Mandriva Linux 2008 Release Tour

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Mandriva Linux 2008 is the product of more than than nine years of continuous innovation for desktops and enterprise servers.

In this release, we have integrated the most up-to-date versions of the major components, with the brand new GNOME 2.20 desktop, the latest stable KDE 3.5.7, Compiz Fusion 0.5.2, OpenOffice.org 2.2.1, the latest Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and Mozilla Thunderbird 2.0.

Mandriva Linux 2008 includes an all-new base system built on version 2.6.22.9 of the Linux kernel, with the best hardware support ever in a Mandriva Linux release. 2008 automatically runs on a wide range of hardware configurations, automatically detected and configured out of the box by the Mandriva tools. You can download Mandriva Linux 2008 One or download Mandriva Linux 2008 Free, or buy the boxed, download or subscription Powerpack commercial edition from the Mandriva Store.

Contents

Updated software

GNOME 2.20

Once again, Mandriva Linux 2008 includes the latest release of GNOME. New features in GNOME 2.20 include:

  • A new Appearance configuration applet merging the old Themes, Font and Background applets
  • Support for fillable forms in Evince, the GNOME PDF reader
  • Evolution 2.12, with better spam filtering, Microsoft Exchange support, improved threading display, a warning if you mention an attachment in a mail but fail to include it, and the 'magic space bar' - you can use just one key, the space bar, to page through a message, skip to the next unread message, page through that, and so on
  • Gapless playback support and more efficient memory use in Rhythmbox

See the full GNOME 2.20 release notes.

KDE 3.5.7

The latest stable KDE 3 release is included, with all the bug fixes since the previous 3.5.6 release. KDE 3.5.7 is mainly a maintenance release but also comes with some new features:

  • Improved KAddressBook, KOrganizer and KAlarm
  • Kmail is now able to manage IMAP quotas and can use custom templates for creating, replying or forwarding messages
  • KPDF is able to display more complex PDF files than before
  • UML modeler Umbrello can generate C#-style code and now supports Java 5 generics
  • Kdevelop has better autocompletion and now supports Qt4
  • KHTML and KJS engine (managing HTML rendering and Javascript execution) have been improved. For instance, the mouse pointer now has a different icon depending on whether a link will open in a new window or not.

KDE 4 preview

KDE 4 is available as an experimental preview, with the latest available code included. The changes in KDE 4 are countless and, of course, include the revolutionary Nepomuk semantic desktop system, whose development is being led by Mandriva. There is no single resource for a full list of new features in KDE 4, but Wikipedia gives a good overview.

XFCE 4.4.1

The new Mandriva XFCE development community presents improved packages for XFCE 4.4.1 in Mandriva Linux 2008. Improvements have been made in various areas including integration of the Mandriva themes and menu structure into the XFCE desktop. Some applications commonly used on XFCE, including Squeeze and Ristretto, have also been included. We hope to build an XFCE-based Mandriva Linux One image for 2008 in addition to the regular One images.

Kernel 2.6.22

As Mandriva Linux 2008 marks a new basesystem (after the previous basesystem was used for Mandriva Linux 2007 and 2007 Spring), it includes a new kernel revision. 2.6.22 adds support for new hardware and also has many interesting new features.

Perhaps the biggest new feature visible to end users is the new Devicescape (mac80211) wireless networking stack, which provides a superior base with much more common code than the previous kernel wireless stack, allowing drivers to be more reliable and functional.

2.6.22 also includes the new 'tickless' technology which will save battery power on laptops, with the effect increasing over time as applications are improved to avoid needlessly waking up the kernel. You may wat to read a good write-up about the tickless kernel system.

We have also included ALSA 1.0.15RC2, adding support for some newer sound cards and chipsets and improving support for others. Particular improvements have been made to support for HDA chipsets, commonly found on recent Intel chipset motherboards.

Other improvements include the usual gradual improvements to suspend support, a new scheduler (which will result in improved responsiveness in typical desktop use), and the integration of the ivtv TV card driver (as used, notably, for the Hauppauge PVR series cards). You may read an exhaustive overview of the improvements in the 2.6.22 Linux kernel. The same website has similar pages covering the changes back to 2.6.17, the kernel that was included in Mandriva Linux 2007 Spring.

Compiz Fusion

Compiz Fusion, the result of the re-merge between the Compiz and Beryl 3D desktop technologies, replaces Compiz and Beryl in Mandriva Linux 2008. New features in Fusion are many, and a video demonstrating some of them is available at YouTube.

Other significant updates

Other significant updates include X.org 7.2, featuring the new XrandR 1.2 framework which vastly improves support for multiple displays and display hotplugging on supported drivers, OpenOffice.org 2.2.1, featuring improved text rendering, improved PDF exporting and enhanced compatibility with Excel spreadsheets, GCC 4.2 (with a complementary build of 4.3 available as an option in the /main repository) and IcedTea, a GNU project which makes it possible to provide an open source Java implementation based on the code open sourced by Sun as the OpenJDK project. IcedTea is not ready for use as a browser plugin, but can be used to build and run standalone Java applications.

Interoperability and standards compliance

Complete XDG menu migration

Migration to the XDG menu standard is almost complete with Mandriva Linux 2008. This migration from our old, Debian-based menu system has been underway for several releases. With Mandriva Linux 2008, almost all packages in the main repository that were not previously migrated to the XDG system have been migrated. The old Debian-style menu files for these packages have been dropped. The transitional system whereby the Mandriva menus were constructed based on Mandriva-specific categories in the XDG menu files has been dropped, and a new menu system which relies only on XDG standard categories has been introduced. The Mandriva-specific X-Mandriva categories have been dropped from almost all packages in the main repository. IceWM has been patched to use the XDG menu system (these patches will be contributed upstream).

Revised hardware detection system

The new system handles the automatic loading of drivers for permanently installed devices such as PCI and AGP cards, based on the lists of compatible devices provided by the drivers themselves. It also contains a list of preferred drivers for some devices that can be handled by multiple drivers. This results in even more accurate and comprehensive hardware detection than in previous releases. This automatic system is still complemented by Mandriva's unique hardware databases where necessary, such as in the detection of graphics cards and the configuration of the appropriate X drivers.

Freedesktop.org icon theme draft specification

Despite its draft status, the freedesktop.org icon theme specification is quite commonly adopted by newer applications and technologies and is becoming more widespread all the time. Many packages in Mandriva Linux 2008 have been adapted to respect this specification by installing their icons to the appropriate locations. This ensures where possible that crisp, high resolution icons are available in standard locations for emerging technologies like Gimmie and Katapult to take advantage of.

Migrate to XDG user directory system

For the last several releases, some default directories have been created for each user on a Mandriva Linux system (Documents, Video, Music etc). An XDG tool with a similar purpose, xdg-user-dirs, has now been created, and Mandriva Linux 2008 has adopted it. When updating from a recent Mandriva release, the Mandriva-specific system used in these releases will be automatically migrated to the XDG system.

Liberation font set

The Liberation font set kindly released by Red Hat has been integrated into Mandriva Linux 2008. The Liberation fonts are similarly-sized equivalents for several fonts that are found in Microsoft Windows and hence commonly used in documents and on web sites: Arial, Times New Roman, and Courier New. In Mandriva Linux 2008, when an application specifically requests one of these fonts, the Liberation equivalent will be used (unless the user has manually installed the original, Windows font). This will ensure that the document in question remains proportionally correct as intended by its author, in contrast to the previous situation where you could open a document written with Windows fonts to fit in one page and find it took up more space with the differently-sized Linux alternative font.

Enhancements to Mandriva tools and applications

Consolidated network configuration / management tool

A single, consolidated tool named draknetcenter to configure and manage network connections has been introduced, replacing the several separate applications from previous Mandriva Linux releases.

Windows documents and settings migration tool

A tool named transfugdrake for migrating documents and settings from Microsoft Windows to Mandriva Linux has been introduced. It acts as a front end to Migration Assistant with a unique interface and several improvements and bug fixes.

Improvements to rpmdrake, the Mandriva graphical software installation tool

The Mandriva graphical software installer, rpmdrake, has seen many interface improvements:

  • packages are displayed in a more friendly way with a short description
  • version number, architecture are displayed in their own columns
  • it is now possible to sort packages by name, selection status, installed status, version number or architecture by clicking on the appropriate column header

By default, the installer and rpmdrake disable backports repositories when adding remote repositories, for safety purposes. Only the release and updates repositories are enabled by default. Rpmdrake is now able to browse the disabled backports repositories, making it possible conveniently and safely to install a single backport package.

The interface of the repository management tool was greatly simplified. It also now displays media type in the media list.

Improved layout in urpmi, the Mandriva text software installation tool

The Mandriva text software installation tool, urpmi, now displays the list of packages that will be installed in a row / column layout, with separate columns for package name, version, release and repository.

New menu layout

A new menu layout has been introduced. This menu is a merger between the old simplified and Mandriva menu layouts. It is flatter than the old Mandriva layout, with no more than two levels below the top level used at any point.

Applications that are native to the current desktop (KDE / Qt applications in KDE, GNOME / GTK+ applications in GNOME) will be displayed at the first level below the top level, and non-native applications will be at the second level. Exceptions are used to make applications that are commonly used outside their native desktop appear at the top level in all cases.

RandR 1.2 applet for KDE

With the support of the Google Summer of Code project, Gustavo Boiko has created a KDE applet named krandr that acts as an interface to the new RandR 1.2 system in X.org 7.3. This allows convenient configuration of multiple display setups on supported hardware - Intel graphics adapters, and many ATI cards up to the Radeon 9250.

Infrastructure improvements

Open development

Continuing and extending Mandriva's tradition of open development, near the start of the Mandriva Linux 2008 development cycle, almost all the restrictions on which maintainers could apply changes to which packages were removed. This means that both internal and external (volunteer) maintainers have almost the same access to update and improve packages. Only a few of the most vital packages, such as the kernel, retain restrictions.

Package rebuild project

For Mandriva Linux 2008, we have refreshed the package base by rebuilding and updating almost every package in the supported /main repository. All packages except those which, for various technical reasons, cannot be rebuilt have been rebuilt during the Mandriva Linux 2008 development cycle, including some which have not been built since Mandriva Linux 2006 or earlier.

Improved server packaging

For Mandriva Linux 2008, all server packages have been rebuilt with buffer overflow protection (the -fstack-protector-all option to GCC). Also, remotely accessible servers will no longer be enabled by default either during installation of Mandriva Linux or when installing packages subsequently. The system administrator will be expected to enable them manually. Both of these changes contribute to increased system security.

Improved printing-related packaging

The packaging of printing-related tools and applications has been improved so that systems where no printer is present will have the minimum possible number of printing-related packages installed, and utilities useful only to one brand of printer will not be installed when a printer from a different manufacturer is present.

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