Mandriva (formerly known as Mandrake) is one of the famous Linux distribution on the planet. I like Mandriva a lot although sometimes it is not as stable as Slackware. Slackware known as one of the most stable distribution and also one of pioneers in Linux distribution world, is not easy for newbies in terms of installation and configuration but it is improving gradually. It still sticks to 2.4 vanilla kernel while other distributions using 2.6 for quite some time. 2.6 is offered as testing kernel only on Slackware. If I have old CPU, I for sure choose Slackware for it. For new machine, I choose Mandriva. If it fails, I revert to Slackware.
Entering 64-bit world
My new machine is a 64-bit. In searching for a 64-bit Linux distribution, I found out that Mandriva is the best (Note: Your mileage may vary). Latest is Mandriva 2006. It supports a variety of platforms including 64-bit. Installation went smoothly and hardwares were autodetected.
What I like the most with Mandriva is the packaging system urpmi and the variety of packages it has. After installation, if you want to install or remove packages, you can do it in console or using package manager in X. It will prompt you to insert the particular CDs if it has the packages on CDs. What if you lost the CDs? Don't panic. You can download the particular packages over the internet or you can tell urpmi to download the packages from a chosen mirrors and install them for you automatically.
urpmi made easy
If you have fast internet connection, you may want to install packages or update packages via internet. What you have to do is go to http://easyurpmi.zarb.org and answer few questions and then copy the commands in the console as root. It will update the media sources. You have to run urpmi.removemedia -a. If all runs well without any errors, you can just issue urpmi name_of_packages to install packages. Please choose the nearest mirror to your location for faster download.
I know Slackware has contributional utilities that can do the same as urpmi but I have never explored them yet. I hope someday. :) If you have experience with them, please give me the link.
Happy 'urpmi'ing :)
*UPDATE : In Slackware, there's equivalent utility called slapt-get. It is similar to apt-get in Debian and yum in Redhat-based distro.