Friday, May 31, 2013

Mageia has won me over


It has been quite a while since I last blogged about something. My current day job does not involve commuting anymore and the lively discussion in are a thing from the past. I am now on 99% Linux use. (The last 1% is between Windows and Mac OS for special software like Online Tax Stuff).

Catching up

In the mean time I switched over from Kubuntu to Mageia as my Linux distro and I would like to explain a bit why I choose Mageia.

My initial problem has been that I was using a HP laptop which has internal Radeon 4200 graphics plus a discrete extra chip. This was problematic because AMD has declared this card legacy such that the current proprietary driver does not work with it  anymore and I had to switch to the open source radeon driver. Which resulted in a very hot laptop. I could get rid of this problem by turning of the discrete graphics chip at boot, but Kubuntu never felt stable anymore since 12.10. 13.04 didn't work for weeks until it was fixed in some update. I got a new laptop with intel graphic and decided to give Mageia 3 (which was in beta than) a try and it worked like a charm.

Why was I thinking of Mageia at all? 

I heard Anne Nicolas give a talk about Mageia 1 at LinuxTag 2011 which made quite a big impression on me. IIRC she said "Mageia wants to be the Debian of the RPM world". It should be a community effort, continuing what was good in Mandriva. It had tried Mageia 1 and 2, which were good, but not enough so, to make me leave Kubuntu.

What makes Mageia work better for me?

  • Mageia is a KDE distro. Kubuntu always had the feeling the KDE part was to some extend alien to the rest and the Kubuntu team had to do additional work to keep things from conflicting with Gnome focused preferences.
  • Mageia releases less often, but steadily. I was very fond of delaying the release of Mageia 3 for a few weeks to get rid of annoying bugs first.
  • KDE feels a lot more stable. I have no idea why this is the case, but KDE on Kubuntu always was a little bit more crashy than it should have been.
  • In general, I like to Mageia/Mandriva tools to manage the system with the exception of networking (see below). Especially the software installer is great.
  • Hardware support is great and in general I had a very easy transition.

What are the caveats?

I can only say two things about Mageia that are a bit negative:
  1. The Drak Networking tool should be banished. I was never able to connect to any Wifi. The same hardware worked excellent with NetworkManager and the NetworkManager plasmoid feels much better. So, you have to do a little fiddling here, which is suboptimal.
  2. The amount of software prepackaged or ready for download for Debian and *buntu is just greater. That means I had to do some additional building myself or install tar-packages, which is not what I like to do.

Final remarks

Mageia 3 just works nicely and do not get into my way which unfortunately Kubuntu did quite often. I have tried both openSUSE and Fedora KDE Spin, but neither could convince me as well as Mageia did.