Linux,  Mandriva

What’s new in Mandriva 2008.0

In less than two weeks time, six months after the great Mandriva 2007.1 Spring release, Mandriva 2008.0 will be ready and published. Currently, Release Candidate 2 is out, it’s your last chance to test it and make sure everything is working before the final release!

There were great ideas at the start of the development phase, and in in those six months that have passed, Mandriva has always been one of the most active projects on CIA.vc. This gives much hope for lots of improvements, so let’s take a look at what can be expected from Mandriva 2008.0.

Update 2 October 2007: The following translations of this article are now available, with thanks to the translators:

Installation

Mandriva’s installation is largely unchanged from a user point of view. The most important visible change, is the fact that the user is now asked which desktop he wants to install, KDE or GNOME. After this choice, no more questions are asked, and a default selection of packages based on the chosen desktop is installed. Of course advanced users, can still do a custom selection of packages to install. After the installation, the user gets welcomed in a web based first time wizard.

Mandriva 2008 installation: desktop choice

Mandriva 2008 installation: summary screen

Improved graphical and sound theme

Mandriva still uses the ia_ora graphical theme like was the case in previous version. There have been several important improvements however. Especially the KDE version, which was of a much lower quality than the GNOME version, has improved a lot. The menus and the window decoration look much nicer, the vertical separators in the toolbars are not ugly anymore,… For the Mandriva One live CDs a new nice blue colour theme has been created. The strong orange theme is not used by default anymore, but is still available for people who like it.

The wallpapers have been renewed, and also the splash screens (bootsplash, and GNOME and KDE splash screens) and screensaver have received a fresh new look. There is a new start-up sound, which will now also be enabled in GNOME.

Mandriva 2008.0 also has improved font rendering, thanks to the new freetype and the inclusion of the Liberation fonts, which improve compatibility with the non-free Microsoft fonts.

Mandriva 2008 boot splash screen

KDE splash screen

Improved and more stable desktop environments

KDE

The KDE version which is included is 3.5.7, with a lot of recent patches from the KDE 3.5 branch added. It is definitely the most stable KDE version ever. Especially the KDEPim applications (such as KMail and Korganizer), are a lot more stable now. KPDF is based on the latest version of XPDF now, which should improve rendering of some PDF documents. Konqueror’s rendering engine had a lot of bug fixes and when hovering your mouse over a link, an icon will now be displayed to show if the link will be opened in another window or in your mail client.

Kaffeine is now again the default video player in Mandriva’s free edition. Both the Xine back-end and Kaffeine have been compiled with XCB support, which should greatly improve the stability, especially when viewing embedded movies in Konqueror. In the PowerPack edition users can buy in the Mandriva Store, the default video player is Totem with the GStreamer back-end, because it includes non-free and patented codecs distributed by Fluendo.

The Kickoff menu is now available in Mandriva 2008.0, but not enabled by default, because not everyone likes it. If you want to enable it, you can do so by richt clicking on the menu icon in the Kicker panel at the bottom of your screen. The KDE ioslave sysinfo:/ will give a nice overview of your hardware.

Mandriva 2008 KDE desktop

Konqueror with Metabar

GNOME

Mandriva 2008.0 includes the brand new GNOME 2.20 which include a lot of improvements. The Evince document viewer now uses the new Poppler 0.6 back-end, which improves PDF rendering and supports interactive forms. Evolution will now warn you before sending if you refer to an attachment in your mail text, but forgot to include it. If you are using the threaded view in Evolution and a new message is received in a mail thread, the whole thread will be moved to the top (or bottom, depending on your ordering settings), so you surely won’t miss the new message. Keyboard users will like the fact that they can read all of their mail with a single key, the space bar. Pressing the space bar, will scroll further in the message, and when you arrive at the end, pressing the space bar, will bring up the next unread e-mail. Corporate users will be happy with the many improvements in the Exchange and Groupwise support.

The Rhythmbox music player now supports gapless playback, synchronizes with more portable media devices (notably via MTP) and its memory usage has been reduced.

The desktop search application Beagle included a lot of bugfixes. It will be more stable now, and thanks to performance improvements it will interfere much less with normal work.

Other GNOME improvements include the usage of notification messages if special events are happening (when e-mail arrives for example), improvements to the picture viewer EOG, a better documentation system,… Pidgin now replaces GAIM as the default instant messaging application. The popular Windows FTP client FileZilla has just made its debut in Linux with the newly released version 3 and it’s now the default FTP client in GNOME.

Mandriva 2008 GNOME desktop

Mandriva 2008 GNOME applications

XFCE

XFCE also received some attention in this Mandriva release. Mandriva now includes many typical XFCE applications, like Ristretto and Squeeze. Thanks to the task-xfce RPM package, you can easily install a complete XFCE desktop on systems with less powerful hardware. Compositing is now enabled in the XFCE packages. It’s possible there will be a Mandriva One version which uses XFCE as its default desktop later.

Mandriva 2008 XFCE desktop

Improved applications menu

One year ago, I wrote a proposal for a new menu structure. I dedicated a long time to write this proposal, and in the end I got a bit fed up with it, as I did not knew if actually it would lead to something. So as you’ll probably notice if you read the document, I’ve actually never proofread the whole document :-) Anyway, Mandriva apparently found my proposal very interesting, and decided to implement it for 2008.0. The menu structure is much less nested now: all important applications can now be found directly under the main categories, while before they were nested two levels deep. This will make applications easier to find. If you have both GNOME and KDE installed, the menus will now make a difference between desktop native applications, and applications of the other desktop. The desktop native ones will always be on a higher level, to indicate to users that they should rather use that ones for reasons of integration.

GNOME applications menu

KDE Kickoff menu

New cool desktop effects with Compiz Fusion

Mandriva 2008.0 includes Compiz 0.5.2 with the Compiz Fusion plug-ins. These are a merge of the old Compiz and Beryl effects. Compiz is generally faster than before, and there are lots of nice new effects, like the Shift Switcher plug-in, giving you Apple Coverflow or Vista window flip effects.

Gnome Compiz Fusion desktop cube
KDE Compiz Fusion shift switcher
KDE: Kaffeine and Compiz Fusion window preview

Better hardware support

Kernel

Mandriva 2008.0 will ship with a Linux 2.6.22.6 based kernel. It supports much more hardware than the kernel which was shipping with Mandriva 2007.1 Spring: support for all the newest SATA and SAS controllers, support for more DVB devices, improvements to the audio and networking support (for example important improvements to popular sky2, forcedeth, skge drivers and e1000 drivers) and much more.

Especially wifi support should be a lot better now. Linux 2.6.22 includes the new wifi stack mac80211, contributed originally by the company Devicescape. Mandriva has included many new drivers based on this stack, such as the b43 driver for Broadcom based devices, iwlwifi for Intel devices, Ralink drivers, etc…

Mandriva now also ships the pata drivers, which are a new replacement for the old IDE drivers. If you use these pata drivers, your IDE devices will now also be recognised like SCSI devices (sda, sdb, sr0,sr1,…). Because there are still some problems with these drivers, they are not used by default. The old, proven IDE drivers are still preferred for now.

Video card drivers

Mandriva 2008.0 ships xorg xserver 1.3 with many bug fixes included. It is a very stable basis. All latest xorg drivers are shipped, supporting all the newest graphical cards. Intel users will enjoy the randr 1.2 support, giving them the possibility to hotplug a second display. The 915resolution utility, which was needed to set the correct resolution on some laptop systems, is not needed anymore in Mandriva 2008.0.

Mandriva 2008.0 also includes the brand new Avivo driver for ATI r500 based chipsets (ATI X1xxx graphics cards, amongst others). Because the driver is in its early stages of development, it will only be enabled on cards on which this driver has already proven to be stable.

The ATI and NVidia binary drivers can now be downloaded from the non-free repositories. All the latest versions are available.

Laptops: suspend and resume

Suspend and resume support should be much better in Mandriva 2008.0, thanks to the new kernel and also the many improvements in Hal, which now includes more quirks for different laptop models.

Printers

Printer support has been greatly improved in Mandriva 2008.0. Mandriva ships with the latest Cups 1.3, and the latest PPD files from OpenPrinting. The new HPLIP drivers are included for HP devices, and Gutenprint has been updated to version 5.0.1, also adding support for new printer models. Printer drivers have been split, so the printing configuration utility will not need to install all different printer drivers on your system. GPL Ghostscript 8.60 is now included. It is the result of the merge between the AFPL Ghostscript which became GPL’ed, and the ESP Ghostscript systems.

Digital cameras and portable audio players

New versions of libgphoto2 which supports new digital cameras, and a new libmtp version supports new portable audio players, which can be accessed from Amarok and from Rhythmbox. Photographers taking RAW images, will be happy with the inclusion of Rawstudio, a graphical application to import and convert RAW images. Of course UFraw, with full colour profile support, wavelet noise reduction and a Gimp plug-in is included too.

Improved performance

The kernel in Mandriva 2008.0 now uses the CFQ (Complete Fair Queuing) I/O scheduler by default, while it was using the AS (Anticipatory Scheduler) in previous releases. On most systems, the CFQ scheduler will perform better. It tries to prevent disk intensive applications from slowing down other applications too much. It also takes into account the nice levels to determine the read priority. With the ionice command, I/O scheduling priorities can be tuned in yet more detail. If CFQ would cause performance regressions for you (possible with certain workloads, especially on laptops with slower hard drives), you can change the I/O scheduler back to AS by adding elevator=as to the append lines /boot/grub/menu.list.

The new CFS (Completely Fair Scheduler) process scheduler by Ingo Molnar has also been included in Mandriva’s kernel. This process scheduler will give all concurrently running tasks a fair deal of CPU time, so that one CPU intensive application cannot prevent other processes from getting the CPU time they need to work correctly. This is for example an advantage for multimedia applications, as it will make audio and video skipping much less likely.

The swap prefetch patch will preload swapped out pages in RAM if enough memory became free again. This way, the system will be much faster responsive after a “swap storm”.

The whole system has been built with the latest Glibc 2.6.1 libraries and the GCC 4.2.2 RC compiler. Together with many improvements in the different applications all over the board, this gives us a nice overall performance.

Better battery uptime for laptop computers

Mandriva 2008.0 will install a specially adapted kernel for laptop computers. This kernel uses 100 Hz resolution timers, and has the NO_HZ option set, so that timers will only be fired when an interrupt is waiting. USB suspend is enabled on this kernel, and when you install Mandriva 2008.0 on a laptop computer, also AC97 sound driver suspend will be activated.

Thanks to the Powertop application developed by Intel, a lot of other problems were detected and finally fixed in both the kernel and different applications. Most of the system is now tuned to not prevent the processor from entering the power consuming C3 state. The Beagle indexer will not be activated if you are running on battery power.

Improvements to the Mandriva Control Center

In the Mandriva Control Center, the different tools in the main categories, are now subdivided in subcategories, which will make it easier to find the right tool.

The network settings are now consolidated in the Network Center. In this tool, you will see an overview of the different network interfaces in your system (both wired and wireless), you can easily activate and disactivate them, and change their configuration or start a monitoring tool.

Another new tools is the Migration Wizard which helps users migrating from Windows to Linux. It can copy their documents from the Windows partition to the Linux home partition, import Outlook Express’ e-mail client settings, and configure the same wallpaper as in Windows.

Speaking of Windows, Mandriva will now mount the Windows NTFS partition with the ntfs-3g driver, giving stable write support.

Mandriva 2008 Control Center

Improvements to the package manager and packaging

The packgage manager urpmi has been greatly enhanced in Mandriva 2008.0. Its dependency resolution algorithm has been improved and a lot of performance enhancements were implemented. Urpmi will now show a much nicer list of the packages which will be installed. It also supports the “Suggests” tag for RPM packages: using this tag, a package can be recommended for installation together with another package, without defining it as a real dependency which the user cannot remove anymore afterwards. Thanks to the new devel packages policy, the user won’t have problems anymore with conflicting -devel packages, like was the case in the past when upgrading your Mandriva distribution.

The graphical package management applications in Mandriva benefit from similar performance enhancements.

Servers and security

Mandriva 2008.0 includes the latest server packages, which offer the best security: Apache 2.2.6, PHP 5.2.4 with the latest Suhosin patch protecting your PHP applications from attacks,… The Kolab groupware server package is supported again in 2008.0, and has been updated to version 2.1.

All services which are remotely accessible will not be started anymore and all security sensitive applicatons have been built with strong stack protection compilation flags, to prevent damage in case of a trivial buffer overflow. Like before, a firewall is activated by default. For the first time, Novell’s AppArmor is included in Mandriva. It will prevent further damage if one service (for example a web application) gets cracked.

Virtualisation

Users can take fully advantage of the hardware virtualisation support included in the new AMD and Intel processors thanks to the latest KVM and QEmu. Virtualbox is now updated to version 1.5, enhancing its performance and fixing bugs. The Xen packages finally received some needed attention, and should now be usable.

Virtualbox

33 Comments

  • killer

    congratulations to all mandriva staff for an other great distro :)
    only one suggestion: i would like to use emerald as my default theme manager when is enabled the 3D.. waiting for 2008.1 :)

  • jcp

    Great article! It gives me plenty of reasons to try Mdv2008 asap.

    Congrats to all contribs in this release… Keep the very good work!

  • Tinku

    Awesome…. Just awesome… What a wonderful set of improvements which I was expecting from past few years… You guys read my mind.. cheers…

  • Mehdi Taileb

    I’m already quite satisfied and having a lot of fun with my current Mandriva 2007 Spring, essentially for Internet and multimedia purposes.
    However there seems to be so many improvements that I’m going to switch to this new version asap.
    Thanks for this nice article and congratulations to evryone who contributed to this new distro.

  • anonymous

    Mandriva 2007.1 was a fantastic distro, and this one looks awesome.

    I hope that a recognized PC seller will preload Mandriva 2008. It’s probably the best Linux Desktop distro!

  • Arun Thomas

    Cool…. I am a Mandriva fan from the first version onwards (Mandrake). And i am eagerly waiting for the new release. The MCC in Mandiva is the best among all the linux distributions. Hope Mandriva will become the most popular Linux Distribution.

  • Cardlemmw

    I have installed Mandriva 2008 RC2 and found a few bugs under KDE. I chose the US International keyboard mapping.

    * The right ALT key functions as the Enter key in text editors (KWrite) and OpenOffice. Thus, it prevents one from using special characters, such as cedilla (diacritical mark under “C”).

    * Pressing the upper arrow key launches KSnapshot. So one can not use this key to move the cursor in KWrite, OpenOffice, etc.

    I don’t know how to report these bugs to Mandriva.

  • Paulo Junior

    Congratulations to all staff of Mandriva (support and Distro)
    I know how hard is doing the OS.

    Regards,

  • L'antre du reptile bigouden

    J’ai l’impression qu’il se passe quelque chose du côté de Mandriva. Premièrement, des réactions très positives suite à l’article "What can be expected for Mandriva 2008" sur OsNews. Ensuite, les résultats sur le blog de Lenovo donne

  • Peter

    This is a truly impressive list of improvements, enhancements and innovations to an already great linux desktop. When contrasted with the difficulties Red Hat — a much larger and richer corporation, is having with its desktop product, this little French company is just brilliant.

  • robzilla

    I have been using Mandriva in various editions since early 06. I have found Mandriva to be an awesome distro with a nice array of practical and useful tweeks. This new edition seems really the best ever. I hope stability and speed of the desktop continue to be improved. I heard the commercial club is going away and it will be all free. I am excited by this turn of events. However it seems you still have to pay right now so I am not sure if it is a rumor or true.

    I think Mandriva is great and can’t wait to try the 08 edition.

    R

  • cripto

    Nice job Mandriva people.
    The union of people and the group club members over is good.

    Keep up. Only this way you can reach larger publics.

    Ubuntu may be good, but kubuntu sucks.
    Youre KDE is great, improve it more.
    Menu’s lag should be improved too.

    Mandriva 2008 is what we all want
    Nice stuff you ppl included.

    keep the good work

  • promeneur

    there is a bad thing.
    the module mod_quickcam is not in the kernel.
    my web cam logitech quick cam web does not work with 2008.

  • a6r

    if bcm4318 wlan card is supported and is painless in this distro,i would really install this.

    more power!

  • arun babu

    please include software scripts to connect to internet with a bluetooth DUN. I have always found problems with it.

  • dexter11

    “The most important visible change, is the fact that the user is now asked which desktop he wants to install, KDE or GNOME. After this choice, no more questions are asked, and a default selection of packages based on the chosen desktop is installed.”

    ???
    As far as I remember it has always been like this. Granted I haven’t seen this kind of installer in a long time because I always just upgrade but it’s defenetly not something new. It was just solved in a slightly different way with radio boxes.

  • Fraksken

    If you think it qhould be better, why don’t you have a try? It’s opensource after all ;)

    To the devs of Mandriva: Congratz, and keep up the good work ;)

  • rebeldevel

    I have installed Mandriva One 2008 (KDE CD). It rocks! Best release ever! Congratulations to the Mandriva team.

  • iceberg

    I have tried scores of Linux and BDS distros during the last year so far, my favourites are: Linux- Mandriva 2008, Lunux Mint 4, SLED 10 (although trying to avoid m$); BSD- PC-BSD!!

    Although I am not a newbie, I am searching for alternative OSs for newbies to use instead of Window$, especially since Vista!

    There you have it, Mandriva – top Linux, PC-BSD – top BSD

  • manmath

    Mandriva 2008 is definitely a great update.
    I am no using it as my workstation. I never had any hardware related problems with it. Besides, it’s fast and responsive. The default set of applications are pretty good and productive.