Mandriva 2009 Release Available

Mandriva released their 2009.0 version for download yesterday, and although I have had slightly mixed results with it, they continue to impress me.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor

Mandriva released their 2009.0 version for download yesterday, and although I have had slightly mixed results with it, they continue to impress me. Those guys work hard, and produce good results. You can tell when someone genuinely cares about what they are doing, and the people at Mandriva obviously do.

They offer several versions, tailored to suit different wants and needs. The version which I downloaded was Mandriva One, which is their most complete and easy to install/use version. It includes the most common drivers, packages and plugins. They also offer Mandriva Linux Free, which is a purely free software distribution and does not contain any proprietary drivers or packages. They also have a very original product, Mandriva Flash, which is the Mandriva Linux system on an 8GB USB key. You can plug it in on a running Windows system and use the Mandriva Live system under Windows (a great way to easily see if you are going to like Mandriva Linux), or you can install Mandriva on your PC from the flash drive. Last, but certainly not least, they offer the Power Pack edition, which is the Mandriva One distribution plus a lot more, such as media player software, games, other packages, and special support from Mandriva.

With the 2009 version Mandriva has gotten considerably aggressive in including the latest versions of most things. In the past they have been rather conservative, saying that they wanted to be sure that everything they included was stable and functioning properly. I'm guessing that they have increased confidence in their testing and integration, because this release contains:

- Linux kernel 2.6.27

- KDE 4.1.2 (and KDE 3.5.10 for those who prefer KDE 3)

- Gnome 2.24

- LXDE (Lightweight desktop, suited for netbooks)

- Firefox 3.0.3

- OpenOffice.org 3

I find that last one, OpenOffice 3, to be especially pleasing, and particularly indicative of how brave the people at Mandriva have gotten. Although it is a very significant step forward from OpenOffice 2.4, the official release of OpenOffice 3 isn't until next week, so they are obviously including one of the RC releases, which I'm confident they will update soon after the final release is available.

They have also included FBReader, which is an e-book reader and might be particularly interesting for people who carry netbooks with them all the time, and Google Gadgets for Linux, which will handle gadgets for the Google Desktop for Windows and Universal Gadgets.

In addition to all of this updated software, they say that they have made improvements in their installer, and reduced the boot time.

Whew! That's a lot of changes, updates and improvements - they have obviously been very busy for the past six months, since 2008.1 was released! So, how did I do with the 2009 release? Well, as I said, I had slightly mixed results...

On my Fujitsu Lifebook S6510 (Intel Core2 Duo), the KDE version installed just fine, and seems to work very well. The first thing that I noticed was that they seem to have solved the problem that 2008.1 had with the laptop and external display; it comes up at a resolution of 1280x1024, which is exactly right for the external display, and the two displays are mirrored (I call it overlaid) with their top right corners aligned and the portion of the desktop beyond the resolution of the laptop display is simply clipped. What all this means is that when I am using the laptop on the port replicator, I can simply close the lid and work with the external display, which is just what I wanted to do.

However, I am useless with the KDE desktop, I have tried it several times and just couldn't get along with it. So I haven't tried to do much more with it, I'm going to reload with the Mandriva Gnome version first. I will report more thoroughly after I do that.

On my older laptop, a Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook S2110 (AMD Turion 64, ATI Radeon 200), I couldn't get the Mandriva One KDE version to boot. it seemed to get about two thirds of the way through, and then just hung. I suspect that the problem is the ATI display adapter, it is known for being rather "Linux-unfriendly". While I was trying to get that booted, I had also downloaded the Mandriva Gnome CD, intending to reload the S6510 with that. So I tried that in the S2110, and the results were a bit better. It comes part way up, complains about not being able to find a supported display adapter, and offers to take me through an adapter selection procedure. I did that, it found the ATI adapter and set it up ok, and then the boot and installation continued and competed properly.

So, I now have Mandriva One 2009 Gnome running on the older laptop, and so far at least superficially, I like it. The graphics are very nice, and everything that I have tried so far works. I'm still in the process of setting up my usual tools and working environment, though.

Once I get the Gnome version loaded on my S6510, and I get it set up and work with it for a bit, I'll make a more complete report.

jw 10/10/2008

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