More Success with Mandriva

More Success with Mandriva

Summary: I spent some time last night getting (or trying to get) the various Linux versions on my main laptop set up for use at my home. I had mixed success, but in the end Mandriva came out clearly on top.


I spent some time last night getting (or trying to get) the various Linux versions on my main laptop set up for use at my home. I had mixed success, but in the end Mandriva came out clearly on top.

- Wireless network connection. I have an 802.11g WPA/PSK network. I was able to get it working on Ubuntu, but that wasn't quite fair - I had already spent a good bit of time figuring that out before with the test laptop. This goes in the category of "it's not difficult, if you already know how to do it". I couldn't figure it out on openSuSE, but I didn't try all that hard either. I looked around, tried a couple of things, and nothing seemed to be leading me to the right place. It was dead easy on Mandriva, and honestly it looked like what I had imagined it should look like after digging around in Ubuntu long enough to actually figure it out. Nice user interface, obvious places to fill in the blanks with the necessary information, and then it came right up. Very nice.

- Lexmark E240 laser printer. This should be simple; its a plain vanilla PCL/PostScript laser printer. I don't expect these operating systems to know every possible printer by name, but I do expect them to offer me a way to choose a "compatible" or "generic" type of printer. Mandriva was the only one which did that; it recognized that it was some sort of Lexmark printer, suggested an alternative since it didn't know the specific model, and then let me go deeper and choose a particular model which I knew was compatible. In the end it just set it up as a PostScript printer, which is all that was necessary.

- Philips SPC900NC webacm. This one broke my heart, it's my favorite camera, and none of the Linux variants could figure it out. Sigh.

- Camera Flash memory cards. The S6510 has a slot for SD/MMC flash memory cards. I only got a chance to test this with Ubuntu, but I was quite pleased with the results. When I inserted an SD card, it put an "SD Flash" icon on my desktop (reducing the chance that I will forget that the card is in there), mounted it and opened a window on it. That's the kind of thing I like to see happen for inexperienced users.

- Various other USB devices. Canon scanner, Brother P-Touch printer, Logitech cordless track ball, etc. At the least, none of these caused any problems. I haven't put any effort into trying to use them under Linux yet. It was interesting to see that Mandriva warned me that the batteries are low in my trackball - nice touch.

The more I work with Mandriva, the more I like it, especially for the specific purpose I am looking for here. I get asked to help with computers by friends and family quite a lot. I would like to have a version of Linux that I can feel comfortable about installing on some of those systems, and be able to tell the owner that they don't need to worry about what it is running, it will simply work as well as, or even better than, the Windows system they are accustomed to.

jw 11/7/2008

Topic: Linux

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • More Success with Mandriva

    Wow, you appear to have comment spam.

    Anyhoo! Can you give me the USB ID for the camera? It's certainly possible you could get it working with a single auxiliary package in Mandriva (and likely in the other distros too). You can get the USB ID by running 'lsusb' as root at a console, or from the Mandriva hardware management tool.
  • More Success with Mandriva

    Hi Adam,

    Hey, I take it all back! I'm sitting here with a big smile on my face - and on my screen! I came up to get the USB info, and noticed (again) that Mandriva seems to at least recognize that the SPC900 is a webcam, because it adds an Ekiga icon to the desktop for it when it is plugged in. I decided that I needed to investigate that a bit more, rather than send you on a wild goose chase and make a fool of myself. Sure enough, it works!

    Apparently I was not getting video previously because I was only testing with Skype. That's not the first Skype bug that I've come across, and it certainly won't be the last.

    Thanks again for reading, commenting and offering to help.


    P.S. Comment spam, it boggles the mind, doesn't it? They generally come slinking in here on the weekend, trying to get their posts to stay up for a couple of days before the ZDNet administrators delete it.
  • More Success with Mandriva

    Mandriva has always been VERY good at hardware detection, in fact the only problem I have encountered with them was on my laptop. Mandriva did not detect my on board, Atheros, wireless internet device. I just downloaded their 2009.1 beta and plan on trying it later today. As for getting help, you will always get assistance from someone on their forums,and more often than not it will come from Adam, or one of the other leaders.
  • More Success with Mandriva

    J.A. - great news :). Just for the record, there are several webcam drivers in Mandriva in DKMS packages; if you have one of the cameras supported by those drivers it won't work until you install the DKMS package (this isn't ideal, I know - I keep bugging the engineers to make this nicer :>). The most common is the gspca driver, which supports several dozen cams, but there's also a couple of others.
  • More Success with Mandriva

    I've pulled the spam comments--thanks for pointing them out. Sorry about that. As Mr. Watson sagely pointed out, these folks do tend to hit us harder at the weekend when we can't get to them quicker. (PS It drives me nuts!)
    Karen Friar