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Mageia 4 Review – release the candidate

by Rob Zwetsloot

Mageia’s releases is becoming quite the event. How is Mageia 4 version going to differentiate itself from the already fantastic Mageia 3?

Mageia 4 is nearly here, so we decided to look at Mageia 4 RC in preparation. It’s always such a long time between each Mageia release that it causes genuine surprise when we come back to it for review. Often when using and reviewing distros, there’s always some problem that comes with the better qualities. We either learn to work around them if it’s a distro we’re using day-to-day, or give up altogether. It’s very rarely that we come across a distro that we find such a pleasure to use – something we’re not looking for in any operating systems, let alone a Linux distro. However, Mageia is one of those distros we always find ourselves enjoying when we use it.

Admittedly, enjoyment on a level such as this is extremely subjective. Mageia is very considerate of the user. Modifications and additions to the desktops and the default software are all done to make using the distro more convenient. While Linux is and always has been about choice, Mageia does a great job of revealing these choices to the user upfront. This all starts with the installation.

Choose your ISO

There’s a lot of choice before you even start installing Mageia, with multiple disc images to choose from. There’s the standard selection of desktop environment specific ISOs, ranging from KDE and LXDE to newcomers Cinnamon and MATE. If you have one of these desktops in mind for your PC and plan to do your own special modifications post install, then you won’t need to look much further. Otherwise, if you want to see what Mageia has to offer you can choose the complete DVD. This includes a number of changes you can make during install: selecting themed groups of packages, different desktop environments and even individual package selection.

The full installer on the DVD versions gives you complete control over what you install during the initial setup phase
The full installer on the DVD versions gives you complete control over what you install during the initial setup phase

Installation on any of the versions of Mageia has always been fairly flawless, and Mageia 4 is no different. It’s quick, and does enough to guide through more novice users without being patronising for the veterans. The kind of extra options on the full DVD aren’t offered with distros very often, so it’s nice to see that as a way to install Mageia exactly as you wish.

Like magic

After installation is all finished you’ll be greeted with one of the major new aesthetic additions to Mageia. MageiaWelcome is the new welcome screen for the distro that helps everyone get started with their freshly installed OS. With a few initial set-up options included in the screens that make up MageiaWelcome, it’s useful for people new to Linux and veterans that want to get the initial wave of updates and app installation done quickly. It’s informative, useful and just the kind of thing we’re talking about when we say Mageia is considerate of its users.

The other major feature that helps Mageia maintain this level of user-friendliness is the excellent Mageia Control Centre. Everything you need to control or modify Mageia is kept in here: software installing, package updating, boot menu editing, hard drive partitioning, network configuring and so much more. It’s neatly labelled with tabs that allow you to jump exactly where you need to go. Each tab itself contains only a few options so that you’re not constantly scrolling up and down to find the setting you wish to use.

The new MageiaWelcome can help novices and veterans get to grips with the distro
The new MageiaWelcome can help novices and veterans get to grips with the distro

Using the rest of Mageia is as easy as you’d want it to be. The only problem that you might encounter is that installing with a DVD means you’ll need to update the software sources to only search online repositories when installing software. This has been a problem since the very beginning for Mageia, although is now only limited to the DVD version. At the very least you can perform the first major update without needing to worry about it.

Desktop choice

The implementations of the new desktops are done well, better than they were throughout the beta. The Mageia theme has been properly applied to Cinnamon and MATE, making them familiar to those that use the desktops otherwise. The login manager to get between them could be a little better though, however it’s functional and not something you’ll be seeing very often.

The new desktop environments are implemented well into Mageia, with not that much done to Cinnamon or Mageia to keep them familiar
The new desktop environments are implemented well into Mageia, with not that much done to Cinnamon or Mageia to keep them familiar

So overall, there is a lot to like about Mageia. Mageia 3 signalled the maturation of the project, making it a perfectly viable distro with no major problems to make you consider otherwise. This fourth version takes that one step further, stabilising the code just that bit more and adding the very useful MageiaWelcome.

Mageia truly is a distro we should be using a lot more often.

Verdict

5/5

Very much the distro to beat, Mageia has come a long way in the last few years to be one of the best versions of Linux available. The new additions make it even better for novices and veterans alike

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    • Greg Zeng

      Is updating the kernel or Desktop Environment as easy as any of the ‘buntus? All my ‘buntus (Netrunner atm) update in a minute or so: Kernel 3.13.1 and KDE 4.11.3.

      Latest Mageia 4 has KDE 4.11 and Kernel 3.12. How do we update these, please?

    • Kevin Smith

      I have been a MAGEIA 3 user since it first came out, and am very happy with the usability and function. I am seeing reports of version 4 being out, but my auto updater does not seem to detect it – and I am not getting any notice of update (and do not know how to do it manually). Is version 4 out, what are the major improvements, and how do I go about upgrading from 3 (I have all the patches for 3). Thanks.

    • Zamri
    • tarakbumba .

      Please be patient for your local mirror gets synced. Then you’ ll notice blue mgaapplet icon in your panel tray for upgrading.

    • Pingback: Mageia 4 Review – release the candidate | Linux User | cPanel Knowledge

    • Kevin Smith

      Thanks – the file just sent the announcement to me of the new update being available. Went off without a problem.

    • tarakbumba .

      Thank you for this positive review. But i noticed that there are references to MINT instead of MATE. Please fix these.

    • Steve

      Both MATE and Cinnamon are created and maintained by Linux Mint. Any distro using either one of them will have references to Mint.

    • tarakbumba .

      Wrong! MATE is not created by Linux Mint. It is forked from GNOME2 by fellow Arch Linux user Perberos and now maintained by MATE Development team leaded by Stefano Karapetsas which is distro independent. There is nothing related with Linux Mint! While Cinnamon is created and being developed by Linux Mint devs.

      Also, you misunderstood my comment that “ranging from KDE and LXDE to newcomers Cinnamon and MATE.” was writtend as “ranging from KDE and LXDE to newcomers Cinnamon and MINT.” in the article. I pointed out that MINT should be MATE which is corrected now.

    • Waleed

      i am wondering you didn’t mention mageia control center which is the one of the most powerful control center in linux distros

    • RobZwetsloot

      It was talked about in the section entitled ‘Like magic’, as it is just that

    • Scott Allen

      Opensuse 13.1 is the one to beat. Mageia is not an enterprise grade linux.