Mandrake Linux 9.0 Review by Joey.
Well I haven't really tried Mandrake Linux in a little over a year so
when I heard that 9.0 was released I decided to snag the ISO's and give
it a try.
For a summary of what's included with Mandrake Linux 9.0, please visit
The first boxed-set shipments are expected to be sent out at the end
of October. In the mean time you can just download it.
After I burnt the cd's (3 of them) I popped CD 1 into my drive and
rebooted my computer to start the install.
The installer immediately detected my USB Optical mouse and to my
amazement the scroll wheel worked as well. So far so good.
The installer itself is rather blue and in my opinion could use a
little work. It's not very pleasing to the eye and could definetly
be better layed out.
At one point early on there is an option to select what
"Security Level" you would like to install. There are a few different
options, standard, high, higher and paranoid. Not wanting to break the
install, I chose standard. It also asks you for a security
administrator (name or email) which I didn't really understand.
The partitioning tool is a little confusing to
use, I guess I'm too familiar with Disk Druid or Fdisk. One nice thing
is that it detected my NTFS drives and let me set mount points for
them, something Red Hat Linux 7.3 didn't let me do.
I did a quick selection of what packages I wanted to install and the
total install size was close to 2 gigs. While it is installing the
packages there are nice little advertisements on the screen for
Mandrake Store as well as
informational bits about the distribution and software included.
It took about 20 minutes to install all the packages.
After the package installation I got to pick my root password and then
add a user to the system. It even allows you to pick an ICON to
associate with the user... how XP-like.
Next up it allowed me to select what Window Manager to use. It gave me
quite a selection:
Now it was time to configure the network. You can use auto detection,
which I used for the fun of it. The machine I'm installing Mandrake
on behind a gateway/firewall on the LAN and of course, the installer
picked up on that instantly. It then let me set the IP address for the
ethernet card along with the hostname of the machine and the
DNS server/gateway information. You then have the option of setting a
proxy if you wish.
After that is done it will give you a summary. It detected my mouse,
my keyboard, my timezone and my soundcard (SB Live!). It even told me I didn't
have a printer connected, which is true.
You are now presented with the plesure of choosing what
services/daemons you want to automatically start at bootup. Next comes
the bootloader selection. Not wanting to disrupt my current system, I
selected to install the bootloader on a floppy disk. It also gives you
the option to specify how much ram you have if it doesn't detect right.
(It detected my 256 megs without a problem). It then went on to create
my boot disk.
Time for the X configuration. It detected my monitor (Dell) and my
video card (GeForce2 DDR) and gave me the option to run either XFree86
4.2.1, 3.3.6 or 3.3.6 with experimental 3D hardware acceleration. I
chose 4.2.1. I then had to choose my screen resolution (1152x864) and
the color depth (24 bits) and got to test the settings. The test
background (which could use a lot of work) looked like some
television channels early in the morning when there is no programming
on. (Those thick color lines running up and down the screen). It also
asks you if you would like to have X start at boot up (No for me).
Okay here is a neat feature. After you configure X the installer asks
you if you would like to download any updates for the system that have
been released since 9.0 has come out. I choose yes just to see what it
does. It brought up my network connection and allowed me to pick a
mirror site out of the list. This option took a litle while to complete
I guess due to the traffic on the sites and my connection but it
After the updates completed the install was over. It
ejected the cdrom and rebooted the computer. I put the boot disk
in and loaded up Mandrake 9.0 for the first time.
The boot process still looks like Red Hat's with the
Loading [OK] stuff in it. There were no errors and I was now looking
at the login screen:
Mandrake Linux release 9.0 (dolphin) for i586
Kernel 2.4.19-16mdk on an i686 / tty1
I logged in with my user account and loaded up X for the first time.
After I typed startx the machine loaded X and presented me with a
"Welcome to First Time Wizard" that allows you to customize your
desktop.. interesting. You get to select which window manager you want
to use from a pull down menu. If you select KDE, it magically changes
the screen/theme to what KDE looks like so you can get a preview,
kinda neat. I choose KDE and it now gave me the option to choose a
KDE theme. There were 4 installed, KDE Default, KDE Redmond, KDE
Platinum and KDE Solaris. The KDE Default one was alright so that's
what I ended up choosing.
pops up and it tells you what sort of information Mandrake is
collecting and then allows you to enter in your data. I don't know
why they bother with these things, I would really like to meet the
person who actually provides valid information and find out how much
spam and telemarketing calls they receive on a daily basis.
After my falsified information was submitted, it allowed me to set up
a mail account. For the mail client there is only one option, Kmail.
I wonder why they don't provider other options here... oh well.
After entering my account details it connected to some Mandrake site
and allowed me to select my MandrakeProfile username/password. It then
prompts you to enter in all your information *again*... this is getting
annoying big brother! After I entered in information for Mr. Stop Bugginme
they then wanted all this information about my processor, internet
connection, hardware, blood type, dna samples, penis size etc.
Fortunately for them this information was optional. If it wasn't, I
would be rebooting back into XP by now.
Once finished, it booted up KDE 3.0, which looks mighty cool. The menu
system looks a lot like windows, which I guess could be a good thing.
There was tons of software installed so there are ample things to
play with. I loaded XMMS, changed over to my NTFS MP3 directory and
played a few tunes.
The Mandrake Control Center is nicely built and allows you to
configure your whole system with a few clicks of the mouse.
Over all, Mandrake 9.0 is a step in the right direction for Linux use on
desktop machines. The interface is well polished and pretty much
everything works out of the box.