Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Amit Gupta

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Mandrake 9.0 speeds into the installation lead

Part 4 in our comparison of the installation speed of Windows & Linux

(LinuxWorld) — Last week, we took an "unofficial" look at the Xandros 1.0 installation. This week, we are back on the straight-and-narrow — the "official" install comparo — with Mandrake 9.0 stepping into the spotlight. Can the Mandrake installation compare favorably to that of W2K and Windows XP and dethrone our defending champion, Red Hat 8.0? Let's find out.

As always, the Sony Vaio laptop had all partitions removed from its hard drive before beginning the installation. It was equipped with the same Netgear PCMCIA Ethernet card and IBM USB PC camera that were in place for the previous installs.

The Mandrake PowerPack Edition 9.0 contains seven CDs: two installation discs, one documentation disc, two commercial-applications discs, one supplementary applications disc and one source disc. The sheer size of it had me worried that it might be the slowest installation of all. Perhaps if I had chosen to install everything it might have been, but as is de rigeur in the official series, I took the default path whenever possible.

Getting started

Shortly after power on, a Mandrake Linux window appeared on the screen offering me the choice of pressing F1 for more options or simply hitting Enter to install or upgrade my system. I hit Enter, and a scroll bar at the bottom of the window moved rapidly across the screen. The screen went blank, and scrolling text typical of any Linux boot appeared, then disappeared. A window popped up, saying "PLEASE WAIT ENABLING PCMCIA EXTENSION CARDS." It was followed shortly by another advising that it was probing serial ports.

About a minute into the install, the Mandrake graphical installation screen appeared. This screen remained during almost the entire process. Down the left side of the screen, like Christmas-tree staging lights on a drag strip, were the 16 steps to be completed during the installation process. They ranged from choosing the language to configuring the networking to installing system updates. The Mandrake install is not a difficult one, but the screen itself is a not-so-subtle reminder that an OS installation — no matter how well-hidden from a user — is a complex and far-from-trivial undertaking.

The center of the screen, probably 75 percent of the available real estate, is reserved for dialog windows during the install. Along the center bottom of the screen is a scrollable text area where additional information for the user appears in context during the install.

After I accepted the default language choice (U.S. English), the licensing agreement for Mandrake Linux was presented. The user is cautioned at this point to "PLEASE READ THIS DOCUMENT CAREFULLY. THIS DOCUMENT IS A LICENSE AGREEMENT BETWEEN YOU AND MANDRAKE." The main thrust of the agreement is that not all the software is covered by the GPL.

Tell me more, Mr. Wizard

Next came the type of installation: recommended or expert. I chose the (default) recommended path, and then was advised to "PLEASE WAIT CONFIGURING PCMCIA CARDS." That advisory was followed shortly by another advisory, this one from the Partition Wizard. The wizard said I could use the free space it had found or do a custom-partitioning job.

The Wizard didn't show how much free space is available. It would be good to know so users don't begin an install with less space available than they want or need. I knew the entire disk was free, so I confidently took the default free-space selection. That started the filesystem-creation and -formatting process. I was advised that it was formatting partition hda1, but I wasn't told the type of filesystem or how the partition was being divided.

Now everything was ready to actually start copying data from the CDs to the hard drive. The installer prompted me to select the package group I wanted: workstation or server. The defaults were workstation with office, Internet, KDE 3 and GNOME 2 selected. Copying of the selected packages began at approximately six minutes into the installation.


Like Xandros and Red Hat, the Mandrake install included a series of infomercials to help pass the time while copying. Soon, the installer asked for the second install CD and continued on its way. Next came the documentation CD.

When the third CD ejected, a warning/advisory appeared. It said "PLEASE READ CAREFULLY THE TERMS BELOW. IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ANY PORTION YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO INSTALL THE NEXT CD MEDIA. PRESS REFUSE TO CONTINUE THE INSTALLATION WITHOUT USING THIS MEDIA." I accepted rather than refused, and I was asked to insert the first commercial-application CD. However, I was not informed which applications were installed that had proprietary, commercial licensing.

Finally, about 22 minutes into the installation, everything had been copied. I was asked to "PLEASE WAIT FOR POST-INSTALL CONFIGURATION." Then I was asked for a root password. I then added two users, one for Susan and one for myself. Next came a question about whether I wanted a default single user/environment to appear at boot time. I said yes and chose Susan/KDE for the default.

The installer gave me the opportunity to opt out of auto-detection before configuring the network connection. I declined, and it soon presented me with the option of using a LAN/ETHERNET CARD for my connection. I accepted this option, and it configured the card as eth0. Next came an IP Configuration window. I chose the automatic IP for boot/DHCP and left the host name blank.

A summary screen appeared showing that I had a PS/2 mouse, a U.S. keyboard and that the time zone was set to American/New York. I promptly changed it to Chicago in order to get into the Central Time Zone. Each time I do this, I wonder which distribution is going to be the first to include "Austin, Texas" as a selection.

Next came X. The Mandrake installer selected a flat-panel, 1024 x 768 monitor for me, and I accepted. It also correctly identified the laptop's 8-megabyte S3 Savage video card. A test of the configuration passed with flying colors. Less than half an hour into the installation process, everything seemed to have been installed and configured correctly.

Checking for software


I said yes, and it asked me to wait as it brought up the network. Then it asked me to select a mirror from a list of sites it provided. I chose the one at psu.edu, which was the default. In no time at all I was told there were 65 updates to be applied totaling 3.655 megabytes of download. Three or four minutes later, they had been downloaded and configured.

 Windows 2000Windows XPRed Hat 7.3Red Hat 8.0Mandrake 9.0
Basic Installation0:421:030:521:030:31
Office Suite0:03 0:000:000.00
Total Time2:052:201:351:460:36
CD swaps82344

Then it was time to shut it down and boot into the new installation. I had three choices to choose from when I rebooted: Linux, Linux-nonfb (non-framebuffer?) and fail-safe. I chose the normal Linux. The Mandrake First Time Wizard appeared and promised to configure "the basic setup" of my desktop.

I took the default desktop look and skipped entering privacy info and mail-client data. The Wizard then automatically took me to the Mandrake Expert/Profile site, here I could sign up for additional services if desired. Once I finished there, it was soup. The Netgear card was obviously working because I had accessed the Internet for updates and registration. An Xawtv icon was right there on the desktop. I double-clicked it, and it started up with a live view from the USB camera. Very nicely done.

Editor's note: The above image is reduced in size and color palette to allow it to load quickly. Click on this image to see the original.

A new champ

Despite all that impressed me about Mandrake's installation process, I have three small nits to pick:

  1. It would be nice to know how much free space the wizard has found. This would make sure that not only is there enough space for the install, but also enough space for future needs.
  2. It would also be nice to know exactly which commercial applications are installed so that their licensing can be examined. This way, you could find out what you can and cannot legally do with the software.
  3. Last, the only way I found to escape from the Mandrake Expert/Profile dialog was to go all the way through it to completion. There doesn't seem to be an exit along the way.

The pluses for Mandrake install are its speed and the absolute ease of obtaining and applying updates. It completely obliterates the Windows contenders in both the update category and the installation of attached devices. Although the speed of the Mandrake update is much more a factor of the download size, it is also easier to perform than the Red Hat update process.

Furthermore, the default installation included not one but two graphical environments, and both seem to work exactly as intended. On the issue of Office Suites, the Mandrake 9.0 PowerPack install left me with both Open Office 1.0 and Star Office 6.0. On the basis of those pluses, and the sheer speed of the process, Mandrake 9.0 nudges Red Hat 8.0 out of first place in the derby.

More Stories By Joe Barr

Joe Barr is a freelance journalist covering Linux, open source and network security. His 'Version Control' column has been a regular feature of Linux.SYS-CON.com since its inception. As far as we know, he is the only living journalist whose works have appeared both in phrack, the legendary underground zine, and IBM Personal Systems Magazine.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
Amazon is pursuing new markets and disrupting industries at an incredible pace. Almost every industry seems to be in its crosshairs. Companies and industries that once thought they were safe are now worried about being “Amazoned.”. The new watch word should be “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” In his session 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Kocher, a co-founder of Grey Heron, will address questions such as: What new areas is Amazon disrupting? How are they doing this? Where are they likely to go? What are th...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...