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Mandrake 9.0 Experience
By Harry "Buster" Ellis, Written January 2003, Revised June 2003
Towards the end of a testing frenzy I installed Mandrake 9.0 over SuSE 7.3, which had been installed over Debian 3.0 (stable), all in about 8 days. Here are a few quickly formed opinions about this very popular distro.
It has a generally straightforward install. There were a few uncertainties for me as I made choices, but nothing dramatic. SuSE was even easier, but after attempts at Debian, Mandrake was crystal clear.
All my hardware worked! The sound worked. The mouse worked. No adjustments were needed for anything. Install and you have a working computer! Easier than SuSE 7.3, which needed hardware activated. Better than Debian because things actually functioned right away, which is probably considered in poor taste in the Debian community.
My DSL connection was up and running by the end of the install with no problems. Magnifique! And it worked better than the SuSE 7.3 ever did. This could be because the SuSE is older, or it could just be my particular computer, but, except for my mouse, every recent Mandrake has always worked nicely with my hardware.
Version 9.0 came out just over three months ago, so most things are up to date.
Mozilla came with some of the plugins already installed. There is a DVD player which I hope works. It has the usual assortment of games. OpenOffice.org is ready to use. It's solid and, ready to go. The default desktop is the easy to use KDE.
During the install the program only recognized two of the three CDs. In the choices it referred to the two-CD set. Baffled me. But this could have been my fault. Clint had no problems with his install.
The Mandrake Control Center is lovely to work with, but slow - annoyingly so.
Hadn't experienced that slowness before.
Because it shares the machine with Windows XP, rather than Windows ME or 98, the DrakFont program can't get the Windows fonts from the part of my hard drive that isn't Fat32. So some of the programs look absolutely terrible.
Mandrake can't see the files anywhere. The problem appears to be with DrakFont, because Mandrake sees the NTFS partitions clearly.
I had to readjust my video card to enable 3D, which wasn't automatically done during the install. No big deal but it took awhile for me to figure out how. TuxRacer needs it. And that's important for my grandchild.
This is a lovely system that's very easy to install. It has a few annoyances that probably can be solved. I guarantee you'll have Linux running in an evening. The 9.1 should be even better, if Mandrake holds together financially long enough. It's a better choice than the older SuSE 7.3, but probably not better than SuSE 8.1. SuSE 7.3 is beginning to show its age. And unless you're awfully good at installs, it's a better choice than Debian.
It's probably the best Mandrake ever. After paying your membership, Mandrake would be a good choice for your freebie.
Harry is retired from teaching elementary and high school kids for over 30+ years and is PLUG's chief inquisitor.
Editor's Note: For a discussion of the excellent media software included with Mandrake, see Mandrake the Music Man, or a for distribution with a completely different philosopy, see Libranet: An Easy Way To Get Debian.
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