Mandriva has released a new distribution, which they are calling 2010.2. From the look of it, it seems to me that this is their attempt to show some signs of life, and convince the world that they are not dead or dying. Whether that works, and indeed whether they really are dead or dying, remains to be seen. Based on what is said in the Release Notes, I would term this a "rollup release", such as is made by rolling distributions; all it really does is incorporate all the updates made since their last distribution release into a new ISO image. Considering how long it has been since the 2010.1 release, this is a useful thing to do.
Anyway, I have installed the new release on three of my laptop/netbook systems, with very mixed results:
- HP 2133 Mini-Note: Who would have expected that this system would have the best results of the first batch of tests? Installation was easy, and everything seems to work - including the pain-in-the-rear Broadcom 4312 WiFi adapter and the almost-as-painful VIA Chrome9 display adatper. There was one small hitch, caused by Mandriva trying to create an xorg.conf file on the fly and getting the resolution wrong - the display came up at 800x600 resolution. All you need to do is delete /etc/X11/xorg.conf (or rename it if you are the conservative type), and then either logout or reboot. The display will come up at 1024x600, as it should, and all is well with the world.
- Lenovo S10-3s: Mandriva doesn't recognize the touchpad on this system at all - not even for cursor movement, much less mouse buttons or tapping. Nothing. So I had to use a USB mouse to do the installation - not a big deal, as long as you have one handy. I've had plenty of problems with the silly touchpad/buttons on the Lenovo with other distributions, but I don't recall any other being quite this bad and not even moving the cursor. Sigh. Other than that, there were no installation problems, Mandriva even got the display resolution correct (1280x720) when it created the xorg.conf file, so you can leave that in place if you want. The system works just as well without it, so I always delete it to avoid confusion, but it's up to you in this case. However, after installing and rebooting I found that it also didn't recognize the Broadcom 4313 WiFi adapter - again, no surprise, that has been a pain with a lot of other distributions.
- HP Pavillion dv2-1010ez: I expected this one to be the easiest, and it turned out to be the biggest pain of the three. Once again, the problem was the display (an ATI Radeon HD 3400). This time Mandriva got it so wrong that the LiveUSB wouldn't even boot properly, it just kept coming up to a blank screen and hanging. I finally found that if I boot the LiveUSB to single user mode (just press F4 and add single to the boot command), then delete or rename the xorg.conf file, and then let the startup continue by entering "init 5", it would then install with no problem. Ugh. Sorry that's so ugly... Once I got the installation to run, everything worked ok. The display uses the FOSS "ati/radeon" driver, which seems to have rather poor performance on this laptop, but at least it works. I tried to get it to use the proprietary fglrx driver, but it just kept hanging with a black screen again, so I gave up. Otherwise things seemed to work fine - Atheros WiFi ok, touchpad, buttons and tapping ok, and so on.
I am also surprised and a bit disappointed at the age of a lot of the packages in this distribution. The Linux kernel is still 2.6.33, while Ubuntu and Fedora are at 2.6.35, openSuSE 11.3 (which is pretty old already) has 2.6.34, and the new openSuSE 11.4 Milestones have 2.6.37. Likewise, the KDE packages in Mandriva are 4.4.3, while most everyone else has already gone to 4.5.x. I'm sure that all of this will be taken care of in the next "real" Mandriva release, which I believe is due in the Spring, but for now it just makes the experienced Mandriva users miss what would have been expected to be the 2011.0 release, with lots of updates.