The latest version of the most popular desktop Linux distro, Mandrake, is available for download today for Pentium-class PCs.
It's based on the 2.4.8 kernel with some of the more recent mods in newer kernels backported. Several of Mandrake's own configuration tools have been revamped in this version, and it includes the latest KDE and GNOME environments: 2.2.1 and 1.4.1, respectively.
Things we liked about version 8.0 of Mandrake were its choice of ReiserFS as the default file system - yum - and the Software Manager, which makes the business of installing new software look pretty straightforward. (If you're being cynical, you could say it takes dependency hell out of a console, and puts in a nice GUI dialog, but we still reckon it's a plus).
Things we didn't like included its refusal to compile power management stuff for our notebook, the absence of telnet in the default installation, and the weird glitch in the installer that puts the bootloader in the wrong place. (We're referring to the x86 version here - LinuxPPC version doesn't get along with the Nvidia card on our newish G4 just yet).
On balance, LinuxMandrake is big heap fun, and fine value when you count those included commercial applications. They'll be in the boxed version at the end of October.
Comments on 8.1 are already appearing at the Mandrake Forum , if you want to read some first impressions before taking the plunge. ®
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