The Mandrake Control Center has seen an overhaul once again, and most of the tools now use GTK+ 2.x which enables them to at least look prettier. You will find tools for partitioning and NTFS/FAT32 resizing, ZeroConf (called 'Rendezvous' by Apple), printing, internationalization, networking, firewalling, internet connection sharing, monitor and gfx card configuration and a bunch more tools. All the tools I had the need to use all worked fine and as expected except the "Fonts" tool in the advanced mode, where it wouldn't accept a directory as input (I had to select/load/select/load more than 30 fonts 'by hand' to make it install my fonts from a non-Windows Fat32 directory). In my review of Mandrake Linux 9.0 back in October I spoke of a problem where the CD-rom would spin forever when trying to load almost any of the Mandrake Control Center tools. I know that MandrakeSoft found and worked on the problem and tried to minimize its occurance on some machines (I received a number of emails from people who were experiencing the same behavior back then) and indeed, the problem is now minimized, but not completely fixed. Now, only three tools (ScannerDrake, XFDrake and Mandrake-Update) create that "spin empty CD-ROM forever" effect in this machine.
3D worked fine and I was able to run a number of 3D games with my 3Dfx Voodoo5 (I read that the new Red Hat Linux won't support Glide3, so that's a plus for MandrakeSoft and the 3Dfx users). Stability with Mandrake Linux is good; however, I was able to completely lock up the machine (SSH wouldn't respond) by running the JESS visualization plugin of XMMS, in addition to 2-3 more 3D plugins at the screen at the same time with the Voodoo5.
Another positive surprise with MandrakeSoft is the speed. This installation just feels faster than its predecessor, with apps launching faster, window movement better, etc. The kernel used, 2.4.21-pre, includes special Mandrake patches applied for extra stability. The default filesystem that was suggested by Mandrake Linux via installation was ReiserFS. Developers will find a number of dev tools, IDEs, and languages installed.
With this release I see a very serious and very respectable effort from MandrakeSoft to create a better Mandrake Linux. It is just obvious that this is not 'just another release', it really feels that it had extra care. A lot of things remain unresolved in the desktop area though, like the inconsistency found in the main desktop environment (KDE); notably, the context menus on the desktop and Konqueror and the bugs encountered and detailed above. This is part of the Linux platform evolution of course, so future Mandrake Linux versions are destined to become better with time.
I would urge everyone to download Mandrake 9.1 and give it a go when it is released. It is a worthy distribution and especially this version is a sincere effort from MandrakeSoft to create something better and competitive. And if you decide to keep it, make sure you buy it in order to help MandrakeSoft to continue developing their product in the future.
Hardware Support: 7.5/10
Ease of use: 7/10
Credibility: 7/10 (stability, bugs, security)
Speed: 8/10 (UI responsiveness, latency, throughput)
Overall: 7.66 / 10
- "Installation, Using the System"
- "Using the System II, Conclusion"