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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.