Linux,  Mandriva

Testing Mandriva 2008.1 Cooker GNOME

This week-end, I installed Mandriva Cooker in a Virtualbox virtual machine. I did a default GNOME installation, and noted and reported all problems I found, in the hope of improving the quality for when a new alpha or beta version comes out. I did a network installation from my local Cooker mirror (which only has the main repository, no contrib). Here’s a quick summary of the problems I found:

  • There are currently problems when installing the / partition on a logical volume using LVM. The problem is known and being worked on. As a work-around, I installed using standard partitions
  • The keyboard layout selection dialog is very ugly and confusing, especially when the “More” part is opened. Reported as Mandriva bug #36521.
  • When I set the timezone to Europe/Brussels, in the next screen, the local time and UTC time were equal, which is impossible in this timezone. Reported as Mandriva bug #36522
  • After the installation, X did not want to start. This was caused by a problem in the Virtualbox display and mouse drivers. This bug was already reported as Mandriva bug #35085.
  • When X failed to start, the dialog program was used to show a message informing me that X could not be started. While this message was visible, it seemed like dialog was using 100% of CPU time. I need to verify if I can reproduce this bug.
  • After running urpmi –auto-select, the dkms modules could not be build anymore. My kernel was updated, but because Mandriva’s installer did not select kernel-desktop-devel, the kernel-devel package was not updated too. Reported as Mandriva bug #36524
  • Mandriva’s update applet mdkonline is way too verbose: when it is checking for updates, it shows a notification bubble stating: “Warning – Please wait, checking for updates”, and if there are no updates available it way say: “Warning – Your system is up to date”. The warning word gives the (wrong) impression something is wrong. And actually these messages don’t really interest me. I just want to be notified if something if wrong or if there are any updates available. Personally, I think this applet should even be completely hidden if there’s nothing to say, so it does not clutter my notification bar. Reported as Mandriva bug #36526
  • The Firefox GNOME theme was not installed by default. The problem is that the main repository only contains an outdated version of the theme, which cannot be installed anymore with Mandriva’s Firefox packages. Contrib contains the right version. Reported as Mandriva bug #36513
  • Personally I think subpixel font smoothing should be enabled by default because most people use TFT monitors nowadays and without this setting enabled, fonts look too blurry. Even on an old CRT monitor, I found subpixel font smoothing very acceptable and nice to use, so personally I don’t see any reason not to enable this by default.
  • The GNOME terminal was unusable: it appeared almost completely transparent and unreadable, including its menus and title bar. Disabling Metacity’s compositing fixed this problem. And it fixed also a problem where the screen would not refresh at all anymore after coming back from screen blanking. When disabling compositing via gconf-editor, the whole GNOME session hung. Reported as Mandriva bug #36527
  • In GNOME’s menu System – Preferences – Language and location the Region combobox was completely empty. It seems like this configuration tools also duplicates the functionality found in draklocale (run as user). One of the two should probably be hidden then.
  • The eog image viewer was not installed by default. Because of this, images would open in The Gimp, which is not very handy for quickly viewing an image. Reported as Mandriva bug #36520
  • When the system starts up, a message is printed: “Warning: Alsa driver is already running”. I guess the alsa or sound service tries to load the module which was already loaded by udev coldplugging before. Actually, years ago, it was said that those two sound services would be merged. This should really be done now, it is confusing because it is not clear what’s the difference between these two services.
  • requires the hsqldb RPM package. This package installs a service hsqldb, which does not even start without Java JVM. As far as I know, does not need this service at all, but just uses the hsqldb Java libraries. The hsqldb package should be splitted then, so that it’s not necessary to install and activate an extra service, which does not even start at all. Reported as Mandriva bug #36472 and Mandriva bug #36427
  • Because the package was not installed while was, defaulted to the default Sun icon theme in large size, which is very ugly. Reported as Mandriva bug #36519
  • Personally I would prefer Beagle not to index aggressively when the screensaver is running. I find it very annoying that as soon as my screensaver starts, I hear my hard drive thrashing the whole time.
  • Personally I find Epiphany‘s minimum font size of 7 much too small. Setting it to 8 gave me comparable and much more easily readable fonts as in Firefox, while not causing any negative effects on web lay-outs (such as unwanted text overflow).
  • When starting Rhythmbox for the first time and opening the Edit – Preferences menu item, an error pops up that the Podcasts directory does not exist. Reported already as Mandriva bug #29908 and now also as GNOME bug #507541.
  • Mandriva includes some nice documentation, but none of it is installed by default. Reported as Mandriva bug #36518.
  • gstraemer-0.10-pulse was not installed because it is in contrib. Reported as Mandriva bug #36517.
  • I encountered a Yelp crash, but I had no backtrace, and could not reproduce it.
  • PulseAudio creates a whopping 6 menu items in the Sound & Video menu, which makes this menu look very cluttered. I think pavumeter should not be installed (removes two menu items, not a regression, because 2008.0 did not have any VU meters in the menu too), neither should paman (it only gives some technical information which does not really interest me) and padevchooser. Only the volume control should be installed by default, as that’s the only application normal user might use often. Not yet reported, as I think this should be accompanied by some other changes to the task-pulseaudio dependencies and suggestions, about which I need to think a bit more and about which I’ll start a discussion on the mailing list soon.
  • I think it could be interesting to install gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg by default because it enables playing WMA/ASX files and radio streams in Rhythmbox.
  • drakmenustyle is installed by default, while we only really support the Mandriva menu structure. The tool in itself still works, but the default GNOME menus were missing some applications present in Mandriva’s menus, as was expected. In that case, we should probably not install this application by default.
  • Still a bunch of faxing applications are installed by default (hylafax-client, efax). Personally I think the number of people having the right hardware to use their system as a fax and the number of people really using such software, is extremely low so that we don’t need to install this by default. Anyway, I have proposed this many times before, and it feels like I’m banging my head against a wall, so I won’t bring this up again.
  • Tightvnc and rfbdrake are old applications which are not really maintained anymore. They should be replaced by the much better Vinagre and grdesktop applications, which are much nicer.
  • Nautilus is somewhat broken, but this caused by the GVFS transition, and the problems are known, so no need to report this again. Let’s see how this evolves during the next few weeks.


  • dBera

    about beagle: since the initial indexing will be done only once, thats why it is the default option. Users can change it using beagle-settings or “$ beagle-config Daemon IndexFasterOnScreensaver false”.

    Mandriva can ship the option turned off by default by changing the global config file /etc/beagle/config-files/Daemon.xml and shipping that instead.


  • pacho

    I disagree with disabling deep indexing when screensaver is running. I think that it is a proper time for indexing files because user won’t need use too much CPU, other way, if this indexing is disabled when screensaver is running, When will it do the initial indexing?

    Thanks a lot for testing cooker :-), I don’t have enough time now :'(

  • ReinoutS

    Yes, thanks for the thorough testing.
    I’m running on 2008.0 still, as I’m busy with my newly bought apartment…

    In any case, the minimum font size in Epiphany might be too low, but have you checked that the dpi setting in the font preferences is correct? For my monitor, I get better results when I change it from 96 to 100.

  • Frederik's Blog

    Some time ago, Mandriva decided to install the PulseAudio sound server by default in its distribution. Personally I did not really like the decision to activate PulseAudio by default in all desktop environments: I have been using Alsa with great satisfact