? 2007.1 is nothing but an updated 2007. I personally found it more stable than 2007. And reading the topics here and the club forum I can see I wasn't the only one.

Now let's see the final conclusions.

 

Here's exactly what I'd like to see in 2008.1:

 

* Better release testing. In every Mandriva review I've written over the past year or two, I list "better release testing" as the top issue that needs to be addressed. In this case, the stupid bugs that should have been found and corrected are the French switchover in the post-install configuration utility, ACPI problems for upgraders, and the tendency of Beagle to usurp system resources without warning (or any way to reasonably disable it in GNOME). This is only what I found after a few days of testing on two machines. What would I have found if I'd had more hardware and time to test with? The same things that the release engineers should have found and fixed during beta testing -- that's what.

Strange the 2008 release wasn't so widely tested IMHO as the previous ones due to the lack of live CDs through out the testing phase. The first live CD was made from RC2.

 

* Premium download options for subscribers and paying customers. Whether you buy a single copy or pay for a year's subscription, you should be entitled to fast ISO downloads. openSUSE and Ubuntu are free of charge, and they offer insanely fast download links. Why can't Mandriva, with people paying money for PowerPack edition, offer the same?

It was discussed a million times before. While it's true Mandriva still hasn't got a billionaire behind its back.

 

* Mirrors that work. Mandriva's package repository mirrors get overloaded, are improperly seeded, or are out of sync after every new release. Mandriva doesn't provide its own package repositories -- you have to rely on other servers around the world to get the software you paid for. I don't know if Mandriva pays for these mirrors or not; if so, then it needs to find other, more reliable service providers. If Mandriva is not paying for these mirrors, then what on earth is it doing with subscription and sales income? What are Mandriva's customers paying for, if not reliable package mirrors? Granted, this is not as bad as it was with 2007.1, but it's still not as good as it should be. Again I'll point to the general reliability of openSUSE's repository mirrors. PowerPack users deserve dedicated, fast, up-to-date, flawless package repositories. Leave the crappy third-party mirrors for the Free edition users.

See the previous point because this is the same.

 

* Handheld device support. I can't connect my (modern, USB-equipped) PocketPC or Palm handheld devices to Mandriva. It's not a big problem for me because I use my Palm Z22 for task tracking and appointments, and my workstation for email and contacts. I should be able to synchronize the two devices without any trouble, though. I'd like to see a standard, operational program for this task -- not a handful of potentially available applications that either don't work or work unpredictably.

Guess that means his Palm was working flawlessly under a different distro. But I guess that different distro has some gadget which doesn't work there but works with Mandriva. That's usually the way it is.

 

* Forget about the fancy special effects. XGL, AIGLX, Compiz Fusion, and Metisse are a total waste of time for developers and users alike. These technologies are not -- and may never be -- stable enough to rely on for everyday desktop computing, and serve no useful purpose. They ruin functionality with 3D games and screen savers, cause crashes and performance issues, require video drivers that may not work correctly, and in general do not make anyone's life easier. Get rid of them until they're proven to be as reliable as Kwin and Metacity and other standard parts of the graphical environment.

Wonderful idea :-( This is the fastest way to say goodbye about half of the fan base.

 

And LinDVD IS important because it's one (out of two) of the legal way to play DVDs out-of the-box.

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Well, the 3D stuff is not really necessary. It IS a nice toy and yes, it draws many people to distro A or distro B but in the end, many users still have problems with 3D support while 3D doesn't work at all on many systems. From a productivity point of view, he is right, the 3D desktop is rather a nice gimmick more than anything else but from a marketing point of view it is important to offer it (sad point: Mandriva has no real marketing strategy, nor a serious marketing budget at its disposal). But I think that Mandriva made the right decision to allow users to enable it quickly but not to enable it by default.

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It was discussed a million times before. While it's true Mandriva still hasn't got a billionaire behind its back.

 

IMO he was trying to drive home the point that Mandriva should be using revenues from powerpack sales, subs, etc and ploughing some of it into providing better mirrors for exclusive use by those that contribute financially. Unfortunately he went on to draw a comparison with other distro's that offer that support for free, thus giving a further implication that this should apply to free editions as well, which really wasn't what he was trying to say in the first place.

 

Anyway, who said you needed a billionaire to provide the infrastructure, many other projects get by without a huge financial burden, maybe the issue isn't Mandriva's financial backing, but more so how their business is perceived by potential (mirror) contributors. Like arctic mentioned, Mandriva has apparently no market strategy, enough said.

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I bought Powerpack 2008.0 one day after release and I had excellent download speed. I have a 30Mbit/s connection and I got >2MB/s from the Mandriva server and I think that download speed is pretty good. But maybe I just had good luck.

 

So far 2008.0 has been stable for me, not a single problem so far. The system was up and running within 30min and within that time I had installed 2008.0 and also reinstalled the packages that I want like Opera (why isn't Opera installed by default), VLC.. etc.

 

I have also installed 2008.0 Powerpack on my Acer Ferrari Laptop and I got 1 hour better battery time, which is excellent :-)

 

One thing that I think is sad though is that Mandrivas releases gets very little attention in Sweden, while Ubuntu gets loads of articles from respectable news sources. IMHO Mandriva is just as good as Ubuntu (actually I think it's better thats why I use it as my main distrubution).

Edited by ppcrulez

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why isn't Opera installed by default?
I'd say 'cause it's proprietary and Mandriva didn't want to pay for it. Also, Opera is not as widely used as Firefox, Epiphany or Konqueror. You cannot please everyone. :juggle:

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One thing that I think is sad though is that Mandrivas releases gets very little attention in Sweden, while Ubuntu gets loads of articles from respectable news sources. IMHO Mandriva is just as good as Ubuntu (actually I think it's better thats why I use it as my main distrubution).

 

I would go so far as to say that Mandriva is better in terms of ease of use, but until Mandriva screws the nut and go beyond half-heartedly using the media, Ubuntu will continue to dominate!

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Well.. Mandriva has practically no Marketing budget, while Ubuntu/Shuttleworth has the money and it has a slogan, even if it is ridiculous ("Humanity to others"). No wonder Ubuntu is becoming more and more popular. Distros like Mandriva, Fedora, Debian, Slackware and others have to rely on some kind of "marketing" done by its users primarily. Not that this is completely wrong, but a few well placed and well made ads in a few magazines can do wonders. Remember: Windows is all about marketing.

 

"Explore the internet with your computer."

"Listen to music with your computer."

 

Now, what is Mandrivas message? They need imho a damn good slogan in order to attract the masses.

 

Remember OS/2 warp? Although it never became mainstream (and sadly vanished from the market because there were no games for OS/2), it became popular/well known through aggressive and well made advertising (around 1994 IIRC).

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we do apparently run some magazine ads, blino told me this on IRC yesterday. I've never seen them, though, so I don't know what magazines :)

 

ppcrulez, can you email or PM me some contact details for popular Swedish news sources? I can add them to the list of places I send big news items to.

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Well, the 3D stuff is not really necessary. It IS a nice toy and yes, it draws many people to distro A or distro B but in the end, many users still have problems with 3D support while 3D doesn't work at all on many systems. From a productivity point of view, he is right, the 3D desktop is rather a nice gimmick more than anything else but from a marketing point of view it is important to offer it.

 

I'm slightly disagreeing on the 3D stuff: In the beginning it was sort of a gimmick to me, too. Now I don't want to loose the window selection function offered by compiz; don't know the correct name but it works as follows: If your screen is littered with windows, you can easily choose the desired one by dragging the mouse pointer into the very top right corner. Thus you get an overview with small versions of every opened window on top the desktop and you can easily select by simply clicking on this image, raising that app into foreground. Very handy! (Example attached)

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If your screen is littered with windows, you can easily choose the desired one by dragging the mouse pointer into the very top right corner.
That drove me insane. Every time I wanted to close a maximised window, it rearranged everything and I had to hunt for the window and try again to close it. Took me a while to work out how to disable that effect... :/

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I have to agree with scoonma, I have found that function useful at times when I have a lot of windows open, just a bit quicker than alt-tabbing or scanning through previews for each button on the window list. I touched on previews/thumbnails on alt-tab and window list buttons, again handy. But that's about as far as it goes, wobbly windows and other effects are just eye candy, nothing more IMO.

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If your screen is littered with windows, you can easily choose the desired one by dragging the mouse pointer into the very top right corner. Thus you get an overview with small versions of every opened window on top the desktop and you can easily select by simply clicking on this image, raising that app into foreground.
For that, in Gnome there is already since many years the "window selector" tool (similar to Mac OS8/9), which is by default placed in the upper right corner of the desktop. Just as fast and it doesn't need a 3D engine. ;)

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