MandrakeMove is a Live CD distribution, or in other words, it does not need to be installed. It is an interesting concept, but not a new one, there are quite a few similar products, such as the famous Knoppix, SUSE Live, LindowsCD, Mempis, PCLinuxOS, Gnoppix and a few others.
No more file compatibility problems for presentations: need to present an OpenOffice.org presentation with a Java applet in it which MS Office does not support? You no longer need to remove it, just use MandrakeMove.
- No setup required
- Simply boot from CD and everything is ready to go
- If you need to upgrade your MandrakeMove again all you need is to insert the new MandrakeMove (this is of course assuming, that Mandrake will continue developing this line of products)
- Software is unbreakable
- No viruses whatsoever, even if they manage to get on the hard drive of the computer, and the user is dumb enough to execute it, the virus can not harm his system because it can not modify the CD
- Odd configurations of any type, such as deletion of all icons will be solved in just a few seconds after a reboot
- Takes up no space on hard drive, in fact it does not require a hard drive, significantly reducing the price of a computer
- Portability: now you can have a solid Linux operating system anywhere
- If you have a USB thumbdrive you may even store your configuration on it along with your files so you can boot up and become productive faster
- You get what the developers intended
- Unlike a distribution where you pick and choose the components to install and where more configuration is needed, MandrakeMove is the exact image of what the developers intended because you have no chance to modify anything which could lead to dependency or integration problems
There are many cases where a system that runs off the CD would be ideal:
- Internet cafes: these places need great computers, cutting costs is a priority and not needing a hard drive, or any administration is a big plus
- Schools: again cutting costs is a major concern, and here this product shines; in addition it provides all the tools students need, and perhaps is a little too feature-packed (many administrators do not want students to be able to play games and MandrakeMove comes with a good selection of games and powerful multimedia capabilities)
- Demonstration purposes, show off your Linux system without touching any of the data
- As a recovery tool: you should definitely keep this handy, especially if you have computers running Windows 95, 98 or ME
- If you travel a lot and need to use computers on which you do not have all the software you need, this will definitely come in handy, especially in combination with a USB thumbdrive
-NO USB KEY
+ USB key 128Mb
+ USB key 256Mb
MandrakeMove $ 269
+ USB key 512Mb
Now that we know the benefits of using such a product and some possible scenarios, let’s get down to the real review.
What it comes with
The boxed set of MandrakeMove comes with a bootable CD, a nice manual and a USB key (128 Mb or 256 depending on your choice), considering that a 128 MB USB key runs at about $50, the price seems right.
Also, for those that are confused, there are important differences between the Download Edition and Boxed Edition.
Most importantly, you cannot use a USB key with the download edition to store your data and it is missing commercial software such as Flash, Realplayer and Java, which because it is a CD distribution cannot be installed later.
Well this is a no-brainer, all you do is set your CD-ROM drive as bootable from the BIOS, wait for it to load, select the language, and just enter a user name and password, if all goes well, in a little more than a minute you should find the familiar KDE desktop. If you have a configuration saved on your USB thumbdrive you will be presented with your custom desktop.
So far it has worked on all 3 of my computers which are all build from scratch except an IBM Thinkpad laptop. Only problem I’ve had is with the wireless, but this seems to be the case for every distribution I tried on it. I’m especially impressed that it configured my Cannon S600 at bootup without any input from me.
Usage and Applications
I will admit it, I am not a Mandrake fan, I often found their distribution to be loosely integrated, and missing polish. This is why I was surprised to find that this is actually what I would have liked version 9.2 to be.
Usability wise this distribution is excellent, it seems to have backports of some usability fixes from KDE 3.2. For example the “actions” menu and the CD-ROM and trash menus are very clean and contain only what you need. Also the names of the CD-ROMs can be changed and are just simple “CD-ROM 1” or “CD-ROM 2” unlike in Mandrake 9.2 which would not allow you to change the name and would display the path to the CD-ROM.
Other than things which really aren’t in Mandrake’s Power to change, such as having Qt and GTK act the same, not just look the same, the Mandrake Menu is bad for usability for several reasons. First of all it contains duplicates, the “-> All Applications” menu is not necessary and should be eliminated in favor of having an “Extra” or “More” submenu in each section. Second of all, unlike the other Menu, the “-> All Applications” menu includes the real names of the applications instead of listing its use. Perhaps the best of both worlds would be to have the function of the application take place of the name, but to display its real name on mouse over or vice versa.
The range of applications in Mandrake Move is great for its intended purpose, as everything for normal productivity tasks is included. Instant messaging, word-processing, web browsing, e-mail, time management etc.
There are a few notable absences though: there is no GNOME for example. However I think this is not bad at all, having two seems overkill for the purpose of this version of Mandrake and there really isn’t space for both anyway. Personally if I give this CD to one of my Windows friends to try I would only want them to have one, the best of breed desktop environment, not twm, or some other obscure window manager, that would only make more evident the poor integration of Linux software. What surprised me was the absence of Mozilla, it is the standard for Linux and still the best when it comes to rendering. For me it has not been a problem, Konqueror 3.1.4 has rendered all the websites I’ve tried very well except for empiresrts.com which hard some minor problems. There are some websites which Konqueror renders well that Mozilla does not, but in general Mozilla does a better job and I think it should have been included, there was enough space for it anyway. I do understand that it would make it easier for Explorer addicted Windows users and that the speed is unacceptable, but it should still be an option.
I have not yet let my friends try it, but I can report the reaction I got from using it in my school library. I quietly restarted the computer, made the CD-ROM bootable, and as I expected everything worked great. Unfortunately, the school administrators weren’t as happy as I was, and told me to close the program I was using. It took a while just to explain that it was another operating system and not a Windows program. After this, they were even more pissed off, and informed me that I have violated an important school rule: “Students may not install any new software on school computers…” I smiled at their ignorance and explained that this was not actually installed, another hard to grasp concept for them, but rather running entirely from the CD and memory. The configuration of the computer was exactly as before.
They did not believe me at first, that is why I had the manual with me to prove it and also they knew that the manual was really that of the CD I had just removed because they did not think me capable of making the CD design. After I proved my case, the tensions eased and they were actually very pleased and one of them asked me to borrow it. Not one had even heard of Linux, but they liked its possibilities and this incident gave me a chance to explain it to them, as well as the four other people which had gathered around us.
I do not know if they actually liked it or not, because I haven’t talked to the administrator yet, but at least I know now that they are considering Linux and the experience was fun anyway and I am now able to run the distribution whenever I please on library computers as long as I am the only one on the computer, they do not like people crowding on one computer. I guess they might think that I could view porn sites and they wouldn’t know because everyone would be blocking the view, as had happened earlier in the year.
MandrakeMove is a worthwhile product and by far the best in its class when it comes to ease of use, integration and overall polish. It has some small quirks here and there but nothing major, and to me it feels far more polished than 9.2 and is the first live CD that does Linux justice. I would like to mention though that I would have liked if it had an ability to do a hard drive install of the live CD.
I think this is a great Move for Mandrake, it is a good promotion for Mandrake because many Windows converts will be first introduced to Mandrake and as we all know, the first Linux distribution you try is an important factor in determining the one you will stay with. They have an excellent product, especially for a 1st release, but they need to do a better job promoting it and explaining why and when it is most useful.