Open Source: Mandriva 2011 vs Mageia 1

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By the way, if you did not read my previous article, Open Source Horror Story – A Linux Recovery Tale, you do not know what you missed. Basically the article is about recovering from a failing hard drive after an attempted upgrade of Mandriva to the 2011 release. The article is written in 3rd person from a story teller’s point of view. It has some good information in it for those of you who may find yourself in a similar situation. Go have a look, and make a comment if you wish. Okay, enough about that, on with the new article.

As of today I find myself in the position of deciding whether or not to stick with my previously preferred distribution, Mandriva Linux. This is a bittersweet realization for me. I found Mandrake Linux several years ago in the early 2000’s, about the time they were working on coming out of bankruptcy. When I saw and understood the command-line urpm* package management tools for the first time I immediately “fell in love” with them. In my mind those tools were, and still are, one of the best package management implementations in all of Linux. At that point, Mandrake Linux became my distribution of choice. When Mandrake merged with Conectiva and reorganized to become Mandriva, I stuck with Mandriva. When Mandriva narrowly avoided another bankruptcy, I stuck with Mandriva. When Mandriva development seemed to be imploding and many developers left or were fired, I stuck with Mandriva. Now Mandriva 2011 is out, and Mandriva seems not to be “sticking with me”.

My preferred “desktop environments” for X on Linux are in this order: fluxbox, XFCE4, WindowMaker. Notice something? You got it!  Those are all “light” window manager / desktop environments, a category that does not include KDE or Gnome. I have never been a fan of desktop environments that are more resource hungry than most of the applications I want to run. I am even less fond of the direction both projects, meaning KDE and Gnome, are taking with their current  DE implementations. I stick with minimalist GUI implementations such as those mentioned in the first sentence of this paragraph. Now with the release of Mandriva 2011 I see this disturbing, to me, tidbit on the Mandriva Linux 2011 Release Notes:


GNOME, Xfce and other Desktop Environments (DE) and Window Managers (WM) are no longer included in the official Mandriva packages. Contribution packages from the Mandriva community are available for these desktop environments however. Starting from Mandriva Desktop 2011 only KDE Plasma Desktop is officially supported. If you need Mandriva with another DE or WM you can use unofficial packages or distributions prepared by community members (which are described below).

Wow. Does that suck or what? I have seen the new ROSA interface for KDE on Mandriva 2011. All I can say about it nicely is, “That is not for me.” The new community driven Linux distribution called Mageia, which is based on Mandriva 2010.2, has my beloved urpm* tools and will still “officially” supply / support fluxbox, XFCE4 and WindowMaker. Not only that, but after having had to do one fresh Mandriva 2011 install after a problem with a failing hard drive, I found out I have a strong dislike for the new Mandriva GUI installer. I really prefer the older Mandriva installers that work like the one in Mageia 1:

Installing Mageia 1

OGG Theora Video best viewed in Firefox.

Finally, Mandriva 2011 is to the point of switching from sysvinit to systemd for bootup. Yes, one can still run sysvinit with Mandriva 2011. But since sysvinit in Mandriva 2011 is deprecated I suspect it may become broken with subsequent updates. My suspicion may turn out to be wrong, but why should I take the chance? While I understand systemd on Linux is probably the future for us all, I am not yet ready to switch. Mageia 1 still uses sysvinit for bootup at this point with systemd possibly arriving with Mageia 2. This gives me a bit more “wiggle room” to learn about systemd before I take the plunge into using it on my systems.

Due to all of the above, but specifically the DE part, I am now seriously considering a move to Mageia. In fact, while writing this article I have convinced myself it is time. I am researching my needs in anticipation of switching to Mageia this very weekend in fact. By the time you read this article I may already be in the middle of a distribution switch or finished with same. Once I do switch and have a chance to become more familiar with Mageia I will begin writing about that distribution here on The ERACC Web Log.

Obviously, my choices here will not be the choices that others will make. Regardless, I am hopeful the information I give here may help someone else with his or her own decision about a distribution to choose.

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Gene A.

Gene is a "Unix Guy", network technologist, system trouble-shooter and IT generalist with over 20 years experience in the SOHO and SMB markets. He is familiar with and conversant in eComStation (a.k.a. OS/2), DOS (PC, MS and Free), Unix, Linux and those GUI based systems from Microsoft. Gene is also a follower of Jesus (forgiven, not perfect), and this does inform his world view.

19 thoughts on “Open Source: Mandriva 2011 vs Mageia 1”

    1. For the record, as of today, Sunday 4 September 2011, I am running an active migration from Mandriva 2010.2 to Mageia 1. I am doing this while I keep using my PC. I did close Firefox, and Gnucash since I suspect they might go flaky once the migration gets to them. In the case of, I expect it to be replaced with LibreOffice. In the interim, I am using Opera to access this site and post this comment. I am also on IRC at in the #mageia channel if any of you want to talk live. I am there as the nickname ‘eracc’. 🙂

      Added: If you do not have an IRC application you can use Freenode Webchat here:

  1. Yes, Its about the time to make a switch. I had broken my system while updating Mandiva 2011, and even though I recovered latter, I did not like the new look. I  would rather like to see the Trinity desktop integrated in Mageia.

  2. I’ve been with Mandriva almost as long as the author… Mandrake >> Mandriva, etc… and Mandriva has treated me fairly well.  I’ve run E16 >> E17 for many years now too on Mandriva.  It is sorrowful to leave behind a lot of what I know for Mandriva, but I believe I’m going to go to Bodhi myself.  Ubuntu minimal w/ E17!  🙂  GL w/ Mageia!

  3. At this point I have two systems running Mandriva and one running Mageia.  I also have my home system running both in dual boot mode.  I am keeping Mandriva because Mandriva offers a far wider range of packages and because Mandriva does allow me to see and play with what is coming in the future.  But the system I rely on at this point is Mageia.  Mageia has almost a magical stability and simplicity.  I have yet to find any significant bugs in it and the continual flow of Mageia updates just makes sense unlike what sometimes occurs with Mandriva.  I REALLY like Mandriva and hope they pull everything together, but they have a history of not quite achieving a market ready product when they release.  A lot of people actually seem to like that, but I find it annoying.  I really value something more basic and utilitarian for daily use.  Its a major part of the reason I chose Linux and not Windows way back in the late nineties when I first started with Caldera and then Linux Mandrake 6.0.

  4. It’s up to the point now, that Mandriva has deviated far from what it used be  Mangea is more like Mandriva used to be, since Mandriva has drifted so far from it’s roots, and what it represented since it’s beginnings.
    My personal feelings is to jump ship and to move over to Mangea, where there’s stability.

  5. Frankly, personal feelings aside, Mandriva 2011.1 has all the hallmarks of the last version. They have eliminated standards- Amarok, all non-KDE interfaces, Open Office, etc. Overall size down to one third of previous distributions. That was on a casual review. So I am sitting tight with 2010.2 which may be their best ever release.  I am pessimistic about the future of Mandriva. This kind of release is such an obvious nail in the coffin, one wonders  why it’s out.

  6. Mandriva used to be my newbie distro for a long time and around 2008 I switched family and friends to PCLinux as the newb friendly distro.
    Personally, I prefer Arch and Gentoo but I always test to see which distro a Linux newbie could be confortable with,… a bit more mainstream distros.
    For the past 3 months, Ive put PCLInuxOS and Kubuntu 11 on our home machines (the kids always wonder what is the point since they say it ALL looks the same… when using the same DE. And theyre right.) and added Mandriva this week.
    Notice something? I only use KDE. (even on my Dell Mini netbook with full eye candy and an old Celeron based 1gb ram laptop, no 3d since card doesnt handle it. I dont have any P3s so I dont need smaller footprints although love Puppy.)
    Preference yes but also makes it easier to judge the small differences between distros.
    And honestly, the mindless whining and groaning should be no surprise when you hear drivel like:
    “It’s up to the point now, that Mandriva has deviated far from what it used be  Mangea is more like Mandriva used to be, since Mandriva has drifted so far from it’s roots, and what it represented since it’s beginnings.:
    Change the names around to GNOME, Ubuntu, KDE or ANYTHING ELSE THAT CHANGES and you will see the same comments about how they ‘deviated from their roots’.
    I had a party last night, asked some non-Linux  friends to tell me how the mandriva on the laptop compares to the Kubuntu in our spare room and they couldnt tell.
    Linux fanbois play too many scenarios in their head giving waaaaaay too much importance to certain things and fearing change like a gamer fears leaving their moms basement.
    I last ran Mandriva either late 2009 or early 2010 so I cant do any comparisons to before but giving the new Mandriva to a newbie wouldnt scare me. I know how to use their tools (no one still does management like Drak).
    Is it different from other versions? Gee, I hope so.
    Is it usable for anyone I plan to do future tech support for (I offer free support to those that switch and its still less work than dealign with one big Windows virus problem)? Yes.
    Will people fear change? Are you new to free software?
    The new Mandriva isnt the old one, quelle surprise. But it isnt ‘worse’ that countless of other distros

    1. Hi GSP, thanks for your thoughts. I believe the angst over Mandriva is less about “fear of change” than it is about loss of functionality and loss of familiarity. At least that is what it is for me to some extent. Having to relearn how to do what one wants to do just to “Get Stuff Done”, is a major irritation to most people I know. Non-geeks included.

      One of the reasons I continue to use fluxbox, XFCE4 and WindowMaker is that they are familiar and I can quickly do what I need to do while using them. I do not have to hunt down programs in a new GUI-ick menu with a new release of a distribution. The simple menus provided with these window manager / light desktops keep items where I can find them easily.

      The fact that Mandriva is officially removing these light GUIs from the distribution is a reason for me to move along. I do not want a distribution that does not officially support at least one of my preferred GUIs. If I wanted to be “forced” into a system that only promotes a single official GUI, well I could use Apple or Microsoft, could I not? 🙂

  7. I started getting concerned about Mandriva’s quality control efforts when I found that GCC 4.6.1 (all 8 or 9 tarball components) wouldn’t build/install/run right  on Mandriva 2010.0. I forget the details, but basically the main problem was that some system folders were set to be inaccessible by programs including GCC that were running with user privileges. I figured the problem would have been fixed with Mandriva 2010.2 and tried it. Found more problems. I like to build some newer versions of math packages like Octave, and found that some needed development libraries were missing from the repository. Digging through SourceForge, etc for source files isn’t my idea of fun, so I went back to the very functional Mandriva 2008.1 which does enable me to build all my packages of interest. Mandriva was terrific. Makes me wonder if Microsoft sent one of their execs to Mandriva to hose it.  

  8. Mandriva user since 7.1. First time to try 2011. Wow. Sad day. Immediate response was to download the 2010.2 DVD. As it sinks in, I realize I too will have to move to mageia to keep what I felt was best about Linux on my systems. The value-adds like the urpm tools are a big reason for having stuck with Mandriva. The new KDE in 2011 will not do. 2010.x featured LXDE – a nice balanced DE. My wife won’t tolerate 2011’s DE. I guess since Mageia is essentially Mandriva people, it shouldn’t feel so disappointing… but it is. I still have that 7.1 media… and the 7.2 box I picked up at Best Buy. Yeah, I’m a nostalgic packrat. Mandrake 7.2 was when I realized Linux finally could become the family OS. The tools, install, and ultimately the finding of gnucash did it for me. I will keep 2010.2 on stuff till security patches stop. Without a serious change of heart by Mandriva, though, its over. I’m going to download Mageia and put it on one system. Now I wonder what the future of Mandriva Enterprise Server is. I use it at work.

  9. Obviously I am not alone in the way I feel about Mandriva linux these days. Like the author I’ve been a loyal Mandriva fan for over a decade, I started using Mandrake 7.? and then 8.0 was the first edition I purchased. I too loved the minimalist approach with desktop environments… maybe even more extreme with using the Blackbox WM? I always kept KDE installed to show friends the capabilities of linux – I certainly didn’t expect everyone to be a minimalist. 🙂

    I ran across this blog while searching for a systemd/sysvinit fix on my recent migration to Mandriva 2011… this distribution reminds me so much of the crap Windoze OSes I fix daily at work. I waited months… and read about many of the bugs in 2011, I had success installing 2011 on a test machine, but my main machine has become a nightmare, and it still isn’t right – yet! Using Blackbox window manager usually leaves me with an extremely stable system, but I’ve not found that using Mandriva 2011.

    Though I’ve had some minor glitches with Mageia I like the system much better (waiting on 2’s release). I may have to abandon my first love (Mandriva) and join the fired (better?) half of those developers and migrate to Mageia.

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