Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
The 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?
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.
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).
The theme, while we’re at it, is beautifully made, even if the red close button serves as a reminder to Windows.
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.
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.
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!