Mandrake 9.1 is booting on my old K6 box, and running surprisingly nicely. GNOME’s Nautilus is far from snappy, but it does work and for the most part isn’t ugly. For the first time I now have font antialiasing on Linux, as a result of which OpenOffice is actually useable. That is, it’s possible to read the type in Writer. All praise the GPL.
Linux on the desktop certainly does keep getting better and better, and on cursory examination this is the best distribution I’ve seen. Looking back over my install logs for previous Mandrake, Red Hat and SuSE distros, more of this one worked without tinkering than ever before. That said, I’m not entirely confident that this will continue as I play more. What, for example, is the MySQL root password? Is PHPNuke still installed by default? What’s the admin password for that? Dunno. But hey, I’ve not got there yet.
But there’s still a nagging problem. However polished this system is – and it stands up pretty well against Windows XP, which is slicker but far more patronising – it still looks to a Mac user as a pretty naff hodge-podge. Take, for example, the ‘OK’ button swapping sides all the way through the installation. Come on, this is really basic, noddy stuff! OS designers have been getting this sort of thing right for twenty years!
So, I’ll probably play a bit. And at least I have a spare gash PC I can pull out, which is potentially useful. And apps like Mr Project really have come on dramatically since I last saw them (heck, the last time I launched Mr Project, it failed to completely start up). But that’s about it.
However, there is one really significant change I can report; for the first time in my experience, installing Linux hasn’t been an exercise in frustration. This is partly because I have more of an idea of what I’m doing, but mostly because it’s genuinely getting better. If I wasn’t a Mac user, I might even like it. Now that’s progress.