Mandriva...Not just for Classmates

Mandriva...Not just for Classmates

Summary: As I've been poking around with Mandriva Linux for the last week or so (preparing to install it on a Classmate and researching prior to my interview with François Bancilhon), I've been impressed with it's apparent ease of use, quick installs, and out-of-the-box feature set. When a student came to me at the beginning of the week with an unlicensed, expiring Vista installation and asked me what to do, I tossed him an Ubuntu CD and sent him on his way.

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As I've been poking around with Mandriva Linux for the last week or so (preparing to install it on a Classmate and researching prior to my interview with François Bancilhon), I've been impressed with it's apparent ease of use, quick installs, and out-of-the-box feature set. When a student came to me at the beginning of the week with an unlicensed, expiring Vista installation and asked me what to do, I tossed him an Ubuntu CD and sent him on his way. Unfortunately, Ubuntu didn't pick up his Atheros wireless chipset and his eyes glazed over when I started talking about NDISwrapper. Since he had nothing to lose except a bit of classtime with me, I burned him a copy of Mandriva 2008. Half an hour later, he was up and running, the wireless functional without any intervention.

Intrigued, I tossed it on one of my kid's computer so that he could play with the eye candy of Compiz Fusion, also functional out of the box. He preferred it to the Fedora 7 installation he had been using and has been tinkering with Compiz plugins happily. Sweet.

Another student needed a computer at home, so I tossed it onto an old PIII I had in my office, disabled Compiz, and sent her home half an hour later with a fully-functional PC.

I think you see the pattern here. Obviously, Linix isn't for everybody, but Mandriva has put together a nice package that installs quickly on a variety of hardware and looks and feels "Windowy" enough to allow for a very easy migration. One snag, though, occurred when I decided to install it on my own laptop (too much experimenting over the last month has left my SUSE install a bit shaky, so I decided it was time for a change): the live CD install never opened into a GUI or even a command line. It just hung at a black screen. I'm sure some extra fiddling could have gotten me on track, but this is all about out-of-the-box usability, right? So I installed Ubuntu 7.10 and lived happily ever after.

The moral of the story is that whether you are using Mandriva, *buntu, SUSE, Fedora, or any of the other mainstream distributions, the level of usability when you first boot the system is far better than the state of the art even 6 months ago. Keep Mandriva in mind, though, for students who need an easy-to-use, snappy machine, regardless of hardware challenges.

Topics: Open Source, Hardware, Processors

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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32 comments
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  • Mandriva / Mandrake

    I have used Mandriva since it was Mandrake 7.1. It is the only Linux distro that is usable out-of-box.

    SUSE is probably the second and the worst is Fedora/RedHad (nothing works without lots of extra work).

    I don't mention Ubuntu because it is UNSTABLE. Being base on crappy GNOME, I can crash it after less than 10 mins of normal usage on bugs I reported over 4 years ago (all closed with "not a normal way of .... User error."). Also, GNOME has the tendency of deleting options/features without warning.
    wackoae
    • Hmmm.........

      I have yet to find a system that failed to load and run RedHat/Fedora. I'm using Fedora 2 on a file server in the office, and have Fedora 7 on several systems at home. No issues at all. I wonder what you may be doing incorrectly?

      The office seems to be settled on Ubuntu for its desktop, but I'm still pushing to use Fedora 8 as soon as I get a copy.
      linux for me
      • Lousy FTP at Mandriva

        I am unable to get a complete DVD ISO, and now unable to download anything, cause it won't close the original session. I bought the Powerpack Download version and have requested a refund.

        If you want Mandriva Powerpack buy the Boxed version!!!

        I have been looking at Kubuntu and 2 things annoy me:

        1: It messes up my system clock.

        2: I can't figure out how to install GRUB into the root partition (I won't let it hijack my System Commander MBR).

        At least i was able to get complete DVD ISOs for Kubuntu X86 and AMD64.

        I wasted $59 at Mandriva for the download version, only to find out that their FTP is lousy.

        I dualboot XP Pro 32 and XP Pro 64, and I don't need something resetting my BIOS clock without my permission.
        cbradshaw@...
        • Lousy FTP at Mandriva

          The only time I've had trouble downloading from Mandriva is during the first week after a release, when every man and his dog is downloading. I usually try to download the Powerpack DVD as soom as it's released, but don't usually have success until week 2, on the other hand I seem to be among a select few at my ISP who always have problems with bandwidth (which can vary from extended periods of 0B to 830KB (8Mb adsl)

          All in all I think Mandriva 2008 is the best, and that combined with Crossover and WINE means I get everything I want.
          tracy anne
      • I got two for you in my house . . . .

        My Laptop will not boot Fedora for ANY reason,and my desktop creeps along for aobut 10 minutes, and then locks up. Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS, and Mandriva run just fine . . .
        JLHenry
  • Atheros? NDISWrapper? NO!!!!!

    You use MadWifi for Atheros chipsets. Nothing but.

    Once you start poking around with the madwifi drivers, you will see that some rather nifty things can be done with that chip.
    Sabz5150
    • Re:Atheros? NDISWrapper? NO!!!!!

      I am the student that the article was about witht he NDISWrapper and we did try the Madwifi first before the NDISWapper and neither me or Chris Dawson ould figure out how to install the Atheros Wireless to work so if you could ever explain it to me it would be great so if i ever had to use it in the future
      jgabrenas@...
      • I'll do my best

        Disclaimer: I come from the Gentoo world, so that means that I am used to emerging all of my packages and watching TV while they build.

        Anyway, you need both the madwifi-ng drivers and the madwifi-ng tools. Depending on your current distro (I am going to assume Mandriva for sake of the article), you just need to get the RPMs for both of these and it should work. The modules should load upon boot, and just about any graphical wireless tool should be able to handle the card. My Toshie has a PCI-E Atheros card in it and I had no issues getting it up to speed.

        As much as we Linux guys hate to admit it, wireless is a big thing that needs to be addressed.
        Sabz5150
  • Good show ol' chap!

    Keep up the good "fight" for it is in the education system with forward thinking people such as yourself, that the further adoption of Linux will take place!

    Guess I will have to pony up and try Mandrake... errr Mandriva out again. Been a few years since I last used it. ]:)
    Linux User 147560
    • I keep saying that to myself too

      I keep saying I've got to try out Mandriva again, and Ubuntu (with no K), and PCLinuxOS, and Fedora, and SUSE, and many others... but I'm just so satisfied with Gentoo for my main OS and Kubuntu w/ LinuxMCE as my media center OS that when it comes time to actually do it, laziness invariably sets in.

      Imagine that... I find it more convenient to compile from source than to try out binary distros.
      Michael Kelly
      • That;s the beauty

        of Linux... you and I and anyone else that decides to take the plunge have a real choice as to how we want it. ]:)
        Linux User 147560
  • PCLinuxOS

    Is another GOOD choice. based on the same Distro, but is entirely CD Bootable. Am thinking about migrating from Slackware to it myself ...
    Linux_4u!
    • Slackware compatibility OK in Puppy Linux

      Version 3.01 of Puppy Linux is meant to be Slackware-compatible. It's a good start for really constrained PCs (no hard disk, for example).
      raffym@...
    • Mandriva One

      ....is a Live CD. It comes in GNOME or KDE flavors and includes all the stuff (proprietary drivers) you need to get up and running out of the box.

      Like many LiveCDs you just click on the installer icon on the desktop to install.
      angrykeyboarder
  • If you like Mandriva you realy should try

    PCLinuxOS. Talk about easy to use and install. I was finally able to get Compiz to work with my ATI onboard Radeon Express 200 chip. The only thing I did not like was that It's a Live CD rather than a DVD so there lots of downloading for the extras as opposed to being on the DVD. In my novice opinion this beats Ubuntu 7.10 hands down for ease of use!
    bka1959
    • PCLinuxOS

      PCLOS is a really great distro based on Mandriva. On the other hand as a Mandriva user, I haven't found anything in PCLOS that I can't already do in Mandriva, so I haven't found a good reason to change.
      tracy anne
    • I can't get over that name..

      "PCLinuxOS".

      I don't know why..

      Anyway, what you just desciribed is the same scenario with Mandriva One. A live CD from which you can install and it "works out of the box".
      angrykeyboarder
  • Mandriva

    I currently run Kubuntu 7.10 on my main machine and Mandriva 2008 on a secondary PC. Both work great and I'm thinking about switching the main box over to Mandriva 2008 because Kubuntu 7.10 seems shaky at times (7.04 ran much smoother actually). I would like to take PCLinuxOS for a spin but from what I understand there is not an x64 version.
    Magikx21
  • Reason Linux fails

    The easy movement between distributions shows why no single distribution can gain sufficiently wide use to lead the home market as Red Hat does in servers. Every post and the article itself shows that desktop Linux will forever belong to hobbyists.

    Markets are not won by the superiority of the software, but by use so widespread that any competitor is a deprivation.

    The other obvious point is that all the applications in use are apparently not so elaborate that they are restricted to one distribution. That's good for the actual conditions, hobbyists skipping from one distribution to another, and bad for desktop Linux as a market for the elaborate software that commands a high price.

    For contrast, an ordinary Windows user or Mac owner lured to Linux is likely to be surprised by having to write-off software investments and absence of the same software on the new Linux distribution.

    When one is market-oriented, reading of the advantages of Linux appears an analysis predicting certain failure.
    Anton Philidor
    • Fails?

      Methinks you have an odd concept of what failure is.

      It almost seems you think that success is ruling the world. Next you'll be saying that Linux is decreasing in usage or something.

      Personally, I'd think GM is far closer to failure than Linux.
      ego.sum.stig