Mandrake Linux 9.1 Quick Look
Networking proved a bit of a challenge. I used a program called Linneighborhood which essentially did what My Network Places did in Windows, but with unnecessary complexity. Before being able to view the files on the remote computer I had to "scan as user" then mount the file system then launch a file browser. Connecting to my dial up ISP was as simple as if I was using XP.
Windows Apps Under Mandrake:
Next I decided to have a look at Wine. This is a program that allows you to run windows apps under linux. Before most of the programs I wanted to install would run properly, I had to search around and follow guides to install the software. While this was frustrating I eventually got all of the programs that I wanted to run going under Linux. Not only do you have a large selection of apps that are supported by Wine but you also have a vast variety of programs written just for Linux, giving you the best of both worlds.
The games that I mainly play are Quake 3, UT2003 and BF1942. I was pleased to see that UT2003 ran natively under Linux. I had to get WineX before I was able to run Quake 3. The gaming performance under WineX was surprisingly good on my system. I am told that BF1942 will run under WineX if it is updated to the latest patch. I have not got round to doing this yet.
I found Open Office to be a suitable replacement for Office XP. I cannot say that I like it as much as Office XP but it's certainly very usable and will hopefully be improved upon over time.
Mandrake for the computer enthusiast:
Lets face it, if you are reading this review you are most probably a computer enthusiast of some shape and form. Donít worry you havenít been forgotten :P. Mandrake Linux is well suited to us computer enthusiasts. It comes with an IRC client and a whole stack of instant messaging apps. There is also a wide variety of web browsers. I downloaded Netscape for Linux. I was surprised at the wide range of features offered, however was disappointed by the lack of java support (you have to download a separate package). Not only does it provide all the tools a computer enthusiast needs straight away, but it also offers greater control over your system. Most of us computer enthusiasts enjoy tweaking our systems so they behave just the way we want them to. Linux really caters for this need and you can configure KDE 3.1 to look and behave just the way you want it to. If you are after support for Mandrake (or any Linux related question for that matter) I found Google and the Overclockers Australia Forums a great help.
There were a lot of advantages to running Linux other than the usual "ohh itís more stable and secure" arguments. Some of the other not-so-talked-about points are:
- Some of the great utilities that come on the Mandrake CDs
- The support for most types of multimedia
- The gigantic selection of free programs written for Linux
- Once you have applied a nice theme and tweaked around with the settings it can look very very nice
- Mandrake supports so many different file systems.
- It supports most common hardware out of the box.
I found the transition from Windows XP to Mandrake Linux 9.1 a great change. I am continuing to run Mandrake 9.1 and only ever go into Windows for a round of BF1942. Mandrake 9.1 is a great operating system but has a lot of room for improvement. In particular, it needs more hardware support, more support for running existing games and for people dual-booting, the inability to write to NTFS partitions would be a real advantage. However, if Windows is bugging you or you just feel like a bit of a change then go ahead and install Mandrake 9.1. I recommend that you check all your essential hardware for compatibility on this page prior to installing Mandrake. This can save trouble further down the track. In particular check your modem as a lot of Winmodems have issues running under Linux. However, my sound card was immediately detected and usable under Mandrake, whereas under WinXP I had to manually load drivers before I could use it.
All original content copyright James Rolfe.
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