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First Mandrake 9.1 Review Out 313

icantblvitsnotbutter writes "With Mandrake Linux 9.1 right around the corner, it's OSNews first out of the gates with a review of this desktop-oriented distro's latest release. The review is actually pretty bland, skimming the surface to linger on some of Eugenia's pet peeves. Having used 9.1 in a production environment since beta 3, I can say that the improvements to the installation and the signature Mandrake tools are much-appreciated. Don't forget that Mandrake Club members get their own set of mirrors, as well as being eligible for extras like the voting process that selected the packages for the 9.1 release." Update: 03/25 18:29 GMT by T : anyweb also points out a review of Red Hat Linux 9 on the same site, writing "an informative article -- well I had to say that, I wrote it ;-)"
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First Mandrake 9.1 Review Out

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  • by N3WBI3 ( 595976 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:34PM (#5592061) Homepage
    Redhat announced tday it would skip the 9.0 release and go right to 9.1
  • Of course, I prefer FreeBSD ... but that might just be me.

    Last time I tried Mandrake was many years ago, and it was actually pretty decent, though I didn't use it for much. Hopefully with this new release ... they've overcome the fugliness that the X11 protocol seems to force upon UNIX.
    • however, it's doubtful that X will be dropped.

      Which is a shame, because the more I use linux, the less I like X.
      • The only things I've encountered that I ever liked about X ... were Fluxbox and Mozilla. And they provide the exact dichotomy that I am complaining about (although Mozilla has an excuse for it with XUL or whatever it is).

        The design of X11, and its current implementation, allows for too many different dialog styles and interfaces - it's not standardized, and I've encountered situations where no two applications have the same visual style, in regard to dialogs and such. It makes me want to cry.

        So, yes, curr
        • The design of X11, and its current implementation, allows for too many different dialog styles and interfaces - it's not standardized

          What in the world does this have to do with X? That's the job of the various Desktop Enviroments / Window Managers, not X.

          If you're complaining that there are several different ways of doing things *and have the choice between them* and are also finding that freedom a problem, go back to Windows. BillyG will be glad to have you back.
          • Apparently it is not the job of Window Managers, because no matter what I've done in the past I've always ended up with butt-fugly dialogs, which are wholly independant of the Window Manager. Sure, sometimes they are controlled by the desktop environment (as is the case in Gnome) - but even then, it's rare to be able to change one setting and have it affect the entire system. If I want Gnome's Marble3D look, I want it on *all* the applications, not half of them.

            And aside from Marble3D, I've never encounter
            • I've always ended up with butt-fugly dialogs, which are wholly independant of the Window Manager.

              OK, I'll slightly agree. Some "decorations" and "styles" aren't for everyone. That's why we have a choice of what we want to use/see.

              Aside, this is NOT X that you're complaining about. X has nothing to do with it. Your argument is that there is (two things):

              No "singular" "look" for a *NIX box.
              This is not true. RedHat and Mandrake have worked on that. Use them if you don't understand what a "widge

              • It's not that I don't know what I'm talking about, it's that I'm blindly flaming away simply because back when I actually used Redhat I had to manually configure modelines. I'm still bitter about that. :) I don't actually use X-Windows any more, so I can't really write out a concise explanation of what I don't like. I've seen screenshots of KDE3, though, and it actaully looks pretty darn decent.
        • The design of X11, and its current implementation, allows for too many different dialog styles and interfaces - it's not standardized

          In one sense you are correct. It is a design decision of X11 (made way back when) that it was to be policy neutral. But this is not a bad thing. Far from it. It is not the job of X11 to tell a window manager where the close button must be. It is not the job of X11 to tell the application what buttons are allowed in its dialogs.

          Can you imagine a programming language that imp
          • All I want is for all applications to unite and allow me to change the look of every single "standard" dialog to a different appearance visually with only a single click. Apparently, between GTK, tcl/tk, and KDE apps and all that ... it's not possible. At least, it wasn't the last time I used Linux (Debian Woody with XFree 4.2 and Fluxbox).

            In Windows, all the buttons look the same. And that's the way I like it. And no, I do *not* want XWindows buttons to look like Windows buttons, I just want them to look
  • by jimhill ( 7277 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:34PM (#5592070) Homepage
    If it's a Eugenia Loli-Queru review it can be boiled down to this: "It's not BeOS. It sucks."
    • The honest truth is that a trip to her homepage, or any other of her reviews, will indicate that this is indeed the case. As a matter of fact, I was specifically looking for a BeOS reference in this Mandrake review. I was quite surprised when I didn't find one.
  • by gotr00t ( 563828 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:36PM (#5592086) Journal
    Mandrake may be "user friendly" but I think that compared to SuSE 8.0, it is much less robust in features and hardware support. SuSE has much better support for most of the hardware that I use than Mandrake 9.0, which actually took me a while to configure my ISA sound card. I hope that this distribution will change that.
    • SuSE8.0? You're kidding, right?

      I bought the Pro-Pack. Yup, I dropped $80 bucks (US) on it only to find out that when I went to update it, it totally b0rked itself. Nice. Oh, I had to DL the new RPM manually, and install that. OK, not that big a deal, I was used to RPM hell at that point. Oh, well there were 20 or so dependencies for that dependency. Err... well, 30 or so to get those dependencies of the dependencies installed cleanly. Oh, well, I still had to hack at some config files. Well, but
      • I did the exact same thing. Wasn't 8.0 the one that shipped with the buggy kernel? YaST's online update module just quits. No errors, nothing logged, just *piff!*
        Oh, and the http server list in the online update module seems to contain servers that don't have the correct files or are generally flaky.

        I switched to Gentoo as well and am happy to be out of RPM hell.
      • you obviously haven't been a victim of emerge/ebuild hell. gentoo is a great idea that needs a little maturity (read: robust package management).

        wanna get the latest version of kde? well, sorry you're going to need the latest version of xfree (kde doesn't really have much hooks at all in xfree let alone having 3.1.1 needing a uber-modern version of xfree. xfree 4.3 on the other hand has BUSTED fonts in gentoo).

        emerge is nice and fun. it's still a toy until it gets extremely more robust management. a
    • Errrrr.......this article is about Mandrake 9.1, in case you hadn't noticed.

      So if you're going to title your comment "I still think SuSE is better", then you're misleading people, if what you actually meant is "I still think SuSE is better than the previous release of Mandrake".
    • by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @02:24PM (#5592510) Journal

      Mandrake dropped automatic detection of ISA cards for a good reason: ISA sucks. There, I said it. ISA sucks big fat hairy moose cock.

      Join the 1990's!

    • The main advantages of SuSE over Mandrake (in my eyes) are the full-featured ncurses based YaST and the more affordable DVD based format. Granted, Mandrake offers the ProSuite CD/DVD combo for $70 but I can get the same setup and software for $50 from SuSE. Don't get me wrong, there's still some things to dislike about SuSE, like the particularly crappy package manager (anybody from SuSE listening?) but until Mandrake knocks $20 off their DVD offering and puts out a FULL (not the limited version in 9.0) ter
      • You think YAST is an advantage?

        YAST is TERRIBLE.

        Try manually changing a config sometime, only to have YAST overwrite it...YAST keeps its own database of configuration stuff as opposed to working directly on the config files, as other distributions do.

        • You obviously came from RedHat and discovered that SuSE doesn't work the way you are expected from your experience. This doesn't make it "TERRIBLE".

          I have to say that you are not alone, I had the same problem with SuSE (6.0).

          But, as I am told, this has changed. In the past, SuSE kept all parameters in a single rc file. SuSE now keeps (since 8.0) like RedHat everything in a seperate config file.
    • I find the opposite true. I am forced to use Suse at work and have had many problems with it that I do not have with my Mandrake machines.

      On a side note, does anybody know how, in Suse, to allow a normal user to bring up / take down a network interface as can be done with Redhat/Mandrake?

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:36PM (#5592091)
    Who are these people to review anything, if their review consists of skimming the surface and focusing on their pet peeves? Thats how flamewars start - bickering over window managers. Let's talk REAL functionality, things like auto-detection of hardware, capabilities of the install kernel, etc.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:46PM (#5592191)
      Eugenia used to write reviews on BeOS. Since it was such a small community, she rose to the top quickly. Then she started installing a bunch of different OS's (btw, none are as good as the BeOS), and started OSNews. She got some help with the noninstall stuff, and got a popular site up.

      Then, when she was in charge, she'd lash out at her readers (look at her webpage). She was the editor, but didn't speak good english, so she had many spelling and grammar mistakes. But don't correct her, that'd just make her superpissed.

      Basically, Eugenia is a self absorbed angry woman that got popular through the BeOS community, and now we can't get rid of her.
      • Sure we can get rid of her, STOP READING OSNEWS. Without the page hits, their ad revenue drops, and they Go Away. Shrug. Refuse to buy (by reading it) their product. Vote with your 'wallet' (and mouse button).
      • ".....and now we can't get rid of her"

        I don't agree with much of what she says, but you don't have to read all her reviews, if you don't like them. No-ones forcing you to read them.
      • Then, when she was in charge, she'd lash out at her readers (look at her webpage). She was the editor, but didn't speak good english, so she had many spelling and grammar mistakes. But don't correct her, that'd just make her superpissed.

        Hold the phone, I thought CmdrTaco was a guy!

      • by jbolden ( 176878 )
        What site does a better job in terms of covering Operating System related News? This site doesn't have nearly as many articles. ENews is vastly more surface oriented. Most other sites only focus on a particular OS, and are terrible in terms of comparison.

        Comparing products is very difficult. How many good comparisons do you see of: Oracle, SQL Server, DB2 vs. Postgres .... Biases of the reviews come through quickly. Cars are probably the easiest things to compare in that they are:

        a) Fairly static
    • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:53PM (#5592236) Homepage Journal
      Actually, Eugenia's reviews are usually "this is a journal of what happened when I installed this non-BeOS OS." Its just a collection of thoughts. I'd call it a journal entry more than any objective review (but that's what OSNews boils down to).
      Yes, I don't read anything from OSNews, because I want objective reviews, not a livejournal dedicated to operating systems.
    • Who are these people to review anything, if their review consists of skimming the surface and focusing on their pet peeves?

      Did you even bother to read the article? Or did you just read the slashdot summary and take that as gospel?

      Because the thing is, if you had bothered to read the article, you'd have found that her review is really very favorable to Mandrake 9.1. Here's some direct quotes from her conclusion:

      1. "With this release I see a very serious and very respectable effort from MandrakeSoft to cre

  • My 1-item wishlist (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aridhol ( 112307 ) <ka_lac@hotmail.com> on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:36PM (#5592093) Homepage Journal
    When updating from 7.2 to 8.0, I had the fun of not having enough disk space. So I went through the package list, and tried to remove some stuff. However, it could not be removed because it was already installed. What I'd like to see is the ability for the installer to remove already-installed packages. Instead, I had to boot into the old system, remove packages, and re-install the update.

    I sent this request to the Mandrake developers at 8.0. As of 9.0, this feature was still not available. Probably won't be there for 9.1, but I can hope.

    • by pvcf ( 150815 )
      Having myself gone through every Mandrake version since 7.0 I can appreciate this. However, I think you may find that ultimately, it would be better in the long run to plan for upgradability.

      I think that several upgrades using a tool like you mention, no matter how well designed, would still leave a bunch of OS lint lying about.

      I personally format /, /usr and /var every upgrade. Put all my personal stuff in /home and /usr/local and copy every file I modify into /usr/local right after I do it. i.e. if
      • Another hint for those upgrading RPM-based distros: After doing the update, run:

        find /etc -name '*.rpm*'

        to find out which config files have changed, and make any manual updates still required.

        Often, if you've edited a package's config file(s), an RPM upgrade will often save the new config file(s) as "configfile.rpmnew" instead of over-writing your changes. However, the old config file isn't always 100% compatible with the new package, so you often need to upgrade by hand (or install the new config

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:37PM (#5592103)
    All my friends and family use Linux 9.0, and now, Linux 9.1 is even better!
  • a freshly polished desktop for a while. Right now I've got blue curve action on my Redhat8 desktop but it doesn't seem as cool as my linux desktops of long ago. Sure things work nicely but eye-candy is yummy.

    I'm suprised that with a RedHat 9 release less than a month away we haven't seen one of those reviewed.

    The other option is SuSE, and from what I hear, has a nicely tuned desktop as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The installation has been completely revamped. It looks good and its interface is cleaner with fewer steps required by the user (however, the power is still there if you need it, hidden under some 'advanced' buttons on in the 'Summary' screen). I also liked the little 4-option menu asking you how to proceed with the installation regarding partitions, I found it intuitive, clean and better than the competition's. The only things the user needs to do is pick the language, keyboard, mouse, hard d
  • I was downloading this at 1.3MB/sec in the UK soon as it hit the front page on slashdot it dropped to 30KB/sec

    Oh well
  • by joestar ( 225875 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:44PM (#5592178) Homepage
    I have tested it today and it's *the greatest Mandrake release ever*. The new installation procedure is impressing, very simple to use, and the whole thing is so great on the desktop, very good looking, very natural to use. A usual it includes many many features. But the best is as usual Mandrake unique features such as supermount and the device dynamic desktop, which aren't in any other Linux distribution.

    On their website there is now a link to all the 9.1 features, it's on http://www.mandrakelinux.com/en/9.1/features/ [mandrakelinux.com]

    The best of all with this new release, in my opinion, is that the level of quality is very high. I couldn't find any bug yet - Mandrake improved much in the debuging area as well!

    Great to see such a great product - it's really _the_ event in the Linux world...

  • 9.1 is out! (Score:3, Informative)

    by jackjumper ( 307961 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:45PM (#5592179)
    It's announced on their web site! [linux-mandrake.com]

    Start downloading...
  • I would have no qualms about upgrading my Parent's computer to this distro, except for one thing: CD writing. They are not particularly technical, and would probably have trouble using X-CD-Roast. Is there a really user-friendly CDR program for Linux?

    • I really like Arson, a KDE app.


      It's a lot like Nero, if you think that is easy enough for them to use.
    • scripsit FuzzyBad-Mofo:

      Is there a really user-friendly CDR program for Linux?

      You mean to say mkisofs + cdrecord isn't user-friendly?!

      Truth be told, I've found I'm more comfortable with them than GUI stuff, but you might want to check out gcombust...

      Come to think of it, the best thing for you to do might be to whip up a bash script for them, which would take the contents of $HOME/burn or whatever and make a CD (using the CLI tools). Give it an icon and they can use their GUI file-manager of choice t

    • For my own use, I just write simple scripts that are hidden behind ROX Apps. That would probably work fine for your folks.

      Actually, I don't use the icons much, as I usually do my mp3 creating, cd burning, etc from my windowmaker menu.

  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:47PM (#5592201)
    "The review is actually pretty bland, skimming the surface to linger on some of Eugenia's pet peeves."
    You could change that to, "OSNews is actually pretty bland, skimming the surface to linger on some of Eugenia's pet peeves." and it would still be a 100% valid statement.
    • I wish I had a +1 Funny to throw your way. So true, at least in the case of her "reviews".

      Still, I couldn't just submit a /. story with "Mandrake's juuust about to come out with 9.1" and get it accepted. With the hook, it was ready hours before the official announcement. Too bad DistroWatch (whose beta reviews have been great) wasn't the one given this review opportunity.
  • by tyrann98 ( 161653 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @01:53PM (#5592241)
    I'm glad that a common theme between KDE and GNOME was also implemented by Mandrake. Competing and incompatible desktops is going to really hurt Linux for a while, especially if a user cannot switch between computers and get work done easily. Things such as the Start Menu, Control Panel, background, screensaver, and System Properties have been somewhat standardized in the Windows world. Even newbie users can get these things done on a Windows 95/98/ME/2000 and even XP desktop easily. They are different by close enough to make it a smooth transition. Linux is still not there with competing Bluecurve/Galaxy + KDE/GNOME camps. While the core should still be as configurable like the hacker wants, work should be done to have a standard interface (which can be changed) and standard "desktop configuration" utilities across the major distributions/desktop environments. We have the GNOME control panel, KDE control panel, Red Hat utilites, Mandrake utilities, etc... (include almost every major distribution out there) for everything! Everything is different and everything has a slightly different interface for the same tasks. I even get annoyed sometimes when it takes me a couple extra tens of seconds to find an app due to different menu layouts. And I know lots of other users that really get messed up even with simple things like changing the background or GDM/KDE icons on Linux.
    • scripsit tyrann98:

      We have the GNOME control panel, KDE control panel, Red Hat utilites, Mandrake utilities, etc... (include almost every major distribution out there) for everything! Everything is different and everything has a slightly different interface for the same tasks.

      Just use Debian, it's the universal OS! ;)

      Seriously, though, the commercial distros have to have something that distinguishes their offering from the rest if they're going to get noticed. I don't care for that, myself, but I'm

      • In some ways, Linux systems are much more alike than different. They have the same applications, same config files, but sadly different interfaces (which matter a lot to most consumers). Maybe Mandrake or other distros could bundle or work on great gaming or Windows support or maybe even closed-source CD-writing utilities (most suck right now compared to Windows programs) such as DirectCD support or seamless CD-RW support. Other things that are functional deficiencies in Linux applications include Micros
  • shyeah ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The AtomicPunk ( 450829 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @02:01PM (#5592311)
    You use betas in your production environment and we're supposed to listen to you? :)
    • Nah. I wasn't the one writing the review (thank god) -- and there will be many better. I just chose this one because it gave a better story than "Mandrake 9.1 is going to be out soon").

      And "beta production" doesn't have to mean "asking for trouble". Choose your timing and setup well, and you can install later betas of many things on a spare workstation. I don't do it all the time, and you don't have to do it at all.

      My choice, my risk. But it's pretty hard to test a desktop-oriented distro unless you use i
    • This just in: running open source software at all is, well, kinda like running betas all the time. Read the non-warranty of the GPL...
  • Is it possible to install Mandrake over the network, bootstrapping it with a floppy then downloading the packages from an ftp or http site like Debian can do? I looked on the Mandrake site but all I see are CD images. The laptop I want to try Mandrake on has a busted CD drive.

    Also, doing a floppy-based network install (if possible), how good is Mandrake at autodetecting and autoconfiguring hardware? My biggest problem with Debian was that I had to configure video, audio, network, PCMCIA, etc. all by han
    • Is it possible to install Mandrake over the network, bootstrapping it with a floppy

      Yes, you can. Just browse into an ftp mirror, and get the network.img from the Mandrake/base/images directory. Use dd or rawrite to put it on a floppy, and boot from it. Remember the ftp server, and the path to the i586 directory, and you should be fine.
    • I'm currently running Mandrake 9.0 on my laptop and almost everything autodetected. Xfree seems to have problems with some of the LCD monitor drivers, but just telling it you have a CRT seems to work fine. I also didn't bother to get my winmodem working, so I'm not sure how involved that is.

      As for the network install, nevered tried it.
    • As has been noted, there is a method of doing just that. Don't forget, you can also take that network.img boot floppy image and use it as the bootable image on a CD that you burn yourself.

      Using this method you can install across the network on a PC that does not have a floppy disk drive.

      I don't personally do this, and will not claim that it is either recomended, or not. Your milage may vary.

    • Not only is it possible, but it is the ONLY distro I could get to install on my Toshiba Libretto without having to hack my own boot disc (the libretto has a pcmcia floppy disc, which happily goes away once linux takes over for the bios during install).

      It just worked with Mandrake. Although doing finely-tuned partitioning during install in Mandrake is very annoying. They need an option to TYPE in the start/end values for your partitions. The slider would not allow me to properly size my hibernation part

  • Right approach (Score:2, Interesting)

    by logout ( 20612 )
    Mandrake's problem has been that it does not show clear difference from Redhat. Mandrake has more packages, more enjoyable toy stuffs, and some delicate French flavor. But these are not attractive enough for users to adopt Mandrake rather than to use Redhat. It may be somewhat late but I hope Mandrake can establish itself as a *desktop* Linux distribution, differntiating it from Redhat. That's the way they can overcome their current financial unstability.

    However, nobody's still sure of any kinds of busines
    • I originally went with Mandrake because their stuff is compiled for Pentium, not i386. Redhat, at the time, was still compiled for the Lowest Common Denominator. I don't know if this is still the case.

      Another thing with mandrake is that they were always on the edge of development. They back-ported USB stuff into the 2.2 kernel, for example, giving me much functionality that was not available in other distributions at the time.

      In the past, Mandrake was simply ahead of the curve wrt new linux developme

  • by guacamolefoo ( 577448 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @02:32PM (#5592586) Homepage Journal
    Mandrake was the first distro I ran, and I got no end of shit for that from some hardcore linux people. That stigma seems to have moderated. I have tried Mandrake versions 7.1, 7.2, 8.0, and I might futz around with 9.1. The thing is that I see RedHat as being around for the long haul, and I am not so sure about Mandrake. I'm using RedHat in production servers as I write this, but I don't think I'd be comfortable doing the same with Mandrake.

    To some extent, I realize that I am falling victim to "everyone goes where everyone is" thinking rather than looking at underlying technical issues, but it really sucks when a vendor that you rely on for critical stuff goes belly-up on you. I am not trying to flame Mandrake -- I have used and I like their stuff. I am just concerned about their finances and whether they will be there for me in five or ten years.

    • That becomes a non-issue if you always build your oft-used services from source. Yeah, I know, with larger server farms it's a pain in the arse.

      Try checking out Linux From Scratch. [linuxfromscratch.org]

      Build your own server distro and you'll never have to worry who goes down the tubes!
      • Build your own server distro and you'll never have to worry who goes down the tubes!

        The question I get into sometimes is "what businesses is my business in?" I don't want to be in the business of building my own distro. I will check the link, but the thing is that I am involved in a number of fairly major service businesses, none of which is selling linux distributions. I understand your DIY point, but I'd really rather have someone else put together the various software packages for the servers and the d
  • "Having used 9.1 in a production environment since beta 3"
    Ummm... Mandrake in a production environment is bad enough, but a BETA? Isn't that like pulling your pants down, holding your ankles while in the middle of a stampeed of horses?
  • Very frustrating (Score:2, Insightful)

    In the Redhat article posted as the update, the author says...

    I ran this entire article more than once through OpenOffice Writer (which is the Microsoft Word Equivalent) and it handled this really well. The spell checker was put to the test too, so if you spot some errors you know where to blame them ;-)

    That's the equivalent of "If it compiled, it must be good code."

    The spell checker and grammar checker are never an excuse for releasing articles with errors!

    Yes, I realize he put a smiley at the

  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2003 @03:02PM (#5592957)
    You know, thanks to my devotion to Slashdot, I ended up reading many Eugenia stories. Am I the only person who noticed that she has basically written only one story in her life, and just substitutes some names and version numbers? Think about it.

    I am frankly sick of her crap. She has become the Jon Katz of interface design analysis. If Slashdot insists on licking her ass every week, they should make an icon of her, so I can put the topic on my ignore list.

The next person to mention spaghetti stacks to me is going to have his head knocked off. -- Bill Conrad