Despite ongoing financial woes, Mandriva Linux developers have delivered the latest version of this popular desktop Linux operating system. Mandriva Linux 2010.2 is the latest in a long line of Mandriva releases from the company that used to be known as Mandrake Linux, and it every bit as user-friendly as promised.
One of the major features in this release of Mandriva is the so-called “smart desktop.” The idea behind the smart desktop is that users have so much data on their PCs that the traditional file and folder metaphor for organising data is no longer useful. In its place users need a system for searching, finding and archiving data no matter whether they are files, folders, documents, videos or emails. The smart desktop is designed to run across the entire system and allow users to group information by projects. Using the smart desktop users can add notes, tags and comments to files as well to help them navigate their information store.
The smart desktop is not a brand new addition to Mandriva and was introduced a couple of releases ago but it now has a number of improvements.
Mandriva 2010.2 also includes Go-OO, a branch of OpenOffice.org that includes a number of additions to the standard release. Among these are some user interface tweaks, better OpenXML import filters as well as better support for Microsoft Office binary files and also improved scalable vector graphics (SVG) support.
The inclusion of Go-OO is very much in line with Mandriva’s ease-of-use mantra. Most other Linux makers are now starting move from OpenOffice.org to LibreOffice, a version of OpenOffice not owned by Oracle. Mandriva can be expected to follow suit, bundling LibreOffice in the next release, especially as Go-OO has decided to join forces with LibreOffice.
Mandriva’s own Control Panel is one of the most user-friendly configuration tools available in the Linux world. Mandriva uses the RPM system for package management, a system which historically has been more cumbersome to use than the apt system used by the likes of Ubuntu. Developments like RPMDrake have made this process much easier to manage and Mandrake’s Control Center has put the final polish on this. Through the Control Center you can manage the frequency of updates as well as install any of tens of thousands of applications.
The Control Center also manages network connections, printers, parental controls as well as the built-in firewall.
On the desktop Mandriva 2010.2 includes Gnome 2.30. While not the anticpated 3.0 release of Gnome, it does have the option to view some of the changes coming. The 2.3 version of Gnome includes a preview of the forthcoming Gnome Shell which radically changes the desktop experience for users. Gnome Shell is still in development so most users won’t want to be setting this as their default desktop until all the major issues have been sorted out.
Naturally Mandriva 2010.2 includes a KDE desktop, version 4.4.3 in this release. KDE4 is now a mature release and well worth taking a look at if you’re not a Gnome fan.
Everywhere you look on Mandriva 2010.2 there is evidence that developers have been working on ease-of-use. Everything from installing new applications to managing wi-fi connections; from parental controls to the new live updates – Mandriva 2010.2 a pleasure to use.
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