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Apr
4

Mageia 2 Beta 2 Review

by Rob Zwetsloot

Mageia is nearly in its second iteration, and the Mandriva fork has gone a long way to establish its own identity while retaining the best bits

The original Mageia was released less than a year ago, in June 2011, but in that short time its popularity has exploded. Breaking into the top ten on DistroWatch is no easy feat, especially when it’s placed higher than the OS it’s based on, Mandriva. The team are now ramping up for their second release in May with a second and final beta of Mageia 2.

Mageia 2 Beta 2
The control centre offers tremendous control for a GUI

On paper there are updates across the board. Core changes like upgrading the kernel to version 3.3, and including GNOME 3 as an option during installation are joined by updates to all the default packages to the latest versions. This is all standard stuff of course, but it’s always nice to have the newest versions available from the word go.

Aesthetically there’s a lot of changes to the basic theme in Mageia, with the neon turquoise colours of old replaced with more subtle shades of blue that help it look a lot more professional and classy. There generally seems to be a lot of these small design changes throughout the OS, with a clear focus on polish making it a lot more presentable.

The whole design philosophy behind Mageia is usability of Linux for everyone. And while that’s pretty much a cliché in itself these days, the way the team pull it off is quite unique to this OS and its Mandriva base. The amount of control users are given in the UI is astonishing, starting with the highly customisable installer. Based on the Mandriva installer with the teams own additions, users can install a completely personalised system, with any number or variety of display environments and package types, along with incredibly advanced network and security settings.

Mageia 2 Beta 2
One of the best graphical installers we’ve encountered

It’s all presented very clearly, with basic options for each stage and an advanced option for those that know exactly what they’re doing. This is also carried over into the OS, with the repurposed Mageia Control Centre giving access to a lot of these settings to customise and tweak down the line. It’s very smart, and well suited to more advanced users who understand the difference between GDM and KDM, but would rather click a button than sudo the change.

Unfortunately while there is definitely a lot right with the beta, there is a pretty serious issue with package management. Mageia comes with RPM, and rpmdrake is used as a graphical interface for it. The problem is, rpmdrake is affecting the package database, causing problems for updates and installs from the terminal or UI. There is a general work around for this on the Mageia forums at the time of writing, but it’s not ideal, nor a permanent solution. Obviously, this is beta for a reason, so bugs can be ironed out before release candidates and stable releases.

Mageia 2 Beta 2 GNOME LXDE KDE XFCE
You can add many popular DEs during installation

When it does work, there are a lot of packages to choose from outside of the numerous pre-installed with the OS. While it’s maybe not as pretty as something like the Ubuntu Software Centre, it’s practical and to the point, with plenty of filtering options to find the exact package you need, or alternatives.

It is unfortunate that an otherwise really great Beta is hampered by a small issue that could ruin the experience. It can be easily spun into a positive though – as the rest of the OS is so well put together, if this simple issue can be fixed it will be a stunning release well worth looking forward to.

Verdict: 4/5

A superb early look at what is sure to be a fantastic OS, however system wide issues related to the package manager highlight the reason these things go into beta. Still, it’s very promising, with plenty of polish over Mageia 1, and a clear focus on usability for every user skill level that doesn’t patronise

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    • Johan

      It is as annoying to read the ever present comparison to some I* product, when reading about some Android product. The ever present “how does it compare to Ubuntu” crap is the same when reading any non-Ubuntu review.
      Like all thing Linux we have a choice, and we do not have to listen “but Ubuntu does it better” crap.
      Sorry, you lost my interest the moment I spotted the Ubuntu word! Can we not ever have an honest review without “that” word?

    • suchindran

      @johan: reviewers are not infallible people, and reviews are not reviews without comparisons. you dislike it, it’s your choice, so please say so politely, instead of being offensive.

      i find it by and far a decent review. and by the way wonder where android would be if not for linux. cs

    • Gerard

      I was looking for a Mandriva replacement and was expecting this to be at least as stable as Mandriva 2011 but I got so many crashes that I gave-up on it.
      Working at 1366×768 most crashes were related to the Intel graphics driver so I kept ending-up with a frozen blue or black screen.
      It takes ages to boot and far far too long to install (well over an hour and a half) compared with most other distributions which are installed in 10 to 15 minutes on the same hardware.
      It may be just me but I wasn’t able to minimise the bottom panel which is normally very easy to do on most distributions – this is very annoying.
      I may give it a try again sometime in the future if they resolve all the issues.

    • KTP

      Tried this, and it failed badly. It also seriously messed up my software raid which had another OS on it (this was even before messing with partition during the installer, it only asked to load the raid driver at this point). The installation was painfully slow (one could think you are installing windows!), and when it finally did finish, I only got a garbled screen in X (assuming failed ATI driver install or such).

      The installer didn’t properly adjust the resolution so it looked pretty bad. The process itself was fair enough, and I might give it another try if they improve this build.

    • KTP

      “A superb early look at what is sure to be a fantastic OS”

      Correction: Mageia isn’t an operating system, Linux is (and we already know that is fantastic). Mageia may be a “fantastic distribution” (perhaps ..sometime).

    • DiBosco

      This thing about Madriva/Mageia’s package manager being inferior to Ubuntu’s absolutely mystifies me. I’ve been using Mandriva and now Mageia since 2001 and it works beautifully; having also tried Ubuntu I utterly refute that Ubuntu’s is better or prettier, that’s total nonsense.

      The fact this release doesn’t come to scratch should come as no big surprise as it’s a beta for goodness’ sake.

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    • Blah Moe

      More garbage.

    • Scooter Rooter

      I agree. I could watch my toenails grow – while waiting for this install to finish. I have gotten this thing to boot once. And that was not in a dual boot situation… Try at your own risk. No where near what Fedora, SuSE, Ubuntu, and several others are.

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    • Mandrake

      most of you don’t know how to use Mandriva and Mageia..

    • mike

      I tried the latest beta 64 bit KDE LiveCD in VMware player and found this latest release to be quite impressive. I experienced none of the probems mentioned above. The package manager seems to work fine (as far as I could tell). This “Flavor” of Linux has always been my favorite, taking into account the Mandrake roots. While I use and support Redhat and Fedora at work (along with Windows too), I will probably run this distro along with Mint 12 at home. If Gnome 3 wasn’t such an unusable disaster, I might even take a look at the Gnome version….but I will probably wait until someone ports Cinnamon first.