The Bitter Taste of Mandrake Juice


Mandrake (also known as Mandragora) is a very interesting plant. The shape of its root often resembles a small, wrinkled creature. Therefore, it was considered by alchemists a source of various magical properties. Alas, there was a catch. The ‘cry’ of a freshly uprooted Mandragora could kill or at least daze the inexperienced gardener.

Mandrake was also a Linux distribution originally forked from Red Hat (as stated on, which in 2005 gave birth to Mandriva. Unfortunately, in 2011-2012 Mandriva somehow died down as a PC distribution (ah, that luck…), leaving behind several children – ROSA, PCLinuxOS, Mageia and OpenMandriva Lx. 

ROSA and PCLinuxOS steadily drifted from the original Mandriva concept, each gaining a new, independent identity. Mageia and OpenMandriva Lx were brought to life possibly to continue Mandriva’s legacy…

One of the definite strengths of Linux is choice. One is not limited to a single distribution, desktop environment, etc. I myself ‘hop’ distributions frequently, like a nomad of sorts. However, it pains me greatly when I see good deeds being duplicated and hence partially going to waste or remaining unnoticed. I tried both Mageia and OpenMandriva Lx, and although popularity trends favor Mageia, I can see why OpenMandriva Lx deserves praise. It shows incredible effort and polish from the developers. My LiveCD and proper installation experience was perfect. OpenMandriva Lx’s approach to the KDE desktop was smooth and surprisingly fast. Positive was also the selection of packages in urpmi (Mandrake’s package manager). Running OpenMandriva Lx for a few days I was very eager to stay with it or at least switch to the KDE desktop environment – so good was my impression!

Unfortunately, I could not say as much about Mageia. While the intentions were truly noble, my experience was quite negative. Every single time Mageia felt heavy and not optimized properly. I used only the LiveCD, because the installer was buggy and would take ages to do something other distributions’ installers could do within minutes. Surprisingly, the installer also failed to install WiFi drivers for my network adapter, while it actually properly recognized it and offered those drivers!

In that I saw that Mageia and OpenMadriva Lx are like two sides of a single coin – parts of a whole, yet not seeing each other…

There does not seem to be any major interaction between the communities, while actually there should! Since it is not such a bad idea, I believe someone has already suggested a merge. Again, it pains me to see how much both distributions would profit if they were one.

Alas, such is the sad and bitter fate of freedom…


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