Before Mageia 3: Mageia 2 in Perspective Redux

Category: Linux

The early articles of this site revolved around the late and somewhat lamented Mandriva, which faced troubles as a Linux distribution, product, and company. Although Distrowatch lists Mageia within its top 10 of most clicked distributions, Mageia receives the same coverage in the media as long running PCLinuxOS and Sabayon. In fact, popular frugal Linux distribution Puppy Linux is mentioned more in articles and forums than Mageia.

Why run Mageia 2 when the developers will be releasing Mageia 3? Well, to see if an updated previous release is a stable one - typically a good sign that a distribution has matured and the next release deserves a go. The positive reception for openSUSE 12.3, for example, was already foreshadowed by the excellent openSUSE 12.2 (which I'm still running to this day).

Some Observations

1. Inspecting /etc/rpm/macros. After setting up Mageia 2 and installing a surprisingly humble amount of package updates in comparison with a typical Lubuntu or openSUSE install, users might receive an /etc/rpm/macros window. It's an unusual prompt considering that openSUSE and Fedora, both RPM-based distributions, never educate the user with new RPMs setup. It was a harmless window, but I can definitely imagine a new Linux convert or a jaded Linux veteran exclaiming "The hell is that!"

2. URPMI locked. This familiar error message that users of Mageia 2 can disregard also pops up occasionally. This "urpmi database locked" warning occurred often with the Mandriva 2009-2011 releases and I was somewhat disheartened that the particular bug is still around with its successor. It's particularly annoying when you're installing or running updates.

3. Both Archlinux and Fedora, two distributions that aren't well known for advertising themselves as mainstream distros, have taken steps to be more hospitable to new users. Fedora was recently criticized due to revisions to the Anaconda installer. Ubuntu, of course, has taken into extreme the steps to make the desktop simple for every type of user. In light of this, Mageia 2, with all the simplicity it inherited from its predecessor, is very user-friendly albeit a throwback of earlier Linux distributions. DrakX installer hasn't changed much and ex-Mandriva users will immediately notice remnants of behavior carried over from Mageia's predecessor. Users without Mandriva experience will no doubt embrace its clean and well-equipped desktop but the discerning bearded Linux user would no doubt ejaculate expletives at the all too familiar elements (and errors). Admittedly, it's easy to consider newer and creative Linux distributions over Mageia.

4. Repositories. Setting up repositories for "unofficial" packages is much, much easier now than with the old easyurpmi web site. All users need to do is launch the Configure media window in Control Center and select the Nonfree and Tainted repositories. I was surprised that the Mageia developers did not take further steps in making the process more intelligible to new users, though I myself had no problems with it. The usual suspects such as Chromium, Grsync, LyX, Calibre, KDE, and Gnome applications are available though Cherrytree, a popular note-taking application available in Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Fedora, wasn't in the repositories.

5. Mandriva . . . Mageia Control Center is still there.  Superficially, the Control Center looks very similar to Mandriva Control Center. Although I haven't tested the new controls extensively, it's obvious there have been under the hood improvements particularly in the Security and Network Sharing tab.

For those not familiar with Mageia's heart and soul, Mageia Control Center isn't as robust as openSUSE's YaST2, but it has all the essentials for working efficiently and managing a system right out of the box. Moreover, it's as simple as ever and definitely more accessible than preinstalled desktop tools in stock installs of Ubuntu and Fedora.  I don't blame the developers for not moving away from the tried and tested Control Center of its predecessor but I have to admit it's a bit long in the tooth considering the speed of the developments in the open source community.

If you have a fully functional openSUSE, Fedora, or Ubuntu system, does Mageia provide a compelling argument to switch or add the Linux distribution to your network?  I'm pretty sure the answer really depends on how much a user was exposed (or not exposed) to Mandriva and how open a user is to trying something almost new.


  1. I argue that Mageia Control Center is more robust than YaST2. I've used them both, and much prefer MCC.

  2. I used Mandriva extensively way back in 2007, unfortunately 2008 and on had way too many bugs for me to stay.
    I just installed Mageia3 a few days ago and have to say the only problem I've had was with the package manager. The default had 2 options checked for cd media, so when I tried to refresh the repos I had an error until I figured out what the problem was. After unchecking the 2 cd medias from my sources list all works well.
    I guess time will tell if Mageia measures up or fails as Mandriva did all too many times.


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