After installing the Mageia 1 Cauldron Beta 2, updating it to RC1, and using it for a brief period of time, I would like to compare it to Mandriva 2010.2 in terms of performance, ease of use, and general feel. I cannot go beyond that because I have no technical knowledge and, although I am fully aware that the Mageia developers warned everyone about Beta 1 and 2 being test type releases, my modest review provides the perspective of an end user who is relatively new to Linux.
I will not get into installation details because I covered that for the Beta 1 and the process is pretty similar. However, one of the biggest differences between Mageia and Mandriva is that the installation of the Beta 2 of the former lets you choose your IME among SCIM, iBus, and SCIM-bridge and, as far as I tested, both SCIM and iBus work in Mageia, whereas only the first does in Mandriva.
Even though Mandriva picked up my wi-fi without any problem, it did not work in Mageia because the b43 files were missing. I read in the forums that they are planning to correct that problem and I ignore if they did it in the RC1. Anyway, one can get the same situation in Mandriva if one updates the kernel. I described how to solve this unexpected complication in Mageia here.
Mageia handles KWIN's four different desktop wallpapers better: they are easy to set and they stay as you want. The same can be said about the screen capture utility: while the time definition is a little unresponsive in Mandriva, it works almost perfectly in Mageia. I'm saying "almost" because when I specified a 5 second delay, the utility acted as expected and thus I could get these shots of KWIN effects (desktop grid and Cube). However, when I tried to send the snapshots directly to the GIMP, although it fired GIMP, this last program failed to open the files.
Interestingly, once the GIMP is active, it has no problem whatsoever receiving the snapshots sent by the screen capture utility.
I used the GIMP to modify some pictures and create my Mageia wallpapers and the Home and TRASH icons.I modified the trash file, but it is still a little unresponsive to change from empty to full...Oh, well. UPDATE: I fixed it. All one has to do is modify the trash.desktop file in /home/desktop. You open it with KWrite and change these entries:
In the first entry, substitute the red path by the path of the full cauldron. In the second, use the path of the empty cauldron and save the file.
By the way, there is still a Mandriva souvenir in the configuration of the login screen. The logo in the bottom right does not look like the Mageia cauldron one to me :-)
Although Mageia's iBus Japanese IME is easier to use, when used with Libre Office, you must make sure that you change the font to a Japanese one, otherwise you get boxes instead of kana or kanji.
I don't know why, but UMEPLUS made Libre Office crash. It's best to use Droid Sans Japanese in combination with iBus if you want to type Japanese text in Libre Office. I did not have any problem inputting kana or kanji in other applications. iBus works nicely in Firefox 4...
Speaking of Firefox...Some other problems I've seen involve this browser: you have to click twice in the contextual menu to download a picture and, for those who installed the WEBMAIL NOTIFIER add-on, you cannot listen to sound when a new mail comes.
Well, despite those issues, my general impression is that Mageia 1 feels very comfortable and, in general, very usable (for an unfinished OS, that is). I might very well keep it as my main OS if Mandriva 2011 does not convince me that the Rosa panel is a great idea after all.