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Open Source: Using Mageia 1 for Six Months Now

I am back writing again after my hiatus. If you missed me, good. :) If not, maybe I can write something this year that will pique your interest, inform you, or help you smile. Then the next time I take a hiatus you will miss me. ;)

Back in the Fall of 2011, September 4th to be exact, I decided it was time to migrate from the sinking ship of Mandriva to the new Mageia distribution which is based on the best of Mandriva while leaving the chaff of Mandriva behind. It is now six months later and I am ready to report on my experience so far. To sum up this article in a sentence, “Mageia works and works well.” If you just want the summary, that is it, you can stop reading here. If you want more, read on. I will start with what I haven’t liked since that is my shorter list.

Cons

One problem with Mageia 1 is it did not, and still does not, include all the software I had installed and used on Mandriva 2010.2. However, this is really a niggle because all of these applications still work following the migration upgrade I did. Further, most of these, if not all of them, will be included in Mageia 2 which is due out in May 2012.

The other problem, to me, is that Mageia will be switching from System V style startup and management to systemd with Mageia 2. I like System V and spent a lot of time learning how it works. Now I have to scrap all that and learn something else that I am not at all convinced solves a real problem. To be honest, this is not just Mageia switching to systemd, many other distributions are doing the same. Therefore I would need to learn about systemd anyway. I still reserve the right to dislike the switch and whine about it.

Pros

The window managers / desktops I prefer, fluxbox, Window Maker, Xfce, are part of the official distribution and continue to work as I expect. I do not have to worry that KDE4 + ROSA, the only “official” GUI on Mandriva, will be the only GUI supported in the future. My primary “desktop” is fluxbox. All my custom keyboard bindings and startup settings for fluxbox are still working as expected under Mageia 1. Since fluxbox is part of the official distribution, I can rest assured it will continue to be supported and receive updates through the official Mageia updates.

Mageia is responsive to bugs and new package requests on their Bugzilla bug tracker. For example, my recent request to have the latest release of Wesnoth included for Mageia 2 was handled promptly. (Thank you Stormi!) Mageia still needs more packagers to join the team to help out. But the folks that are already on the Mageia packaging team are doing a great job, in my not so humble opinion.

The Mageia administration team has recently worked on its server infrastructure to make things work faster, more smoothly and to repair a RAID problem that was affecting service. Donations from the Mageia community allowed this. They even took the time to notify us lowly end-users as to what was being done. I personally appreciated the latter. (If you use Mageia and haven’t donated yet, take a minute to send them a small donation. If you can’t donate money, then donate some time to helping others in the Mageia IRC channels.)

Mageia updates work as expected and continue to add new packages that are upgrades of the Mandriva packages I still have installed. The Mandriva list of installed packages keeps getting smaller, as expected. (I ran into a hiccup with updates right after I migrated. An update included some packages intended for Mageia 2. But that only happened one time, and as far as I can tell the problem was fixed as it has not occurred again.)

The Mageia folks are rather friendly and so far I have not seen one person told “RTFM” when asking for help on the IRC channel (See above for the URL). This is a plus as far as I am concerned. Grouchy Linux curmudgeons may disagree. If one just wants to “shoot the breeze” with other friendly folks, I recommend the Mageia Social channel at Freenode. You will find it a good place to chat about just about anything, including Linux in general and Mageia in specific.

Custom PC from ERACCAs far as I am concerned Mageia is my new desktop Linux distribution of choice and will be into the foreseeable future. Please feel free to post comments with your experience, impressions, likes and/or dislikes with Mageia.

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10 comments to Open Source: Using Mageia 1 for Six Months Now

  • If you want to comment, but not here, try these:

  • “To be honest, this is not just Mageia switching to systemd, many other distributions are doing the same. Therefore I would need to learn about systemd anyway. I still reserve the right to dislike the switch and whine about it.”
    This was the best part! Loved it. For the record, I like systemd.

    • Hi Daeng, I am glad you liked that. :) I may end up liking systemd too. But I still believe it is a “solution” to a “problem” that never really was a problem at all. It seems more complex than System V to me. More complexity means more to go wrong. As I am a systemd novice at this point I may see this differently once I have more experience with systemd.

      Thanks for reading. :)

  • joehulanweberson

    I agree. I have been a Mandriva user since Mandrake Version 6. But recent events drove me to trying Mageia. It works, behaves, and feels like the Mandriva I remember, unlike this new Mandriva with crappy rosa and all the other new crappy “features” they are trying to force feed us. Mandrake still lives on in Mageia. Long Live Mageia.

  • […] Open Source: Using Mageia 1 for Six Months Now Back in the Fall of 2011, September 4th to be exact, I decided it was time to migrate from the sinking ship of Mandriva to the new Mageia distribution which is based on the best of Mandriva while leaving the chaff of Mandriva behind. It is now six months later and I am ready to report on my experience so far. To sum up this article in a sentence, “Mageia works and works well.” If you just want the summary, that is it, you can stop reading here. If you want more, read on. I will start with what I haven’t liked since that is my shorter list. […]

  • systemd isn’t a solution to a problem, exactly, it’s trying to make something better. There’s a bit of a distinction there. The starting point wasn’t ‘startup is broken, let’s fix it’ – the starting point was ‘how do we make service handling incredibly whizzy and awesome’.

    So it doesn’t posit that SysV is broken, at all. It just posits that we could do things better.

    systemd has some really pretty awesome capabilities. The classics to cite are dbus and socket activation – systemd allows for a service to be ‘active’ without its backing daemon being brought up (using time and system resources) until something actually tries to use it (sends it a dbus message, or tries to connect to the socket the daemon provides). But there’s much more than that. It has a pretty well-thought out system for specifying dependency relationships between services, somewhat more fine-grained than the LSB one. It has the various Condition parameters for services, which allow you to have services that only actually start up if certain conditions are met (kernel parameter passed, path exists, the system is a VM, a capability exists…) systemctl can give you a lot better information about the status of a service than SysV tools can. It has a built-in boot time analyzer. It can even plot out the entire service dependency map. You get completely customizable ‘run levels’ (targets).

    There’s nothing wrong with SysV. systemd is just…better.

    • Hi Adam, Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. I appreciate it. As I stated to Daeng above, I may see systemd differently once I have more experience with it. I am just being a Grumpy Old Man about having to learn a new startup / management system. I may end up writing rave reviews about systemd after I get my head around it. But right now, I am expressing my whiny side. :)

      Edit: I figured I should give some credit for the image I linked to above (see Grumpy Old Man). If any of you readers are a grown up fan of Jim Henson’s Muppets, as I am, you may just want to visit ToughPigs.

  • Thanks for mentioning #mageia-social in the blog post :).

  • I hope you remain happy with Mageia. I am also looking forward to the new release. I used Mandriva back when it was Mandrake and really liked it. Although my current top distribution remains Linux Mint, Mageia 1 made a very positive impression on me last year. It really seems to have potential.

    I’m planning to help test the 3rd Beta when it is out, and will be reviewing the final release.

    (Sorry for the delay posting your comment. It has been a busy week here, which is a good thing. :) Gene)

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