Mandriva 2011: A Different Linux Experience

Danny Stieben 30-01-2012

mandriva linuxThe Linux landscape has become pretty interesting as of late, with all the new desktop environments and changing popularity between distributions. It seems that now is the best time for all the distributions to make their mark and differentiate from each other wherever possible, especially when it comes to major players.


Mandriva isn’t considered to be a major player in the Linux world anymore, but it used to be back when it was still called Mandrake Linux. Even more surprising to some, it’s already been different from all other distributions for a while now, as seen in previous reviews of Mandriva like this one.

A couple months ago, Mandriva let loose their 2011 release, providing another impressive experience. Let’s take a look, why don’t we?

Get It

You can get Mandriva by going to and downloading their ISO file. You can then burn it to a DVD or write it to a USB stick, then boot your computer from that media. When you first load Mandriva, it will ask you a few questions to determine language, time, and keyboard layout. Once you answer those questions, Mandriva will finish loading and then present its clean desktop.


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Mandriva uses KDE as its default base, although Mandriva mixes some Gnome applications in as well (and quite well, as the exact same theme is used for both types of applications).

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The theme, while we’re at it, is beautifully made, even if the red close button serves as a reminder to Windows.



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There’s not much you can do in Mandriva without having to go to the taskbar at the bottom of your screen, where a lot of functionality and hidden features are stored. The star button on the very left seems to act like the Start button in Windows, but when clicked it opens what Mandriva calls the “Mandriva Smart Desktop”, where you get a Welcome screen with shortcuts to recent applications and folders, an area to search for all applications to launch, and then “TimeFrame” which shows what you’ve worked on over time.

Continuing along the taskbar, you’ll see a few shortcuts to major applications like your browser, chat program, email, music, and settings. On the right side of the taskbar, not only do you find the icon tray, but some strange little folders. Click on them, and you’ll see that they’re stacks. The idea is similar to Mac OS X’s stacks, except with a different design.


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Mandriva includes it’s very own synchronization tool as a replacement for Dropbox. While it’s not quite as advanced as Ubuntu’s “Ubuntu One” service, it still looks nice and should get the job done. It integrates very well with the distribution and includes 2GB of storage for free.


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Personal settings in Mandriva can be configured through modules in KDE’s System Settings application, but actual system settings need to be taken care of via the “Mandriva Linux Control Center”. Mandriva’s settings application is quite appealing, and includes some nifty features such as Parental Controls, which is lacking in most other distributions.


Other Good Stuff

Of course, compared to the previous version of Mandriva, many programs and behind-the-scenes services have been updated to include new features, gain stability, and be more secure. The newer versions should constitute make for an enjoyable time with Mandriva.


Mandriva is still a great distribution, and offers a refreshing choice compared to Ubuntu and other popular distributions. While it’s no longer the king of Linux distributions, it’s definitely not out for the count. Who knows, maybe Mandriva can even stage a comeback and rise back to be top of the pack.

What do you think about Mandriva? Is it something that you might use? What does its future look like? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Aldis
    April 27, 2012 at 4:59 am

    We've learn some great stuff here. Worth bookmarking for returning to. I wonder the amount of attempt you placed to develop this type of superb informative web site.

  2. Flo Ghere
    March 12, 2012 at 4:03 am

    I'm impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that's both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.

  3. Joe90924410767
    February 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I love this latest release.  I have it installed on my netbook (Asus eee pc 1005) and have customized my desktop in a way which wasn't possible with 2010.x.  I will say there's a learning curve involved with transitioning from last year's and previous versions, but the effort is well worthwhile.

    One more thing to add is that it makes Windows 7 look primitive (and I used to think linux (all distros) was more primitive looking than Windows until I tried this version).

    I finally have gotten to the point where I no longer use Windows at all.  I still have the (Windows) partition on this computer but will probably remove it in the near future due to lack of need and use.

  4. Cliff Jones
    February 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    well written, thanks. Mandriva is my primary system, I've used Mandrake/Mandriva since I found a boxed Mandrake 7.0 sitting on the shelf at an Electronics Boutique store way back when.

    Up to that point I'd only had luck with Cauldera, and a bit less so with red hat. But Mandrake was spectacular... I'll never forget the first time I opened the control center... I felt like Linux had finally arrived!

    I'll look around your site here a bit, you're a very interesting fellow. It'd be interesting to know what areas you have contributed to over at fedora. I'm really liking gnome shell on f16, I think gnome 3 would be the ideal interface for a touch device, eg a tablet.

    ps I just noticed my 'server spy' add on was broken by the update to firefox 10 :(

  5. Chris Hoffman
    January 31, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Mandrake 9.1 (I think it was that version) was my entry to the world of Linux. Nice to see they're still around.

    Mandrake/Mandriva has had a lot of encounters with bankruptcy, so I'm surprised they're still alive and kicking.

  6. UUUnicorn
    January 31, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Mandriva looks very beautiful; thank you very much for this article. It was very informative.

    If I were to consider this type of Linux for my old netbook (MSI Wind U100-432US), I'd probably go with the Lxde version of PCLinuxOS, which is based on Mandriva. Lxde is much more lightweight--therefore, more netbook-friendly.

  7. mechatotoro
    January 30, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    First, let me congratulate you on your article.  Not only is it beatifully written, but it is also informative and unbiased.

    Although Mandriva's situation might be somewhat uncertain right now, I must admit that Mandriva 2011 was a nice release.

    Concerning restricted programs, you can always get them from the repositories..and now that Skype belongs to Micrsoft, let's see how long it remains FREE. 

  8. Indronil Mondal
    January 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    last time i used it some softwares like opera and skype was not available in the free version so i had to switch back atleast they should give what ever other destros are giving for free

  9. fraterneo
    January 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Hey, great info. Mandriva is a wonderful and stable Linux distro.