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"We are happy to announce that Mandriva 2011 is out." Some of the main new features in this release include hybrid live/installation DVD images, a revised system installer, new graphics theme, RPM 5, a series of new desktop utilities from Rosa Labs, and KDE as the only officially supported desktop environment: "GNOME, Xfce and other desktop environments and window managers are no longer included in the official Mandriva packages. However, contribution packages from the Mandriva community are available for these desktop environments. Starting from Mandriva 2011 only KDE 4 is officially supported."
Would you recommend the product? no | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 6
Potentially a good distro
but not there yet
"It's Mandriva, Jim, but not as we know it." After a Russian take-over and most of the developers decamping to Mageia, it's here.
The live DVD is probably is slowest you'll ever meet, but you can always install from the menu without having to get a live session. The disk included a script to create a live usb stick which doesn't seem to be documented and which I didn't test. The installer was simple and effective, if slow. It no longer offers any customisation.
Mandriva boots into a heavily customised version of KDE. The standard panel is replaced by one by Rosa, as is the menu. The latter is like having a giant smart phone, and seems rather clumsy. There are no indications of what the programs actually do! You can install a conventional menu, but the button appears inconveniently on the far right of the panel and there's no way of moving it. They evidently assume you'll have a graphics card, for if your computer can't run the cube, there's no pager on the panel and no keyboard shortcuts set to change workspaces.
This is a big distro: it idles at 380MB, compared with 250 for Mepis. But it's not big when it comes to what you get on the disk. If they're going to give you a DVD instead of a CD, then why not fill it up as Fedora does? The repository is ample though, once you guess how to access it: click on "options" and "media manager" in the package installer. It's fast, but indexing is poor: searching for "accounts" and "accounting" did not find Gnucash.
Codecs are installed, but mp4 files played without sound. I haven't checked whether that's a fault with the codec or just with the default video player. Flash is not installed in Firefox, though, and LibreOffice is missing its Java.
Most programs ran from the command line without leaving warnings, although Bash did warn that Okular might crash.
I was surprised at not being able to find a tool to mount a partition, and having to do it manually. Many potential home users will have a Windows partition and shouldn't have to use the command line to get at it.
The new Mandriva is not really up to the standard of the old one, although it's not seriously flawed. But KDE fans will probably prefer Mint or Mepis, and beginners certainly will.