The development of Mandrake Linux 9.1 has been completed: “Sounds like a good time to put myself in the seat of a first-time Linux user and dissect this long-awaited release. I had rehearsed the installation of Mandrake Linux 9.1 final using 9.1 RC2, and this time I decided to explore in detail the hardware and software configuration that I would consider adequate for a comfortable Mandrake desktop experience. Kind of, a Mandrake 9.1 Certify-It-Yourself PC if you see what I mean…” This article concludes DistroWatch’s 7-part series in which followed the Mandrake 9.1 development process.
Mandrake Linux 9.1 – Raising the Bar for Usability
Submitted by ladislav 2003-03-30 Mandriva, Mandrake, Lycoris 31 Comments
I am not Gnome zealot nor a KDE basher. I think both are pretty cool, but I use Fluxbox. However, I’m starting to notice that all these new GTK 2 programs look *REALLY* good and are very easy to understand. Some developers are following something called the ‘Human Interface’ guide or something, and all the projects I see using it look very clean, and very nice. Gaim 0.60 for instance (CVS version) just looks spectacular. On the QT and KDE side of things I notice things have a bigger sense of messiness in them (For instance, having more tabs in a settings window than the length of the window, resulting in an ugly arrow button). I only say this here because the Screenshots for some GTK apps in this review look very good. Oh, and the Galaxy theme looks very nice and clean.
Indeed, the Gnome 2 HIG is pretty good (mostly researched and written by SUN Microsystems and Seth Nickell) and the Gnome 2 apps that really follow it, they look clean and consistent. GTK+ 1.x apps look really crappy IMHO, but 2.x ones+HIG, are looking good.
>For instance, having more tabs in a settings window than the length of the window, resulting in an ugly arrow button
I agree with this 100%. I see that a lot on some QT apps or even on KDE pref panels, I don’t understand why the developers don’t give enough width to the window to accomodate all the tabs when their font size used is just regular and not out of the ordinary.
I’ve always used KDE as my main desktop before, but since Gnome 2.2 came out it’s my default now. It’s very clean and has some nice usability additions over the last version. They finally fixed a sort of pet peeve of mine. If you are on the net and click a file to download, you select save and browse to the location to save it to. Previously, you had to save it to an existing folder, there was no create folder button on this dialog, but now there is. Such a small thing, but it really makes a huge difference. It’s that kind of attention to detail that really improves the everyday user experience. I like how gnome is good looking without being over the top. KDE is getting to be just a little too much for me. Actually, I kind of like the way RedHat used bluecurve to make KDE a little more subtle. But then, whenever I use XP the first thing I do is adjust for best perfomance so it turns off all the crazy colors and big buttons.
i just want to mention that if people will take just a little
time to make sure their hardware is supported under
Mandrake and Linux in general that they wont have much
in the way of problems with their installs. and then once
they have installed they have plenty of software choices to
get them busy while they learn Linux.
Which Gnome2 apps follow “really” follow the HIG? Can I have some examples.
Not all do. Others don’t follow it precisely. But the apps that come with Gnome 2 do, and I think Balsa and the new Galeon have made changes to be more compliant.
I’ve installed a lot of linux distibutions on my computer, but never succeded to install Mandrake. It just never installs properly. I have very generic computer components, they are all picked properly by Mandrake. I heard the same story from a number of users as well. Sorry, but this distro is off my list. Waste of time.
“I’ve installed a lot of linux distibutions on my computer, but never succeded to install Mandrake. It just never installs properly. I have very generic computer components, they are all picked properly by Mandrake. I heard the same story from a number of users as well. Sorry, but this distro is off my list. Waste of time.”
idiots usually travel in packs.
Great review, Eugenia! I had just tried Red Hat “Phoebe” and was impressed. However, I downloaded and installed this new edition of Mandrake and was even more impressed with the changes that had been made. Both Red Hat and Mandrake found my scanners-which neither had done before. While both are great improvements over the previous edtions, I’m leaning towards Mandrake 9.0 for the reasons you outlined in your review. That is to say, for me the Mandrake 9.0 has more flexibility, customization, and user options than the current Red Hat
Does anyone know if single click exists on Gnome? If so please let me know.
Chucar, I did not write the review, I just linked to it, as we do most of the time. I don’t know why you think I wrote that story.
*My* review is here: http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=3116
I’ve used a few different Linux distros (SuSE, Redhat, Mandrake) and FreeBSD, but I believe that this version of Mandrake is one of the best distros I’ve used. I’ve been trying to find a distro that would work with my Compaq Presario 906US. I had to jump through hoops just to get Redhat installed (although I had no sound or ethernet) and SuSE 7.3 and Mandrake 9 wouldn’t even make it through an install. With Mandrake 9.1, I finally have Linux on my laptop! For me, it’s nothing but Mandrake!
I just wanted to also note that while I like the way GTK is heading, I’m STILL hearing from many developers that GTK is much more difficult to work in than QT. I rarely hear it vice versa. I’m not a programmer so I don’t know the difference… just thought I’d point it out.
Yes, on my experience with both toolkits, I prefer QT too. It is easier to learn, more simplified somehow.
This is the kind of quality that needs to be provided by a Linux distribution, especially if it is aimed at the desktop-market. MDK 9.1 can be also used as a sevrver, but on the desktop MDK 9.1 rockz. I got speed and total satisfaction.
BTW: I use Gnome 2.2 as my default desktop, and when I get borred I use KDE, so it realy doesn’t mather because both are developed and well maintained.
Eddie, open up nautilus, and click Edit->Preferences. Single click is the first set of items under the behavior tab. You can open nautilus by clicking on your home directory on the desktop.
as I posted in the forum last night (before this article showed up)…
i’m a long time freebsd user… but 5.0 is giving me grief on my laptop.. so i installed mandrake 9.1..
the install is impressive. very nice graphical install….
selected my options (british english, british keyboard, etc).
installed ok.. boots up.. its REALLY slow to boot up. my XP boots up faster, includes logging in as user…
i have p4-2.4 with 512mb ram, radeon 9000 64mb…. and m91 boots sloooow… up comes the splash boot info thing… then screen goes black for ages.. then up comes X… then goes back to black for ages.. see a console login flash past in the background.. then X comes back… and finally KDM loads.. click on my user… login.. OK…
so were up… i click on konq… konq appears in the task bar… hour glass spins for ages…. then icon disappears from task bar… a minute later up comes conq..
this is looking really poor as far as I’m concerned…
i go into config.. lo and behold all my settings are US.. why did I even bother to choose british then? it obviously had no affect…
so i choose UK all over again.. just for safety sake i check the numbers/dates time etc…
hmm first day of week is monday? changes to sunday.. this is POOR!
apparently we are still IMPERIAL instead of metric.. another change.
mood is not good…
ooh and i’m using US letter instead of A4!
this is a bloody joke. i’m not impressed at all.
imported all my fonts from XP… cant tell the difference.. cant seem to select verdana or tahoma in my accessability list… i might need to reboot. hope not..
it is showing tahoma+verdana in konqs font setup.. but not the global look-n-feel settings..
i’m in konq right now.. i’m very jaded.. i expected lots, the install was great, i had high hopes.. little niggles really @!#$ on my experience. Back to freebsd 4.7 for me.
it takes sooo long for apps to load…
poking around it shows its using 100mb for disk cache.. augh. the defaults seem very poor…
it took 34 seconds to launch a konsole..
i really cant understand why this is taking so long to load apps…
the install does not give you a chance to tweak anything, so I have changed no parameters…
hmm dmesg says my ACPI is disabled.. ack. I’m on a laptop, I want my ACPI on!
SIS5513: IDE controller at PCI slot 00:02.5
PCI: No IRQ known for interrupt pin A of device 00:02.5. Please try using pci=biosirq.
SIS5513: chipset revision 0
SIS5513: not 100% native mode: will probe irqs later
SiS646 ATA 133 controller
ide0: BM-DMA at 0x1000-0x1007, BIOS settings: hda:DMA, hdb:pio
ide1: BM-DMA at 0x1008-0x100f, BIOS settings: hdc:DMA, hdd:pio
hda: FUJITSU MHR2030AT, ATA DISK drive
blk: queue c03cb420, I/O limit 4095Mb (mask 0xffffffff)
hdc: QSI CD-RW/DVD-ROM SBW-161, ATAPI CD/DVD-ROM drive
ide0 at 0x1f0-0x1f7,0x3f6 on irq 14
ide1 at 0x170-0x177,0x376 on irq 15
hda: host protected area => 1
hda: 58605120 sectors (30006 MB) w/2048KiB Cache, CHS=3648/255/63, UDMA(100)
well its dma100…
and hmm dmesg captures a GPF!
[<c01148da>] apm_bios_call+0x3a/0x90 [kernel]
[<c0114d92>] apm_get_power_status+0x42/0x90 [kernel]
[<c0115997>] apm_get_info+0x37/0x100 [kernel]
[<c016022e>] proc_file_read+0x19e/0x1c0 [kernel]
[<c013fc24>] sys_read+0x84/0x100 [kernel]
[<c0109093>] system_call+0x33/0x40 [kernel]
Code: Bad EIP value.
heh. things just go from bad to worse.
maybe this is more like a .0 release than a .1….
The mandrake 9.1 is really impressive, the Mandrake team really did a great job with it. And it’s a lot faster than my gentoo install that still uses gcc 2.95.
However I can’t stand AA’d fonts for size < 8 and > 15 and if you disable AA in KDE or GNOME, fonts are badly rendered because the byte code interpreter is not enabled in the default freetype. I had to get the texstar freetype RPM which enables it and edit ~/.fonts.conf to disable AA for certain sizes. And I really think that with good fonts like arial or verdana you don’t really need AA for common sizes (that’s what W2K do).
Will you people who keep installing linux WITHOUT RTFM about the hardware just leave!!! The last computer I purchased I bought ALL name brand parts with chipsets that were listed generally on the HWC. Guess what??? I have NOOOOOOO problems. I can even install Solaris 9 with nooooo complaints. Yes it can be frustrating at times but unfortunately there is not a “Designed for Linux” sticker on HW. I’ll even throw a few cents in on suggestions. You are more apt to have problems if you buy/use a complete x86 system that have generic components (ie. Gateway, Dell, HP, compaq, etc). Yes it *may* work (after a few bios setting changes), but after years of installation the idea of “you get what you pay for” shines brightly. Typically it was NOT the mouse or the keyboard or printer that everyone complains about. It was failure with ps/2 port or USB. I purchased one of these products in the past and Redhat was the only distribution that worked. Instead of complaining about all other Distros, I bought an older top brand Mobo. Zero problems now.
– zip 250 ide does not work with kernel provided (worked with LM9.0)
– cannot install on my laptop Toshiba Portege 7140 (worked fine with LM9.0)
– Logging in Gnome and the menu is empty… No program.
Works fine in KDE (worked in LM9.0)
So yes there is nice improvements under the hood and the galaxy theme is good but in my case the pbms above make it a regression compared to LM9.0 (eventhough the overall impression is better).
Someone’s going to say that I should have participated in the beta cycle and I’m going to reply: firstly I do not have time, secondly whether I pay for a box or a subscription (I’m a club member) I’d like to have stuff that works out of the box, especially stuff that worked with the previous release.
I will seriously consider a Mac OS X system once they release PowerPC 970 based system in the second half of the year. The whole experience seems much more consistent (incl. upgrade/update stuff) and you still get Unix under the hood.
Today I’ve been thinking about Linux Distros in general I came to the conclusion that there is still a lot a flakyness and that one has to be ready to tinker a lot to get a stable system setup to his/her liking.
That’s not a troll. I love the spirit of open source and I’ve been using Linux since RH5.2 and I agree it’s come a long way but still whatever the distro you use there’s always gremlins to make your life miserable… The number of hours spent just tinkering the system to get something working is astonishing.
I am the author of the article.
Some hints for people that have problems installing Mandrake 9.1:
1) It´s usually a good idea to check what DrakX is doing by switching to the other screens (press CTL-ALT-F1, F3, F4, F5…).
2) Make sure you check the md5sum of the CD images you have downloaded. Or better, buy a boxed set from MandrakeSoft. Like that you are sure you are getting the ¨real McCoy¨.
3) Specific hardware that stops working with a newer kernel: that´s rare, but can usually be fixed by some module parameter. Just to give you an example, try to get my original DEC21143 network going when connected to an old 10BaseT hub results in no network. 🙁
There is no way Mandrake or any other distribution is going to solve these small problems… You really have to use your brains a little bit here.
Thank you Karl. I was just looking elsewhere wich is why I was not able to find it sooner. I really appreciate it.
ACPI is disabled by default during installation. It was enabled by default in the early betas of 9.1, but it quickly became clear that this causes way, way, way, way too many problems on slightly old (~1-2 years) desktops with horribly broken ACPI implementations. So from RC2 it went back to APM as default. During install you get a choice whether to enable ACPI, and the default is “no”. It’s easy to change: edit /etc/lilo.conf and remove the “acpi=off” parameter from the “append=…” line of the first entry. re-run lilo and reboot. It’d be interesting to see how this affects your system.
I have a Dell laptop, so according to your theory, I should have less problems? Not so…
I had to fix the sound. KDE is messed up graphically. The touchpad is not recognized. Hot plug and play (mouse or external CD) does not work (Hardware seems to be recognized, but there is no obvious way to access it).
I’m sorry but there should be no RTFM to have all these working…
I wanted to test Mandrake 9.1 to see if dev in Eclipse would be snappier and would take less memory than on XP (Linux myth). But when I see that 256MB of memory is eaten away just by running a window manager and that appas are so slow to load up, I’m not sure I will succeed.
Reread the post. He says “You are more apt to have problems if you buy/use a complete x86 system that have generic components (ie. Gateway, Dell, HP, compaq, etc)” (italics mine). Therefore, you actually fit his model perfectly.
The problem with using preassembled systems is that they generally use OEM parts. While these parts are perfectly compatible with Windows, they may or may not work with Linux. And since they’re OEM (plain-wrapped), it’s basically useless for any distro to independantly test them for compatibility, since (1.) they’re not available for sale by themselves (generally), and (2.) identifying them isn’t easy. They also aren’t supported by the manufacturers like the regular retail versions are…even though they are sometimes identicle! Therefore, for Linux users, it’s best to go with all retail parts.
“But when I see that 256MB of memory is eaten away just by running a window manager and that appas are so slow to load up, I’m not sure I will succeed.”
You have a misconception here. Linux *always* seems to eat all your RAM. This is because it uses free memory as a disk cache. Whey you load an application that needs more RAM, the cache shrinks accordingly. That said, you can always try a less memory-intensive environment — like XFCE.
The problem is, if Linux is to become more mainstream on the desktop, there needs to be a solution to all of the hardware problems. Joe Blow at home probably owns a Gateway, HP, et. al., but for some reason decides to install Linux because he heard about it from somewhere. He/She tries to install it, but can’t because the hardware isn’t compatible. Unless you know where to go to RTFM, you’ll have no idea where to look for help. And because of this experience, the user is more likely to give up than spend hours/days/weeks trying to figure out what to do or how to do it.
Not mention, most people don’t know how to build their own PC even if they had a list of compatible parts. And if you can tell me how I can build my own laptop, please do because I have yet to see any barebones laptop kits to build my own.
More importantly, if it wasn’t for people like me buying newer hardware, filling out bug reports, and trying to figure out what is causing the problem, I wouldn’t be using Linux on my laptop today! My time and pain has at least helped someone not have to go through what I did. Of course someone could have just told me to RTFM, but luckily the developers decided to investigate the issue instead of telling me to F*** Off!
Sorry for misreading the earlier post…The problem for laptops is it’s kind of hard to build your own…The issues that I’ve cited only happen on Mandrake 9.1. No problems with Knoppix per example.
Thanks for your insightful comments. I really thought I was short on RAM because Wine just cannot run any programm, complaining it does not have enough memory for a thread.
I’m also a bit shocked that the Java SDK is nowhere to be found either on the 3 CDs nor in the contrib folders!?!
Just a note. The Wine/memory problem has nothing to do with Mandrake -> export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.5 solved the problem which was glibc related
My apologies,Eugenia. I didn’t read the fine print in the header. However, I did read your earlier review, as well as this review(Andrew’s).
No, I don’t know where people get the idea that GTK is hard to learn, it’s actually very easy. I think people are looking at programs written for it in C, when they prefer C++ or something, in which case check out GTKmm. Or PyGTK. Or Ruby/GNOME2.
Really, the way GTK works is pretty intuitive, the only issues I’ve had with writing simple GTK apps is that Glade2 isn’t really finished IMO, but that’s not really a GTK issue.
Oh, also, no preprocessor needed