Posted by: duskfire | May 27, 2012

Mageia 2 – a review

Mageia 2 was released on May 22, 2012. This is a review of the KDE edition of Mageia 2, 32-bit version. I downloaded the live CD ISO file and copied it to a USB stick in order to install it. Mageia cannot be installed with the help of the UNetbootin program  that I often use for this purpose. The Mageia wiki suggests a program called “rufus” if you install from Windows, but I found that the easiest way was to issue the dd command while running Linux. That resulted in a USB stick which had no problems booting into the live environment. The instructions found here were quite clear.

If you choose to install from the DVD, you are able to choose which desktop environment to install (KDE, GNOME, or another) and upgrade from a Mageia 1 installation. The live CDs only offer a single desktop, although nothing will prevent you from adding others later. The main advantage of a live CD edition is so you can make sure your hardware and printer are supported prior to installation.

Note: My laptop can no longer read DVDs and CDs, so I am unable to test different media players for DVD playback as well as I’d like.

Installation

After asking for your language, the second thing you must do during installation is to accept the license. Next you’ll select your time zone and the keyboard you use. After that, you have a very easy to use partitioning tool. I liked the fact that if you already have Linux installed, the default option is to simply replace it with Mageia – no need to manually delete the partition and create a new blank formatted one.

Mageia uses separate root and user passwords, not the “sudo/root account disabled” method which you find in Ubuntu and its derivatives. Small indicators appear when setting up both passwords that indicate how strong they are. The wireless password was carried over from the live session.

Mageia 2’s default desktop for KDE

Mageia features a very user friendly Control Center. This is where you can perform the usual administrative tasks – enable 3D effects, setup your printer, enable a firewall, view the system logs, manage users, and other such duties.

First things to do

You will probably want to enable additional repositories. These are the ones I use with Mageia:

The live CD doesn’t feature the ability to listen to mp3s or play Flash videos and games out of the box. You can watch Youtube videos, but that’s about all. You need to install the “flash-player-plugin” file to enable the rest. Also search for the “libdvdcss2″ file, so that you can watch DVDs. (I prefer the VLC player to watch videos, which is also not installed by default but can be found in the repositories).

(Unfortunately, the plugin hasn’t caught up to the newest Quicktime version. Unlike the first version of Mageia, I’m not able to watch Apple movie trailers. This isn’t a major issue for me, though).

Java is also not installed by default on the CD edition.  You should search for and install “java-1.7.0-openJDK” so that you can use it.

Software

Mageia uses the Classic menu style of KDE, not the default Application Launcher style, although it’s easy enough to change that. This edition installs the following programs: LibreOffice 3.5.3 (Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw), Firefox 10, Knetattach, Konqueror, Telepathy, AcquireImages, DNGConverter, GIMP 2.8, Gwenview, Ksnapshot, Okular, Amarok 2.5, Dragon Player, KsCD, and TVTime. Also installed are the usual set of tools (a calculator, a character select tool, the KWrite text editor, the Konsole terminal, and several others).

There are no games installed by default, but since this is the CD version, I can understand the decision not to include any.

Installing and removing software is done with Mageia’s Software Manager, shown below, which is easily started from the main menu.

After looking around the repositories, I’m quite sure that nearly all your needs will be met. Whether you work on software development, video editing, graphics, music production, or just want an easy to manage everyday operating system that can play most games, Mageia will be able to handle what you ask of it.

When it comes to games, Mageia has all of the most popular ones, and decent support for emulators. Whether you like strategy, arcade, board games, card games, or adventure, Mageia has the most recent versions of almost all the games you enjoy. If you like FPS games, you’ll definitely love Mageia – all of the ones I’ve heard of are in the repositories, including Urban Terror, Warsow, World of Padman, and even Xonotic (which I haven’t seen in Ubuntu repositories yet), as well as OpenArena, Tremulous, and several others.

Starting a game of Go

The most recent versons of Wine, DOSBox, and Playonlinux are also available. For emulators, there are very good ones for Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Atari, Amiga, but the repositories do not include any for Gameboy Color or Advance, Nintendo DS, Playstation, or NES.

Things I like

- The Firefox web browser comes pre-populated with lots of bookmarks in the categories of Community, News, and Programming.

- You start off with 4 virtual desktops which are clearly shown on the taskbar, on the left side. Some graphics effects are enabled right away.

- There is very good support for software development – C, C++, Java, Ruby, Python (2.7.3 and 3.2), Perl, and Lua are among the languages you can work with, and many IDEs can be found in the repositories.

- Mageia has a thriving community – an active forum, a wiki, and ways to contribute. You can keep up with the latest news via their blog.

Things I dislike

- As far as I can tell, you can’t search the package descriptions for terms, only the file names. This makes finding “puzzle” games, or other similar groups, more difficult. Perhaps I missed a setting; the Synaptic package manager for Debian lets you search more thoroughly.

- I still can’t get the printer setup utility to recognize my wireless HP Photosmart Premium (c309g-m). I’m not sure what the problem is, but this is the only serious issue I have with Mageia.

Final Thoughts

This is an excellent distribution for most people. Anyone coming from Windows will find the menu and desktop setup to be very easy to adjust to – although I like GNOME, it’s now quite different in appearance from Windows 7. With this second edition, Mageia has proved that they have staying power, and I’m confident that they will improve even more over the next couple of years. The fact that recent news indicates that there will be some cooperation between Mandriva and Mageia further demonstrates how solid and respected this distribution has become in such a short time.

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Responses

  1. If I understand the package manager problem correctly, you can search descriptions by changing the field on the left of the search bar. The icon is a little pair binonoculars.

    • The icon is actually a magnifying glass

      • Thank you Donald. I can’t believe I missed such an obvious thing…

        • No worries, glad that it is cleared up.

  2. Other Mageia 2 KDE screenshots here: http://linuxscreenshot.netsons.org/mageia-2/

  3. this is one of the worst distros i’ve ever come across for wifi connection from a laptop…i mentioned the bug in the RC and hoped it would be sorted out in the final release but it wasn’t..it sees my network but everytime i input password etc i get ‘connection error’ and after trying various configuration settings for over an hour i gave up..i’ve tried literally dozens of distros from tiny core, pupplylinux, archlinux and so on and every single one has found my wifi with no problem whatsoever..i’m mainly a windows 7 user and i remember when i started to dabble in linux a lot of distros were awkward to set up with wifi but no longer; they’ve got better and better…except for Mageia…if you happen to have a laptop with an Atheros AR5B97 wireless network adapter and you’re thinking of installing Mageia 2 take my advice….don’t bother!

    • I have an HP Pavillion w/ a RT8188ce. It does not recognize it either. So guess what I did, I DL’d, compiled, then installed it. Problem solved. Kinda a pain, but it is so worth the trouble! Mageia is a rock solid distro. KDE is simply stunning on it. Did you submit a bug? If you quit using linux anytime you hit a bug your gunna be using Win for life.
      Anyways, if you would like to give it another shot shoot me a line, I’m quite sure I help you with that. Off the top of my head, if the driver is installed correctly, I would check Mandi which I suspect could be the culprit. If you really want to get into linux, just remember, every bug/crash/issue is just another opportunity to learn, and become more proficient.

      • No, I don’t quit using Linux whenver there’s a bug. I dual-boot (reluctantly), but in this case (a printer issue), changing Linux distros fixes the problem without returning to Windows.

    • Personally, I have an Atheros AR9285 Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express) and I have absolutely no problem with it in Mageia 2. Possibly, you must do some errors in some places…

  4. If you install the mozilla-totem plugin you’ll be able to see apple trailers in firefox. Make sure you don’t have another plugin installed which interferes with totem.

  5. Nice review, I’m sure you would have liked the install media better though.
    IMHO most distro’s could drop their live ISOs and I wouldn’t be too broken up about it. I keep Backtrack on a key for testing and JoliOS on another to do some light computing on any given computer. Other than specialty distros; however, I just think they’re overdone. The live CD would have told me that my WiFi was not configured, but I would have just dealt with the problem and proceeded. Also worth noting is that Mageia has a large interactive QA community so fixes are constantly in the works.
    The last thing I would add is that Enlightenment 17, IceWM, LXDE, Enlightenment 17, Openbox, WMaker, Xfce, and even the new Razor-QT which is a very light WM like LXDE only written with qt, are all available from the install DVD. It really is an awesome distro, and I thank you for taking the time to review it on your blog.

  6. for your printer issue install the hpplip software and select the HP printer software from the start menu

    • What I did was to use the wizard from the control center. After that, the hplip file was installed along with other pieces, but I couldn’t get it to work right. I’ll try it again in a few weeks.

  7. Good review, I use Mageia exclusivly on a couple of computer and love it, I’m kinda glad they didn’t incorperater adobe flash on the Live-CD… it’s easy enough to install once booted up.

    I’m not sure what your sources were in regards to the comment “some cooperation between Mandriva and Mageia”, but what I’ve read demonstrates little or no cooperation. More like one entity borrowing from another… not that there is anything wrong with that.

    http://blog.mageia.org/en/2012/05/21/mageia-comes-full-circle/

  8. In spite of my great expectations, Mageia 2 is quit buggy. I’ve struggled a while till I managed to install my old Mustek scanner. Plus I’ve totally lost access to MCC and rpmdrake. It just won’t show up after the password is typed in. I’ve tried all sorts of changes, but I can only install/remove from out of a terminal. Aesthetically Mageia 2 rocks, but as a Linux distro it reminds me to the years of 2005-2006. Will ever the RPM based part of Linux grow out of these childhood’s illnesses of dependency issues?

  9. I have to agree with M.Csaba — I recently wiped to install Mageia on a whim (I do this sometimes) and noticed that from the initial install there were quite a few bugs. My hardware is not majorly outdated, with a modern video card a competent dual core and 8gb of memory. The system took an immense time to log into the KDE desktop compared to others, internet was borked from the get go — major lag with initial resolves so that opening a link could take from 15 to 45 seconds — and an inability to add the repositories/media sources for URPMI due to Rsync failure. (to name a few)

    After playing with it for 3 hours to get it halfway decent and then still having more bugs crop up and unable to completely diagnose the adding of media sources I put it to the wayside and reloaded. I will load Mageia in a VirtualBox environment and keep an eye on it as it moves forward. Perhaps if I was able to install updates I might have been more stable, but OOB experience wasn’t great.

  10. My view on Mageia 2 KDE is slightly different…

    http://linuxblog.darkduck.com/2012/06/mageia-2-kde-first-glance.html

    Anyhow, that’s a great distro.

  11. This is what KDE SHOULD look like. *Shakes his fist all all the new, widget based KDE* I mean really, are there no basic windows-style desktop environments anymore? KDE is some widgest based oddness, Gnome is doing odd things, Ubiquity is trying for a mac style universal toolbar….

  12. Mageia sucks due to lack of wifi support. More and more people are using wifi yet Mageia doesn’t support it! Mandriva does, Ubuntu does, Fedora does, but Mageia doesn’t? The reason I have wifi is I am quite far from the phone socket where I live so a wire is not a good idea, and thankfully wifi has saved me this hassle, but a modern OS should have this support. Such a pity, Mageia looks good, so perhaps they’ll sort out this firmware problem next release? Until then it won’t be installe on my system at all.

    • My review of Mageia was made with a wifi connected laptop. I don’t know the details of your situation, but Mageia does have wifi support. It’s possible that you need to add a firmware blob separately, which I’ve had to do for a few distros. But saying that it has no wifi support at all is just not correct.

  13. After having some problems with Kubuntu, I tried Mint KDE and Netrunner and even Kubuntu 12.2 but all of these kept falling over, so I thought I’d try either Suse or Mageila. Decided on Mageia, and so far am very satisfied. I do not use wireless so no problems there. It installed all the printer drivers when I went to install printers and recognised my HP Deskjet 3050A and old Epson EPL 5700 without any problems. Also set up scanner. Nice neat decktop, and easy to get a selection of backgrounds.

    Only complaints are it seems to be difficult to install Spotify for Linux, and Homerun application loader.


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