Friday, February 10, 2006

Mandriva falls very short

I was recently surprised to find that my Linux experience dates back only about 3 years to the early Red Hat transition era to the Fedora Core Project. For some reason, I thought that I had been involved somewhere around 5 or 6 years. Regardless, in that short period of time I've been entrenched in the Open Source Community, I have had my hand at somewhere in the neighborhood of a 100 of these 300+ distros that are in existence. The popular Open Source site DistroWatch ( regularly posts the page hit rankings of the top 100 distros. Of these page hit rankings, I've always been amazed at the popularity of the Mandriva distro as compared to other offerings in the community.

Mandriva has consistently held the number 2 spot on this list over the past year. Mandriva was originally known as Mandrake until recent acquistition/merger with Conectiva and Lycoris. This particular distro was one of the original Red Hat variants placing emphasis on KDE (K Desktop Environment) as the default desktop window manager. Much of the inner workings of Mandriva mirror that of Red Hat distros as well as the package management.

I was never all too impressed with Mandrake in general and Mandriva has left me with the same opinions. I find their overall site visualization to be poor and the general navigation to be somewhat complicated leading me to wonder why the page would be an interest to a new user considering an operating system overhaul. Although there are many areas that leave me less than happy with overall Mandriva operating system experience, the foremost would be the exorbitant cost of the “required” club membership. I say that the membership is “required” because without paying a cost to Mandriva in the form of a boxed retail version or through this club membership, you will be unable to use the package manager to update your system. I'm sure you could exhaustively manage this distro the “old fashioned” way taking up a great deal of time but I'm sure that would make the distro even less desirable than it already is to me.

Notwithstanding my opinion, Mandriva has remained a strong distro in the community but I can't help but wonder why. Considering the other alternatives available with the same or better ease of use that are completely free, it's amazing to me that the company does well. If I'm going to open my wallet that much, why not just buy Windows? If I'm going to pull the cash out, why not purchase the lesser costing Linspire with more ease of use crossing from Windows not to mention the fact that Linspire has better integration with many more Windows programs? Why not keep the cash in the pocket and run away with SuSE which makes with the same offerings and what I believe is to be more considering the vast SuSE community support as well? As I've stated, Mandriva is a big thumbs down for me but I invite others to dispute and or share their loyalties to Mandriva so I can better understand the appeal. I feel Mandriva to be an inferior product that reaches too deep into the pockets of it's users and is a poor representative of the Open Source community.


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