back to article Comparing the descendants of Mandrake and Mandriva Linux

The OpenMandriva project last week released a new version: OpenMandriva LX 4.3 for x86-64 and ARM64 hardware. OpenMandriva is a continuation of the Mandriva Linux distro, but not the only one. The Register rounds up the siblings. The OpenMandriva Association was established in 2012 to continue the development of the Mandriva …

  1. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Activity manager

    > KDE's docs are not the clearest on this, but it seems to be a superset of virtual desktop functionality: each "activity" screen can be customised separately.

    You are correct. You can have virtual desktops within each activity; for example I have Activities for my default uses of this computer (e.g. pontificating on El Reg forums), one for doing genealogy research, and a third with a desktop full of monitoring widgets, for when I'm messing about with hardware.

    I have fond memories of Mandrake, it being the first distro. that I acquired, back in the days when one purchased a set of CDs from The Linux Emporium.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Activity manager

      Do I remember Mandrake as being the only distro that would work with those crappy "Winmodems" out of the box?

      I think that is right, and if it was they got some of my money in 1999 or so.

  2. Tubz

    If Only ...

    If only they would all stop forking about with their own version, bash their collective heads and skills together, we could have the One Linux to rule them all, and give Windows the two fingers we all gagging to do.

    1. Ozan

      Re: If Only ...

      First we need to agree about the best browser to use.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: If Only ...

        Oh no, we first to finish vi vs emacs. The rest is easy.


    2. Adair Silver badge

      Re: If Only ...

      No, no, no, no and no. Let anyone who wants to use Windows use Windows.

      As far as I know the purpose of Linux, and 'open source computing' generally is not to enable people to use some simulacrum of Microsoft's finest(!), but to enable people to do what they want with their computers. If that happens to mean re-creating 'Windows' well who am I to judge—it takes all sorts—but I would venture to suggest that would be a rather niche, and somewhat futile, interest.

    3. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: If Only ...

      ...we could have the One Linux to rule them all...

      You mean

      1. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: If Only ...

        Many, many years ago, the sainted Eric Frank Russell, who had extensive experience with the British military, colonial, and home government establishments, wrote “Study in Still Life” about this kind of thing. His hero created a Form Of Forms, to keep track of the other forms. This achieved several things:

        1. It got Our Hero a job. Someone had to be in charge of data entry for the new form, after all.

        2. It got Our Hero a raise. He couldn’t possibly do all the work himself, so he needed subordinates, and was now a supervisor.

        3. It got Our Hero’s boss a raise; the new guys that Our Hero supervised had to be assigned to report to some bigger boss. The boss’s department got bigger, so he got promoted.

        4. It irritated the hell out of certain of Our Hero’s former workmates, who had been sure that he would crash and burn.

        #4 was the important reason. The rest was gravy.

    4. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: If Only ...

      See all the responses to that idea and then tell me that this year is the one that Linux will finally replace Microsoft Windows.

      1. georgezilla

        Re: If Only ...

        " ... and then tell me that this year ... "

        Okay I will.

        This is the year ..............

        ... that for many more people it will be.

        And for each of them there will be .......

        ... ONE LINUX to replace Microsoft Windows.

        For THEM.

        And that's all that's important.

        But then it NEVER was meant to ...

        " ... replace Microsoft Windows ... "

        That's just wishful thinking on the part of those that don't actually have a clue about Linux and opensource.

        It's all just a matter of perspective.

        Mine's just not as narrow as some.

        For me, "that year" for Linux to replace Windows was 1998.

        And the current "one Linux" is opensuse.


        1. John Savard

          Re: If Only ...

          If one particular distro of Linux, say Ubuntu, for example, became so popular that for most people who were not terribly tech savvy, but who wanted to use Linux instead of Windows, they could be really confident that if they installed Ubuntu on their computer, any Linux program they might want to use would run on it... that would, I think, come close to the goal of making Linux at least a viable alternative to Windows.

          Because Linux is a mature enough operating system by now, it ought to be useful to people who want to get work done with their computers, not just play around with different flavors of operating system.

          But that goal hasn't quite been reached: a lot of Linux programs are available for Ubuntu, yes, but there's another big chunk that are available for CentOS (before it disappeared) and/or OpenSUSE - and not Ubuntu.

          That's the divide that, at least, makes me hesitant about going for Linux. Of course, Linux being free, one can just install OpenSUSE in one partition, and Ubuntu in another. But one really shouldn't have to.

          1. Adair Silver badge

            Re: If Only ...

            Sometimes you just have to take the plunge—and find out for yourself if Windows/Mac is the be all and end all of your computing world, or if, in fact, with a bit of determination and perseverance, discover that other options are not only possible, but may actually offer something closer to what you really need.

            Non-tech people I know seem to get on absolutely fine with various flavours of Linux, but just as they do with Windows/Mac they occasionally find it helpful to have someone on tap who knows more than they do.

            General purpose OSes are complex beasts and no amount of shiny is ever going to take away that reality, unless the system is completely locked down, which means it is no longer offering 'general purpose' computing.

          2. Lars Silver badge

            Re: If Only ...

            If only people would understand that people do not install Windows, it's there from the beginning from where ever they bought it.

            And that is the big difference.

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: If Only ...

          Which is fine. Accepting 'Nux as an OS of choice for a techie minority makes perfectly good sense. And indeed as an OS to underlie massive commercial organisations and even other OSes.

          But there are still those here on El Reg who dream of a Windows free world in which Linux is on everyone's desktop and Microsoft is no more. And I have no problem with that concept. I'd be happy with it myself. But it won't happen when there are vast numbers of versions, every version is slightly different, they all have fanciful names and each has it's own forks with similar names.

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: If Only ...

            I dont think the rich variety of Linux is the problem. Its the fact your machine will come with Windows on it. Job done.

          2. unimaginative

            Re: If Only ...

            I think what will reaplce WIndows is not desktop Linux but the browser as the OS - but something I think is a good thing, but its already happening. Chromebooks are selling well, are only incidentally Linux, and are designed primarilly to be a client for network services. What desktop apps remain will be more like mobile apps. I do not think its a good thing, but I do think its where we are headed.

            The exceptions will be people who need a lot of processing power, and tech savvy people who want to keep control. A higher proportion of those desktops will be Linux, maybe even most will be, but most people will not be using them.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If Only ...

              The problem with that concept is... that concept.

              1. A browser is not an OS, and it never will be.

              2. Storing your stuff on somebody else's computer is stupid, and always will be.

              3. The only people who think this is a good idea are idiots and billionaires.

              4. If you're not a billionaire... guess what you are.

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: If Only ...

          It's all just a matter of perspective.

          Does it involve a piece of fairy cake?

  3. nematoad Silver badge

    Sons of Mandrake

    PCLinuxOS is my favourite of the three I have tried. It seems to be more polished generally and with it using a modified APT and Synaptic, one of the best distros I have used when it comes to keeping my system up-to-date. Being a rolling release it can be a bit of a lottery when it comes to things breaking. That has happened but rarely and Texstar and his devs soon sort things out. The community is a good place to go when you need help and the forums are full of knowledgeable, friendly people. That said I have temporarily moved to Mageia as I was having severe problems with PCLOS. Things were not working and although I did manage to get some of then sorted out with the help of folk on the forum, in the end I jumped ship.

    I first looked at Open Mandriva. Despite what they claim I don't think that OM is a direct descendant of Mandrake/Mandriva. Things have moved too far away from the original. The use of Calamares as the installation utility being the first thing that hits you. The use of SUDO is a personal hate of mine. I never know what password to use and to my way of thinking letting any user have root privileges is just asking for trouble. I just could not get on with this distro so I took a look at Mageia.

    I tried Mageia in its very early days and although it was OK it had a few rough edges to it. These have long since been done away with and the distro is pleasant and easy to use. Its not as polished as PCLOS. A lot of things that need to be done after a fresh install are harder to do with Mageia, A case in point is the hassle I had switching from double to single mouse click. It took me two days to track down the toggle to change the setting. In PCLOS the option is there in the control centre. Software is another sticking point. RPMDrake is not as clear or as easy to use as APT or Synaptic and there are some gaps in the programs available. I had to side-load Palemoon as it is not in the Mageia repo.

    So far I have been lucky and have not had any problems with systemd. From anecdotal evidence when something goes wrong you can be in real trouble. Fingers crossed on that one.

    The Mandrake derivatives have inherited one thing that makes them stand out from all the other distros I have tried. The *drake suite of tools. Diskdrake is surely the easiest of all the partitioning utilities and I don't know why more distros don't use it. Hardrake, printerdrake and most of the others are, in my opinion, top notch and I miss them when they are not available.

    My system admin days are long in the past now and my boxes are no longer my job or a hobby. I guess that I have reverted to a plain user with a few admin rights, so although any of these distros would suit someone like me wanting just a simple and easy to use computer there may be others who prefer a more hair-shirt approach.

    Oh, in case anyone asks, I use the Mate desktop as I cannot get on with KDE or Gnome these days.

  4. Mr Templedene

    I started using Linux as my primary OS in 2004 with Mandrake, then moved on to Mandriva and finally Mageia. Very happy with it.

    My current machine dual boots to Win10 as my kids like to play games with me and it's so much easier just using Microsoft for that. Yes I know there are ways around it but I don't bother. What's revealing is just how much faster and more responsive Mageia is compared to Win10.

    1. Lars Silver badge

      @Mr Templedene

      More or less the same with me, Mandrake from 99 after RH. In between many more out of interest.

      Ximian Helix code was one of the very early that felt very impressive too then.

      I will stick with an Europe based distribution just because we need that knowledge here too.

  5. PCLOSuser

    Thanks for the write up about PCLinuxOS. I have been using this distro for about 3 years now. I am no computer tech expert, just a user. While PCLOS may be small potatoes compared to other distros, it is a good distro for folks that just want to get their work done. There is good community support, and it really does just work out-of-the-box. I found it to be straight-forward to remove/add packages using synaptic and apt for rpm. As of this morning, there are 16,000+ packages in the repository - something for everyone.

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    This was my second distro to try (briefly experimented with SUSE first) then tried out Zenwalk, PCLinuxOS, and Puppy, finally setting on Debian (and now Devuan).

    1. Valeyard

      Re: Mandrake!

      Mandrake 5 was my first distro in 98, mainly use ubuntu or debian now but I'll always remember it fondly (as one does after spending so long getting the drivers to work)

  7. IceC0ld

    Mandrake and Mandriva

    Bit of a wander down memory lane here :o)

    first attempt at installing Linux many years back, did NOT go well ffs LOL

    fell away for a while, until I finally got Ubuntu to load, and managed to post on an IT forum that I WAS AN IT GOD :o)

    but was actually checking through my old system discs, as I no longer 'need' them, still 'want' them though, and was just fondling the Mandrake CD, wondering if I have any spare space to actually try and load the swine up, and make it do my bidding

    probably not, to either, no space, and quite possibly no chance of making it work either LOL

    Mandrake Soft 9.2 as it happens, and FECK ME, I have CD 2, but not the first one, all these years of holding onto it JUST IN CASE LOL

  8. DoContra

    Nice trip down memory lane; Mandrake/Mandriva was the first distro I daily drove on desktop, and to my mind versions 9.x/10.x still have the best OS installers I've ever used. Although I will admit that in retrospective the best thing I liked from Mandrake/Mandriva was that under the hood everything was very Debian-like, which eased my transition to (K)ubuntu (circa the 6.06 days) and made me fall quickly in line for Debian in server(ish) roles

    Couple of notes: I thought Conectiva was ultimately sold to Red Hat (and is still Red Hat's offices in Brazil); maybe it was sold on by Mandriva to Red Hat back then? Also, using apt to manage a rpm-based came from Conectiva. rpm was late to the party to a dependency-resolving package manager (apt-get equivalent); urpmi was one of Mandriva's big selling point back then, as was Suse's package manager (zypper?). yum came by way of a Red-Hat/rpm based distro for PPC machines (Macs).

  9. Claverhouse Silver badge


    I shall always love SUSE ( until they spoilt it with dark flat modernity --- plus the older it got, the more issues it acquired with installation ); but now I shall probably stick with PCLinuxOS for life: it is very customisable.

    Of course, KDE has its own issues with constant modish modernity, never letting good things alone; and having rejected Activities and all their works, I hold to fine old Virtual Desktops and now lie dreaming awaiting the return of separate wallpapers for each desktop.

  10. GuildenNL

    Very nice write up!

    I never gave Mandrake a test drive, but always love hearing about distros. I first started with Linux in Dec ‘93? and seriously started driving it in ‘94. I used it by myself at home until Red Hat dropped their first version in ‘95. I moved all of our home to Linux in 1999.

    Around 2000 I installed SUSE on a couple of laptops and was happy with RH & SUSE for a few years. Over the years I test drove many distros - though I was short on time due to work and setting several frequent flyer records.

    I ended up settling on Mint for desktop & RHEL for all of my servers. I’m actually busier in my 60s than before, so haven’t had time to try anything else. These articles are like reading about new candy and ice cream without indulging.

    Thanks again for a great write up! I might ask my 92 yr old Linux Geek Dad to give it a try and let me try it on his laptop.

  11. drankinatty

    Mandrake Demonstrated How to Implode a Distribution by Corporatizing

    Fond memories. Mandrake was my first Linux distribution somewhere in the 2002(?) time frame. It was a thriving distribution with an active, inviting and very knowledgeable mailing list. RPM package management provided ease and flexibility to tailor the distribution to your needs. All was well in the Mandrake world - until it envisioned becoming a money making corporate enterprise. That single act, coupled with the inability (or incompetence) to balance a fiercely free and open-source minded community and its corporate goals led Mandrake into a death spiral from which it never recovered. The endearingly named "Mandrivel" was the result and the community fled like lemmings over a cliff.

    Though this wasn't without benefit. I landed with SuSE Pro 7.0 (Air) and despite a few speed-bumps along the way, (the 2005 deal with Microsoft, etc..) still use openSUSE as a desktop distro to this day. (Archlinux is my choice for server OS). Along the way there were experiments with Debian (sill use Rasbain, now Raspberrry Pi OS), Slackware, Ubuntu, etc.. There were many lessons learned from Mandrake, and perhaps the most important was how NOT to transition a community-based distro into a commercial offering.

    There have been many that have been successful since that time, but if boiled down, the one thing that really contributed to the Mandrake implosion was the outright disdain the new corporate folks showed toward continuing the community aspects of the distribution. The proof is in the pudding so to speak.

    1. AdamWill

      Re: Mandrake Demonstrated How to Implode a Distribution by Corporatizing

      "All was well in the Mandrake world - until it envisioned becoming a money making corporate enterprise. That single act, coupled with the inability (or incompetence) to balance a fiercely free and open-source minded community and its corporate goals led Mandrake into a death spiral from which it never recovered."

      You're misremembering. Mandrake was always (trying to be) "a money making corporate enterprise", from the beginning. It was a for-profit company and its only business was making a Linux distribution. If it didn't make any money it would've failed much faster.

      What caused all the trouble and ultimately killed Mandr* was, in three words: Mark bloody Shuttleworth. Before Ubuntu came along, Mandrake was the premier "user friendly" Linux, and in commercial terms looked pretty generous: the other major commercial distro was SUSE, and our (I used to be the community manager, and did some packaging work too) terms were rather more generous. There was a free edition of Mandrake but no free SUSE at the time, for instance. The major free options were Debian, which is of course great but not a new user friendly choice (even less so at the time), and Fedora, which we still had solid competitive advantages over at the time - better package manager, nicer installer, better proprietary driver support (which was an anti-feature for Fedora but something Mandrake users appreciated).

      Then Uncle Bleeding Moneybags showed up with his business model of "let's do everything Mandrake does, only I'll pay for everything so it'll be free". How exactly is a business that doesn't have a multimillionaire sugar daddy supposed to compete? With bloody difficulty, that's how.

      That's what led to the Club (especially the earlier, more exclusive incarnation) and some other desperate money making schemes you probably remember. Nobody was willing to pay us sixty bucks for a distro in a box any more when Shuttleworth would mail you one for free (this was still in the days when many people couldn't easily just download ISOs...), so we had to try and get creative.

      Didn't do a blind bit of good in the end, of course. We never had a shot after Ubuntu showed up. The end was dragged out by a few rounds of financing from people we managed to convince, god, I have no idea how, and some EU financing, but it never covered losses.

      Am I still bitter? Yup! Yup I am.

  12. John Savard

    Hearst Corporation

    The trademark dispute was with the Hearst Corporation - so it really was about Mandrake the Magician, the comic strip character.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All these distros made me think back of my first days in Linux, which was with Slackware.

    I had just joined a company which was an early ISP, but I knew sod all about either the Net, or the main OS everyone there used, Linux (a few had Windows because they worked on customer software). So they put me on their courses for sysadmin, and because I had a PC they also helped me install Slackware from a stack of floppies. Notable instruction: "We'll answer smart questions, not stupid ones - here's how you find man pages"

    I thus learned not only how the Net worked but also how to make all of that work on my Slackware PC which was an interesting journey in itself (with occasional horrific events such as setting up :) ) which is about as solid a grounding you can get on the benefit of standards, interoperability and how TCP/IP based networking actually works - knowledge that still benefits me to this day.

    Those were also the days of the first corporate skunkworks taking over established players: I can't count just how many SAMBA servers we helped set up because corporate sysops had worked out that it was far more stable than Windows file servers. In those days you could easily tell which was actually a Linux box and which was Windows based - all it took was looking at the uptime :).

    What I find staggering is that Slackware may actually be celebrating it's 30th birthday next year - it is STILL around. I haven't used it in decades, but after playing with the distros in this article (in a VM) I think I'll have a look at it again, just for fun.

    Because that is what IT still is for me: fun.

  14. Binraider Silver badge

    I enjoyed Mandrake as a toy distro, but wasn't ready to dump the proprietary software at the time for most other purposes.

    There was a particular text mode implementation of Emacs in Mandrake I really liked, but for life of me cannot remember the name of.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Frogfather

    Brings back memories

    I was a user of Mandrake/Mandriva for many years - the decision was kind of forced as I used Borland Kylix - an ill fated attempt to port Delphi to Linux - which was certified to run only on Mandrake 8.2 and RedHat ... er 7.something.

    If I remember correctly there was some tie in with a publishing company so the distro came in a box with some installation disks and a large book. Mandrake 8.2 was on 3 cds, Mandriva 10 was on 6. I found them a couple of months ago during a clear out.

    I stuck with it until Mandriva until there was a major hiatus and they sacked most of their devs (I think that's when Mageia became a thing) at which point I switched to Fedora. I'm not sure Shuttleworth was entirely to blame - most distros are free these days - but he probably hastened an inevitable decline.

  17. G R Goslin

    Nice OS, shame about the graphical workspaces environment.

    I've been using Linux and its Mandrake successors ever since being able to afford my own PC, with a few trial installs of other OS's. But I've always come back to the Mandrake, as a 'proper' Operating System. I used to be the system admin for a SunOS setup, and have always considered that multi-user and root were an essential part of any computer system. However, I've sort of fallen out with Mageia. Not from any fault in the OS, of which there are still too many, but from changes to KDE. So, I'm still using Mageia, but staying with release 5 for anything important, as on the machine I'm using for this. My biggest complaint lies with the virtual disembowelment of Konqueror, the very best file manager that I've come across in more than thirty years. What finally did it for me was the removal of the side bar to Konqueror, which held, for me, the bookmarks listing. I know that I can use the bookmarks menu, but each entry, holds the complete title, and soon eats up even a wide screen display, and then any new bookmarks are dispatched to a limbo, and not easy to use. As release followed release, even more disappeared. I noted in release 8, the file search option in Konqueror had gone. iI had gone in an earlier release, but that was simply that the search function was not loaded by default, and simply fixed. Yes, I know that it's there, but it should be a function within the application. I's rather a shame. I have a moble runningAndroid which has no problems at all finding and using printer/scanners, remote filesyttems, etc., while Mageia still refuses to handle them without a lot of hastle.

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