Mageia 4 is nearly here, so we decided to look at Mageia 4 RC in preparation. It’s always such a long time between each Mageia release that it causes genuine surprise when we come back to it for review. Often when using and reviewing distros, there’s always some problem that comes with the better qualities. We either learn to work around them if it’s a distro we’re using day-to-day, or give up altogether. It’s very rarely that we come across a distro that we find such a pleasure to use – something we’re not looking for in any operating systems, let alone a Linux distro. However, Mageia is one of those distros we always find ourselves enjoying when we use it.
Admittedly, enjoyment on a level such as this is extremely subjective. Mageia is very considerate of the user. Modifications and additions to the desktops and the default software are all done to make using the distro more convenient. While Linux is and always has been about choice, Mageia does a great job of revealing these choices to the user upfront. This all starts with the installation.
Choose your ISO
There’s a lot of choice before you even start installing Mageia, with multiple disc images to choose from. There’s the standard selection of desktop environment specific ISOs, ranging from KDE and LXDE to newcomers Cinnamon and MATE. If you have one of these desktops in mind for your PC and plan to do your own special modifications post install, then you won’t need to look much further. Otherwise, if you want to see what Mageia has to offer you can choose the complete DVD. This includes a number of changes you can make during install: selecting themed groups of packages, different desktop environments and even individual package selection.
Installation on any of the versions of Mageia has always been fairly flawless, and Mageia 4 is no different. It’s quick, and does enough to guide through more novice users without being patronising for the veterans. The kind of extra options on the full DVD aren’t offered with distros very often, so it’s nice to see that as a way to install Mageia exactly as you wish.
After installation is all finished you’ll be greeted with one of the major new aesthetic additions to Mageia. MageiaWelcome is the new welcome screen for the distro that helps everyone get started with their freshly installed OS. With a few initial set-up options included in the screens that make up MageiaWelcome, it’s useful for people new to Linux and veterans that want to get the initial wave of updates and app installation done quickly. It’s informative, useful and just the kind of thing we’re talking about when we say Mageia is considerate of its users.
The other major feature that helps Mageia maintain this level of user-friendliness is the excellent Mageia Control Centre. Everything you need to control or modify Mageia is kept in here: software installing, package updating, boot menu editing, hard drive partitioning, network configuring and so much more. It’s neatly labelled with tabs that allow you to jump exactly where you need to go. Each tab itself contains only a few options so that you’re not constantly scrolling up and down to find the setting you wish to use.
Using the rest of Mageia is as easy as you’d want it to be. The only problem that you might encounter is that installing with a DVD means you’ll need to update the software sources to only search online repositories when installing software. This has been a problem since the very beginning for Mageia, although is now only limited to the DVD version. At the very least you can perform the first major update without needing to worry about it.
The implementations of the new desktops are done well, better than they were throughout the beta. The Mageia theme has been properly applied to Cinnamon and MATE, making them familiar to those that use the desktops otherwise. The login manager to get between them could be a little better though, however it’s functional and not something you’ll be seeing very often.
So overall, there is a lot to like about Mageia. Mageia 3 signalled the maturation of the project, making it a perfectly viable distro with no major problems to make you consider otherwise. This fourth version takes that one step further, stabilising the code just that bit more and adding the very useful MageiaWelcome.
Mageia truly is a distro we should be using a lot more often.
Very much the distro to beat, Mageia has come a long way in the last few years to be one of the best versions of Linux available. The new additions make it even better for novices and veterans alike