My first encounter with Ubuntu was with Hardy Heron, also known as Ubuntu 8.04. This was sometime in 2008, about the time it was released. It was the 8th iteration of, unarguably, the most popular Linux distribution in the world.
Before this, i had played with a few other distributions, notably Mandriva 2006. I remember then being impressed with what i thought was its sleek and lean interface. Mandriva as a company has probably been through more downs than ups when compared with other major Linux distribution companies, the last been the financial woes which it barely survived. In May 2010, the company had actually announced that it was up for sale due to its deteriorating financial situation. It later announced in June 2010 that it was staying intact with the help of new investments from undisclosed sources.
The latest iteration of Mandriva is Mandriva 2010.1 Spring release, and it is considered a solid and user-friendly desktop release.The company claims “it is quicker, easier and more secure than ever and offers new functionalities which revolutionise the desktop. Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring supports a wide panel of hardware configurations, making it a stable base for users. Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring combines simplicity with conviviality in an intuitive, high performing environment. It is the ideal distribution for all users, from the beginner to the most advanced”.To a very large extent, i think their claims are true.
My affair with Ubuntu came to an end recently, without any ceremony, more out of frustration. Right from Day one, the flaws were all there for me to see but like they say, love is blind. I’m by no means a Linux Guru and do I have to be to use the OS? I’d say NO. Unfortunately, that’s the misconception everyone have against Linux, especially if they are unfortunate to have used one of those For-Geeks-Only distributions. Why do I have to be forever tinkering my laptop to get a functionality that is taken for granted on another OS? Ubuntu is great, it’s success story was probably enhanced by the overwhelming publicity given to it. It’s marketing team are definitely top notch. Support from forums are also very easily available, more than any other distro. Support from the company itself is not free.
I still stand by my earlier summation that for a newbie, the best route to follow is the Ubuntu (or its variants) way. I’ll say conclusively that Linux Mint is still your best option but for me, MANDRIVA 2010.1 is the way to go for the following reasons;
I use an Asus UL30A-X5, one of those laptops touted as having a 12 hour battery life, though in reality, the best you can get under Windows is about 8 hours. Under Mandriva, with very minimal GUI configuration, I could boast of about 7 hours.
- All function keys work immediately after installation, no tinkering.
- Ease of use, minimal system hang-ups like i kept experiencing with Ubuntu, highly configurable GUI interface.
- Some multimedia codecs like MP3 and TS format (used by Strong PVR Receivers) are included in the distro.
- Installation DVD contains at least 8 desktop environments including KDE 4.4.3, Gnome and LXDE
- Very large collection of Apps contained in the 4.3GB DVD, more than you will ever need. Especially important for those with limited or no internet connection.
Mandriva is by no means the best distro out there, but to me, it meets my needs, at least for now