I’ve used Linux since 1994. I’ve used Mandrake Linux since 2002. I’m now running Mandriva 2006.1 and Mandriva 2007.0.
Mandriva 2007.0 finally has the software install and de-install tool correct. Mandriva uses RPM package distribution similar to that made popular by Red Hat. Red Hat has gone mostly commercial, leaving Fedora in the home-use / free-download wake. Mandriva has picked up the baton, and keeps an active presence in the free-download arena.
My suspicion is that it will pay back dividends to them because they have a well-done scalable product line. Just like Apple took over the academic world because they gave computers away free to grade schools, buyers of Mandriva commerical packages will probably come from the user base of free at-home products.
The product division lines are natural. For example, in the free Professional version I downloaded, the graphics drivers are free licensed. On prior installs, I had obtained nVidea graphic drivers from other sources, and, yes, they did offer better performance and capability. And if you want that, and are willing to pay slightly more, you can buy a commercial verion of Mandriva 2007.1, which includes these drivers and other software restricted by non-GNU licensing. This division seems natural, and not offensive to me.
At the same time, Mandriva is not skimping on the in-house development software made available across the product line. After 2 weeks of using 2007.1, I have been most impressed with the software install/removal tool RPMdrake. It always annoyed me that I had to run independent, sequential sessions of removing software (then stop, reload for installs, then re-authenticate as root, then wait for package lists again) and installing software.
They have now combined removing, installing, and updating into one integral GUI. Good job, development team. For the first time, it was obvious to me that updates listed as available include only those software packages I already have installed. Perhaps it was happening that way before, but the new GUI is what made my brain understand what was happening.
I installed the entire system from the 1.44 disk network images. There are glitches and failures reported in the forums, but for me, things worked well. Initially, I went into “power mode” and just checked every software category to install. Doing this, I got “package didn’t install” errors three times. I suppose they must have been 3 of the more obscure packages.
My internet link died, so I had to start over. This time I accepted the default settings, and added the games category. A half day later, the system was up and operational (time limited by my internet connection).
One suggestion for the network install script writers..
An initial 40 MB image is downloaded that then takes over and does package selection, device confirmation, etc. After this stage, if anything goes wrong, don’t make the user start over and download the 40 MB image again. Instead, check the hard drive. If it’s present, just get right into package selection.