Administration: Only a handful of Linux or BSD desktop operating system feature a real administrative hub, and Mandriva’s Control Center is just about the best. From the Control Center, you can configure every single aspect of the system, and it has some admin tools that you will not find in other distros’ control center. The following are notable features of the Control Center:
- Parental Control – this tool allows you to “block access to web sites and restrict access connection during a specified timeframe”. Note that you can accomplish these tasks on any Linux distro, but doing it from a gui interface is a lot better than tweaking configuration files from the command line. By the way, this tool uses squid and dansguradian to do its work
- Import Windows tool If you are dual-booting with a Windows operating system, this tool gives you the option to either copy your documents and settings (from Windows), or share them between the operating systems
- Interface Failover and Firewall Replication Doubtful that you will ever need this in a purely desktop installation, but if you’ve set up servers using one of Mandriva Linux editions, you can configure the system for failover and firewall replication
Responsiveness: What exactly is responsiveness? It encompasses a lot of things, but let’s try this line: When you connect a digital camera or Web cam to your PC, what do you expect? Or if you insert an audio CD or video DVD, what are your expectations? Most Linux distro are by default configured to launch the appropriate application and await your next move, but Mandriva Linux doesn’t. It has a negative impact on the overall user experience of the system. This statements apply only if you are using KDE, which is the default desktop environment in Mandriva Linux. Click here to read how Mandriva Linux 2009 Powerpack responds under the Gnome desktop.
Menu: One of the few disappointing aspects of Mandriva Linux desktops (One, Free, and Powerpack) is the menu. The menu is old style, and while it is still functional and serves its purpose, it feels and looks out of place on the desktop. Modern Linux desktops now tend to sport the stylish, kick-off style menu. You find this style of menu on Linux Mint desktop for example.
Software Management As with all Linux distributions, Mandriva Linux Powerpack makes it easy to manage applications via a gui interface. You can, of course, still use the command line to manage applications, but if you are not the geeky type and have a fear of the Linux command line, the tool you see in the image below makes it easy to manage applications on the system.
What we Like Mandriva Linux Powerpack 2009 is one of the best commercial desktop Linux distributions, and there is a lot to like about it. Aside from its overall stability, we especially like the Mandriva Control Center, and the network manager applet. The installer is also one of the nice aspects of the operating system.
What Needs to Improve There is no perfect operating system or more correctly, I’m yet to review one that is perfect. Every operating system has something about it that could have been implemented better, and Mandriva Linux Powerpack has it’s fair share of those. Some of them have already been alluded to in the other parts of this review, but here’s a short list of things we think needs to be improved in the next update to Mandriva Linux desktops:
- The installer at every stage should have a “BACK” or “PREVIOUS” button. The advantages are obvious
- The menu is out of place. We suggest the kick-off style menu instead, or at least have it as the other option in the Control Center
- We mentioned responsiveness earlier, and here are the things we expect from Mandriva or any other Linux or BSD desktop: When a user inserts an audio CD or video DVD, we expect the system to launch the appropriate application and wait for additional input. Ditto for when a Web cam is inserted. We know these are configurable options, but we expect such to be the default behavior. Note that if using the Gnome desktop, Mandriva Linux Powerpack 2009 responds just like we expected
- By default, Mandriva Linux Powerpack comes with a reasonable set of applications, but I feel that the selection could be better. Sabayon Linux is one distro with a default set of installed applications that is second to none, and I think that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to try and emulate it
- Games: Except for Linux Mint, all Linux desktop distributions ship with a nice selection of games, but these are usually all 2D games. I think like Sabayon Linux, Mandriva could jazz up the games selection with some 3D games. We know that you can always install any application you want, but it is always nice to have some of what the user will need in the default installation
Final Verdict: Mandriva Linux Powerpack is a commercial distribution, and will cost you 49 EUR, or 62 USD. With Mandriva Linux One and Mandriva Linux Free and so many other Linux distributions available for free, is it worth paying for? It’s your call, but we will tell what we think in a