Mandriva 2010.0 is the latest achievement of the Mandriva community. According to the features page it is
faster and sexier than ever. Released earlier this month, Mandriva 2010.0
has some interesting new features including Moblin, Sugar, and the
so-called "Smart Desktop".
As usual, Mandriva is shipped in three flavors -
One, Free and PowerPack. The Flash drive edition was not available when
this article was written, but should be available soon. While PowerPack
and One contain some non-free packages like drivers or patent encumbered
multimedia codecs, Free is 100% freedom software. Mandriva recommends the
free edition to advanced users, so that is what we reviewed.
Mandriva Free is available as an installation DVD for 32 (i586) and 64
bit architectures, together with a dual arch DVD which seems to be the same
as a 32 bit one. At the time this article was written the reviewers guide
had no information about this.
Mandriva has a tradition of being user friendly, with a touch of
simplicity. The installer is no exception. It offers a partition setup
based on the available free space in case there are other operating systems
and data. It is also possible to configure a custom disk setup. KDE is
chosen by default, with GNOME, other desktops and all available software on
the DVD as an option. We chose all the defaults and the installation
finished quickly. Advanced options are there for the users who need
Since the 100% free software edition was used, no non-free drivers or
firmware were installed. Therefore my Thinkpad T61, which was used for the
tests, was left with no hardware acceleration for the Nvidia Quadro
graphics and no wireless connection with its Intel 4965 chip. After the
non-free repository was added to rpmdrake,
the necessary drivers and firmware became available for installation. A
few clicks and an X restart made the hardware usable. Rpmdrake was very
responsive on my system, starting and performing very quickly.
No more KDE3
KDE3 and its applications, such as Quanta Plus, have been discontinued
in Mandriva 2010. The default setup should be familiar to KDE3 users,
however, with the desktop set to Folder View, and the menu in the classic
layout. While the default setup provides a safe landing for KDE3 users,
the full KDE4 desktop is only a few clicks away.
The Smart Desktop is one of the most interesting features in Mandriva
2010. In a nutshell, the Smart Desktop tries to build a semantic, task
based desktop on top of KDE's Nepomuk service. In order to be usable,
Smart Desktop requires both Nepomuk and Stringi to be installed and
running. Interaction with the user happens through the Task Management
Widget and a program called Tasktop.
The concept is simple—files and information are gathered around a
common context, called a task. The task is created through the widget or
Tasktop, and allows the user to associate contacts, files, emails and web
pages to the task. The service is integrated with the Dolphin file
manager, which associates the files to the task through the Actions menu.
Dolphin can list all the files associated with a certain task, and can add
files to a task with a right click. Tasktop also has an 'Open in Dolphin'
option, which opens a file manager window with all of the task's associated
files, contacts, emails and web pages. Open/Save dialogs are also
integrated into the Smart Desktop's task based semantic mode. For example
you can save a file to a task using Dolphin.
The theory behind the Smart Desktop is very interesting. In practice
the service is very new and other KDE applications have yet to be
integrated. It would be nice to have an option to associate a contact to
the task directly from the Kontact, or to do the same with a bookmark from
Konqueror, but it's not there yet. It would be even nicer if this support
were integrated into other applications such as GNOME PIM or Mozilla.
Sweet and mobile
Mandriva 2010.0 is a multi-purpose desktop. Beside the popular desktops
like KDE and GNOME, Mandriva ships Sugar and Moblin desktops, available for
installation through the task-sugar and task-moblin
packages, according to the 2010
tour. Due to a conflict with the etoys package,
task-sugar wasn't immediately available for installation.
Fortunately, task-moblin installed the Moblin GUI
without any problems. Moblin is designed for netbooks, but the interface
can be used on other hardware. Mandriva also claims to support a wide
range of netbooks, so netbook users should have no problem using Moblin on
The Mandriva Control Center has been updated. The network profiles
management tool was redesigned and net_monitor was rewritten from scratch.
Package management and updating is more usable and configurable
now. The package search function is now able to use full names, versions
and releases. The update system offers more configurable frequency
settings. The Tomoyo security framework replaces AppArmor and is
configurable with the Tomoyo-gui. New partitions are formatted as Ext4.
Plymouth provides a pretty boot process, and if you like to benchmark you
can install the phoronix-test-suite package.
Mandriva actively advertises Moovida,
the renamed Elisa multimedia center with a new graphical user interface.
Mandriva positions itself as a home multimedia center capable distribution,
Mandriva 2010.0 features the latest versions of many popular
applications. KDE 4.3, GNOME 2.28, OpenOffice.org 3.1.1, Firefox 3.5.5,
and Linux 2.6.31 are just some of the examples.
We experienced some small glitches during initial setup, the desktop
froze during font configuration and there was an offer to upgrade to
2009.1, but these glitches didn't persist after the initial setup.
Mandriva manages to pack a high quality desktop. Their careful approach
with KDE4 settings will hopefully be enough compromise for those who
dislike it, while the performance and responsiveness bring nothing but
joy. The Smart Desktop is certainly a innovation and the most interesting
part of this release.
to post comments)