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Installing Mandriva on a Classmate

If only all OS installations were this easy.Since Mandriva has been at the center of a fair amount of controversy over OS choices on the Intel Classmate, I was interested to install their operating system before I had to return the Classmates to Intel.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

If only all OS installations were this easy.

Since Mandriva has been at the center of a fair amount of controversy over OS choices on the Intel Classmate, I was interested to install their operating system before I had to return the Classmates to Intel. Fortunately, I still had the original laptop running Metasys Linux that Intel had supplied; since it had been replaced with a fully functional, bug-free purple laptop, I had a spare that needed a new operating system anyway. Mandriva kindly supplied me with an installation image and I was off and running.

Here's where things got interesting. A few simple commands transferred the image file to a 1GB SD card (under Linux, the commands are built in; Windows requires a quick download before the image can be transferred correctly). Unfortunately, my SD card was bad, then report cards had to go out, and then we ran into grading issues in our SIS; thus, by the time I bought a new card, the process took a few days instead of the 20 minutes it should have taken to create the image on the SD card.

Once I finally made it through my own hardware issues, however, it was a piece of cake to boot the Classmate from the SD card (just hit F12 after POST, select the correct medium, and the installer pops up immediately - See the purple laptop gallery for the location of the SD card). I really should have timed the process once I ran through a brief text-based wizard; the speed and utter lack of user intervention were a system installer's dream. The entire process from boot took about 5 minutes. Within another 2 minutes, I was running a fully functional version of Mandriva 2008.

I'll be posting a gallery of the OS tonight; while the look and feel are similar to most KDE-based distributions, a few tweaks for the small screen make it quite friendly (and snappy for KDE). In particular, floating toolbars giving access to web browsing and productivity software are a nice touch.

What excited me about this more than anything, though, is what this represents in terms of the future of OS installs. As more computers become flash-based, quick installs along these lines will hopefully replace the lengthy processes associated with Windows and many Linux distributions.

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