May 16, 2001

Web review: MandrakeForum and the dedication of Linux users

Author: JT Smith

- By Tina Gasperson -
You might think the world already has too many sites devoted to Mandrake. I'd have agreed with you, until I found the MandrakeForum. It's a place to get with all your Mandrake-using brothers and sisters to discuss the high and low points of living with what some people say is the most cutting-edge distribution.
This is not a fanzine site, either. Due to the open nature of the discussions, many different viewpoints and opinions are espoused. Debian lovers are not ostracized; neither are war-torn, frightened Windows refugees who don't speak the language; it's OK to be pissed off at your computer; you don't have to be perfectly knowledgeable to be accepted and valued here. Come as you are.

One of the discussions centers on sound card issues. Without even trying I found some answers about how to get my onboard sound chip to work reliably (don't use the KDE sound server, but ALSA instead).

After such serendipitous fortune, I decided to go looking for information about getting my USB mouse to work with Mandrake 8.0, and found several related topics and posts. No definite answers, other than "Mandrake USB support needs to mature," but satisfying nonetheless. It's nice to know you're not the only one suffering.

On a side note, I'm realizing that people who are simply users of Linux, not coders or IT gurus, but those of use who just need an OS and related applications to support the work and play that we do, are a truly persistent group. We experience failure after failure and move from troubling situations to perplexing conundrums -- and we do so gladly (even though we're pulling our hair out) just to experience the joy of finally getting it to work.

Mandrake may have a reputation as the most newbie-friendly distribution, but the road to Linux nirvana is still like a brand-new washboard in many, many places. A friend of mine who uses SuSE swears that he hates Mandrake because it is too buggy. Yet, how many newbies are flocking to that distribution, or to Debian? No great numbers.

I won't be doing it anytime soon, because SuSE and Debian have reputations as being only for the Linux elite, and I don't want to try to install it and have my system out of commission for a day, or even several days. At least with Mandrake, if I break things, I know I can quickly undo my mistakes. With other distros, I'm not sure and not ready to enter the badlands quite yet.

But I digress.

MandrakeForum has different discussions going on in German, English, Spanish, and French. There's a place to submit news tips and links, and a link to MandrakeSoft's store. The site runs on PHP-Babylon, which is a multilinqual version of PHP-Nuke, and has easy-to-use navigation and basic, clean look-and-feel.

There's no indication on the site as to whether or not it is sanctioned or sponsored by MandrakeSoft, and no indication as to the age of the site; the FAQ section is empty and so is the links section, but again, not sure whether this is due to newness or neglect. Either way, it doesn't matter because the discussions at MandrakeForum are well populated and not full of trolls and flames like other places with which we're familiar.


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