Friday, November 6, 2009

Mandriva 2010 - First impressions PART 2

Hi again,

This is a continuation of PART 1 of my Mandriva 2010 review. If you are interested, please read the first installment first.

Now, let´s pick it up right where we left it.

When I got to the desktop, my first thoughts were more towards Karmic Koala than to Mandriva, and how Ubuntu have been taking giant steps to becoming an incredibly good distro. It´s difficult and not exactly fair to compare distros without taking into consideration several factors. However, I believe that overall user experience is an important element, and probably what most users will care about eventually.

Mandriva 2010 does not look like much of an improvement from 2009.1. It does feel slightly faster, but not in a noticeable way. Compared to my installation of Karmic, it feels slow and bloated. Icon and window themes are the same, and so are fonts. The Mandriva menu looks the same as well, more of a traditional "windows like" kind of menu, as opposed to the standard KDE menu. Completely a personal thing, but the default Mandriva themes, as well as the default wallpaper are ugly in my opinion. I quickly changed them and started using Oxygen theme. I then enabled compiz effects so I could use some emerald window themes (much nicer than any kwin theme, IMHO).

All in all, the desktop experience was a bit of a disappointment for me, as I expected quite an improvement, and it isn´t there, I think.

The problems started when I wanted to connect to my Wireless network. The usual check on network connections showed that wireless was down. ifconfig command didn´t even show wlan0, and ifconfig wlan0 up failed, showing a SIOCSIFFLAGS: The file or directory does not exist type error. That bit was very frustrating, as it´s been a while since I have had a similar problem. In fact, considering that this is the same machine where I installed Mandriva 2009.1, and it picked up the wireless network flawlessly back then, it almost felt like a step backwards.

In any case, the usual googling magic worked again, and I could find a solution. For those experiencing the same problem, here´s how to fix it (solution for Intel on chip wireless cards):

1.- Open up a virtual console.

2.- Run dmesg | grep firmware

3.- You should get lots of entries. Download firmware from based on the results you got from step 1.

4 .- You should download a compressed file containing few other files inside it. Just extract the one whose name is exactly the same as what you got in step one into /lib/firmware.

5.- Run ifconfig wlan0 up and that should bring up your wireless interface. Your network applet should now be detecting your wireless network among others in your area.

NOTE: You may need to perform some of these tasks as root or by running sudo.

Once the process was finished and I was connected to my wireless network, things were pretty smooth. I downloaded my favorite ttf-droid fonts and set them up, along with a few compiz and system shortcuts of my liking.

I gotta say the guys at KDE are doing a very good job at improving this desktop environment. I personally favor GNOME myself, but have to admit KDE is becoming a very nice piece of work.

Anyways, after more tweaking than initially expected, I got Mandriva working smoothly. It is an OK release, in my opinion. I was expecting a lot more from it, and considering how Fedora and OpenSuse come with very promising releases, Mandriva may be losing some ground to them very quickly.

Let´s wait and see.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Seems weired, I think you have a intel prowireless wifi card, and, IFIK mandriva never has come with the firmware files. I've been using Mandriva for long time in my laptop, and i have a intel prowireless wifi card.

    This is my blog and the articles about mandriva are these

  2. Hi, Ricardo,

    Thanks for your comments!

    Well, Mandriva free should not, but Mandriva One always worked out of the box for me. In fact, it is clear the firmware is there if the Wifi card is detected using the LiveCD.

    Anyways, after putting everything in place, I think it's an OK release. However, Mandriva used to be my favorite KDE implementation, but I believe it will soon fall short in comparison to Fedora.

  3. Every distro has it's flaws, I have seen more laptops that ubuntu doesn't recognice it's wifi cards than Mandriva. But the important point here is, have you taken the time to fill a bug report about the wifi issue ? if you don't report it don't expect to get it fixed.

  4. Hi, Jean Luis,

    Thanks for your comments. I admit my post probably sounded more harsh than I intended. Of course all distros have their flaws, and Ubuntu is no different. However, my review was an overall reflection of the 2010 release, and I stand by my initial impressions after a few months using it. I still can't see an improvement over 2009.1 that would measure up to the jump Ubuntu 9.10 or Fedora 12 took. Note that I know Ubuntu 9.10 has been a problematic release, at least during the first couple of months, but still they pushed the envelope and brought lots of improvements, perhaps too many!

    Anyways, my expectations on Mandriva 2010 were higher, and it perhaps let me down, that's all.