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Mageia - a new Linux distro

Mageia is a brand new Linux distro and version 1 was recently released. Well, that's not quite true. Not the bit about being version 1, but the fact that it is new. It is actually based on Mandriva, which has been around for years. Mageia's developers were not happy with the way Mandriva was going back in 2010 and was worried about the distro's future, so they decided to create their own based on it. So Mageia was born as a fork of Mandriva and version 1 is here with a 2 alpha ready for testing.

There is a 700Mb live CD or a full 4Gb DVD, however, the DVD contains only free software and it doesn't have proprietary Wi-Fi and video drivers. There is a choice of Gnome or KDE and I chose the KDE Live CD. It's nice to see a BitTorrent provided as this is a convenient way to download big Linux distros and you can do it over several days or sessions. Get your downloads from here.

Booting up with the live CD in the drive enables it to run from the disc and there's an icon on the desktop to install it to the hard disk drive. Installation is fast and I chose to install it into VirtualBox. Getting the VirtualBox guest additions installed took too much time and effort though. After much trial and error and searching online (install make, syslinux-devel, dkms, and task-c++-devel, and the latest VirtualBox), it was finally up and running.

The KDE desktop is lovely and you get version 4.6.3. There are some useful widgets you can place on the desktop and clicking the top right corner and selecting Add Widgets displays a panel at the bottom with lots to choose from. There are even more online that can be downloaded and installed. There are lots of special effects in the KDE desktop like animations for windows and dialogs, fading desktops, exploding windows, and many more and it is easy to configure and turn effects on an off. You should be able to configure it the way you want it to work.

Mageia Linux

As this is the KDE version there are lots of bundled programs beginning with K. There's KGet, KAddress Book, KMail, KOrganizer, Kontact, KolourPaint, KSnapshot, KNotes, KCalc, KWrite, and more. There are lots of little tools and utilities.

The web browser is Firefox and it is disappointing to see that it is only version 4, when 8 is available. However, version 4 isn't that old, it's just that we've had a lot of Firefox updates this year. Flash isn't included, but it easily added using the Install and Remove Software tool. This is the usual package manager and it is functional, but unexciting to use. It does have some useful filters though and you can view just packages with a GUI (graphical user interface), just security updates, just bugfixes and so on.

LibreOffice is bundled and you get Writer, Calc, Impress and Draw, which is both excellent and very useful. There is also Okular, which is a document viewer that displays PDFs, ePubs, comic books and more. In the graphics department you get Gwenview, a picture browser and slide show. Sound is catered for with Amarok music manager and player and Dragon Player video player. Amarok plays local files and provides access to online music and podcasts, and has a good range of features. Dragon Player is a simple video player that supports CDs and DVDs too.

Overall it is an interesting Linux distro that is based on a well known one that has been around for ages. It works well and it has a good range of features and software. The fonts look a bit rough and getting it running in VirtualBox was a trial, but it's otherwise OK.


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