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!