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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Inside Mandriva Linux

New features

Mandriva 2011 have a host of notable new features. It uses the KDE desktop, but has revamped the UI of most of its components and also added some new tools. Based on experience, Komissarov says that while KDE is a great desktop environment, its broad range of settings may confuse inexperienced users. He cites the example of an experiment wherein a KDE-based distribution was used to teach in Russian schools. The project had to be abandoned because students and teachers were confused by its various settings. Mandriva’s main challenge while designing the new interface was to keep things simple for new users, and expose just the right amount of settings.

Komissarov says the team spent a considerable amount of time investigating the behavior of an average desktop user in a bid to create a distro with virtually no learning curve. It found that users are more productive and prefer running applications in full-screen mode.

Simple Welcome is the main element, which will be developed further- it's not only a program launcher but also a universal container for other original components that are in the pipeline.

TimeFrame - a new utility added to Nepomuk- visualizes files in your home directory based on the time they were created or modified. This saves you the trouble of having to look for files buried deep within multiple folders.

RocketBar implements a software oriented interface that is more convenient and easier for users to understand. Research by Mandriva suggests that a typical user works with an average of about 12 apps. The most used are on the panel and those used less often are stored in the history of Last Used apps, which lets users access the apps in one or two mouse clicks.

StackFolders resembles the stacks feature in Mac OS X and Komissarov believes that users who work with a large number of documents will find this particularly useful. Mandriva 2011's new installer has simplified the installation process by implementing the concept of 'pure choice: While it won't please some advanced users. Komissarov believes that most people are only confused by the many installation options in Linux distro installers.

There have been changes to various other parts of the desktop as well, and many are still under active development. The absence of the option to switch between multiple desktops is just one of the changes to the system tray, which will be further tweaked in upcoming releases.

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