Reviewed: Mandriva 2009.1 Spring


Reviewed: Since its last release, Mandriva has undergone a few changes – many of which have rubbed the community up the wrong way. But when it comes to producing a general-purpose Linux distro, Mandriva always seems to pull it off. Its latest, Mandriva 2009.1 Spring, is haute couture, trend-setting stuff.

As usual 2009.1 Spring is available in three flavours: ‘One’, which has proprietary drivers; ‘Powerpack’, which has proprietary apps; and ‘Free’, which has neither. Free is a 4GB ISO and One is an installable Live CD. You can also drop the One ISO on to a USB drive and boot off it.

The installer has been redesigned and now uses WebKit for displaying inbuilt documentation. Like Ubuntu 9.04, Spring also supports the ext4 filesystem. Upgrading has been Mandriva’s Achilles’ heel since the last few releases, and if you’re a KDE 3 user upgrading to Spring, you’ll have to take precautions to save your personal settings and customisations.

Spring boasts of a significant reduction in startup times, thanks mostly to Mandriva’s Speedboot system, which starts display manager-related services and gets you to the login screen, before starting other services in the background. On our test machine, Spring takes 26.6s to boot, as compared with 42.6s for Debian Lenny.

Thanks to some neat init voodoo, Mandriva 2009.1 Spring springs into action considerably faster.

Thanks to some neat init voodoo, Mandriva 2009.1 Spring springs into action considerably faster.

It’s business as usual on the applications front, except that there’s no K3b, which Mandriva help port to KDE 4, on the One installations. The Mandriva Control Centre gets some more configuration tools, adding to the already impressive list of Mandriva’s administrative tools. Mandriva’s security framework, Msec, has been completely redesigned with a new GUI, improved logging and support for plugins.

The security backbone in Mandriva 2009.1 Spring has been redone for better protection and easier management.

The security backbone in Mandriva 2009.1 Spring has been redone for better protection and easier management.

Vive la difference

Mandriva Linux 2009.1 Spring is one of the first major distros featuring KDE 4.2 as the default desktop environment. The whole distro is built around the current stable KDE release and there wasn’t as much as a blip, even while we were running around the desktop pushing all the buttons for this review (there’s also Gnome 2.26, Xfce 4.6 and LXDE for netbooks and older machines).

If you’re new to KDE 4.2, you’ll be impressed with the flashy KWin window manager, which is now almost as flashy as Compiz (but isn’t enabled by default). Plasma’s Folder View mode now lets you place icons on the desktop, which is what Spring defaults to, but if you switch out of this view and back again, the icons appear faded.

Mandriva 2009.1 Spring relegates KDE 3.x to the history books; KDE 4.2 is ready for prime time.

Mandriva 2009.1 Spring relegates KDE 3.x to the history books; KDE 4.2 is ready for prime time.

There are also major changes in the new Xfce environment, which now lets you select multiple icons on the desktop, but there are also some problems. For example, after enabling display compositing, the whole desktop becomes sluggish – even switching between windows takes forever. The session manager sports new Suspend and Hibernate buttons that work flawlessly, but the age-old options to shut down and restart computer don’t.

Mandriva always seems to bring out the best in KDE – or is it the other way around? Either way, if you want a mainstream Linux distro with KDE 4.2 goodness, it’s time to spring into action.

Verdict: A well-designed, stable distro for KDE fans, though the Xfce implementation could use some love. 8/10

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Your comments

Shortest review ever. Lol,

Shortest review ever. Lol, that's it. Problems? Apps?

Thinking about the switching to power pack!

Tried out the ONE edition and found it to be very impressive. I've used Mandrake and Mandriva distro's in the past and always found it to be a professionally managed. The power pack appeals to me because it includes QT 4.5 pre installed along with gcc and extra's like flash and perl which are usual for a developer like me. I can't really find reviews for the power pack edition though and I'm nervous about spending money.

Anybody use the power pack edition yet and have any comments?

I am basically what folks at

I am basically what folks at LinuxForums call 'distro-slut'. I have never used a distro for more than few weeks. Max used was CentOS thats because I'm preparing for RHCE not because its the best.

I wanted to try Mandriva this time. Not because I heard good reviews about it but because I heard bad things about it. Not exactly about the code quality but about how 'commercial-minded' the company is, how it forces to use power-pack ed etc. etc...

Downloaded the One edition, burnt and installed on my system. The installer is as easy and newbie-friendly as Ubuntu's is (infact better). I always had problem getting my wireless working in linux. Not anymore with Mandriva. It is the first distro which put me online wirelessly, hazzellessly.:) All the apps (atleast the ones I use regularly) have behaved very well. Yet to see a crash. The overall look and feel of the desktop is impressive esp the arrangement of KDE menu (I dislike the default KDE menu). The Mandriva control centre is THE best control centre I have seen till now. Very Very professional.

To sum up, I've fallen in love with it. So much so that Mandriva will be my default desktop/laptop distro now. Even planning to purchase power-pack ed or to contribute directly to the company. Mandriva rocks!!!

Great review!

Now its time to get 2009.1 Spring pre-installed on those laptops and netbooks which have so far been installing Ubuntu by default :-)


Its not installed by default but I was able to pull it from the package repositories without any problem *confused*


I bought the PowerPack and love it. It's basically the "One" edition with some "premium" extras. The Fluendo codecs, proprietary apps like Flash, and a trial of Cedega are included, among other things. I wish they'd include a legally licensed DVD player (maybe it's there and I haven't noticed? The release notes said it'd be coming 'soon', so maybe it's Fluendo's upcoming player?)
I also wish they'd include Nero Linux in the PowerPack for Blu-ray disc burning. It's the only GUI app that can do that I've seen.

I'd recommend the PowerPack only to those who are dedicated to keeping a distro for quite some time, as it is a commercial (paid for) product.

The Best Release Yet!!

I have been a Linux user for a few years now and have tried them all!!

I think this release of Mandriva is the best yet. The desktop is stable. In fact, my main complaint with Mandriva has been stability. In the past, the system would behave a little wierd at times and have had some crashes/freeze ups specially with Compiz fusion enabled. Now it seems all of the stability issues are being ironed out.

It is dissapointing that K3B is not included but of course you can download it.

The whole system seems very well thought out and just seems to feel right. More so than any other Linux distro I have used. I have yet to try the new Ubuntu but I think it will be a while before Mandriva goes anywhere. Great Job!!

I also like the business model Mandriva is using. Makes sense to have a premium edition that people can buy and free edition that showcases the reason to buy the premium edition.

Keep up the good work guys!!

RE: K3b @Anonymous Penguin

There is limited space on CD images.

A CD burner isn't of any use if you use the live CD in live mode. After you have installed the distro, installing k3b (or any other app) is just a few mouse clicks away...

I love Mandriva. I fell in love with Mandriva 2008 Spring, and the romance remains with this new distro. Clear, rock stability, good design, perfect integration with KDE 4.2 (I tried Kubuntu 9.04, and its a joke compared with mandriva!)... Superb jo! I'm planning to boy the powerpack to support this good job, but I'm waiting when they sell the powerpack in a box (not online).

I like Mandriva's look and

I like Mandriva's look and feel, but this Power Pack thing drew me away. I downloaded Mandriva Free, and it seems that there is no GCC in repos. That's a bit silly, don't you think? Do I have to pay for it? Or did I miss something?

GCC available in repos

GCC is available in the Mandriva repos.Please make sure you remove the DVD medium from the sources and add teh Mandy repos and you should be able to find gcc. Also make sure that in your MCC software Installation, both the dropdowns in the top left are selected to 'All'. I use Mandriva myself and 2009.1 is simply stunning.

Thank for answer, I

Thank for answer, I appreciate that. I'm still pretty new to Linux and I may miss something that is obvious to others. So far I really like Mandriva. It's the best KDE 4.2 distro out there. Peace! :)

2008.1 was far better

I belive 2008.1 was much better distro than 2009.1

KDE 4.2 is like KDE 3.2

I.e. almost there but not quiet enough for the non-techie community that I administer - i.e. my family!. (Icon issues, view-change issues, some GTK interference in Plasma, Amarok 2.x is a disaster, K3B isn't fully ported etc).

You CAN keep the much more mature KDE 3.5.10 - its a bit tricky to do - but then again, nowhere near as tricky as trying to explain to my kids why there desktop icons won't stay put (a problem in 3.2 that has resurfaced in 4.2), why, when dragging an icon, you have to be much more precise with pointer placement, or why Amarok won't sync to the Ipod any more.

NON-UI 2009.1 rocks though!


@last post, you should, if you can delete that, promoting piracy in any way is wrong.

Mandriva is not "built" around any desktop, it is completely desktop agnostic. If anything, it is GTK centric as the drak tools (The control centre) use GTK, but the iaora themes pretty much makes it impossible to tell.

Windows user since

Windows user since Windows/386, I switched to Mandriva 2008 after trying . It took a little bit of time to find my marks but I haven't looked back since.

I tried Ubuntu, Fedora and Debian before opting for Mandriva since 2008 and even more so 2008.1 were impressive. Unfortunately 2009 was a step back even with KDE 3. After a week on 2009.1 it seems Mandriva is back to its best with a caveat: the KDE4 apps are not even close to their KDE3 versions (stability and finition). Standard KDE apps are ok (Kate, Dolphin, etc) but Amarok2 and co are not. Still 2009.1 is very stable, the Mandriva tools (control center, network applet etc) are better than ever and between the KDE4 apps and the still working KDE3 apps all my needs are well covered.

I paid for PWP last year since I was so satisfied with Mandriva. I was planning to renew until I discovered that Mandriva is asking 40% more from existing PWP users than for new ones (69 euros vs 49). As much as I love Mandriva it is not worth close to $100 every year and frankly the overcharge feels like a sales ploy conceived at MS or Apple. Now I'll wait until next year to support them with a new subscription...

Oh and many thanks to AW. If you had the same role at Fedora than at Mandriva I would probably switch ;-)

Mandy 2009 Spring is the Best Gnome Desktop of the Year.

You might frown at the title. But it is right. Though Mandriva has done a wonderful job in KDE 4.2 (perhaps the best among all the distros), it is still not 100% ready. However, Mandy's integration of Gnome 2.26 is commendable.

One and Powerpack

I enjoy reading these comments. Nevertheless different. I am a general user – it means a lay person on computing domain. I switched from openSUSE (I am interested in KDE 4.2.2 and multimedia), downloaded and installed Mandriva 2009.1 Free. I have met some troubles: there wasn't the KaddressBook installed, then all my data I've stored on external HDD – now it seems I had adjust the permissions in the kernel, but I don't know how to get to the kernel. I registered to Mandriva Forums, got the answers →got the addressbook in Control Centre from my DVD, but I am waiting and asking more times how to get to the kernel graphically not by code. I don't get the answer. Please, would you somebody tell me how? There is more important to work with my documents (on external disc) than multimedia for the moment. So I like Mandriva, yes - I have something to say on Novell (openSUSE) policy in their growing connection with Microsoft, but after all praises (of Mandriva in this case) a general user would always get shocked with the realities after installation, directly between his eyes.

So I would like to know for my next decision: What is a difference between statements in the review above: „One has proprietary drivers - Powerpack has proprietary applications“?
[One has not translations.]

Midori: That is not

Midori: That is not 'piracy', by any means. In fact, the onus is on Mandriva to provide ALL of their source code, for FREE. Failiure to do so is a violation of the GPL. This got Mepis on the GNU shitlist.

Mandriva isn't licensing software, when they sell a 'power pack'--they're selling support. Don't confuse the two.

It isn't piracy in the

It isn't piracy in the classical term, but it is still not right.

Mandriva DO provide all of there source code, one of the reasons that PWP exists is to allow the inclusion of software that cannot distributed for free, such as the Fluendo codecs, Adobe Reader and whatnot.

This is code that Mandriva do not have control over.

So by providing a link to a copy of PWP for free download, you are breaking the license of PWP, as its only meant for use on one computer.

I would guess that Mandriva don't really care, its the other vendors that might, as the emphasis from Mandriva has been far from developing PWP, bt on making Free as good as possible.

Could you provide the link to the forum topic and I will take a look.

KDE or Gnome, Mandy rocks

I agree with Manmath Sahu. Mandriva's strength isn't only in KDE. It is a smooth distro in both, and that's one of its biggest advantages.

I prefer KDE4 and the latest KDE apps in almost all cases, but sometimes I need Gnome and Mandy is there for me.

Proud to pay for Powerpack.

um dont do the piracy thing

why would one need to pirate linux.... lol thats insane..
you can get all the "propriatary" software and programs running from the free edition..
thats half the fun of Linux AND<>>>> god forbid you may actually learn a little about how linux works in the process.
remember Linux is not Windoze..
it was really never really meant to compete..
dont expect your distro to be so user friendly that you cant tell it apart from windoze that would be boring and the opposite of what IMHO Linux is all about

Minor error prevents

Minor error prevents use...Installs and finds wifi card correctly, allows set-up of WPA.

Checking to see why it will not connect, the settings for WPA have been replaced by a WEP setup. Not once, but several times on three entirely different computers.

Perhaps it hates Linksys, Netgear, Trendnet, and Airlink cards.

Commercial minded? NO ONE needs to pay to use Mandriva.

First of all let me point out: "NO ONE need to pay anything to get the full Mandriva experience". I've been using Mandriva since 2007.0 and I never even tried Powerpack. Mandriva in general is free. This has been stated by other comments here, but I want to repeat it to "kill" those nonsence rumours.

Powerpack is more to be consideres as a SERVICE. It includes stuff that can't be included in other editions by default (for easy access instead of searching packages on the net) + licenced Fluendo codecs + support. So Powerpack is an OPTION and NOTHING else. In fact many users buy Powerpack simply to support Mandriva and not because they need to.

Mandriva is a small company, but still they provide a superb Linux experince every 6 months, while continiusly contributing a lot to the open source world. So Mandriva is not commercial minded. It's just a company that wants to stay in business.

Regarding piracy. Of course downloading ripped Powerpack editions is piracy. Powerpack includes licenced software payed for by Mandriva.


I use Mandriva 2009.1 and like others here I consider it the best Linux distro I've used (and I've used my share). In fact 2009.1 is even better than the excellent 2008.1 release (I use Gnome so I'm not affected by the whole KDE 3 in 2008.1 vs KDE 4 in 2009.1 deal). As usual with Mandriva the out of the box experience is superb and the excellent Mandriva control center (unrivaled in the Linux world) just keeps improving. 2009 Spring is king! :oP

Mandriva 2009.1 DVD Free. Install FAILS!!

Two different machines fail to install with mandriva 2009.1 DVD and/or Gnome live CD with FAILED error message:
ISOFS: Unknown CD-ROM format. sha1sum checks OK.
k3b used to write DVD/CD which works fine for all other distros. Upgrade of 2009.0 to 2009.1 using CLI (urpmi) worked after manually solving many dependancy problems. Previously 2009.0 to 2009.1 upgrade had also failed.
What a terrible waste of time!!

Wireless connections

Installed Mandy 2009.1,no problems.A few days later lost wireless connection,came back on,lost again after a few days,using an acer with broadcom wifi,back on wired any suggestions? It's a shame because apart from this problem it's a great distro!

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