Mageia’s devs just released an alpha version of the upcoming Mageia 9, giving a good idea of what to expect from the final release.
Mageia is a Linux distribution forked in 2010 by the now-defunct Mandriva Linux. Unfortunately, Mageia has lost much of the legendary status that its distant progenitor Mandrake Linux once had.
Nonetheless, it and the other Mandrake’s surviving successor, OpenMandriva, keep its spirit and philosophy alive. Specifically, a desktop-centric and software-rich Linux distribution entirely focused on ease of use for new users.
Mageia 8, the distribution’s most recent stable version, was released less than two years ago, in February 2021. However, the Mageia team has surprised us with an alpha version of the upcoming Mageia 9 release.
So, given that two years is a long time in the Linux world, we are excited to see what has changed and what the new Mageia 9 will bring us.
Mageia 9 – What to Expect from This Release
Before we go into what’s new, we should point out that while Mageia 9 is still in alpha, devs will update many of its current packages before the final stable release. However, we do not expect changes to the core components and functionality in the final Mageia 9 version; merely fine-tuning.
Mageia’s in-house made DrakX installer continues to be used in Mageia 9. It is designed to help make your installation or upgrade as easy as possible.
In addition to installing the core packages, the installer includes non-free ones that provide proprietary drivers for the underlying hardware on your computer. Of course, non-free packages can be disabled during installation.
However, if the Classic installation media is used, by decision, it will not use non-free drivers during installation by default. Therefore you may need wired ethernet if you want to use online repositories for updates during the installation.
And now, we go straight to the most exciting part that a desktop-oriented distribution offers – the desktop environments. In this respect, Mageia 8 won’t disappoint as you get everything up-to-date that has been released to date.
KDE Plasma is Mageia’s flagship desktop environment, and here you’ll find the latest and greatest version, Plasma 5.26, built on top of Qt 5.15 and KDE Frameworks 5.99.
As expected, GNOME users have received the latest GNOME 43 release. It now runs on Wayland by default, although there is also an option to run “GNOME on Xorg.” While using Nvidia’s non-free drivers, GNOME starts an X11 session by default.
We come at Xfce, which has not received any updates since the release of its last stable version, 4.16, about two years ago. But, of course, its developers have been hard at work over that time, and we anticipate seeing Xfce 4.18 before the end of the year.
However, we currently have the Xfce 4.17, the development series for the upcoming Xfce 4.18. It is also included in the Mageia 9 Alpha release. So, if you install it, you’ll have a good idea of the Xfce 4.18 desktop environment’s final version.
Of course, the final stable Mageia 9 release is expected to include Xfce 4.18, which will be publicly available by then. The other desktop environments available for installation in Mageia 9 are LXQt 1.2.0, MATE 1.26, and Cinnamon 5.4.2.
Here is also the LXDE desktop environment. Though its community has refocused on LXQt, LXDE is still available and receiving improvements from upstream and Mageia developers. In addition, starting with Mageia 9, LXDE transitioned from GTK+2 to GTK+3.
As expected, almost the entire spectrum of client applications has been updated, so we will only list the most important ones here coming preinstalled with Mageia 9:
- Firefox 102.5esr Web Browser
- LibreOffice 7.4.3 Office Suite
- FileZilla 3.62 FTP Client
- GIMP 2.10.32 Image Manipulation Program
- Clementine 1.4 rc2 Music Player
- VLC 3.0.17 Media Player
- Kdenlive 22.08.3 Video Editor
- Vim 8.2 Terminal Text Editor (NeoVim 0.7.2 is also included)
Developers will receive updated tool stacks, including GCC 12.2, Python 3.10, IPython 7.31, Perl 5.36, Ruby 3.1.2, PHP 8.1, Java 17 (Java 8 and Java 11 are still available), and Mono 6.12.
Under the hood, Mageia 9 Alpha is powered by Linux kernel 6.0.9. In addition, RPM has been upgraded to version 4.18. Furthermore, since Mageia 6, the DNF package manager has also been included in the arsenal of software management tools along with the Mageia-specific URPMI, as in Mageia 9, the DNF tool has been updated to v4.10.
Moreover, Mageia 9 has also switched from the obsolete and unmaintained BerkeleyDB to SQLite as its RPM database back-end.
The Welcome app, presented to users when they boot into a fresh Mageia installation, has now been completely rewritten to take a linear approach, with consecutive steps following in a logical order of essential things to know and perform after installation.
Mageia 9 Alpha ships with X.Org 21.1.3, and Mesa has been updated to v22.1. On top of that, in comparison to the previous Mageia 8 release, the current libre Nouveau driver offers improved hardware support and performance. Of course, NVIDIA’s proprietary drivers are also available in the non-free repositories.
XWayland has been updated to v22.1, and it is now split from Xserver and packaged as a standalone application in Mageia 9 for easy maintenance.
It is worth noting that virtually all software and hardware settings may be easily configured using the handy Mageia Control Center tool, which is one of the unique features of this Linux distro.
When Can We Expect the Final Mageia 9 Release?
We’re getting into speculation here, but there are a few clear indications of when we can expect the final release. We’ll use the official Mageia 9 roadmap as a starting point.
Mageia 9 Alpha was expected to be released in September, followed by the beta, release candidate, and final release in mid-November.
However, these timeframes have passed, and we are only now receiving the alpha version. This causes us to believe that the final Mageia 9 release will be available for the mass public by the middle of the first quarter of 2023.
You can download the installation ISO images to try out the current Mageia 9 Alpha release. In addition, you can take a look at the official announcement of the alpha version as well as the project’s Wiki also contains the work-in-progress Mageia 9 release notes.