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The Elegant Mageia Linux Prepares a New Release

Last week we looked at PCLinuxOS, an excellent Linux distribution based on Mandriva Linux. Today we're kicking the tires of Mageia Linux, which is a fork of Mandriva. Mandriva Linux has had its ups and downs as a commercial venture, but despite the financial struggles it's a first-rate distribution that offers enterprise support and a number of enterprise products such as Pulse, their enterprise IT management system, Mandriva Business Server, and training and consulting. Mageia was created in 2010 as an independent, non-profit project, not tied to the fortunes of a commercial company, after most of the Mandriva developers were laid off.

mageia Linux is the association that governs Mageia, with an annually-elected community board. I like their definition of community, because it includes more than developers:

  • Users
  • Makers (designers, developers, packagers, translators, testers, etc.)
  • Advocates
  • Their Sept. 2012 announcement contains a fundamental truth: "Whatever you do in life, people are your greatest and only true asset."

    Getting Mageia

    Mageia is on a nine-month release cycle, and each release is supported for 18 months. Version 1 was released in June 2011 and reached end-of-life in December 2012. Mageia 2 was released in May 2012, and Mageia 3 is scheduled for release on May 18, 2013. It comes in these editions:

    • 4GB Installer DVD, 32- and 64-bit, Free and non-free packages
    • 700MB dual-arch installer CD, 100% Free
    • 1.4GB liveDVD KDE
    • 1.4GB liveDVD GNOME
    • 700MB liveCD KDE, English-only
    • 700MB liveCD GNOME, English-only
    • 35MB Network installer, Free software only
    • 55MB network installer with non-free firmware

    Any of the download images can be used to create a bootable USB stick with unetbootin. If you're starting from a clean installation you can use any image, but if you want to upgrade from version 2 then you need the installer DVD or CD. Though it's probably better to upgrade from the package manager.

    The live CDs are great for trying Mageia for the first time, because you can run it from the CD, or install it to your hard drive. You get a nice assortment of software on the live CDs, a complete system ready to go to work: LibreOffice, GIMP, Ardour, Firefox, and apps and utilities that come with KDE or GNOME.

    Mageia, similar to Debian, makes it easy to control what goes on your system by separating Free and non-free repositories. There are three official Mageia repos: Core, Non-free, and Tainted. Core contains free/open source licensed software. Non-free includes Nvidia and ATI drivers, binary wireless firmwares, and other closed-source drivers. The Tainted repo includes FOSS multimedia codecs that may infringe patent and copyright laws in some countries. (I would call it the Rolleyes Repo because all this legal folderol is over-reaching silliness, and unenforceable.)

    Then each repository has four sub-medias: Release, Updates, Backports, and Testing. And, of course, there are a lot of third-party repos. All of this is easily configured in the graphical Software Manager in the Mageia Control Center, which is Mandriva's good ole Drakconf. There is a clean separation between system configuration and desktop configuration, which I prefer for less confusion and more consistency.

    Mageia also includes a nice assortment of server software. You get PostgreSQL, MariaDB replaces MySQL, Redis, MongoDB, and CouchDB. Puppet is a fabulous tool for centralised administration, and there is a good high availability stack that includes drbd (clusters), Corosync (cluster engine) and Pacemaker (cluster manager.) And all the usual Linux favorite servers like the Cherokee and Apache HTTP servers, Samba file and printer sharing, Postfix and Dovecot for mail, OpenLDAP, and CUPS printer server.

    What's New

    Mageia isn't a big noisy drama queen, like some popular distros we know and love. Rather, it's more about stability and usability. Legacy GRUB is still the default bootloader, but you can select GRUB 2 during installation. You'll get the shiny new kernel 3.8.8, Systemd, and kmod. You won't get Token Ring support, because it has been removed. Sorry, but it's true, no more Token Ring.

    mageia-Linux-software-managerUEFI support is experimental and incomplete, and Secure Boot is not supported. Journalctl replaces rsyslog. Desktop environments include KDE 4.10, GNOME 3.6, XFCE 4.10, and LXDE 0.5.5.

    Running Mageia

    So what's it like running Mageia? Like running pretty much any Linux distribution: it works. In these good modern times you just fire 'em up and go, and the differentiators are documentation, community, and fit and finish. General-purpose distros fall into two categories: bleeding-edge and always pushing ahead, and polished and stable. Mageia, like its upstream Mandriva and cousin PCLinuxOS, gets high marks for polish and stability. It is streamlined and well-organized, with a good logical flow in the user interface, and useful helpers like the Software Manager, which not only installs new packages but walks you through a basic configuration and setup. I've always thought of Mandriva as one of the best KDE distros, and so is Mageia. KDE4 is a rather astonishing overdose of advanced functionality and prettiness, and Mageia does a good job of sleeking it down and making it comprehensible.

    So why choose Mageia over Mandriva or PCLinuxOS? My #1 reason is community. The Mageia community is welcoming to newcomers and well-organized, so if you want to become a contributor to a FOSS project this is a good one to consider. If you're just looking for a nice Linux to use the documentation needs improvement, but the forums, mailing lists, and IRC are pretty good. It's ready to use out-of-the-box, and it's easy to understand and manage what goes on your system.

    What is a Magiea?

    What does "Mageia" mean? It's based on the Greek word for "magic".



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    • Matteo Said:

      As always an interesting review. I've really appreciated that you have highlighted the community :-) There's a little typo into the last question: Magiea Mageia. Thank you

    • Jack Said:

      I've been using windows 8 for a few months. I have to say that, after some observation of it, I'm disturbed. Would I be wrong in concluding that this OS seems not to just "support" the internet and the applications that you run, but to control it? Its as though whenever I open a program, its being micro- managed by the O.S. I'm very seriously considering Linux.

    • Rens Klumpers Said:

      I would sincerely advise you to use any Linux distro. The system is more safe and more stable. I am a MCSE, but i've switched to Linux (Ubuntu, Zentyal,Mint) and tried out several distros. All are extremely good. After you get used to Linux you won't want to go back.

    • W. Anderson Said:

      While I agree in principle with commenter to you Rens Klumpers, about consideration of Linux, although "not any distribution" for following reasons. Linux is not Windows, and even though most of the "modern" Linux distributions are fairly easy to use for a Windows person, it requires some effort to understand clearly these difference thst are nuanced, so that your experience will be positive. Before I recommend "consideration" of Linux to any clients -primarily business desktop users who, like you, are greatly frustrated with Windows of any iteration, I would question why you have not attempted an evaluation of Linux before, since securing a Live CD/DVD of a Linux distribution will work 100% - although a little slow as CD/DVD operation - as Live CD/DVD boot without any effect on Windows install what-so-ever. Are you willing to spend some time, not much, learning the basics of, for example Mageia (world class distro) or PCLinuxOS or LinuxMint 14? If so, continue reading this online punlication, and a few others and consult Ubuntu forums for answers to questions. I am confident you will be pleasantly surprised and excited about the wonderful world of Linux, just like the dozens of those whom I have converted over the past ten or more years.

    • DragonFart Said:

      you should consider Elementary OS. rumor has it will become "The" Linux distro by end of the year.

    • Bobb Said:

      I used to use openSuse before (for years) but disappointments with Suse caused me to try Mageia. There was always something missing in openSuse's new releases. I have been using Mageia 3 since it was Alpha and I have to honestly say that I haven't encountered any major issues up to now. It's a very elegant and rock solid distribution. After you set up the repositories that you need and install the packages that you want the system just works and it runs quite fast and smoothly even on older hardware. I just love this distro.

    • Kevin Said:

      Bobb - It would be so great if you would post an article about setting up your repositories. This is one of many linux that befuddle me.

    • Haider Said:

      You should read mageia documentation. Its excellent.

    • Yankee Said:

      I've been using Linux for years. I first tried Phat Linux. It was basically a compressed distro that ran inside Windows before live CD's etc. I moved to Redhat and was not impressed. Their site was a mess at the time so I tried Mandrake. Mandrake was much easier to install and then more importantly, it was much easier to configure, but most importantly is that community she talks about. I felt right at home, and was far behind. So I dug in and then along came Mandriva...I stayed with Mandriva 2007, upgrading to 2009 in 2010 and then the 2011 release. I was not impressed at all with ROSA and all of the changes. In fact I can tell you very little about it, I dumped it that fast. So here I am, no Mandrake and no Mandriva...where am I going to get a distro I like as much as those? I went to distrowatch and thought to my self...oh, a new kid on the block gonna try and take on Ubuntu. I didn't know Ubuntu had pretty much fallen to Mint and who is this Mageia thinking they can take on the Ubuntu killer? When I found out Mageia was the revived Mandrake I was very happy. I can't wait for Mageia 3 and am waiting on the final because I need a stable problem free install. I've just spent quite a while building, configuring and testing a new desktop and my wife wouldn't like me getting eyeball deep in the computer again. The moral of the story is I didn't know about the details of what had happened with Mandriva etc because mine just ran as it does now with Mageia. When I say I don't want to get eyeball deep in the computer again I don't mean it was that difficult to have a usable system but I rebuilt my computer with all AMD...ripped all that out and went Intel Ivy Bridge...Intel for the first time. Then I tweaked it pretty good. Then I upgraded to SSD's for all OS's and used the HDD's just for storage and had a HD failure. I'd like to do the upgrade as painless (time consuming) as possible. Mageia does install without much trouble on most systems. My friend had a Wifi problem and I had a little problem with my AMD drivers. Both were easily fixable with a little reading and some past experience. I recommend to anyone trying it for the first time to try and find someone that has used it for a year or two. They will understand what they read and can get you up and going should there be a problem. From there....Google is your friend as are the forums. Most problems have been solved and explained before. Mageia if very friendly about setting up a printer etc. Google will tell you where to go to find what you need. Also, spend some time looking around and always hit cancel so you don't make changes you don't like. I mean, browse through all the settings and everything so you'll have an idea where to look when you want to change something. Do all of this early on in case you do mess it up so you won't have everything just like you want it when you break it. I done this when I first started with Linux. If you delete something or it won't boot a new install takes a few minutes and this time be careful. When you think you can operate it without breaking it tune it to your hearts content! And you can, anything you want even making it look like Windows. I do recommend KDE for people who want a desktop as close to Windows as possible. I am talking from the point of view of a power user like myself. Most people could install it and just use it if you threw a word processor and browser shortcut on the desktop so to speak. Most power users already have Linux...but, let the Magic cat out of the bag. Mageia is one of the finest distros out there for many reasons. I highly recommend it to Windows users because of its control center if nothing else.

    • Michael Said:

      the whole idea of tainted is more for commercial distributor. While the association likely risk nothing, nor does the mirror owner, someone who suddenly decide to distribute mageia on a computer at a rather huge scale ( think HP, Dell, etc ) would have to deal with licensing issues. So if we wanted to ease the work of OEM ( and not only the big one, smaller one would also be impacted ) in various countries, being clear right from the start seemed to be the right thing. As I always say, we do not want to have a 2nd SCO case where someone decide to attack everything on sight because we ( as the whole community ) were not caring about patents, copyrights and stuff like this. And in the end, not caring would just create more FUD about 'using free software is illegal' and I think this would benefit to no one.

    • W. Anderson Said:

      Michael, "Not caring" about Intellectual property rights on software, particularly GNU/Linux was never the issue with SCO's lawsuit against IBM, since there was no malfeasance on the part of IBM or anyone else in misplacement of UNIX code. . It was simply a blatant attempt at extortion by a small desperate technology firm who thought that IBM would pay out $5 billions dollars - chump change to the giant - to make case annoyance go away. Mageia is governed by a well organized and managed "foundation" in France that has benefited from the experiences - both positive and negative - of Mandrake/Mandriva over it's lifetime. Many corporations, education systems, organizations and governments in Europe - at least initially - are deploying Mageia with great success and satisfaction, aided by numerous 'commercial' and community technical support services entities. It would be foolish to an extreme for any computer OEM manufacturer in USA cowering to potential of idiotic legislation over GNU/Linux patents, copyrights and trademarks, since such insane and unmerited litigation is enacted in nonchalant manner all the time. Being a large well funded bully that can wear down their smaller, less well connected victims in the legal system over time and with enormous expense is the new business model. That is the nature of of an ultimately litigious (sic) society like USA.

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