Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mageia 5 KDE: Terribly implemented distribution; stick to openSUSE or Mint if you want KDE4

Only a month after Mandriva, the company behind the commercial Mandriva Linux distribution, declared bankruptcy, Mageia, the community fork of that distribution, announced its fifth major release since its inception in 2011. The distribution has enjoyed some success since then, currently placing sixth on the Distrowatch popularity rankings. Since I haven’t done a review of a KDE4-based distribution for this blog, I thought it would be a good hole to fill with a review.


menu.png




1. First impressions and ease of use


The KDE live DVD is 1.7 GB and size and is on the Mageia website at http://www.mageia.org/en/downloads/. Thankfully, it includes VirtualBox Guest Additions out of the box and made it a lot easier to use for a review.


Weirdly, the live ISO makes you choose a locale and language upon boot, which is made part of the install process, essentially forcing a reboot if you mess up with that.


We get a pretty standard KDE4 desktop though, with its dreary default Oxygen theme. The menu is the classic vertical category-based menu, and not the Kickoff launcher that ships with most KDE4 distributions. However, thanks to the almost infinite customizability of KDE, you can swap it out pretty easily for the searchable Kickoff launcher.


newmenu.png


Other than that, everything is where it is expected to be and coming from a Windows background, as many switchers are, one might not even know the difference.


Ease of use score: 9/10


2. Installer


Mageia’s installer is quite nonstandard for Linux distros, as the username is selected after first boot, much like Windows or OS X. However, it was fairly quick to install, clocking in under eight minutes.


installer1.pnginstaller2.pnginstaller3.pnginstall.png


Sadly, that one image is all you get and there’s no proper slideshow. There’s no indication of what step it’s at either, with just a bare progress bar.


Somewhat like the Debian/Crunchbang++ installer, Mageia’s installer asks you about the bootloader only after it’s finished setting up the base system.
bootloader.png


Then on reboot, we get the user setup screen:
setup1.png


The installer forces you to use a root password and somewhat weirdly, sudo isn’t installed by default. This means you would have to open the terminal, su to root, install sudo, and manually add your name to the sudoers file using vi, which is somewhat unfriendly to beginners.


It also doesn’t let you choose a hostname, so having multiple Mageia machines on one network would be a bit of a pain.


So let me sum up my impressions of this installer: terrible.


Installer score: 6/10


Release date
ISO size (GB)
Distribution base
Install time
Boot time
Size of install
Desktop RAM use
Kernel Version
KaOS 2015.02
2/24/2015
1.4
Independent
18:03
0:36
4.6
415
3.18.7
Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Beta 1
2/25/2015
1.1
Ubuntu Vivid (15.04 Beta 1)
12:57
0:27
4.2
457
3.19.1
Manjaro 0.8.12 Xfce
2/6/2015
1.4
Arch
11:33
0:27
4.7
351
3.16.7
Netrunner 15
2/16/2015
1.9
Ubuntu Utopic (14.10)
16:20
0:41
6.4
714
3.16.0
openSUSE 13.2 KDE
11/4/2014
4.4
Independent
15:29
0:39
4.4
422
3.16.6
Bodhi Linux 3.0.0
2/17/2015
0.6
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
5:50
0:34
2.2
348
3.16.0
Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon
11/29/2014
1.4
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
8:45
0:42
4.5
343
3.13.0
Pinguy OS 14.04.2
3/22/2015
2.6
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
20:54
0:47
7.4
745
3.13.0
Korora 21 Cinnamon
2/6/2015
1.7
Fedora 21
13:24
1:04
5.0
602
3.18.3
Fedora 22 Beta
4/21/2015
1.3
Independent
10:10
0:46
4.2
843
4.0.0
Lubuntu 15.04
4/24/2015
0.7
Ubuntu Vivid (15.04)
11:55
0:22
2.4
216
3.19.0
elementary OS 0.3
4/11/2015
0.9
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
11:20
0:26
2.6
392
3.16.0
Linux Lite 2.4
4/1/2015
0.8
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
4:31
0:23
3.5
416
3.13.0
Linux Mint 17.2 MATE RC
6/16/2015
1.6
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
12:37
0:38
4.8
303
3.16.0
Crunchbang++ 1.0
4/29/2015
0.6
Debian Jessie (8.0)
17:25
0:17
2.3
187
3.16.0
Mageia 5 KDE
6/20/2015
1.7
Independent
7:55
0:26
4.1
421
3.19.8
Average of all distros

1.5

12:26
0:34
4.2
448



3. Design


The default design of KDE4 is dreary and quite ugly. It looks like it’s from the wrong end of 2007 to be honest.


ugly default design.png


Thankfully, it’s really quite customizable, and I was able to give it a huge makeover.


customizations.png


(Window decorations: Evolvere Light Pure Circle Inverted, Controls: KNumix Light for QtCurve, Colors: Hex Lite, icon theme: Maia, Plasma theme openSUSELight).


Default webfont rendering is excellent, however the same can’t go for the default desktop rendering. However, it can be tweaked easily in System Settings.


Sadly, the KDM login screen is quite ugly, although it can be customized through System Settings.


login screen.png


Design score: 7.5/10


4. Applications


Mageia uses the typical KDE4 applications:


Web Browser - Firefox
File Manager - Dolphin
Email Client - NONE
Text Editor - Kate
Image Viewer - Gwenview
Terminal Emulator - Konsole
Music Player - Amarok
Office Suite - LibreOffice


The lack of an email client isn’t a good thing, especially for a general purpose distro that ships with KDE4, one of the heaviest desktop environments. Again, lost points.


Applications score: 7.5/10


5. Installing packages


Mageia uses the urpmi package manager, and there are most of the regular packages in the repositories. There is a GUI package manager, which is similar to Synaptic in Ubuntu.


software management.png


However, the search function, urpmf, is implemented in a mind-bendingly idiotic way. When you search for a pattern through the command line, urpmf gives you a list of files matching that pattern from packages in the repositories. So if you want to quickly search for packages through a command line, you get multiple entries (sometimes ten for the same packages) and using the GUI would be much easier.


The one saving grace is that Mageia is RPM-based, so you could probably download Fedora or openSUSE packages from the internet and local-install them.


Installing packages score: 7.5/10


Final thoughts: We all want to see some of the good things in everything we use, but unfortunately that’s not the case for Mageia 5. Some things were stupidly implemented, like the installer and urpmf, and others were done out of laziness, such as the default looks. Mint 17.1 KDE, for example, is a KDE4 distribution that doesn’t look terrible out of the box. If you really want to use an RPM based distribution, stick to openSUSE KDE and don’t look this way at all.


We have our new worst distribution.


Final score: 37.5/50 = 75%

Distro name
Final Score
Manjaro 0.8.12 Xfce
99
Linux Mint 17.2 MATE RC
98
Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Beta 1
97
Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon
95
Fedora 22 Beta
94
openSUSE 13.2 KDE
93
Korora 21 Cinnamon
92
elementary OS 0.3
91
Pinguy OS 14.04.2
91
Linux Lite 2.4
90
Netrunner 15
90
Lubuntu 15.04
88
Crunchbang++ 1.0
86
Bodhi Linux 3.0.0
84
KaOS 2015.02
80
Mageia 5 KDE
75
Average of all reviews
90

9 comments:

  1. manjaro is worse and yet you gave it the top score, I tested manjaro for days, and found issues with hibernation/suspend and notebook audio drivers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess I didn't make this clear, but I'm using virtualbox for testing, so hardware issues cannot be tested. Based purely on the 5 criteria I always use, Manjaro is the best.

      Delete
  2. Your review is extremely shallow and does not do justice to a distro which is one of the best around. Next time, base your review on something a bit more substantial than snap judgements and the live dvd which isn't meant to be the primary installation medium anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I tried mageia 5 gnome. I had tough time making my wireless adapter
    (TP-Link TL-WN725N 150Mbps Wireless N Nano USB Adapter) to work.
    In Ubuntu, it works out of the box. Moved to Ubuntu.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Saravanan,

      I see the chipset for your wifi adapter is also RTL8192CU? I have TPLink TL-WN823N does not work out of the box which uses the rtl8192cu chipset. The realtek chipsets have a bug and hence the issue.

      After some trial and error, I got it working. Check the forum thread https://forums.mageia.org/en/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9956 in order to configure your Wifi Adapter with Mageia.

      Thanks,
      Balaji.

      Delete
  4. Maybe we have a new worst reviewer. Seriously, this is the most poorly done review I've read in a long time.

    You claimed to have reviewed the "Installer" when you didn't actually use it at all. The classical DVD has the installer, but you used the Live instead. Why use the Live and complain that it doesn't act like a classical installer when there *is* another ISO with a classical installer? The purpose of a Live is to let you sample it and possible dump it onto your hard drive as-is. Use the actually installer if you want more customization. Also, the Live doesn't have the mail client for space reasons, but the classical installer does install it.

    Why do you act like having sudo is mandatory? It's not. This isn't Ubuntu. sudo is optional and it's easy to install if you want to use it. Using su instead is just fine. Each has its disadvantages and advantages, but you still can make your own choice.

    As you point out, KDE is highly customizable and easy to change. Many people like Mageia's default look, and you don't, which is fine, but your over-the-top criticism based on this is baseless and misguided. Everyone has their own preference of whether they think Mageia, Mint, or OpenSuSE looks better by default, but they can also be changed however you want. Also, saying "this looks like it's from 2007" or "from the 90's" or whatever as people sometimes do is meaningless and childish.

    You also faulted Mageia for your total lack of understanding of the package management tools and the fact that you were too lazy to spend 2 minutes figuring out how to use them properly (and yet you call Mageia lazy). urpmf does exactly what it's supposed to do, search for *files* in packages (hence the f). urpmq searches package names.

    If you want to hate Mageia for reasons that are the fault of your own ignorance or laziness, that's fine, but spreading your hatred on your blog just makes you look like a fool and does a disservice to anyone reading this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm looking around to try a new distro and googled my way here, and I couldn't believe what was being said about Mageia 5, specially since it has its roots in Mandrake (while was my first distro back in 2007 and man it was beautiful and just worked). Thanks to your comment David, I will not form my opinion from just this review and will look for more.

    ReplyDelete
  6. If you had tested the Distro, you could have used your own screenshots?
    'Sadly, that one image is all you get and there’s no proper slideshow. There’s no indication of what step it’s at either, with just a bare progress bar. '

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These screenshots are actually my own - I took them during testing.

      Delete