LinuxMarshall -> Mandriva Linux LE 2005 (9/9/2005 4:42:40 AM)
A great value alternative to Windows that offers loads of software
If it sounds familiar, Mandriva is the new name for Mandrake Linux. Mandriva Linux Limited Edition 2005 is the first distribution bearing this name.
LE 2005 comes with two DVDs, one for 32bit computers and one for 64bit. Installation is straightforward and we didn't experience any difficulties.
The disk partitioning wizard is particularly good and features an extremely useful graphical representation of the partitions already on the disk.
Once a space has been allocated, Mandriva can create the required partitions within it - a helpful option for those who are experienced enough to want to know exactly what is going on with their hard disk, without knowing the requirements of Linux.
All hardware, such as graphics and sound, are configured and tested at this point. It's essential that the correct resolution for your monitor is chosen here as it isn't possible to change it to use a higher one without returning to the installation process.
As with most Linux distributions there's a choice of desktop interfaces. Of the choices available, KDE is the most like Windows but the Gnome interface is also popular. Most applications now work in all interfaces so the decision shouldn't limit you in any way.
The default login screen doesn't display users to help keep your computer secure, but this can be changed if required. This sort of flexibility is true of just about every element of the desktop in both KDE and Gnome and could leave Windows users a little bewildered with choice.
The amount of software supplied with Limited Edition 2005 may also surprise those used to being left with Wordpad and Solitaire. It's an intelligent choice of software as opposed to the ridiculous mass that used to be included with Linux distributions.
Openoffice 1.1.4 is installed as default - it's not the most recent version but that's not surprising as it's still in beta testing. Openoffice can still create PDFs with a single click and Adobe Reader is there to display them.
Novell Evolution fills the shoes of Microsoft Outlook and handles email, contacts and calendar tasks. There's also software included for Palm users to connect and synch with Evolution, but sadly PocketPC is not supported.
Even though some of the open source applications are available for Windows as well as Linux, there are some that you won't find outside Mandriva.
For those who don't like the idea of kissing Microsoft goodbye completely, it is possible for Mandriva to co-exist with Windows. This can be in the form of dual booting on the same computer or over a network. Openoffice will load Microsoft Office documents and you can use the Office format by default.
In terms of file systems, Mandriva is able to read files from both Fat and NTFS partitions. However, since Microsoft hasn't released all the details of its NTFS standard, it is only possible to write to Fat drives from within Mandriva.
Despite all its flexibility, the one area where Linux looks weak compared to Windows is serious gaming. Although you'll find drivers included for most ATI and nVidia graphics cards, there are very few mainstream games developed for Linux users.
If it's to be used as a PC for homework by children, this may be a distinct advantage, although there's still a collection of puzzle games to take your mind off work.
One drawback with the LE edition of Mandriva is that there is no support included. If you want to sign up for a year's access to the Easy update system it will cost you €20 (£13 approx).
This modern Linux distribution is a far cry from the early versions. Mandriva is well suited to the Linux newcomer and the selection of software available offers far more than could be installed on a Windows-based PC. This is too good a package to relegate to a spare PC for occasional use and you won't regret making the switch.
- Pentium-based processor
- 64MB of RAM
- 500MB hard disk
Source : PCMAG.Co.Uk