Recently, Linux distributions have gained a great deal of popularity as a result of improved user interfaces and use of graphical tools for configuration. Many of these distributions such as Ubuntu come close to Windows in terms of flexibility and ease of use. Though Linux was originally command line based, many of the features that make current distributions user friendly originated from Mandriva.
In the late 1990s, Gael Duval engaged in a mission to make Linux more accessible for computer users at all experience levels. He formed Mandrakesoft and worked to create the Mandrake OS that was based on Red Hat Linux. As a result of his efforts to integrate user friendly features, the distribution grew in popularity and became known as one of the easiest Linux distributions to work with. To expand its reach into Latin America, Mandrakesoft bought Conectiva, a Brazilian company. It then changed its name and the OS name to Mandriva.
The company continued to produce various releases until 2011, when it began to have financial difficulties. By 2015, it was dissolved. But even though Mandriva releases have stopped, it still lives on through its various forks.
Mandriva Linux contains many user friendly features that still exist today. When Mandriva was first brought to the world as Mandrake Linux, it introduced features that were not available at the time.
One of the major features introduced in the initial versions of Mandriva was the graphical installer. This feature allowed users to complete installation of the OS on their machine without having to going through a command line. The use of a GUI installer was especially helpful to users who had no experience with the Linux command line.
In addition to having a graphical installer, the Mandriva OS made it much easier to connect peripheral storage devices like USB sticks, CDs, and external hard drives. Like windows, users could plug in their USB sticks and start using them immediately.
Another feature that made Mandriva one of the easiest Linux distributions to use was the concept of graphical configuration. Instead of editing text files and using the command line to alter configurations, users could simply change much of the configuration using graphical tools. For example, users could adjust a computer’s IP address without having to edit the configuration with an editor like vim or Emacs.
Mandrake also allowed users a choice of window managers including the standard GNOME and KDE desktops as well as others including BlackBox and IceWm. Window management software determines the “look and feel” of an OS.
Like other Linux distributions, Mandriva also had many graphical programs for sending and receiving email, managing files, and “welcome” screens that introduced users to new features.
Although Mandriva introduced many features that revolutionized Linux and attracted new users, the company that created the distribution eventually shut down. Though new releases of the original Mandriva software are currently unavailable, derivatives still exist that can be installed.
After the Mandriva company stopped updating its Linux distribution, the software development for it was taken over by a community based group called OpenMandriva that was formed in 2012. Since then, many releases of OpenMandriva had been created including the latest one released in June 2016. Versions of OpenMandriva share many features similar to most of the GUI based Linux distributions and is a combination of ROSA and Mandriva.
Here are some helpful resources related to OpenMandriva LX:
- Download OpenMandriva LX: use this link to download OpenMandriva.
- OpenMandriva LX Installation Guide: take a look at this guide to get help installing the OpenMandriva LX distribution.
- OpenMandriva LX Overview: this video reviews the various screens and features present in OpenMandriva LX 3.0.
Mageia is another derivative of the Mandriva distribution. It was formed in 2010 by former employees of EdgeIT when that company was liquidated. The distribution shares many of the same features as Mandriva including support of different window managers and other graphical features. Several releases were made including the latest one in June 2015.
Some helpful resources are available in many different locations online:
- Mageia Downloads: this provides links of several different versions of the Mageia distribution.
- Official Mageia Wiki: this is the official wiki page for the Mageia distribution. It contains documentation on the various releases.
- Mageia Video Review: this video posted on YouTube gives users an overview of the Mageia OS.
- Mageia Installation: users can get help installing Mageia with this guide.
ROSA Linux is another fork of the Mandriva distribution. It originated by a Russian company with the same name. Though the OS supports multiple desktop managers, ROSA’s developers have tuned KDE to provide a user friendly experience helping to satisfy the goals of the original Mandriva distribution. ROSA Linux is available for multiple platforms including regular PCs and servers.
- Official ROSA Releases: here you can find download links of various versions of the ROSA OS.
- ROSA Linux Installation: this is the installation guide from the official wiki. Since this page is in Russian, users may need to use a browser with language translation capabilities.
- Video Installation: this YouTube video shows how to install ROSA Linux step by step.
- RPM Package Tutorial: this tutorial shows the user how to build RPM packages for the ROSA OS.
Another fork of the Mandriva OS, PCLinuxOS, was created in 2003 by Bill Reynolds. PCLinuxOS has many features comparable to many modern Linux distributions including graphical interfaces, office software, and advanced graphics card support. Though the distribution’s main graphical manager is KDE, others are supported. Development has been active for the OS with the latest release in March 2016.
- PCLinuxOS Community Releases: this is a link to various community releases for PCLinuxOS.
- PCLinuxOS Magazine: the official magazine of PCLinuxOS, with articles focusing on OS highlights and various tutorials.
- Video Installation: YouTube video describing how to install PCLinuxOS.
- PCLinuxOS How To Guides: this website features tutorials on many topics for PCLinuxOS.
The Mandriva Linux distribution began as a project to make Linux accessible to more users. The distribution was one of the first to have many user friendly features including complete graphical installation and configuration that did not require a command line. Though the original company is now defunct, Mandriva’s legacy of user friendly features lives on through various forks.
Further Reading and Resources
We have more guides, tutorials, and infographics related to computer use:
- Linux Programming Introduction and Resources: this deep dive into Linux programming gets down into the kernel where all the action is.
- Network Programming with Internet Sockets: learn all about networking on the internet.
Unix Programming Resources
If you really get into Linux and want to start creating programs for it, we have a great place for you to start learning: Unix Programming Resources.