Configuring Mandriva 2010.1 Spring Free

On my previous Mandriva review I had concluded that Mandriva wasn't for me, but someone at KW LUG convinced me to give it a chance. I started reviewing Mandriva 2010.1 Spring and had exactly the same complaints as my review of the 2010 version so I decided that, instead of a negative review I would write a positive "How to" configure the Free version.

Disclaimers:

  • I still think that a lot of names are wrong and misleading, but I realized I can learn what they mean. Besides it seems to be a translation from other languages into English which would explain the language issues.
  • I also still think that the initial look is ugly, but I accept that it is a subjective opinion and can be changed.
  • Finally I still think that the whole distribution is unpolished compared to other distributions but If this is your first and only distribution you may not notice.

Note:
People have pointed out that some of the steps bellow will be unnecessary if you instead buy the Power pack which includes, non-free components. By buying it you will also support Mandriva in particular and Linux in general.

For the full review go to my previous review.

With that out of my chest Here we go.

The installer DVD is pretty straight forward. Just ignore the confusing parts and accept the defaults. Ensure you have enough time to be around the computer (about 1 hour) as the installation happens in two stages.

Answer the first set of questions carefully because the installer does not show a screen for you to confirm them. The package installation will take about 1/2 hour. You can use that time to read the release notes. That is a welcome feature and a good use of the time.

At the end of the package installation answer the second set of questions.

Confirm your settings and change them according to your needs. For example, I configured the network to have static IP and start when the computer starts. I also set the resolution of my screen instead of using the "automatic" as it chooses the highest resolution available for my card.

If you have a network connection ready, update the packages when asked.

At the end of the update you may get a message indicating that you should restart your computer. Just ignore the message for now. When you continue, the installer will restart the computer on its own.

Here comes the configuration:

Restoring the KDE4 look and feel:

Right click on the desktop and select “Desktop activity Settings”
Click on the “Activity” tab.
On “Type” select “Desktop”
Click “OK”

Right click on the desktop and select “Add Widgets”
Find the “Folder view” widget and drag it to the desktop
Position it wherever you want.
You can now configure it to show any folder you desire.

Mounting other internal partitions:
By default Dolphin does not let mounting other Linux partitions when clicking on them. To be able to do it, you will need to change the security policy by executing the following command:

polkit-auth --user --grant org.freedesktop.hal.storage.mount.fixed --constraint

replacing with your user ID.

Allowing command line escalation of authority "sudo"

In Mandriva you can switch user to root but by default you cannot "sudo" as root. So when you are doing administrator level tasks in the command line, you either execute the following command to gain root access. (ensure you exit the root session at the end of the administrative tasks)

su -

Alternatively you grant your self "sudo" access to execute specific commands with higher rights. I prefer this way as it prevents me from forgetting that I am working as root and doing something I shouldn't.

Edit the sudoers file to add you to the wheel group
su -

visudo

Uncomment the following line by removing the “#” character
#%wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL

Exit the editor by typing “:wq!”

Click on "Configure your computer" and enter the root password.
On the left menu select "System";
Under "Administration tools" select "Manage users on system;
Click on your name and select "Edit" from the tool bar;
Click on the "Groups" tab;
Check the "wheel" group
OK or close all the windows.

Enable non-free repositories
If you want to use non-free components (Drivers, codecs, etc) you need to enable the non-free repository

Options | Media Manager

Check "Mirror list Non-free" and "Mirror list Non-free Updates"

Installing non GUI software

The software manager defaults to showing only packages with a graphical interface. If you don't want to be scratching your head when you don't find a package, change the default:

On the top left dropdown list that says "Packages with GUI", select: "All"

To install non-free codecs (mpeg, DVD, wmv, etc)

Main Menu | Applications | Install & Remove software

Ensure you follow the steps to show all software in the previous section
Search for "gstreamer"
Select the "gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly" package. (Note that the name has nothing to do with the quality of the codecs, just that the packager thinks that proprietary software and patents are ugly)
When asked to insert the "medium named Main Media" just insert the installation DVD and press OK.

Install Flash

The flash-plugin must be downloaded directly from the Flash web site:

Open Konqueror and go to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/otherversions/
Select "Linux" as the operating system and click "Continue"
Select the ".rpm" version, and click on the "Agree and install" button

Download, click and follow instructions

Conclusion
I think this is my last dabble with Mandriva for a while, but I hope these tips may help other people.

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