Home > Mandriva, Mandrake, Lycoris > Two Mandrake Linux Reviews at MadPenguin Two Mandrake Linux Reviews at MadPenguin Eugenia Loli 2003-12-10 Mandriva, Mandrake, Lycoris 22 Comments MadPenguin published two reviews of Mandrake 9.2: a peer review and one of the download edition. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 22 Comments 2003-12-10 9:03 pm Little note : If you are interested in tunning your mandrake into the state of the art Free/Libre Audio Workstation, there is a beautiful document here. http://groundstate.ca/mdkaw.html  The things explained are pretty generic though, and can be applied to other distro as well. Doing a sed “s/urpmi/apt-get install” for Debian, for example should do most of the job. 2003-12-10 9:11 pm Excellent link, Eugenia. The inclusion of a few reviewers is an interesting idea, and I think helps give a more balanced impression of a distro. FWIW, I use and like MDK 9.2, so found myself agreeing more with the positive reviewers. Basically, Linux seems to come down to using whatever works. Any given user will have a certain finite set of needs. If a distro does them well, they will think its gold. If it flubs one or two, they will think it has serious faults. I’ve been running and comparing MDK 9.2, SuSe 9, and Gentoo 1.4 on my Dell Inspiron 5150 laptop, and have found that MDK nestles nicely between the other two in terms of usability and stability. SUSE was like a tank – well built and stable, but slowwww. Gentoo is blazingly light on its feet, but is like a stick model – if you know what you are doing, its easy to fix a little problem or bug, but heaven help the newbie who doesn’t know the ins and outs of Linux. Not a slight against Gentoo – I rather like its portage system. Mandrake, at least for me, is not significantly different in speed than Gentoo, and noticably faster than SuSe. But I like all 3! 2003-12-10 9:18 pm A Windows user attempting to switch to Linux, I tried installing Mandrake 9.2 on two different computers over the weekend. Both installations failed to boot after completion. Hours of tinkering, reading help files, and browsing help forums did no good. It seems to me that however good Mandrake is when it works, to fail so completely on systems that run Windows just fine means it’s not ready for the desktops of regular users. I do have SuSE 9.0 (the box) in the mail; hopefully I will have more success with that. At least Mandrake, with its free download, has persuaded me to spend my money somewhere else. 2003-12-10 9:47 pm I don’t want to go through all these just to get a working DAW environment. Things have to be easier. Plus, if ardour goes pro it should have somesort of VST and midi technology soon. 2003-12-10 10:30 pm I have installed RH 5.?, 7.3, 8.0 and MD? over the years and have had little trouble. I generally had to do some configuration to get sound working but the basic installations went off without a hitch. I wonder is this was because I have always bought computers made of off the self parts rather than from a Dell, HP, Gateway, … or any of the prorietary brands? 2003-12-10 10:56 pm What’s your hardware like? I’ve install Mandrake 9.2 on four different machines and none have had this kind of problem. Also, I have not read a single review of Mandrake 9.2 that exhibited this problem (and I must have read half a dozen). This seems to be an isolated problem, which leads me to think that there are two possible causes: a) you have strange hardware that creates a conflict somewhere b) your downloaded ISO’s are corrupted or badly burned Another possibility: try disabling the “Plug’n’Play OS” setting in your BIOS. Again, the situation you’ve encountered is extremely uncommon. I don’t think it’s fair to say that Linux isn’t ready for the desktop because of an installation fluke! 2003-12-10 11:00 pm What happens when you try to boot? Do you get to the LILO screen at all? When does the freeze occur? Did you have troubles during the installation (freeze, crash, restart)? What’s your hardware (CPU, video card, SCSI and IDE devices)? Have you tried booting with a Linux liveCD to see if it works? Try Texstar’s: http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/distributions/contrib/texstar/pcli… 2003-12-10 11:19 pm Heh, I didn’t mean to start a tech-support session here, but I’ll address your replies. I’m certain that if I were already a Linux expert, I’d be able to get things up and running. My point is that I am not; and while I have installed Windows 3.0 through 2000 on dozens of computers and troubleshot hundreds of problems, I can’t get Mandrake 9.2 working on my own. That gives it a serious barrier to becoming a user’s OS, even if the blame can be laid on BIOS settings or hardware. But since you asked: 1. The computers were a basic form-factor Pentium III desktop with two IDE drives, and an IBM Thinkpad. All factory settings, nothing extraordinary. 2. Both installations completed fine. In the first instance, LILO wouldn’t boot afterwards. Yes, it is Mandrake’s fault for installing a faulty bootloader. In the second instance (Thinkpad), X Windows spit out errors and wouldn’t load the GUI. I don’t know how to troubleshoot this, and consider it an unforgivable error. 3. There is nothing wrong with the CDs I burned. 4. I might try the Texstar CD, but I’m not getting my hopes up. 2003-12-10 11:35 pm That’s a very strange behavior. There may be something wrong with your Master Boot Record (in the first case) as the version of LILO installed by Mandrake 9.2 is known to work well. This is not a normal problem, nor does it seem easy to solve – although it’d be interesting to see if Texstar’s liveCD (which is based on Mandrake) loads. As far as the second case is concerned, it seems like a graphics driver problem. I’ve heard some people having problems with older Thinkpad. Sorry to hear about those issues. Again, they are very uncommon – you shouldn’t judge an OS based on this (just like I don’t judge Win2000 on the fact that it will not install my MSI GeForce4 card correctly, and will reboot at random once I’ve installed the drivers from the manufacturer!) Good luck with SUSE – but give Texstar’s a try. He’s done an amazing job. 2003-12-10 11:40 pm Yeah, Slackware Rulez… Distro’s like mandrake try to be Windows Like, but they cannot. At least they should try to be OSX like… Anyway my point is that Mandrake 9.2 has more bugs than 9.1. I mean can’t they test simple things like the availability of packages wich get installed? And SuSE 9.0… It corrupted my fulesystem 3 times. I tough that SuSE had a good ReiserFS integration, but it doesn’t. Oh, well, Slackware doesn’t try to be more than it is, and that rox! 2003-12-10 11:46 pm I don’t want to go through all these just to get a working DAW environment. Things have to be easier. Mmh, what do you expected ? We are not talking here about <<how to listen my MP3 ?>> here, right ? The paper gives some general background information, some recommandation for having good hardware, some insight about the most interesting software, good tips to tune your pc, … Easier ? Sure, it requires to be able to read, but in my state this is not a big problem since school is obligatory from 6 to 16 years. So, I’ve done it, and I’m happy with the result. People becomes lazy these time. 2003-12-11 1:01 am I bet you know how to read so read this again: To get a DAW, I nor any working musicians want to set up sources and get a new kernel, for instance. In Windows, all I have to do is install my sound card drivers to get it to work at low latencies. Secondly, Linux is in NO WAY ready for being used as an audio workstation, simply due to the lack of available software. And as I said, they better hurry up with implementing VSTs because the competition is way, way ahead. 2003-12-11 1:26 am I’ve been using Fedora Core 1 since it came out about (what was it?) 6 weeks ago or so? I was using RedHat 9 before that. I’ve been checking out Mandrake 9.2 on a spare machine for the last 4 or 5 days and I’m convinced it’s the distro for me. (At least for now. I have yet to check out SuSE 9 (the ftp installer didn’t work for me – I’ll try again some other time and/or buy the distro) or Libranet.) So I ordered the Mandrake 9.2 DVD from the Mandrake Store. (Yeah – I could have downloaded it (in fact I already have) or I could have got it from cheapbytes.com, but I prefer to vote with $$ as the saying goes. I wish more people would.) I agree with the reviewer that said he doesn’t think the Mandrake installer is as good as Fedora/RedHat, but it’s not awful either. But the install is about the only thing Fedora/RedHat is better at in my opinion. I do like the default Desktop setup for Mandrake WAY better than Fedora/Redhat. The Galaxy theme is nice looking. I hate the default Fedora/Redhat Desktop appearance. It looks dull and ugly. But that’s obviously a very objective opinion and one that is easily changed via themes. However I think the “first impression” is important (even crucial to newbies) and I think Mandrake has a more appealing out of the box look than Fedora/Redhat does. Also mentioned in the review was that Mandrake uses supermount for the CD-ROM drives. I too think that’s a very good idea for Desktop/Home users. Mounting and unmounting may be desirable for the server environment, and *some* particularly savvy computer users may prefer it too. But for ordinary Joe Users who don’t know or care about computers, supermount is a requirement. I also like that Mandrake includes NTFS support “out of the box”. I understand RedHat’s reasons for not including it but never-the-less it’s one less thing I as an end user have to concern myself with. Also since RedHat/Fedora do not include NTFS support in their kernels, every a new kernel gets released via Up2Date, you have to get a new NTFS module. Again – for the average Joe User this is going to be problematic. On a similar note, Mandrake lets you play MP3’s out of the box. And again – I understand RedHat’s reasons but *again* it’s one less thing I have to mess with. 1 is a small number, but 1+1+1+1+1+1 will eventually add up to a lot of small things that I would rather not mess with. This is a technical thing, but I like it. Mandrake uses devfs by default whereas Fedora/RedHat do not. This is probably some weird anomaly with my particular computers, but whatever the cause, Power Management has *never worked* for me with RedHat 9 or Fedora. (i.e. My computer screens do not shut off EVER no matter what I do.) (Anyone have any idea why?) Yet with Mandrake it works just fine. Strange. I think the default Mandrake menus make more sense than the RedHat/Fedora menus. The System Tools and System Settings menus are kind of confusing. After using Fedora/RedHat for months, I still never know which place to find which thing. Mandrake’s control center seems concise and comprehensive to me. (KDE should take a note from them. I hate KDE’s Kontrol Panel or whatever it’s called.) And on the topic of menus, why am I not allowed to edit my menus in RedHat/Fedora? (I assume I could probably edit them if I wanted to delve into the command line and edit text files. But I don’t think that should be required for a Home/Desktop system.) Mandrake has menudrake that lets you edit them. Mandrake’s software management system lets me specify new locations for finding packages. RedHat/Fedora’s Add/Remove system is static. (And with Fedora it’s broken “out of the box”. You have to download a fix before you can use it.) (Though Mandrake 9.2’s package management tool is broken as well and has to be updated.) But with Fedora/RedHat I have to install Synaptic so I can more easily find new package. Not a major thing, but it would be nice if their Add/Remove tool would include the ability to add more sources. Well – those are just the things I was thinking of off the top of my head. I can’t wait to get my hands on SuSE … though I’m bummed that SuSE 9 comes with Gnome 2.2 and not Gnome 2.4. So I’ll probably wait for SuSE 9.1 2003-12-11 1:34 am I’m also musician, and would have loved two years ago to do something with a system I find ethically better. But no, it was not a domain in which Linux was traditionnaly good. Finding existing components and making them work together was a pain, and for myself, I gave up without having be able to install MIDI. But some people have done majort efforts so that it begins to be usable, and thanks to them, I now do part of my work with Linux. Just read the introduction beginning with You can setup a professional quality audio workstation in an afternoon or less, with Mandrake Linux. No compiling. No text editing. No dependencies. It’s this easy. Frankly, if you have this paper, you just need to read the introduction and the work will be done fast in a straight forward way. Getting a new kernel, as you say, is done with urpmi kernel-multimedia It used to be much worst. I acknowledge there is much more to be done and other software to be written, and I apologize for the little flamebate in my previous post.  mandrake and this paper  A Gnu/Linux Audio Distribution Agnula http://www.agnula.org . Shit, site seems to be down.  Great collection of software http://www.linux-sound.org 2003-12-11 1:50 am On a similar note, Mandrake lets you play MP3’s out of the box. And again – I understand RedHat’s reasons but *again* it’s one less thing I have to mess with. So you know the reason. To be fair with RedHat, It’s just a matter of time before Mandrake and all other remove MP3 by default support. Redhat did it before because they had the bucks, and was for this reason a target of choice. According to a very recent interview from Gaël Duval, MandrakeSoft financial problems’s nightmare will end up in spring 2004. They will become a target too. So, if it’s not already done, it’s just about time to re-rip your entire collection in Ogg/Vorbis, a format technically better and which is and will always be OK to use, and everywhere. Oh, and I will perhaps afford myself one of these nice vorbis-aware music player, which just appears.  my take as a musician. 2003-12-11 3:51 am So, if it’s not already done, it’s just about time to re-rip your entire collection in Ogg/Vorbis, a format technically better and which is and will always be OK to use, and everywhere. That’s not really an option for me right now. My portable digital music player (a.k.a. MP3 player) doesn’t “do” Ogg/Vorbis. I’ve noticed that as of late some manufacturers are including an Ogg/Vorbis decoder in their players. That’s great. I’ll definitely look into it for my next player. 2003-12-11 4:29 am Another thing, Linux does bring out the worst in people. Doesn’t matter if it’s Linux, Solaris, Windows, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp, or even indie music/movie snobbery, etc… Zealots are zealots. Learn to tune them out. 2003-12-11 5:26 am I have been using Linux since 1999. I first tried out Mandrake 6.5 and Suse 6.3 and bought the boxed versions. I am using Mandrake 9.2 now. I love how mandrake is but I think it is because I am familar with it. Suse 9 I have not tried yet but I do like the reviews from it. It has been very nice to see both of these distros evolve from when I first encountered Linux and first tried these two out. 2003-12-11 5:58 am This review was in a bad light. It was poorly written and needs to be put in the trash with other Linux distros. It would be nice for once if the applications would work without Segmentation faults all over the place. Another thing, Linux does bring out the worst in people. Please do not respond to this troll. He’s a poor nickname-stealing soul who just craves for attention. Anyone who’s ever read anything I’ve written knows I am pro-Linux. Not only does he steal other people’s identities in the vain attempt to discredit them, he also spreads FUD and lies through his teeth (applications work without segmentation faults in Mandrake 9.2). Maybe he really thinks that Linux “brings out the worst” in people, but he’s really the worst of the worst. 2003-12-11 6:47 am Hours of tinkering, reading help files, and browsing help forums did no good. It seems to me that however good Mandrake is when it works, to fail so completely on systems that run Windows just fine means it’s not ready for the desktops of regular users. As I wrote, your mileage may vary. I never got my webcam to function under win98se. Did anyone ever mention that win98se was not ready for the desktop? Have you had a look at all the hardware that worked fine in win9x but doesn’t in XP? So does that mean winxp is not ready for the desktop? My point: linux will be ready for the desktop when you can get preinstalled preconfigured systems. I know this doesn’t say much about anything, but then, nor does ‘ready for the desktop’ mean much. I like to turn things around; some desktops and users are ready for linux. Some aren’t. Hardware compatibility issues, user ‘compatibility’ issues, whatever. There are things to improve for sure, both in Linux in general and Mandrake in specific, but a nicely working system can be had in many cases (it will cost some effort to the knowledgeable user, and sometimes a near insurmountable mountain of effort for the newbie), and I prefer Linux+KDE over any other system I have used, not just due to the licensing and mentality behind it, but actually for ease of use. As is stated above, Linux may not be that good/useful for those into professional audio. Ok, then in that case, Linux is not for you. That is surely not the only case either. For plenty of the remaining 95% of all pc users (= all MSWin users, of whom loads are still on win9x and to whom Linux would definitely be an upgrade) linux can and will do fine. 2003-12-11 10:18 am *clap*clap*clap* 2003-12-11 12:40 pm I’ve just installed Mandrake 9.2 on a new PC for my parents, and they’re about to make the switch away from Windows forever. They don’t do anything too exotic with computers: just web & mail (already on Mozilla under Windows), writing documents (already tried OOo under Windows), and using the digital camera (now works great with gtkam and Gimp on Linux). Anyway, nice though Mandrake’s installer is, I would say that you still need to know what you’re doing to install Linux sensibly. If you accept all the defaults, you’ll get a working system, but if want to make sensible choices and beef up the security, then it’s a no-go for newbies. I don’t regard this as a problem though; how many Joe Sixpacks install their OS? They did comment on how nice KDE looked, and how it’s cool that you get so many desktop games and other programs included out of the box. Oh, and the screensavers blew them away, compared with the lame Windows ones 😉 Well, all seems well for now. Perhaps I’ll report back later once they’ve been using Mandrake in anger for a while.