My attempts at switching to Linux since Christmas have been finicky and largely unsuccessful… until today when I installed the x86_64 free DVD version of Mandriva 2008. The things this distro configures perfectly and without effort, all out of the box, are endless. If you prefer KDE and want a bit of eye-candy with Compiz, look no further than Mandriva.
What worked out of the box:
- It detected my ATI Radeon X300 video card which proved to be a right pain in the you-know-what with virtually ever other distro except PCLinuxOS (which is based on Mandriva anyway, so it’s no wonder);
- My 21″ IBM CRT monitor was correctly identified and a decent refresh rate was automatically chosen;
- The back and forward buttons on both of my Evoluent vertical mice worked without me having to tinker with xorg.conf (which I just couldn’t get working in any other distro, even after reading the various HOWTOs available on the subject);
- Double-clicking in the top-left icon of the title-bar (the “control menu box” in Windows-speak) was configured to close the window by default – I didn’t have to go fiddling to get that working (I don’t even know where the option is, so this was a nice touch);
- Getting Compiz to work was as simple as ticking the box, allowing it to install a few packages, logging off and logging on again – far easier than the likes of Linux Mint or the dreaded openSUSE in that regard;
- Mandriva must install some pretty decent fonts by default because everything is looking nice and crisp and legible – no need for msttcorefonts;
- The language and dictionary was set correctly to English (UK) in Open Office, which is as it should be since that’s the language I chose during the install (I can’t say the same for Kubuntu where I had to install myspell-en-au and openoffice.org-thesaurus-en-au myself).
What didn’t work out of the box:
- To be fair, I have to report that it wouldn’t allow me to write to my NTFS partitions by default, however, given that previous Linux evaluations have taught me the “ntfs-3g” package is required, I won’t be having any trouble now;
- It would be nice to have English (Australian) as a language but English (UK) is the mother-tongue, after all, and is more compatible with Australian English than American with all it’s freaky spellings, so I’m not too peeved about that.
So, in short, if you prefer KDE but want wobbly windows, a rotating 3D cube of virtual desktops, and other eye-candy, you can’t beat the Mandriva 2008 free DVD. Given that I couldn’t get the Mandriva 2008 KDE One CD to even load X, I assumed that this free DVD probably wouldn’t let me have any eyecandy, but I couldn’t be more wrong. It seems that by sticking to 100% free software as configured by Mandriva results in the perfect combination of KDE customisability and Compiz droolworthyness :-) It doesn’t get any easier than this and, being 64-bits, it’s as fast as lightning on my Q6600, too!