viernes, 29 de noviembre de 2013

One Week with OpenMandriva Lx 2013

Exactly a week ago, I read the announcement of the release of OpenMandriva Lx 2013 and, since I had been experimenting with the Beta and the RCs, I installed the final version on my HP laptop.

Curiously, I did not experience the live session that installs itself, reported here. I could navigate the live session before deciding to install without any problem.

The installation of this Linux distro, which I had been waiting, posited some risks. First, my laptop has a rather complicated partition layout: it runs Mageia 3, PCLinuxOS, Pisi GNU/Linux RC1, and PicarOS, a spin of GalpON MiniNo made exclusively for children (you can learn more about PicarOS here). Second, although most distros in my laptop are 64 bits, I keep one 32 bit-distro (PCLinuxOS). Third, I combine GRUB legacy and GRUB 2 to boot the different Linux distributions.

However, the installation of OpenMandriva Lx went without any problem and, when finished, its beautiful GRUB2 detected all my other distros.  It even identified some with their corresponding logos and placed a Tux icon next to the others. I liked that detail.  The installation from a USB drive was significantly faster than the one with a DVD, by the way.
Then, I decided not to say a word of this distro after having used it for a week. This is what I have found as an OpenMandriva Lx user:

1. SimpleWelcome Launcher
Let me clarify something: when I first saw SimpleWelcome in Mandriva 2011 RC, I hated the new launcher. Later on, I warmed up to it and now I must admit that the darn thing is beautiful and responsive. Yes, it might look like a gigantic cellphone, but it certainly looks better than certain ridiculous tiles with childish colors that distract you with their constant movement...
The tab Welcome displays the programs that you have used recently and you can pin them on that position by toggling a little star ont their upper corner. You can delete the recently used documents from that tab by clicking on a small broom (and you will see a cute brooming animation as they are removed).
SimpleWelcome launcher: the Welcome tab
The next tab (“applications”) shows you the programs on the computer. You can navigate them using the search field on top, clicking on the little dots at the bottom, or sweeping to the right or left with the mouse. The applications can also be grouped together.

The timeframe is my favorite part of SimpleWelcome and what made me like the new launcher. It stores your documents chronologically, provides several views of them, and lets you get glimpses of what's happening in Facebook (also with a nice picture-scalating animation).
Timeframe displaying Facebook activity
2. Stability
The OS has been working perfectly all this time. No crashes, no freezes, no weird delays. Of course, OpenMandriva Lx is a somewhat resource-hungry system, but its performance has been notoriously improved since Mandriva 2011, which I jokingly nicknamed the Vista of Linux-Land.  OpenMandriva Lx works fine on my desktop (2GB RAM) and my laptop (3GB RAM)

3. User Account
They included new icons for the user accounts (/usr/share/mdk/faces). However, the one I liked was removed: the cat. 

Fortunately, I had saved the icon. It took me a whiIe to figure out how to change it, though. Even when you change it from MCC (System/Manage users/Edit), the icon you selected during the installation stubbornly stays. What you have to do is go to /home and, with Dolphin, display the hidden files. You are going to see a file called .face.icon, which is the picture selected during the installation. Substitute it by the one you want, but make sure the image is 225 x 225 pixels.  

The problem with the fixed image does not occur when you set up additional user accounts.  For example, I set up a Guest  account and gave it this icon:

To do so, simply open Konsole and type su, your password, and then cp image.png /usr/share/mdk/faces before you set up the account to have your image available.

OpenMandriva Lx controls my scanner, printer, wireless and wired Internet connections, etc without any problem.  LibreOffice and Firefox come with it, so you can work and browse the web.  It plays video files and music files, and you can watch YouTube videos, too.  It integrates KDE nicely: KOrganizer can work with my Yahoo! calendar, Kmail retrieves and sends my Yahoo! mail, and the contacts can be managed with Kontact.  In other words, it can do what most computer users need it to do.

However, due to the fact that OpenMandriva Lx is taking its first steps, users who require more specific functions might get disappointed.  For example, concerning accessibility technologies, some more polishing is required.  Although I could make Kmouth read text in English, Jovie does not seem to work and, therefore, you cannot change readers and languages.  Asian language input is another area of problem.  iBus does not work and, hence, I have not figured out how to type in Japanese.

Those two, nevertheless, are not great blunders for most users.  Gaming might be a more serious consideration.  To activate Steam, you need to add the i586 repositories even if you are working with a x86_64 system.  To do so, as a superuser, type this in Konsole:

urpmi.addmedia --distrib --mirrorlist ''

Some of the games I have do not work, though.
Desura is giving me a major headache; after trying to start a game, the client crashes...

Even so, I like the OS and it shows great potential.  I am sure that OpenMandriva Lx will get better with time.  It was worth waiting for this release.

1 comentario:

  1. Very interesting! I think OpenMandriva has a lot to give. I'm glad it is making progress.