Mageia 6: is it the rise of Phoenix?

There is no secret that I always preferred distributions with the DEB package format. However, there is an exception. Mageia was the distribution that I ran for quite long time on various laptops. Unfortunately, the issues with outdated packages made me leave this distribution behind some time ago.

Just as a reminder, Mageia is an off-spring from the famous Mandriva family that survived when the Mandriva tree crashed.

And to fill out the whole forest, OpenMandriva is another off-spring, and my recent test showed that it is far below the mother quality.

Coming back to Mageia, it has been a long time since the previous version of this operating system was released. Mageia 5.0 was the “most recent release” for 1.5 years, and 5.1 was merely an update to it.

Mageia 6 was released just few weeks ago, in July 2017. It is a good time to check it out now.

You can get this Linux operating system from many mirrors or via torrent. There are 64- and 32-bit install images for both GNOME and KDE, as well as Live images with the same desktop environments available for 64-bit computers only. I downloaded the ISO image of Mageia 6 KDE 64-bit Live, which is 2.4 GB in size. Then I “burnt” that ISO image onto the USB stick using the dd command and plugged it into my Dell Inspirion 17 laptop.
Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let’s go!

Booting up

Once the boot process starts, you have a choice between the Boot and Install modes, each of them with options for free and non-free drivers.

First, I tried to book Mageia 6 KDE Live with non-free drivers. Unfortunately, that brought me little luck: the boot process stalled just after a few seconds.

The second attempt was made with free drivers only, and it was successful, although the boot process took longer than usual on the same laptop.

After the splash screen with a cauldron and Mageia logo on it, a sequence of questions appeared. That’s the usual process for all Mandriva off-springs, nothing unusual here: location, keyboard layout, time, licence agreement etc.

Once all the questions were answered, I landed on the default screen.

First impressions

The default screen of Mageia 6 KDE Live is standard for a KDE-based distribution. There is a panel at the bottom that includes a menu button with Mageia logo in the left corner.

Next to it sit Show Desktop and Activity Manager buttons along with a few shortcuts: file manager, system settings, Mageia control centre and Firefox browser. Yes, you read that right: Mageia has 2 sections for settings. User-level settings are done through the standard KDE System Settings panel, whereas more advanced system-wide and hardware settings require Mageia Control Centre.

The right part of the panel includes the notification area with clocks, volume, Bluetooth and network managers, USB devices list, clipboard monitor and other usual suspects. There are also two tiny buttons to lock the screen and shut down the computer. They are really too tiny to consider them useful.

The freshly booted system features a window with the shortcuts to different Mageia resources: guide, links etc.

Behind that window you can find a default wallpaper in blue tones with Mageia logo on it. There is only one alternative wallpaper, so you will need to get your own images in most cases.

There are 4 icons on the desktop: Install Mageia, Join the Community, Home and Wastebin folders.
Mageia 6 Welcome screen

The freshly booted system took only 468 MB of memory, which is good result for the KDE-based distribution.
Mageia 6 resources

It is about the same as Linux Mint 18.2 KDE and about 100 MB more than Kubuntu 17.04.

Network connection

Mageia 6 KDE includes a network monitor icon on the panel. When you click it, a new window appears where you can manage the network connections, both LAN and wireless.
This operating system correctly recognised and configured the wireless network card of my laptop. I had to select my home network from the provided list, type in the password, and then I was connected.

Keyboard layout

If you remember from above, the question about the keyboard layout was one of many at the boot sequence. I chose English UK there, and it was activated in my Live run of Mageia 6 KDE.

If you need to change the layout or add another, you can follow the process described in my article. It is fully applicable in this case.

Multimedia

Mageia 6 KDE comes with VLC as a default multimedia player. It means you have no issues in playing any music or video files right out of the box.

CNN, 1tv.ru and, of course, YouTube were playing fine in Firefox, too.
Mageia 6 multimedia

It means that Mageia 6 comes well-equipped for multimedia purposes.

Applications

Mageia 6 KDE comes with a decent set of applications available out of the box. In some areas you can even feel an overload.

Firefox 52.2 is the default and the only browser available in the system. Other Internet tools include Ekiga Softphone, KMail, Konversation IRC messenger, KPPP network tool. There is no torrent client or FTP manager.

Office tools include the full set off LibreOffice 5.3.4.2 applications. Base and Math components are here too. There are also KAddressBook, Kontact, KOrganizer, Okular document viewer. Estonian applications DigiDoc Client and DigiDoc Crypto are also in the distribution, although I suspect not every Mageia 6 user would have use for them.

GIMP, KolourPaint, DigiKam, xSane scanner, Simple Scan, Gwenview image viewer – that is not even the full list of applications in the Graphics section of the menu.

The Sound & Video part of the menu includes Clementine, VLC and Dragon Player players, which is probably a little overload. There is also PulseAudio control utility and TVTime television viewer, which appeared like a webcam utility for me. Disk burning utility K3B is not listed here, as in most other distributions, but still exists elsewhere in the menu.

There are several dozens of smaller utilities and system tools. Quite cleverly, System Tools section is nested within the Tools part of the menu, so you save some menu space and hide them from accidental users. Konsole, KNotes, KCalc, KWrite, K3B and many more are listed there. Most of these applications are KDE-native.

As you can see, the set of applications is good. You can easily manage most of the daily activities with them. However, if you need to install or remove packages, then Mageia Control Centre is your buddy. It includes the software management section. Right after the boot, you need to update the list of packages. Just a quick search through the list of available applications brought me the following results:
  • chromium – yes
  • skype – no
  • ktorrent – yes
  • filezilla – yes
  • pidgin – yes
The majority of my searches brought me the desired result. Just to test the install process in Live mode, I tried to install Pidgin. Package Manager requested that it ought to update itself too, after which it automatically restarted itself. I could start Pidgin after the installation.

Short remark: Pidgin is a GTK application, which looks not very comfortable in a KDE-based distribution. But that’s just a matter of taste.

Conclusion

A few years back, I was very happy running Mageia. I interviewed Mageia team members. I was a pro-Mageia person.

Unfortunately, the lack of updates from the Mageia team made me leave this very nice and promising operating system. I am sure I am not the only person with the same sad feelings.

Will Mageia gain its momentum again now? I hope so. It felt very fast, responsive and reliable during my Live run of Mageia 6 KDE. I faced no single issue, apart from the one with tiny buttons in the notification area. But this issue is too tiny (literally).

I wish the Mageia team good luck in their attempt to resurrect the half-dead distribution. I am sure we’ll meet again.
Video used on screenshot: https://youtu.be/K5KAc5CoCuk

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