In ancient history, before I finally managed to install Red Hat 6.1 or SuSE 6.2 and long before the new Millenium had dawned, I dabbled with various numbered versions of Mandrake Linux.
It was produced in France and (originally) based on Red Hat, but with a thick veneer of usability and user-friendliness. Unlike Red Hat itself, for example, it installed easily; specifically, it detected hardware like no other distro at the time could. It also looked pretty decent, as far KDE desktops of the period ever looked decent.
The French company ended up merging with Brazil’s Connectiva Linux and became “mandriva”, a name I always hated. They then went to the brink of bankruptcy several times before releasing their last version of Mandriva in 2011. The company was finally wound up last year.
Happily, Mandriva was forked before it breathed its last: Mageia is the heir to the Mandriva legacy. The name means ‘magic’ in Latin.
Having nothing much else to do on an early Sunday evening and in a deep fit of hopeful nostalgia, I gave the latest release of Mageia (version 5.1) a spin. Sadly, I wasn’t too keen on the results: I chose their KDE desktop and that turned out to be old-school KDE 4.something, meaning a pretty clunky experience complete with weird blue glows around active windows!
So then I tried its Gnome flavour: it’s pretty vanilla Gnome 3 as far as I can tell, which means it’s practically unusable.
In desperation, I tried LXDE. It’s supposed to be a very lightweight desktop environment and it’s not one I’ve ever really bothered with as a result… but I must say, it has all the bells and whistles needed to make an attractive desktop experience and I ended up thinking it suited Mageia much better than any other DE I had tried. So that would be my recommendation, I think, if you wanted to give the distro a whirl.
Whichever desktop environment you choose, the software selection is adequate, but a bit dated: Firefox is back at version 45.5 out-of-the-box (the current version is 50.0); LibreOffice is at 22.214.171.124 (current version is 5.2.3) and so on.
In short: it’s not exactly a bad distro, but it’s another of those ‘I wonder why they bother?’ ones.
For old time’s sake, I wondered if Mageia ran Oracle 12c without drama, and it does (no matter what desktop environment you choose): and I therefore decided to throw another of my ‘preinstaller scripts’ together to make repeated installs of 64-bit 12c Enterprise Edition painless on it. (And yes, it’s only 12c and only 64-bit).
Scripts need names, of course. I’ve called this one Potter, since if mageia is Latin for magic, then we’re in need of the name of someone famous in the world of magic who dabbles in a bit of Latin-esque spellery when occasion demands.