Mandriva Linux


Mandriva Linux was launched by Gaël Duval in July 1998 under the name of Mandrake Linux. At first, it was just a re-mastered edition of Red Hat Linux with the more user-friendly KDE desktop, but the subsequent releases also added various user-friendly touches, such as a new installer, improved hardware detection, and intuitive disk partitioning utility. As a result of these enhancements, Mandrake Linux flourished. After attracting venture capital and turning into a business, the fortunes of the newly established MandrakeSoft fluctuated widely between a near bankruptcy in early 2003 to a flurry of acquisitions in 2005. The latter, after merging with Brazil's Conectiva, saw the company change its name to Mandriva.

Mandriva Linux is primarily a desktop distribution. Its best loved features are cutting edge software, superb system administration suite (DrakConf), excellent implementation of its 64-bit edition, and extensive internationalisation support. It had an open development model long before many other popular distributions, with intensive beta testing and frequent stable releases. In recent years, it has also developed an array of installable live CDs and has launched Mandriva Flash - a complete Mandriva Linux system on a bootable USB Flash device. It was the first major distribution that offered out-of-the box support for popular netbooks, such as ASUS Eee PC.

Despite the technical excellence, Mandriva Linux has had a roller coaster ride in recent years. This has partly to do with the emergence of other user-friendly distributions that have caught up with Mandriva, but also with some controversial decisions by the company which have alienated a sector of the distribution's user base. Mandriva's web presence is a messy conglomeration of several different web sites, while its "Mandriva Club", originally designed to provide added value to paying customers, has been getting mixed reviews. Although the company has been addressing some of the criticism, it continues to face an uphill battle in persuading new Linux users or users of other distributions to try (and buy) its products.

  • Pros: Beginner-friendly, especially the commercial edition; excellent central configuration utility; very good out-of-the-box support for dozens of languages; installable live CD
  • Cons: Lacks a comprehensive marketing strategy to compete with other major distributions, non-existent Mandriva books show lack of "mindshare" among publishing houses
  • Software package management: URPMI with Rpmdrake (a graphical front-end for URPMI) using RPM packages; "SMART" available as an alternative method
  • Available editions: Freely downloadable Mandriva "Free" installation media for 32-bit (i586) and 64-bit (x86_64) processors; freely downloadable Mandriva "One" installable live media for 32-bit (i586) processors; commercial Mandriva PowerPack edition for 32-bit (i586) and 64-bit (x86_64) processors; also high-end "Corporate" solutions for desktops and servers, all with long-term support options

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updated: 01.11.2010

released: 01.11.2010