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What's coming in Mandriva 2011

After the wonderful news that Mandriva would be continuing as usual despite financial difficulties and an exodus of developers comes the technical specifications and other tidbits for Mandriva 2011. There are quite a few exciting changes ahead, many of which prove that Mandriva is still a cutting edge distribution.

With 2011, Mandriva will be switching to RPM5. This news was announced by Per Øyvind Karlsen last week and is the first item in the list. RPM5 is actually a fork of RPM with the main goals of supporting XAR, an XML based archiving format, and featuring an integrated dependency resolver. This move has been in the works for quite some time but Mandriva 2011 will be the first release fully committed. Per Øyvind Karlsen said RPM5, "is the only sensible choice." Relatedly, their software center is scheduled a face-lift for a "more modern and simple to use interface."

Mandriva 2011 will be using the Galbraith Latency patch whether the kernel that will be used has it or not - meaning they will backport it if necessary. This latency patch, first brought to wide attention by Phoronix.com, is said to help speed up desktop processes especially in the areas of graphic and video rendering.

It is listed that Mandriva would be adopting systemd for the boot process. Several other distributions started out trying to move to systemd, but so far, they have changed their minds due to difficulties associated with such a major subsystem replacement. But Mandriva is going to give it the ole college try for 2011. The advantages of systemd are faster boots for some setups because of parallel, early background, and dependency booting of processes.

Like several other distributions have done, most of Mandriva's configuration tools will be integrated into the KDE Control Center (System Settings) in 2011.

All the logins and desktops are getting new a new look and improved resource consumption. No further details on any of these items are given at this time, but it's always exciting to see what the new releases will look like.

The installer is supposed to be simplified in order to be more new user-friendly. Desktop selection and installation summary steps will be removed, meaning those will personal preferences or cranky hardware will have to wait until after the install.

During this cycle, Cooker will no longer be frozen before release and instead continue to be developed in parallel. The release code will be branched off and Cooker will proceed as a rolling release.

Finally, something originally asked for over three years ago is finally being implemented. A new user Welcome application will be added in order to help new and migrating users to acclimate to Mandriva. Again, no further details what will exactly be included, but one can speculate it will give links to online resources such as forums and documentation; perhaps a tour of the desktop, menu, and applications; and maybe offer to install popular applications, codecs, and drivers.

And unfortunately, there are still no plans posted about a 64-bit One release. One has the advantage of being shipped with proprietary codecs and drivers that aren't available in the other versions, so a 64-bit version would be extremely handy.

Of course, there are lots of other highly technical deep code improvements ahead as well. But just looking at the items that users will notice easily, Mandriva 2011 certainly sounds very exciting. A release candidate is scheduled for April 25 and final is planned for May 30.

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