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Mageia 2 Review – Pure Magic

by Rob Zwetsloot

Can Mageia dazzle the world stage once again, or has it run out of tricks?

Mageia has been pretty popular ever since its original release last year. While all Linux distributions give you more choice than any other operating system, Mageia was one of the few distros that has a lot of these choices upfront. This is partly due to it being an offshoot of Mandriva, however the team at Mageia have taken it noticeably further.

Straight off the bat, the Mageia 2 installer offers a huge amount of options, features, and customisation that allows you to build up your system your own way. With the ability to choose any or all of the included desktop environments, add extra package sources, and even advanced network set-up. Obviously as well you get custom install partitioning and user name creation that other installers come with. Even if you’re not the sort of intermediate or more advanced user that would completely understand all the available options, the default selections will suffice for more novice folks.

Mageia 2 Review - Pure Magic
There’s a huge amount of available customisation during install

By default, Mageia recommends their slightly modified version of KDE 4 to be used as a Desktop Environment. The main theme doesn’t include the file pane on the desktop, and some of the effects are toned down, probably in the interest of conserving resources.

Of course, if you want to add more Desktop Environments at a later date, you can grab them from the package manager. When we previously saw a Beta for Mageia 2, the package manager was broken – the graphical manager interfered with the even command line operations, rendering it almost useless. As that was broken, no patch or update could be sent to it. Thankfully, that issue has now been resolved, and the package manager now sort of works.

Mageia 2 Review - Pure Magic
An older repository bug still rears its head

Unfortunately, it’s still hampered by a small issue that has affected Mageia and Mandriva for a while now – it sometimes searches for the install disc, which you’ve probably already removed. If this can’t be found, it won’t switch to checking on an online repository for the same package. This is fairly easily fixed by turning it off in the sources list, however it really shouldn’t be something that ever happens. Sure, it’s nice that if you don’t have the internet handy, some of the packages can be added after a fresh install. However, when it negatively affects the use of the distro the rest of the time, it should be handled better.

Otherwise, the package selection is generally quite good. A lot of the packages have been updated to the very latest version, with GIMP 2.8 just sneaking in there. One small surprise though is Firefox. It’s the default browser in Mageia, which is fairly normal of course, however Mageia has now switched to the Extended Support Release. Firefox ESR is the version designed for Enterprise and other users that don’t wish to be on the 6-weekly update cycle.

Mageia 2 Review - Pure Magic
The control centre gives you total control

With the weird repository bug and ugly package manager aside, the rest of Mageia is great. To keep the theme of choice going once the system is installed, Mageia comes with the Mageia Control Centre – an all encompassing graphical interface that gives you complete control over a lot of the core of the system. Boot options, updates, sources, hard drive partitions, and much more. Using Mageia is generally great, as not only do you always have a completely customised and personalised experience, there’s no price to stability from it.



Linux is all about choice, and Mageia is all about putting this choice upfront to the user. With no allegiances to any particular Desktop or packages, Mageia is a wonderfully customisable operating system that you can mold to your exact liking. As long as you fix the minor repository bug first

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    • Other screenshots of Mageia 2 KDE here:

    • Steve

      I’ve tested on USB and i must to say that is great… yes ¡¡ 5 stars, of course… Best regards.

    • Dan

      I found Mageia 2 (kde) to be promising, easy to read, but a bit slow. Installing and updates took quite a while, to many restarts (almost thought I was using ms, lol) I would also like to see more apps. It seems very stable and easy to use though. Running on an intel dual quad, 8gb mem, xfx 6870 video, should be enough horse power for most distros…

    • ddalley

      It took about 8-10 hours to install on a reasonably fast USB mem-stick. I let the installer run while I slept. Updating after installing also took lots of time. This is not my normal USB experience, but I have seen it a few times with different distros.

    • I’d gladly install and use Mageia 2 as my main OS if they had an LTS version. Just tired of having to do a fresh install every 6 months.

    • Gerard

      I have had to change to Chromium as Chrome displays all the above required boxes on top of each other. There are just so many problems with Chrome since version 18!!!!

      I have Intel hda audio and there is no way I can get Mageia2 to produce sound via headphones.
      Every time I reboot I have to change the audio setting to get sound via speakers.
      No one on their forum seems to have a solution,
      Apart from that and so few applications in repositories I really like Mageia

    • David

      If there are applications you would like to see in the repositories that aren’t there, please file a bug at The developers don’t know that people want something packaged if nobody asks for it.

    • TanKe

      My experience was not that smooth. I use multiple partition disk and distros and mageia keeps using GRUB 1x…this is not acceptable.
      I get an error trying to access any distros home partition.
      Firefox 10 exetended support? am i a business? no… i want the latest and there in no firefox 12 in the repos.

    • coolguard

      Installed Mageia 2 on IBM Thinkpad R40 (modified with 512 MB ram).
      Glad to see that Mageia supports this old non-PAE machine! Even with KDE it worked for me.

      The main problem was that I could not install Huawei NDIS network driver, which was necessary for my only chance for the internet connection through Huawei 3G mobile modem.

      bash install

      But it gives error something like
      “All compiling environment not ready: please check if GCC, MAKE and KERNEL BUID installed”
      Then after some googling tried:

      urpmi gcc make

      returned that thay are already installed!

      I am not a linux guru. That was my experience. I liked Mageia but not without internet.
      Note: This driver worked in Xubuntu without any problem.

    • Kevin

      I have installed mageia 2 a couple of times, both since its final release and during its Beta. My first impression was good, but a huge downer was that it has no optional support for Grub 2. In other words, as i tend to multiboot a couple or few Linux Distros, I can have one distro installed with Grub2 on my mbr, then go an install Mageia and install Grub legacy to the root partition. Normally, with other distros, all then you need to do is go into the first system and run update-grub (make sure you have os-prober) and Grub2 will pick up Mageia’s Grub legacy. Then if you reboot though and select Mageia, I always get a kernel panic saying the vga=791 (or whatever it is) is deprecated. Now I know there is a remedy to that but why bother? It is the only distro that ever does this. As new as Mageia 2 is, they should offer the Grub2 as optional in the installer.

      Also, what is up the application launcher just being in “Classic style” with no option to switch to the “kickoff style” instead? Now while it may be possible to tweak settings to make it so you can do this, again why bother? A novice would easily be frustrated at this point.

      I might as well just use Mageia 1 really. Its all the same and has better repositories and apps to choose from.

      2/5 rating :(

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    • Sam

      Contrary to most of the responses here, I’ve had no problems whatsoever with Mageia 2 (other than spelling it). This is surprising as I’m running a piece of Chinese crap called a lenovo g560 (Intel i3, alps touchpad, bc43xx wireless, intell hda graphics). My linux installs are pretty gis and statistics software intensive and have run into problems with a lot of recent distro releases (Ubuntu failed to upgrade from 11.10 to 12.04, no QGIS in repos (a major deal breaker), Fedora 17 won’t boot, CentOS/Scientific Linux/Red Hat all fail to work with the craptastic ALPS touchpad, and on and on). Everything “Just works” with Mageia 2.

      As for Scott’s comment: “Also, what is up the application launcher just being in “Classic style” with no option to switch to the “kickoff style” instead? Now while it may be possible to tweak settings to make it so you can do this, again why bother? A novice would easily be frustrated at this point.”

      Considering a lot of people (myself included) have no love for KDE’s kickoff menu, not having it as default is a bit of a plus. As for changing to kickoff in Mageia, I’m afraid a “novice” would be lost in any KDE 4.x desktop as the way to do this is the same across the board – right click the K start menu and select “kickoff.”

    • Donald ‘schultz’ Stewart

      Kevin – the application launcher could, and I assume still can be changed by right clicking on it and selecting kickoff style. However, the widgets must be unlocked to do this.

      As for the Repo having less in it, I find that very hard to believe, as there have been many packages added since Mga 1 was released, and the ones that have been removed were either dead or unmaintainable.

    • Chris

      My biggest beef with Mageia is their .iso size. I tried Mageia 2 during beta, but I didn’t want to download the 3.4GB .iso for a beta release, so I downloaded the much more manageable dualarch CD, which comes with the LXDE desktop. It seemed nice, but I was not happy to see that the dualarch came with NO package manager. I know, they were trying to fit it onto a CD, but that’s ridiculous. I wonder if that’s been fixed, I haven’t bothered checking. I also haven’t bothered downloading the DVD .iso because it will take several hours on my internet connection.

      I really wish they’d do what Mandriva used to do (I don’t know if they still do) and offer separate .iso images with different desktops and the optional big .iso. They don’t have to be as small as a CD, because that’s very hard to do with a modern OS, but they could at least be around 1GB or so. I’d be happy to download one of those.

    • Barnabyh

      @kevin Anybody liking the Kickoff style of menu would actually be even better served with the Lancelot widget. Choices, choices, you can’t satisfy everybody. But, as already pointed out, you need to unlock widgets first.

      @Chris Several live CD’s to choose from would indeed be nice.

    • Frank

      Several live CD’s do exist: Sometimes it helps to click on the ‘downloads’ link to find them.

      If changing to the Kickoff menu is too difficult for you I hear then I hear the featureless Gnome works quite well on Mageia. There are few options which could confuse you with using KDE, some of us call it freedom.

      There are more applications available in this release than in the first. The comment about having less packages than the first release is unfounded. As the distribution gets older and as more packagers join the distribution the available packages will increase. If you really need more then you can add any of the third party repositories which are listed in the Wiki. Blogdrake appears to be the most popular.

      Grub 2 is slated to be in the next release. Not having Grub 2 is quite acceptable for a number of users. I personally do not look forward to its inclusion.

      I personally think the package management works just fine. I don’t think it is really all that ‘ugly’. It is faster than OpenSuse’s Yast and is more functional than Apper, which Fedora uses. I haven’t used Ubuntu in quite some time so I can’t compare it to that in any way.

      Overall Mageia works quite well. I don’t personally have any issues switching between distributions. They are all so closely related that the only thing I look for is stability. Over the last few years most have been fairly stable with only a few minor issues.

    • I am impressed the way Mageia development is going on, its a new distro offer you lot I think its a big shock for mandriva, I tried it no crashes in 7 days its good

    • Sid

      I have tried Mageia 2 and it works like a charm. No problems whatsoever on two systems I installed. Love it!

    • Anonymous

      I tested it out yesterday and it was very slow for me. Compared to fedora 17, ubuntu 12.04, arch, as well as opensuse 12.1, it took about three times as long to start up. It also had a lag on starting the kde splash screen as well as shutting down the computer( it took about a minute to shutdown, no joke).

    • Andrew Greig

      For me, the best part of Mandriva was the PowerPack. Pay a few bucks and you get the Hamburger with “the lot”. Flash, Adobe Reader, etc. Everything just worked, so is there a paid “Plus” type version for Mageia?

      Secondly the other “best thing” about Mandriva was the availability of, this made configuring the repositories a doddle, and also set the Repo at Penguin Liberation Front – libdvdcss and other codecs. Then when the DVD sources were deselected in the Package Sources Tool, you had everything you needed on line. Is there a similar tool for mageia?

    • Daniel Richard

      I have been a long-time user of Mandriva and thought I would give this new distro a try. After about 2 weeks of struggling, I am back to Mandriva 2010.2.

      Maybe it’s just me and the clunky hardware I have (relatively new Gateway 2.6GHz Dual Processor, 8GRAM), but I had trouble burning the DVD – I checked the md5sum, tired 4 different DVD’s, 2 different DVD recorders, and 3 recording programs. Finally, I resorted to re-installing Mandriva 2010.2 and then doing the online upgrade.

      Even that had problems, though. When it completed (with no errors), I could not access the Control Center (the icon was there, but no app. Trying to run it from the command line resulted in a list of missing files). It came with openfwwf, which I think is supposed to be the generic firmware for the Broadcom B43 wireless I have, but I never could get it to recognize the hardware, or, if it did, it only connected for a second or two, then dropped out and had to re-connect).

      Please don’t take this as harsh critisism. I think Mageia has great potential and I like some of the ideas that I heard discussed on their sites. I think it is still just crawling & needs a lot of support before it will be able to walk on its own.

    • Frank

      @Andrew – No, you don’t need the paid Powerpack style for Mageia. libdvdcss and flash are all in the repositories. Just start up the Control Panel and configure sources. Just add the sources with the button, select the ones you want, and install away.

      I don’t think adobe acrobat is in the repositories but I haven’t used that in years.

    • Agree with the title of the article: Mageia 2 is pure magic.
      The team which took s&&&t out of Mandriva is fantastic.

      My look at Mageia 2 KDE:

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    • davos

      I upgraded from Mageia 1 to Mageia 2 and my wireless driver vanished, and _nothing_ I do can get the broadcom driver back…. not a native driver, not even NDIS………

    • Jason

      No problems with Mageia here, running on two of the most different laptops I could imagine.

      Definite 5 star release.

      I do wish they would update to Calligra 2.5 though.

    • Digigold

      My favorite Desktop distro. I’m a Linux Systems Admin, and I use this as my sole OS on my main home laptop. I actually use the the pre-alpha rolling version of 3 AKA Cauldron. There is a reason it is ranked #2 on distrowatch above #3 Ubuntu! If you don’t even try Mageia you’re doing yourself a gross injustice!

    • matfx

      Just installed it on my home desktop pc. To my surprise it is fast and stable. Their repository filled with tons of softwares, just edit the source list and you are good to go.

    • Tek Heretik

      Sorry, but it’s ugly, I have a prettier version, more package selection and 5 year support…Kubuntu 12.04, been using it since April and hasn’t let me down yet. Also, I have my repository set to retrieve from the Computer Science Department of a local university, 2.9MB (yes, megaBYTES) a second (I could pay for faster but this is affordable right now), a whole whack of updates takes about a minute, that includes downloading and post download hard drive work. I know Mandrake/Mandriva/Magia have been ground breakers in certain areas, but that is just not good enough in this demanding world.

    • Tek Heretik

      I just live tested Mageia 3 (alpha 2), it didn’t ‘see’ my 4 HDD Raid 0 like Kubuntu did (running the live DVD, and I installed Kubuntu to) even though it said dmraid was running in live Mageia, told me I had to configure device mapper, etc, etc. This won’t be going on my soon to be built new machine (2 SSD Raid 0->1.1GB/s read/write), I don’t need the headaches, even WinDOHS! does this automatically, the Raid controller I have now is aging (ICH10R), this shouldn’t be an issue. Sorry, not impressed.

    • Gabriel Davis

      This is the ONLY distro I have not been able to install. I know it has something to do with my graphics card but I have no problems with other distros including installing drivers. I can only boot in a “Safe mode” desktop any other way it totally hangs. I just went back to what I was using before. Good old reliable minty.

    • Oscar alias xpenguin

      Are here ONLY KDE lovers? Nobody wrote about the Alacarte bug: “no module named gmenu”. 3 desktops are unusable because the menus are not editable. But why should be interesting the KDE fans for the rest of the world?…

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    • Bernard Victor

      After having some problems with Kubuntu, I tried Mint KDE and Netrunner and even Kubuntu 12.2 but all of these kept falling over, so I thought I’d try either Suse or Mageila. Decided on Mageia, and so far am very satisfied. I do not use wireless so no problems there. It installed all the printer drivers when I went to install printers and recognised my HP Deskjet 3050A and old Epson EPL 5700 without any problems. Also set up scanner. Nice neat decktop, and easy to get a selection of backgrounds.

      Only complaints are it seems to be difficult to install Spotify for Linux, and Homerun application loader.

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    • Scott

      Nice looking – but I simply CAN’T get the wireless connection working. I have no problem getting Mint, Ubuntu, Manjaro, Debian, SUSE – to work. WHY WHY WHY …..

    • chrisw

      This is a new distro, and it shows. I to had the wireless problem, I can’t get the wireless working because I need internet to get a missing driver LOL (catch 22 anyone) wireless is one thing that has to BE ON THE CD (free or not) anyway I think by version 5 this will be a killer distro. A word of advice to installers use a hard wired (old school cat 5 cable) internet connection. DO NOT install using just a wireless connection, just in case. This may save you a headache later on. As normal with linux / unix your results may differ.

    • R Foreman

      I’m trying out about a dozen linuxes in VirtualBox on a recent model high-end desktop, and Mageia represents the RedHat line. Not overly impressed with the Mageia install, as the mouse gets flakey; works ok if I just leave the mouse alone until it finishes (I don’t experience that mouse problem on any other Linux variety). After install the software update seems to take forever; I’m at about an hour now, and I think I’m downloading the entire internet, but I’m fairly sure I will never need any updates again ever, in my life.

      Mageia3 is in beta4 right now; looking forward to trying that out, maybe after final release. As for the RedHat line, I tried CentOS but it’s so server-centric that you can’t do much desktop work with it; I’m also looking at Fusion, but it hasn’t had any updates in 2+ years now. Mageia is so popular on the distro list right now I just had to try it, and I think Mageia3 will probably be better still, if crowd-sourcing is any indication.

      After performing the software update, then after I found and added the kernel update package associated with my kernel, the VBoxGuest installed worked pretty easily.

      Lots of user-interface control/configurability, and the system seems pretty stable.