Mandriva Spring 2009 Released

Mandriva made their 2009 Spring Release yesterday, and what a beauty it is. I have loaded it on all four of my laptops and netbooks (Lifebook S6510, Lifebook S2110, HP 2133 WXGA, HP 2133 WSVGA), and I am quite impressed.

Mandriva made their 2009 Spring Release yesterday, and what a beauty it is. I have loaded it on all four of my laptops and netbooks (Lifebook S6510, Lifebook S2110, HP 2133 WXGA, HP 2133 WSVGA), and I am quite impressed.

Congratulations are in order:

First, for hitting the planned release date - they seemed to have a problem hitting the planned pre-release dates, as they were consistently anywhere from one to several days late. But they hit this one - well done!

Second, for fixing a number of significant problems between the Release Candidate and the final release. I haven't said much about Mandriva 2009.1, although I have been trying most of the pre-releases, because I had significant problems loading it on ALL of my systems - and I don't think it is fair to write what could be considered negative blogging about what is clearly released as a test version. But much to my surprise and pleasure, it appears that they have fixed all of those problems in the final release. Loading it on all four of my systems was absolutely routine, no special antics, secret boot flags or other manipulation was necessary. That is particularly impressive when you consider that two of them are netbooks with VIA Chrome 9 video chips and very small screens, and another one has an ATI video chip which had been a problem for the Mandriva distribution even in the 2009.0 version - but no more!

Third, for producing an all-around good, solid release. I have only been using this release a day or so, but I have been using (and struggling with) Mandriva for quite some time, so I have a pretty good idea where trouble has been lurking, at least on my systems, and so far it looks much, much better than any of their previous releases. I've always felt like Mandriva should be a better distribution that it actually seemed to me, and this time I think it is much more what I have been expecting.

Ok, a few details about the release (complete information is on the product page, of course):

- Faster boot. I haven't made specific timings yet, but although this release clearly boots faster than the previous Mandriva release, it doesn't boot as fast as Ubuntu 9.04 does.

- netbook support. As I said, it installed with absolutely no problems on both of my HP 2133 Mini-Notes. I assume that it is at least as good, or even better, on "typical" Intel Atom based netbooks.

- On my systems, everything works. Everything. Intel, ATI and VIA Chrome 9 display controllers (with various displays at 1280x1024, 1280x800, 1024x768, 1280x768 and 1024x600), Marvell and Broadcom ethernet adapters, Atheros and Broadcom WiFi controllers, sound on all four systems... all without having to download, install, configure or otherwise fiddle with anything.

- ext4 file system. Full support, including boot from ext4.

- KDE 4.2.2. Although I am not a KDE fan, I generally load the KDE version of Mandriva as my "reference" for that desktop. KDE has taken a lot of criticism since the 4.0 release, but it does seem to be getting better with every update, and this one is no exception.

- OpenOffice 3.0.1. This is no surprise, Mandriva actually went to OpenOffice 3.0 with their previous release.

- Firefox 3. The surprise here is that it is still 3.0.8, they haven't updated to the latest (3.0.10) release yet, but I assume that is because they have been busy getting their release out the door, and the updates will come along quickly.

Lots more, of course, that I haven't seen or thought about in the first day working with it.

If you're already a Mandriva user, you are going to be really pleased with this release. If you haven't tried it before, of if you tried and didn't care for it for some reason, this would be a good time to give it another look.

jw 30/4/2009