Mageia Moves Forward, Releases Alpha 2
The Mageia project announced the release of Alpha 2 of their inaugural version 1, expected June 1. Developers have made a clear statement that this release is only for developers and bug hunters. It is not for daily use, any kind of production environment, or review. Tsk, tsk, they should know better than that. Reviews are inevitable.
The delayed Alpha 1 was announced a month ago on February 14. The main development goals through that point was to setup the infrastructure, coordinate developer assignments, and remove all Mandriva branding. Alpha 2, released today, was to add Mageia branding and add missing packages. Alpha2 is available in 32- and 64-bit DVDs as well as a dual minimal CD for both 32- and 64-bit.
For an alpha, not too many things are broken. The installer will be familar to anyone who has installed Mandriva. The graphics have been changed, but some are clearly temporary. The install chugs along fine, but an old Mandriva bug has either re-emerged or was never fixed. Old timers might remember it. Don't "Test" your graphical setup when customizing it during install. It did kill the install at that point, but I didn't have to start all over. Upon reboot of the installer, I got another familiar error - the installer couldn't read the partition table and I was given a choice: either let it reinstall the partition table and lose all partitions on that drive or not. Has anyone ever chosen to let it wipe out all the partitions? After choosing "no," it carries on as if that error never existed. At that point I was given the choice to upgrade my current Mageia install or perform a fresh install. Then the installer picked up right where we left off.
Mageia has changed the boot and login graphics as well as all those throughout the desktop. One theme seen is this dark blue background with what appears to be dimples, although the desktop background is a simple gray embossed with the logo. The desktop isn't customized a whole lot at this point and developers have chosen to ship with the Mandriva simplified menu as default in KDE.
The Mandriva Control Center and accompanying modules are present. There's a little bug when searching for software in the Software Center. Developers are aware of that one and have posted a workaround. Type in your search term, look in the menu, and reload the package list. Then your searched packages will show. I was glad to find that NVIDIA proprietary drivers are available. Another little bug is that the graphical software installers can't mount drives, so you'll have to mount your DVD in order to install additional software.
Mageia 1 Alpha 2 ships with Xorg X Server 1.9.4, Linux 2.6.37, GCC 4.5.2, and KDE 4.6.1. For GNOME fans, they've chosen to go with version 2.32 for now. They provide Firefox 4.0 rc1, LibreOffice 3.3.1, and lots and lots of useful applications.
All in all, for a brand new project's second alpha release, it's looking pretty good. There are a few minor bugs here and there, but overall the desktop and applications are stable and usable -despite all the repeated warnings throughout that this release is only for testing. Beta 1 is scheduled for April 5 with Beta 2 coming a few weeks later on April 26. A release candidate is due May 17 with final expected June 1.
Developers said a while back that this first release would still be very much Mandriva and at this point, they weren't wrong. Even with no visible branding it still feels a lot like Mandriva. Like PCLOS, it probably always will retain a certain degree of Mandriva's mystic. Not that that's a bad thing...