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Mandriva—formerly Mandrake—is a popular Linux distribution with a wide installation base. Software is offered as a free download in addition to a membership model, where users join the Mandriva Club for $66 per year and are entitled to discounts, advance access to new products and product support. The boxed version is also available to non-members for $65. Retail packaged products include commercial software not available with the free downloaded versions of Mandriva.

Figure 8

Figure 8 Mandriva with its default KDE desktop

Mandriva uses its own Mandrake Control Center software to update software, install and uninstall packages, and perform other administrative tasks. More than 1,800 packages are included on the DVD and Mandriva offers over 50,000 packages to club members. As mentioned earlier, support is available through the Mandriva club, but also through user forums and e-mail lists.

An interesting thing occurred when I launched OpenOffice Writer under Mandriva. I was asked whether I wanted to save my documents in MS .doc format or OpenOffice's native format. I was also surprised to discover that Mandriva's firewall hadn't been activated upon installation. So, one thing that Mandriva seems to have going for it is the fact that it's full of surprises. In the past I've had problems updating software but that seems to have been remedied with version 10.2. Mandriva has been touted as a beginner-friendly Linux distribution, but because of the issues I've experienced with it, I can't recommend it for beginners. Firewall software activation needs to be transparent from the onset.


Figure 9

Figure 9 Mandrake Control Center 10.2

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