Saturday, November 20, 2004

Mandrakelinux 10.1

I installed Mandrake 10.1 under vmware and then on my venerable laptop.

Let's get the bad points out of the way:
  1. On my laptop, the installer still tries to use the framebuffer (i810/i815) which doesn't work. Mandrake knows this once it is installed, so they're using different logic for the installer to the installed running version.
  2. GNOME 2.6. Hello? Fedora Core 3 and Ubuntu Warty (4.10) both ship with 2.8 (which has its advantages). Apparently 10.2 will ship with 2.8, but by then both FC4 (May 2005?) and Ubuntu Hoary (5.04 - due 6th April 2005) will be out with 2.10. It is funny to see Mandrake running with older versions of software than Red Hat Linux (now Fedora Core). I am not alone.
  3. APM. Ubuntu 4.10 makes the power button work properly (proper shutdown) on my laptop (and locks the screen when you shut the case). Mandrake just powers the bloody thing off! (Same as Fedora Core).
  4. Laptop Mode. Ubuntu's laptop mode means that less power is used - it spins the disk down etc. Mandrake just runs it at full power. (Same as Fedora Core).
  5. No Firefox? OK - I like Epiphany (Debbie uses it) and KDE users love Konqueror, but to exclude one of the most well-publicised pieces of open source software is mad!
  6. Mandrakeclub/mandrakeonline (an RHN clone) are as shit as ever. Well that's rude - it's just not all that integrated as I'd like yet.
  7. My prism54 card went flaky for the first time in a year. Could be a one-off.
Good points:
  1. Menus - Mandrake have worked hard on getting the GNOME menus sorted out, unlike those lazy gits at Red Hat/Fedora Core. Ubuntu have also worked on these.
  2. Control Centre - the Mandrakelinux Control Centre is now a lot better in 10.1. It looked good in 10.0 but it didn't do enough - now it's great. I can even configure my Prism54 card through it! Very user friendly.
  3. The most user friendly Linux I've used. OK, so this goes with the above two comments, but it's worth mentioning on its own. Red Hat have done a lot of great work in things like Anaconda (my favourite installer) and their other tools (system-config-* aka redhat-config-* on RHEL) but they're not quite there. Their lack of emphasis on sorting out the menu is mind-boggling. Ubuntu have come from nowhere (standing on the shoulders of Debian, admittedly) and produced a really, really easy to use/install/administer desktop. They're let down by a lack of GUI tools for certain things (back to good old vi for sysadmin) but give them a year and I believe they'll be parallel with Red Hat if not Mandrakelinux.
  4. MandrakeGalaxy II theme (as included with 10.0) is very nice - professional, yet prettier than Red Hat BlueCurve, and more individual than Ubuntu's rather-nice-yet-run-of-the-mill Human.
  5. Evolution 2.0.x as with the other two distros.
Ultimately, this is what I expected Mandrake 10.0 to be. 10.0 promised so much but became frustrating around the edges. This is a far better attempt. Apart from the GNOME 2.6 issue (and apparently you can get 2.8 from somewhere else), I'm relatively happy with this as desktop environment. They need to catch up a little with the work Ubuntu and/or Debian have done on laptops but so do Red Hat/Fedora Core.

Mandrake have a tough time keeping at the forefront of user friendliness. Let's wish them all the best.
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