Bold Prediction, Mandrake 10.1 Community Ed. Mini Review
One of the things I like about Linux is the graphical flexibility it affords those of us that like to constantly fiddle with things. Things you can't do with Windows. There are many flavors of Linux because it's free as in beer and anybody can use the code for free as in libre unlike Windows or MacOS. My current flavor of the month is Mandrake 10.1 Community Edition.
10.1 is currently in Beta so there are a few glitches yet to be fixed. Here's my brief review for those that know a little bit about Linux...
The installation is nearly identical to 10.0 Official. My wireless network card was detected and configured during startup but PCMCIA totally shut down after the first reboot. That probably has something to do with the switch from devfs to udev but I'm not totally sure. I'm using the integrated 3com NIC with no problems. The printer was detected and configured with no intervention unlike WinXP.
No KDE 3.3 yet but I'm happy with 3.2 for the most part. A big improvement is the list of mirrors now included when you add software. None of the provided repository mirrors worked but I manually fixed that with Easy URPMI and some command line hackery. I installed Xchat, Gkrellm, Firefox, Bittorrent + GUI all without a hitch after that fix. It'd be nice if Firefox was set as the default browser but it's pretty easy to go into KDE preferences and add it to the top of the list.
Other major changes are to the audio and video applications. Totem and Xmms have mercifully been dropped in favor of the surprisingly easy to use Kaffeine and amaroK. AmaroK is a worthy substitute for the Windows only Winamp or Xmms. Check out the screenshot above for an idea of the amaroK UI. Gkrellm worked fine this time around, no weird CPU hogging. Kaffeine warrants a special mention though because of the fact that it simply works. I had to compile Mplayer and fiddle with codecs for a long time to make it work. Kaffeine works with wmv, avi, mpg, you name it. Surprisingly low CPU usage using Kaffeine to watch Super Size Me. AmaroK also has no problem playing WMA files out of the box though KDE defaults to Kaffeine. You're going to need at least 256MB RAM as per usual. Tried it with 128 but after an hour or so of use it slowed to a crawl.
Bottom Line. It only took 3 hours of tinkering to make the system work correctly it used to take 6 or 7. Windows XP still has the edge in my living room as a Home Theater PC plugged into my HDTV but Mandrake and Linux in general are making serious inroads. The last requirements? 1280x720(720p) resolution support and better 3D support. 10.1 CE has Xorg as an Xfree replacement but I haven't tested it with the Nvidia drivers yet, fingers crossed...