Why prefer Mandriva over another distribution?

Yesterday someone asked on a Dutch website the same question which comes back on sites like Slashdot every time a new Mandriva release is announced: what is the the advantage of Mandriva above other distributions like Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Fedora.

This made me think and so I wrote down a couple of reasons why I use Mandriva on my desktop systems.

10 advantages of Mandriva above other Linux distributions

  • The default graphical theme in Mandriva looks much better than Ubuntu’s brown mess.
  • All graphical configuration tools are centralized in the Mandriva Control Centre.
  • Mandriva has some unique configuration tools, such as msec which permits you to change advanced security settings from the GUI.
  • Mandriva makes it very easy to install 32 bit libraries and applications on the x86_64 version. In Ubuntu some of the more important 32 bit libraries can be found in the ia32-libs packages, but if you need something else which is not in there for whatever reason, things become more complicated and messy: you can for example extract the libraries by hand from the 32 bit deb package and install them in /usr/lib32, or you’ll have to create a complete 32 bit chroot. In Mandriva you can simply install packages from the 32 bit distribution on the x86_64 release by means of the standard console or GUI installation tools.
  • (shameless plug) The program menu is much nicer if you have installed KDE and GNOME together on your system (in Ubuntu and other distributions you will get very long menus containing lots of KDE and GNOME applications mixed together.
  • Mandriva’s booting times is about the fastest possible for a generic distribution thanks to Speedboot
  • KDE as shipped by Mandriva is generally a bit more stable and polished than in Ubuntu
  • Mandriva’s GNOME corresponds more to the default upstream GNOME than for example in OpenSUSE (e.g. by default it does not use that messy Slab menu)
  • Very flexible graphical installer in the Free and Powerpack editions for people who want a more complete and custom installation than the one from a standard live cd
  • Mandriva’s development community is very open and accessible, eg. via IRC and mailing lists. If you do a little bit of effort, it’s pretty easy to become a Mandriva package maintainer yourself and to integrate your contributions yourself in the distribution.

Some disadvantages of Mandriva

  • Security updates are sometimes a bit later than other distributions and for some packages even completely missing. It has to be said that these are mostly not too important security problems and I’m not aware of any problems this has caused for anyone in practice. Also bugfix updates for some reported problems are sometimes late or not done at all.
  • While the graphical themes are much better than Ubuntu’s in my opinion, I still think they cannot beat the upstream KDE and GTK+ themes.
  • The Mandriva configuration tools sometimes have annoying bugs or do not have the best looks possible.

Personally, I consider Mandriva and Debian as the best distributions available. I think Ubuntu is overhyped a lot and does not offer much (if anything?) you cannot do with Debian. I also think Debian’s distribution model consisiting of the Stable, Testing and Unstable distributions is great and makes it possible to have a pretty stable and “rolling” distribution with fairly up to date software at any time. However, the fact that I can directly contribute my own improvements to Mandriva and the fact that installing 32 bits stuff on x86_64 is dead easy, make tthat Mandriva is still my preferred choice on desktop systems.

Anyway, the choice is up to you!

10 Replies to “Why prefer Mandriva over another distribution?”

  1. I recently wrote a comparison from a KDE4 standpoint of Mandriva Spring 2009 RC2 and Kubuntu Jaunty RC, and I see nothing to disagree with in the above statements.

  2. you should say 10 advantages of Mandriva above ubuntu .. u are only comparing mandriva vs ubuntu on all your points except in one point about upstream in opensuse and i don’t see why it’s better to use upstream defaults

    1. My comments about the configuration tools, boot times, menus and development community are also true when comparing with Fedora and OpenSUSE so it’s not just a comparison with Ubuntu.

  3. I have used debian, fedora OpenSUSE, ubuntu, ubuntu ultimate edition 2.1 an offspring of ubuntu, i thing is one of the best for mi, i m testing mandriva again for one thing i have a desktop computer with core duo processor 64 bit, 2 gigas in ram, ATI radeon 3650 with 512 MB, i use for testing, playing war games, and i probed it with ubuntu ultimate edition 2.1, the only complain is it function slow compared 2 laptops and a netbook, so the only distro i have was mandrva 2009 64, that came in Linux Magazine spanish edition, and until now it works very well, i am in guadalajara mexico 550 km from mexico city and with the AH1N1 flu virus it became so boring, restaurants closed, no football, NO BARs, NO SCHOOLS until 6th of may, so if the flu don’t kill us the boring situation will, fortunately i have 4 computers and the glorious net, so in can comunicate with mi son and my dotter, i really love them, they are in mexico city and yes i am worry for them, the girl is 22 and the boy 25 and this military virus, we have til now about 200 deaths and mostly from 20-50 years old, so i start making software test and try to work in my old unfinished projects.
    Yes mandriva is fast, clean, i use it with gnome i do not like KDE specially KDE4, i have tu use glasses and with gnome is better on my neck, is clean, ordered, fast and i used to, and DO NOT LOOK LIKE WINDOW$.

  4. This article could have been OK (there are thousands of “why i prefer distro x” articles) but from the start it compares the default theme of Mandriva with Ubuntu’s ‘brown mess’. A strong offense to Ubuntu users. A distro should be praised but not with the need to trash other distros. The control centre ‘advantage’ is kind of poor. Most of the distros have a control centre. I have absolutely nothing against Mandriva (and no other Linux distribution in particular) but no offense, but this is a poor tentative to praise your favourite distribution.

    1. I beg to differ.
      It only takes one Google search to find many comments about people disliking the default brown theme. This argument is not irrelevant, as it’s the first thing new users see and the first impression is always important. That’s also the reason why I placed it first: it was really the first thing I thought of and it’s always been the first thing I changed after an Ubuntu installation.
      Now of course I agree that there are much more important things because a theme is very easy to change and does not affect functionality. And as you can read, I also criticize Mandriva’s default KDE and GTK+ theme, which are definitely not perfect yet.

      Now to the other arguments, which are much more important. The Mandriva Control Centre is definitely the biggest advantage of Mandriva above Ubuntu. Ubuntu has some configuration tools, but they are not integrated in one interface and in most cases are some generic tools not developed by Ubuntu itself. Most of them are created by the gnome-system-tools project, and others by Red Hat, such as NetworkManager. For example the problem with NetworkManager in Ubuntu is that it does not work smoothly with the standard Debian/Ubuntu way of configuring the network via /etc/network/interfaces. To use NetworkManager, the network interface may not be configured in that configuration file, which also means that your wireless network will not be working when you’re not starting X (except if this has changed recently). In Mandriva you won’t have these kind of integration problems, because the whole network configuration stack uses the same underlying configuration files.

      About Kubuntu not being the best distro for KDE users, this also seems like a general consensus on the Internet. Read for example this thread on Ubuntu’s forum where people discuss this subject.

      Also the argument of 32 bits libraries on the 64 bit distro is real. I’ve had to resort to the manual extraction of libs from a 32 bit package on a Kubuntu machine for a collegue when he wanted to run some proprietary, binary 32 bits application on his x86_64 system. On Mandriva I would have simply installed the right package with the package manager.

      People are free to disagree with me. You can consider my arguments not important enough or have other arguments against Mandriva which make you prefer another distribution, but stating that my arguments are false or totally worthless is strongly exaggerated, because they are definitely based on true experience.

      1. Funny thing is arguing against comments was much more valuable than the post itself ;)

        Regarding the brownish theme: this has been discussed over and over even at UbuntuForums.org (do a search a see tens if not hundreds of threads regarding this). The explanation for the Human theme was that it is in ‘concordance’ with the Ubuntu concept, and brown may represent Earth (or something like that, you know all that humanity towards others, we all live happily etc). What I was saying was not about Ubuntu’s theme itself, but the fact that you compare directly Mandriva with Ubuntu and for what? For a theme which can be easily changed. And as a first impression, there are plenty of people who find the Human theme pleasant.

        Besides, usually when you praise your favourite distro you don’t start to say something like “x is better than y because y has a poor implementation of “. That’s not good practice. Now I have done an article in the past about why I like Debian, but I never ever mentioned in that article something like “it’s better than that other distro because”. Still, I raised valid (I think) distro-specific features. That’s not the case with the Control centre you mention. Even Damn Small Linux has a (very good imo) control centre.

        Regarding the KDE implementation, I agree: although I didn’t try it in other distro, I think currently Kubuntu is one of the worst, and I know because I saw it. Instead I think it was one of the best KDE distros back in 6.06 (KDE3).

  5. Craciun Dan: yes, the KDE of Kubuntu is only the “vanilla” KDE, without modifications, isn’t implemented.

    I use Fedora, but I’m thinking about use Mandriva as my OS (2009.1 is perfect)

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