The first time I ever saw Mandrake Linux (now Mandriva) was on a retail store shelf. That was probably 9 years ago and to be honest in the last few years I personally haven’t seen Mandriva running much (as I shoulder surf desktops at conferences) – though it’s hard to tell. Mandriva Linux 2009.0 is now out and it might help to improve the adoption numbers, especially for those who prefer the KDE Linux desktop.
Mandriva 2009.0 includes KDE 4.1 (a whole lot more stable than KDE 4), a new GUI installer and improved boot times according to the release notes. Mandriva also claims that its installer is now capable of detecting low-resource systems or
netbooks, and installing an appropriate environment.
Linux bloat is a real problem for low resource systems. In my own experience I tend to spend the first hour (or more) of any new release installation turning off services that are installed by default that I’m likely to never need or use. Having an installer that can detect a low-resource system is a positive step forward overall in helping to make for faster and more efficient systems.
Mandriva at this stage in its maturity faces more than just technical challenges – there are significant marketing challenges too. Traditional competitors like Red Hat, SUSE and Debian are still there and the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution is also grabbing a lot of mind and market share. It’s not just good enough anymore (if it ever really was) to just be better than Windows – for Mandriva to make a dent it need to be better and somehow differentiated than other Linux distros as well.