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I have thought about what to say here for a few days. I mulled over the pros and cons.
The Bad News
The big question is, "is Mandrake 9.0 ready to take on Windows XP". In my opinion, it is not. There are several reasons for this:
1 - It still isn't as easy to use as XP. It is getting closer but it isn't there yet. The learning curve for Mandrake Linux is significantly higher than XP. Networking in a XP network is complicated.
2 - Driver support isn't great. Even the drivers that are there aren't up to the specs of what you may be used to in Windows. As a small example, my Radeon 7000 video card only supports up to 24 bit color under Mandrake 9.0. XP supports up to 32 bit. This isn't Mandrake's fault, it really isn't the manufacturer's fault either. The simple truth is that not enough people use Linux to justify their putting the effort in to making those drivers. This is changing however!
*note (corrected 11-21-02)
I was dead wrong on the ATI driver example. Without going into detail (and if I understand it correctly), the 24 bit setting you see under Linux is equal to the 32 bit setting you see in Windows. Thanks to the dozen or so people who corrected me! FYI-For those with ATI Radeon cards (8500 and above), ATI has new Linux drivers posted today on their site.
3 - Gaming, gaming, gaming.
I didn't do any benchmarking between Mandrake 9.0 and Windows XP. I just felt like I was too much of a linux noob to do it. I will say that if there is a difference in speed I didn't see it. Start and shut down times were slower with Mandrake 9.0. There are probably 2 reasons for this:
1 - I installed everything I could.
2 - I don't have a clue how to optimize Mandrake 9.0................YET!
The Good News
Let me start by saying that I am impressed with Mandrake 9.0. In fact, I have switched over my multimedia box from XP Home. This allows me to continue to learn more about Linux in general and Mandrake 9.0 specifically. I honestly like using Mandrake 9.0. Here are some reasons why:
1 - Easy installation.
2 - Familiar enough for a Windows user to find their way around.
3 - Total cost of ownership is a huge plus. A wealth of applications are available. Even more are available on the web, for free! I have a lot of software on my computer, much more than the average user. I would estimate that between the cost of the OS and the cost of equivalent applications installed by Mandrake 9.0, I could have saved near a cool $1000 by using Mandrake 9.0 instead of XP.
4 - No product activation!
In the final analysis it is all about what you want to do with your computer. I tried to consider what the various types of users look for when they sit down at the computer. I will break my recommendation down along that line.
New to computers - This is tough. On the one hand I would think it would be harder to learn. On the other, if you had never been exposed to windows maybe not? I'll say it is a Toss-Up.
Computer novice (aka people who think AOL is great or Mac users )- Not recommended.
(you sensitive Mac users see my comments HERE )
Intermediate computer user - Toss-Up, it's your money!
Advanced computer user - Recommended
Tweaker- Highly Recommended
I welcome your comments, contact me. Please use the links/forums below for information on Mandrake 9.0 and Linux.
*note (posted 11-21-02)
The amount of email I have gotten on this article has been staggering. 99% have been positive even when correcting me. I didn't receive this much feedback on my XP Tweaking Guide even though the page hits from it are many times greater (and many of the comments were...um...not as productive) I salute the Linux community. You are thoughtful and give as well as receive. Those who corrected me explained why I was wrong and offered proof or solutions. I didn't detect one hint of condescension when you disagreed or corrected me. I am grateful to all who have written. I have read and will continue to read each and every email I receive. Please don't feel slighted if I don't reply to every one. It's just me here at TweakHound and there are only so many hours in the day!
Eric (aka TweakHound)
Proud new member of the Linux community
TweakHound - Optimize Your Computing Experience!