With all the fuss people make of Ubuntu
, it's easy to forget that there are other Linux distributions out there – unless you're Adam Williamson.
The Community Manager for Mandriva posted a message to his blog
last week announcing the official release of Mandriva Linux 2008 Spring
. For some reason, possibly to do with a certain multi-talented alphabetically-monikered rival desktop Linux distribution, the announcement seems to have failed to be repeated in many other places.
Strange, because the new release is certainly worth a bit of attention: the 2008 Spring release includes a parental control utility, a new interface for organising your multimedia, support for synchronising data with a variety of mobile devices, automated installation of codecs for video and audio playback, and still more. It's a pretty packed release, really.
The parental controls are especially interesting: as Linux makes inroads on the desktops of the less technically minded, it's things like this that are going to make the open-source operating system appeal to people used to Windows. The parental control implementation in this latest Mandriva release includes a web content filter with automated and manual blacklisting, and an interesting time-limit feature similar to that found on Microsoft's Xbox 360 console.
The support for mobile devices has had an overhaul, too; with many Linux distributions failing to play well with anything newer than a PalmOS 5 device it's refreshing to see a mainstream distribution offer built-in support for Windows Mobile 5, 6, and 6.1 smartphones with no additional software installation required. Blackberry owners aren't left out in the cold either, and even certain Nokia handsets are covered.
Perhaps most interesting is the support for the Asus EeePC
. Although there are several Linux distributions aimed at the diminutive sub-notebook, perhaps most popularly the EeeXubuntu
Ubuntu derivative, this marks the first mainstream OS to fully support the Eee from a standard installation disc. There's no downloading patches, drivers, or hacks – the odd 800x480 screen resolution is supported from the get-go along with the in-built wireless and special keyboard shortcuts silk-screened onto the keyboard. The team has even tweaked the included Mandriva tools to ensure they display properly on the small screen device.
Fans of the KDE desktop environment will be gratified to hear that the new version 4 is supported and available for installation from the Mandriva repositories, although Spring 2008 will ship by default with 3.5.9 to avoid any issues with lower-powered hardware. The team has even found time to include a dynamic desktop background that changes over time, similar to the default XMB background on the PlayStation 3 console.
There's been plenty of changes made over the six months since the last Mandriva release, and I've just covered the highlights here. If you want to read more about what's new and improved, the team have published a tour
of this latest release. If you've read enough and want to give it a go yourself, head across to the download site
Any Windows users convinced to try the penguin side of life, or perhaps you're a die-hard Ubuntu fan tempted to a rival distro? Share your thoughts on the new Mandriva release over in the forums