Mandriva Linux 2006 for home users part 4

What do you get at the installation of Mandriva Linux?



The desktop:

In contradiction to what a lot of people still seem to think, the desktop environment of the current Linux distributions are up to par to a Windows based system. They all have pro's and con's.

And again the choice given here is an advantage. There are two very complete desktop environments in Mandriva (a desktop environment is the software that manages the user interface): KDE and GNOME. Next to that, there are a number of less bloated environments, but those often request much less from the hardware and as such these desktop environments are very suited for old or even very old PC's. KDE is the environment that is installed by default, so that is the one we will be discussing here. (see figure 1.: The desktop).

Figure 1: The desktop

figure 1.: The desktop


This seems a very good choice to us, since Mandriva requests the least adaptation from users that are already knowledgeable with Windows. So users that have little experience with Linux, and as such probably just keep the defaults, get the environment that suits them best. And for users with some more experience, it is simple enough during installation and later on to personalize Mandriva with the desktop environment of their choice.

The panel

At the bottom of the desktop, you can see the panel. From left to right, it contains the following elements:

The K Menu

The K Menu is very similar to the Windows Start Menu (see figure 2.: The K Menu)

Figure 2: The K Menu

figure 2.: The K Menu

it contains:

  • A menu that gives you access to all the graphical applications

  • A list of the most used applications (for faster access).

  • A search function

  • A fast access to the most recent opened documents

  • A function to quickly start a command TIP: This can be very convenient in some cases when one wants to changes files or folders where you don't have access rights (where for instance root rights are required). You can then just introduce the command konqueror and use the option 'Run as a different user' to open the application (konqueror) as root user. From there you can then change all files and folders as you whish (e.g. to modify the access rights). Watch out: if folders or files are root restricted, there is usually a reason, often linke to security, so only modify these when you know what you are doing.

  • A menu that allows you to let another user to log in (Linux is by default foreseen for several users per system). This can be at the same time, or it is possible to end the session of the current user first.

  • A function to leave the PC in a secured state (so that a password is required to access the PC again).

  • A function to shut down the PC

Of course it is easy to configure this menu (for example to change the list of most used programs in a list of the most recently used programs).

The Panel Menu

The star shaped button that gives access to the K Menu, is itself a part of the Panel Menu (see Figure 3.: the Panel Menu). But we discussed it already separately because of its importance.

Figure 3: the Panel Menu
Figure 3.: the Panel Menu

The other icons are in fact just links to applications with one exception: Desktop Access. (see Figure 4.: Desktop Access icon). This gives you an immediate access to the desktop itself, which can be useful when you have a lot of applications open.

Figure 4: Desktop Access icon
Figure 4.: Desktop Access icon

You can easily manage the Panel Menu after a right click somewhere in the Panel Menu (see Figure 5.: Managing the Panel Menu). An application that you could certainly add is konqueror. Konqueror can be used as Internet browser but as well as file browser and as such is used quite often (even if you prefer Firefox as browser).

Figure 5: Managing the Panel Menu
Figure 5.: Managing the Panel Menu

The virtual desktops

Linux knows already the concept of virtual desktops for a long time. Once one gets to know them, it becomes very annoying when one has to do without them. It is possible to change virtual desktop via the icon foreseen for this in the panel (see Figure 6.: Virtual desktops icon) or by the combination of the ctrl and tab buttons.

    Figure 6: Virtual desktops icon
Figure 6.: Virtual desktops icon

The advantage that virtual desktops give you is a clear overview. You can use each virtual desktop to put some of the applications you use at that moment (for instance one with the monitoring applications that you look at once in a while and one with the applications that you actively use in the mean time). This allows you to easily make the switch between the different type of actions that you perform.

And once you got the hang of the virtual desktop concept; it is well probable that you'll want more then two. You do this in the KDE configuration screen in 'Appearance & Themes' / 'Multiple Desktops'. You might find two a bit little, but there is not a lot of chance that you will need the maximum of 20 virtual desktops.

The taskbar

By default Mandriva Linux shows all applications in the taskbar, also the ones that you have open in another virtual desktop. We find it much easier to see only the applications open in your current virtual desktop. You can change that easily in the KDE Configuration Center (more about that later) by deselecting 'Show windows of all desktops' in 'Appearance & Themes' / 'Taskbar'.

The applets

The panel is as well the place where a number of applets turn up (see Figure 7.: Applets). These are small applications for specialized tasks that run in the background.

Figure 7: Applets
Figure 7.: Applets

In the figure we see from left to right the following applets:

  • The KLaptop applet: This is only installed on laptops and allows to manage the power usage of your laptop (to do so, right click on icon to open the KLaptop menu). If the laptop is not plugged in, the icon changes into a battery.

  • The KMix applet: This allows you to change your sound settings. Left clicking once results in a very small window. It mainly contains a simple slider that controls the outgoing sound level. By clicking the light green ball above, the sound is muted (and the ball turns dark green). The button 'mixer' below gives access to a the advanced setup screen for all your sound sources and exits. Tip: if you hang with the pointer above the KMix icon, you can adjust the sound level very fast with the mouse wheel without as much as one click.

  • The Display Seetings applet allows you to manage your monitor(s). The possibilities depend on your graphical processing unit (video card).

  • The network applet allows more then just manage your network connection(see Figure 8.: Network applet functionalities). It allows you as well to monitor your network activity, but an important novelty in this version of Mandriva is that it gives access to a complete interactive firewall called Mandi.

Figure 8: Network applet functionalities
Figure 8.: Network applet functionalities

The actual firewall engine is based on Shorewall. Shorewall is a very powerful firewall but it is not easy to configure and manage. That's why Mandriva has made Mandi to allow you to interact with Shorewall. It gives you the power to indicate per suspicious action (a possible attack on your computer) whether or not it can be accepted. You get notified through the change of the the network icon into an alarm icon (see Figure 9.: Mandi alarm icon) and a warning message that indicates the nature of the attack (see Figure 10.: Alarm message). By clicking on the alarm message it is possible to indicate right away what you wish to be done (allow the action anyway or blacklist the attacker).

Figure 9: Mandi alarm icon

Figure 9.: Mandi alarm icon

Figure 10: Alarm message
Figure 10.: Alarm message

If you ignore the alarm message, the attack is simply blocked. It is possible though to open the Mandi log at any time and verify all ignored attacks (see Figure 11.: Mandi log).

Figure 11: Mandi log
Figure 11.: Mandi log

From there it is possible to whitelist an attacker if it concerns a trusted computer. At that moment the suspicious computer will be added to the whitelist (see Figure 12.: Mandi whitelist), and all actions started from that (now known as trusted PC) will be accepted from now on. 

Figure 12: Mandi whitelist
Figure 12.: Mandi whitelist

If you are not sure that you can trust a computer, you should of course assume it concerns a malicious attacker. Certainly if you see a couple of times suspicious behaviour from the same computer, you'd better blacklist it (see Figure 13.: Mandi blacklist), which will get that PC known as untrustworthy and to be blocked.

Figure 13: Mandi blacklist

Figure 13.: Mandi blacklist

  • The Mandriva Online applet allows you to ease the updating of your PC even more. For most people the icon will be a questionmark on an orange background. This means that the service (for which you have to pay Mandriva) was not configured. If it was configured, the icon can differ. If the software is completely up-to-date, the icon is a checkmark on a green background. When the background is red, some software on your PC should be updated and you should launch the update wizard (depending on the type of update, the icon figure differs).

Is this Mandriva service worth 19,90 € per year? That depends on yourself. If you possess the required self discipline and want to take the time to update manually via the Mandriva Control Center, you can save yourself the money. If you would like to save yourself the time or if you might forget to update manually, this service will be worth its money.

  • The KOrganizer applet gives access to the Kontact (the KDE Personal Information Manager that contains e-mail, calendar, tasks, etc.) and needs to run for automatic notifications of tasks and events to run.

This was an overview of the applets that are activated by default. But it is well possible that other applets will be added on your system. When you have for instance the media player Amarok running on the background, the Amarok applet will be shown in the panel as well.

The clock

The clock is the last application of the panel that is left to discuss. And there is quite little to mention about it, except of course that you can configure it according to your wishes. But we would not want to withhold you the following tip: TIP: If you launch 'Adjust Date & Time' you can activate the Network Time Protocol (NTP). If you do this, the clock of your PC will be synchronized with an atomic clock. As a result your system clock will always remain extremely accurate. The only Belgian server on the list is the belbone primary. As the NTP protocol includes a system to compensate Internet traffic delays, it is not that important to choose the closest one, but it certainly does no harm.

Other

You can personalize the panel a lot through the addition of other applets, applications shortcuts, etc. but even additional panels. TIP: We think is is really worth it to activate the Universal Sidebar. That is a panel that gives you fast access to anything on your system at all times.

The Desktop Icons

By default the desktop background contains four icons: Home, Devices, Welcome and Trash. The names illustrate very well their functionalities. Home opens your Home directory in Konqueror, Devices opens an overview of all storage media accessible from your computer (CD Roms, hard drive partitions, network storage devices, etc.) in Konqueror, Welcome opens a welcome message in Konqueror with links to several Mandriva websites, and Trash shows you in Konqueror all files that you have deleted on non permanent basis so far.

The applications

Mandriva offers you about 4000 software packages (on the Mandriva Linux CD's or DVD's, via the sources on the Internet a multitude of additional packages is available). That is obviously way to much to discuss everything, so we will only discuss those packages we think are most important. Most of these are installed by default.

Office:

By default the full OpenOffice.org suite is installed. For the readers that would not know this suite yet (which is as well free available for Windows), it is sufficient to mention that it is a complete alternative to MS Office. For home use the functionalities and compatibility of OpenOffice.org with MS Office are certainly sufficient. The fact that OpenOffice.org allows you to create PDF files in one click is a nice add-on. With Mandriva 2006, version 1.1.5 was packaged because at the time of development the definitive version 2.0 was not yet available, but it has been released since. The 2.0 version is for club members now easily installable via the Mandriva Control Center. Non-club members can install the 2.0 pre version via the Mandriva Control Center or install the latest version straight from the installer of OpenOffice.org itself (WATCH OUT: in the latter case, you cannot count on updates from Mandriva and you need to follow yourself whether a new version or a patch should be installed).

Kivio is an application that allows to create flowcharts, but there is only a template included for standard flowcharts (no organisation chart for instance). Maybe it is possible to add other types of charts, but we don't see how at first sight.

Scribus is a desktop publishing (DTP) application for Linux and Unix desktops comparable to Adobe Pagemaker. Scribus is used amongst others for the creation of newsletters, low volume newspapers, interactive animated PDF presentations, brochures, posters and other documents that require a flexible layout and / or need to be printed on professional equipment. Scribus is even used for the editing and laying out books.

Several PDF and PS (Postscript) viewers are included amongst others Adobe Acrobat.

For those who occupy themselves with projects, Planner is included. Although Planner offers you te basic Gantt Chart functionalities, it does not offer the very elaborated functionalities of MS project.

Further some fax, telephony and PDA communication software are installed by default.

Internet

The default webbrowser is Firefox with, of course, all positives that Firefox offers on Windows.

The standard e-mail client is Kmail. Kmail is very complete mail client, but there is no problem for people that just have made the switch and were used to Thunderbird on Windows. Thunderbird can be easily installed via the Mandriva Control Center. It is a pity though that mail links in a webpage in Firefox are not automatically opened in Thunderbird. But this a as well can be solved easily by the installation of the extension Hiddenprefs and in its tab settings selecting 'Email client to use with Firefox' and introducing as path /usr/bin/mozilla-thunderbird.

The default chat application is Kopete, which is able to communicate over multiple networks such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo, Jabber, ICQ and others. This makes it ideal to keep in touch with all your contacts even if they use different networks. It does not yet include all latest functionalities that are present in the other chat applications though (such as webcam chat).

New in this release is also that Skype has been included for people that like to telephone for free via their broadband connections.

Also Gnomemeeting allows this, but it is in fact an application for videoconferencing. Gnomemeeting is compatible with most open standards in this area such as H.323. That means that it can communicate without problem with other H.323 compatible products such as for instance MS Netmeeting.

As HTML editors, Nvu and Quanta Plus are included. We can certainly recommend Nvu to beginners. Nvu is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, where you can see immediately what the effects of your changes are to your webpage. Since it is one of the Mozilla applications, it is a multiplatform application. Lots of chances that you bumped into it already somewhere on Windows.

Multimedia

In the area of multimedia Mandriva offers about everything that you need. Depending on what you want to do, it might be required though to install some extra packages from the Penguin Liberation Front (PLF), see http://plf.zarb.org/. In some countries (e.g. the USA) there are laws that make a number of things illegal (as the viewing of commercial DVDs that are encrypted with a player that is not licensed by the video industry). Also in some countries the possibility exists to patent software (something that is luckily not yet possible here in Europe). As a result, a number of software packages exist that are perfectly allowed in some countries and are illegal in others (like the USA). Mandriva of course makes its distribution in such a way that it can be legally distributed in the USA as well. So this means that all packages that risk to be illegal there, are not included in the distribution. And that is the reason of existence of the PLF. From a mirror (a copy of the server that offers the software) that contains the PLF RPMs, it is very easy to install these packages and complete your system.

For a full multimedia experience you should best install the following packages: lame when you want to convert your Audio CD's to mp3 and libdvdcss to be able to read encrypted DVD's. We will explain further how easy this can be done with the Mandriva Control Center.

Playing normal audio CD's is as simple as can be. When you insert an audio CD in your, Mandriva automatically launches KsCD (see Figure 14.: KsCD). KsCD is doing one thing great: playing audio CDs perfectly. The only offered bonus is that KsCD can present you some information on the CD that you can find in the CD Database (CDDB) on the Internet: artist, album, names of the songs, etc.

Figure 14: KsCD
Figure 14.: KsCD

But maybe you would like to do something else with your Audio CD. Maybe you would prefer to rip it so that you can listen to it from your portable mp3 player? No problem. When you look at your CD in Konqueror (see Figure 15.: Audio CD in Konqueror), you will not only see the files in the actual format as they are present on the CD.

Figure 15: Audio CD in Konqueror
Figure 15.: Audio CD in Konqueror

You will find as well a number of (virtual) folders with the files in other formats such as Ogg Vorbis (an open alternative for mp3) or mp3. These do not really exist on the CD, but if you copy files from such a folder, konqueror will create them at the location where you copied them (ripping the real audio files in the process). So you can attach you USB mp3 player to your PC and copy the files straight from the CD to your USB mp3 player. Difficult to imagine it easier.

Of course you could as well store these files on your hard disk. In case you would like to play them, Amarok will be started (see Figure 16.: Amarok).

Figure 16: Amarok
Figure 16.: Amarok

Amarok is a great application for the management of your music collection. Of course you can just play your files, you can create play lists, play the files at random, etc. But next to the normal functionalities that most music players offer, Amarok offers some nice additions:

  • Your music gets sorted for you automatically. You can select whether you want this to be done on artist, album, genre, or a combination up to three different levels.

  • Amarok automatically keeps track how many times you play a song, as a basis for your personal preferences list. So the more you use Amarok, the better it learns your preferences and the better it will be able to take them into account if you so wish.

  • Amarok can download automatically an image of the cover, so that you can also easily recognize the album or song visually.

  • You like to follow the lyrics? No problem, Amarok will fetch them for you from the Internet.

  • Want to know more about the artist? Then Amarok consults the wikipedia to present you with an article about that topic.

  • The management of the mp3 id tags is dead easy with Amarok. Amarok downloads the information and proposes it to you, but you can adapt the tags yourself as well whenever you like. This helps then again for the sorting of the songs.

If you put a DVD in your PC, then Kaffeine will be started automatically. Kaffeine is another mediaplayer (you always have the choice when you run Linux), that can also play video (CDs, DVDs, VCDs., AVI, MOV, WMV, but also streaming multimedia that is streamed over the Internet).

Oh, yeah. For the people who find this important: if you play DVD's with Linux, you don't have to bother about regions. It even seems that audio CD's that were protected against copying and that you cannot play under Windows, can be played without problem under Linux.

For the editing of video, the non-linear video editor Kdenlive is included. For existing video files, this application might be good, but if you want to edit video from your own camera, you first have to pull the video from the camera onto you PC. And that is not yet possible with Kdenlive. That is why we would for the moment still advice you to install Kino and Kino-plugins. Kino is also a non-linear video editor and is quite complete. Maybe the look & feel is not so great, but for homevidoes it offers about all that you need. You can use it to import your video from the camera via Firewire (=IEEE 1394). You can control your camera from within Kino. After importing the video, you can quite easily edit your video (cut, move and copy scenes, etc.) and apply some effects (as well on the video itself as on the audio. You can also add titles. When you are finally satisfied with the result, you can export the result to a whole bunch of formats (back onto the camera if it has that capability, VCD, SVCD, DVD, DiVX, etc.).

If you have a digital photo camera, you'd better install Digikam. The version of Digikam that is delivered with Mandriva 2006 has become very powerful. It is really easy to import your photos from the camera. There even is support for raw formats (which allows you to adapt the white balance before converting to another format). After that, you can put your photos in albums. Digikam also has a lot of photo editing possibilities: rotation, mirroring, color optimization, red eye removal, scaling, cropping, etc.). Tagging your photos allows you to find very fast a specific photo. You can export a selection of photos (possibly based on tags) to HTML (for the publication on a web page) or to CD/DVD or you can make a dia slide show from your photos.

Although Digikam allows you already to do a lot, you might want to really be creative with your collection once in a while. If you then would like to paste pieces of one photo into another, Digikam will not be sufficient. Then you can use the GIMP. The GIMP is a very powerful bitmap manipulation program. Summing up all the possibilities of the GIMP would constitute an article on itself (or even a series). So let's limit us for now to mention that before you are confronted with the limitations of the GIMP, you have been able to do some incredible stuff. For bitmap manipulations Adobe Photoshop counts as the reference. The GIMP really is up to standard compared to Photoshop and thus fulfills largely the needs of anyone but those who really have very high professional requirements.

Although there is very little that the GIMP does not allow you to do with regards to bitmap manipulation, sometimes you still need something different. Bitmap images such as photos just do not scale up very well. So if you need images that should be able to scale well (e.g. for logos), then you need to use vector drawings. For vector drawings you can use Inkscape. From other articles we understand that Inscape is a very strong application, but that the learning curve is quite steep. We still did not come to it to take on the challenge so far.

Those who really want to be very creative, can use Flash for Linux and Ktoon. With the first application you can make flash animations and the second is a specialized application for the creation of animated movies. Unfortunately this is beyond my level of creativity, so I can't tell you much about it.

System applications

There are two kinds of configuration between which a difference is made in Mandriva Linux. Configurations that have to do with the settings for one single account (such as background or language preference, ...) are managed in the KDE Control Center. Configuration that is related to the system as such, independent from the account (such as system clock synchronization, software installation, ...) normally is managed in the Mandriva Control Center (the MCC).

Figure 17: KDE Control Center
Figure 17.: KDE Control Center

In the KDE Control Center (see Figure 17.: KDE Control Center) you can modify you personal KDE desktop settings. The changes you make will only be applicable to your own user account. Another user will probably have other preferences and he can make and store his own settings independent from yours. That makes it for instance possible for each member of the family to adapt his PC experience according to his or her personal preference. In the KDE Control Center some system wide settings do exist such as for instance network. With those functions a button is foreseen to enter the Administrator Mode. As long as one does not push this button (and enters the required root password), it is not possible to make changes in that section (to prevent that unauthorized people make system changes). For the other, accountspecific changes, no password is required. Here are some examples of settings you can configure via the KDE Control Center:

  • File associations to indicate what application should be used for specific types of files (Note: these settings only have effect to applications that indeed take the KDE settings into account. Some applications (for instance firefox and thunderbird) do not and have their own settings for this).

  • Theme manager to modify the visual theme of your KDE environment. The best explanation for this is an image. See Figure 18.: Sunshine theme where the desktop after a simple selection was changed from the standard Mandriva theme (visible in all the other images in this article) to the Sunshine theme. Creative people even can, if they so would wish, create there own theme.

    Figure 18: Sunshine theme
    Figure 18.: Sunshine theme

  • Language and region settings which allow you to chose in what language your applications will be shown and what your preferences for measurements are (for instance € for currency, the way the date is shown, etc.).

  • Appearance and behavior of your desktop (background, panels, screensaver, virtual desktops, etc.).

In the MCC (Mandriva Control Center) some user friendly tools are foreseen to administer your system, at least if you know the required root password (see Figure 19.: the MCC (Mandriva Control Center)).

Figure 19: the MCC (Mandriva Control Center)
Figure 19.: the MCC (Mandriva Control Center)

You will probably use it most to manage your software packages (even if only to update them). Installing software is very easy with the MCC, at least if you have first set the correct installation sources. By default Mandriva foresees your installation media (the CD's or DVD from which you installed Mandriva) as only installation sources, but it is possible to use servers on the Internet as software installation sources (very useful if you have broadband, for the most up-to-date versions but also because these servers have even a lot more packages then what is on the CD's or DVD). Mandriva will find you an update source, and some of the media you can have added automatically, but some others you will have to add manually. You can find help on how to do this on at least two places on the Internet:

Both web pages give you a command per source you can introduce at a command prompt. This is very easy to do: You start Konsole (via the icon on the panel). At the prompt from Konsole you first give the command 'su' and enter the root password. Thanks to that all commands you will enter next will be executed with root rights. Then you simply copy the command from the web page at the prompt, click enter and wait till the command has been processed before entering the following one.

If you are really allergic to commands, you can do the same in the MCC with 'Select from where software packages are downloaded when updating the system'. But then you make it yourself a tad more difficult since you have to copy the correct pieces of the command in the right place of the graphical interface.

WATCH OUT: Make sure that on the web page you select the correct version of Mandriva Linux. If you configure installation sources of a wrong version, you will install software packages of a wrong version, and that is something you really need to avoid.

To really enjoy the full benefit of your Mandriva Linux, you'd best configure the following installation sources:

Contrib (contributions by others then Mandriva), plf-free en plf-nonfree (packages that are not allowed in the distribution because of the Mandriva policy, plf-free for packages with an Open Source license, and plf-nonfree for packages with a more restricting license), and club and club commercial (only for club members).

If you are at all times connected to the Internet through a broadband connection, you can also configure Main and Distrib. That way you can avoid to have to enter your installation DVD or CD's in your PC when adding software.

WATCH OUT: As a beginner, you'd better not configure any source that have 'devel', 'test' or 'cooker' in the name or path. Those are sources with packages that are not yet stable and thus can bring about some frustration.

The MCC is as well the place where you can amongst others

  • configure your hardware completely

  • manage your network and Internet connections

  • manage the users of the system

  • add fonts (TIP: If you have installed a PC in dual boot with Windows, Mandriva will offer you a very easy way to import fonts from Windows with one single click. Windows contains some copyrighted fonts, but if you have Windows already installed on your system, you already have paid for the rights to use them).

  • change the K Menu

  • configure and start backups (inclusive root files and files of other users)

  • modify your partitions (WATCH OUT: you'd best only do this if you have sufficient knowledge about partitions, as you risk to loose all your data when making a mistake)

  • activate the firewall

  • choose the way the PC boots (what OS is started by default and whether Mandriva automatically logs into a certain account without password or not)



Figure 20: K3B
Figure 20.: K3b

K3b (see Figure 20.: K3b) is the program to use to burn CD's or DVD's. It is a very intuitive program that does its job in an excellent way (TIP: in case you would have some problems, try once to start K3b as root). Next to data data CD's or data DVD's, you can also use K3b to create audio CD's, video CD's or video DVD's and even eMovix CD's or DVD's. The latter is one of the may great innovations of the Open Source world: if you burn audio or video files on an eMovix CD or DVD, and you put the CD or DVD in a PC before you (re)boot it, automatically all software (under the form of a mini distribution) is started to play those files. That way you do not have to worry whether the recipient has the correct software (codecs) to play your video or audio files. If it works for you, it will work for the recipient as well!

Figure 21: KsysGuard
Figure 21.: KsysGuard

KsysGuard is an application that shows you in a graphic way what is running on your PC, and what applications demand from your hardware. If required you can also use it to terminate a process or application (if it would not be responsive anymore). TIP: KsysGuard can be used to terminate an unresponsive window, but in case you do not have it running, the faster way is to use the combination of the ctrl, alt and esc keys. If you push those at the same time, the pointer will change into a skull, and the window you next click on will be “killed”.

Other applications

GnuCash is an application for finance management. It can be used by as well small companies as by individuals. GnuCash allows you to follow up all your incomes and expenses and to perform financial planing. This application is so complete for the individual, that the learning curve might be quite steep and frightening. But the one who wants a thorough financial management, has a great tool here.

In the games area are by default some arcade games installed. Via the MCC one can with a few clicks add a few hundred extra games amongst which Battle of Wesnoth and FreeCIV, which have received very good user reviews. It is told that although they cannot yet compete with the newest (and expensive) commercial games, they start to come close. We haven't tried them ourselves yet. Maybe for another article?

For younger children the packages GCompris and Childsplay are really recommendable. Although they have an educative nature, they seem to attract the attention of at least our children, as they ask for it without any hint from our side. Also games like Supertux are favored a lot.






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License

This work is governed by the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 license. In order to obtain a copy of this license, please visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

The author to be credited is Wim Coulier (website: coulier.org).


Enabling Multimedia

As explained above Mandriva ships without the necessary packages installed for some forms of multimedia, just like Windows XP. To get this stuff (movie DVDs, divx, xvid, quicktime, real media, most wmv etc.) working in Mandriva goto http://easyurpmi.zarb.org, setup all the software sources available for your Mandriva version and then use the software installer in the Mandriva Control Centre to install:
win32-codecs
xine-win32
real-codecs
helixplayer

And people say getting multimedia working is hard in Linux? What a joke - the process above is far easier and simpler than navigating to divx.com, real.com, apple.com etc. and downloading tons of seperate media players, installing them, having them fight over file associations and so on.

And yes people do have to know the names of these packages to install them in Mandriva, but then again 'Divx' doesn't exactly scream 'video player', nor does iTunes or 'apple.com' even 'real.com'.