February 14, 2006

My desktop OS: Mandriva PowerPack 2006

Author: Thomas Cortese

I like life simple, and I despise discovering hidden complexities behind mundane tasks. I want minimal effort to yield huge impact -- and that's what I get from the Mandriva PowerPack 2006. I can perform installation, setup, update management, and routine tasks without having to fiddle, tweak, or even think. It's just my desktop, simple and clean, and when I want to kick it into high gear so I can prove to be the best little worker-bee in my office, I click buttons or follow menus, and it just works. Windows definitely doesn't do that!

Don't get me wrong -- I love configuration files, bash scripts, and just about anything that reduces my machine to white text on a black screen. It's exciting to become more intimate with the innards. But I've realized that I'm a businessman who just happens to be in the business of technology. I have clients that I need to serve. I need powerful tools to get my work done, and I need to spend most of my time on the core components of the job at hand. I can't be held up by a cumbersome desktop work environment. In the competitive small business world, trying to figure out what's cluttering my Windows registry or spending even an hour to find the right driver for my new wireless card in other flavors of Linux just isn't on my agenda.

Mandriva's advantages start with installation. Not too long ago, I needed some extra hands for a project, so I installed Mandriva PowerPack 2006 on two new machines. The install was complete for both machines (a Hewlett-Packard laptop and an IBM ThinkPad) in less than 20 minutes. I even kept Windows installed on the HP and chose the option for dual boot on the Mandriva install screens. Both machines were on my wireless network in seconds, and I was able to add the additional software needed so my guys could work and get the job done, ultimately keeping my client happy.

I have the intuitive Mandriva Control Center to thank for a great deal of my joy that day. I clicked "Network & Internet" then "Wireless connection" and I was online. I clicked "Software Management," did a simple search, checked some boxes, and installed all the software goodies I needed.

Linux on the desktop has certainly come a long way. The community tools available on any distribution are so powerful and great to use that the fact that they are free is a wonderful bonus. I work with enterprise applications designed with PHP and MySQL. I'm addicted to OpenOffice.org 2.0, KDE, and Firefox. I have fun with Nvu for HTML editing, amaroK for streaming radio and organizing my MP3 files, and the GIMP for high-end image editing.

We now have a Mandriva Club account, so updates are instant and I have a Web interface to push updates to all the machines on our account from one central location. The Club account has also opened the door to more software, more support, and advanced releases.

Mandriva takes away the "why not" and makes "switch to Linux" roll off the tongue. Linux isn't a geeks-only tool anymore. Mandriva PowerPack 2006 offers the world's most powerful operating system in the simplest, most elegant package.

What's your desktop OS of choice? Write an article of less than 1,000 words telling us what you use and why. If we publish it, we'll pay you $100. (Send us a query first to be sure we haven't already published a story on your favorite OS or have one in hand.) In recent weeks, we've covered SimplyMEPIS, Xandros, Mac OS X, Fedora Core 3, Ubuntu, and White Box Enterprise Linux.


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