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Beginners FAQ

I General Linux Questions

What is Linux ?

Linux or GNU/Linux is an Operating System developed in collaboration by thousands of volunteers and organizations all over the world. Linux is Free/Open Source software (see " What is Free/Open Source software ?"). Over the years it has grown into a mature, state-of-the-art OS that powers an incredible variety of computers (from cell phones to "big iron" servers) for a wide range of applications. Although most of the pieces that make up Linux are freely available on the Internet, using them to get a working system together is by no means a trivial task - it is called building a Linux distribution, and this very task is our main job at Mandriva. We build a system that's more than the sum of its parts.

Although, strictly speaking, Linux is just a kernel (the "core" of an Operating System), a Linux system such as Mandriva Linux provides much more than simply the basic functionnality of an Operating System. Mandriva Linux includes for instance a full-featured Office suite among hundreds of other tools and applications.

See What Does Mandriva do ?

If you wish to learn more about Linux, the following pages have a lot of useful information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux (Wikipedia)
http://www.linuxdoc.org (The Linux Documentation Project)

What is Free/Open Source software?

Free/Open Source software (hereon FOSS) is computer software that is licensed in a specific way, allowing anyone to modify and redistribute the source, provided they make the source available to all (you may think of a piece of software's source as its recipe, the information necessary to build it). Because of its open nature, FOSS can be developed collaboratively over the Internet. This makes for high-quality, secure and stable software.

To learn more about F/OSS, see :
http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/philosophy.html (Free Software Foundation)
http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php (Open Source Initiative)

How Free is Mandriva Linux ?

As a true Free Software/Open-Source company, Mandriva freely provides all sources for all its products. In addition, you may download at no charge several Mandriva products over the Internet, including Mandriva Linux Download Edition, Move Download Edition and others. This usually is an excellent way to discover Linux, but hundreds of thousands of users prefer to purchase one of our commercial products. They've got a reason to !

Those products have real value over the download version of Mandriva Linux you can download on the Internet for free. To list of
few of them :

  • They are different products, with some specific software and customisation

  • They include support and various services

  • They come with printed documentation

  • They include pre-packaged commercial drivers that the free version cannot include. For example, if you own a NVidia video card and use a download version of Mandriva Linux, you will have to download and install your video card drivers separately, and this is no trivial task.

  • They include pre-packaged players such as Flash player, Real players that work straight after the installation.

In a word, our commercial products are vastly more convenient and professionally packaged. You get value for your money. Thousands of Mandriva Linux users also choose to subscribe to Mandriva Club. See What is Mandrivaclub?.

How does Linux compare to Windows® ?

Although Microsoft® Windows® is still the dominant desktop OS in the market today, Linux is gaining ground very fast. An IDC study predicts that its market-share will have grown to 7% in 2007 (from less than 3% in 2004). Linux already dominates other areas, such as that of Web and file servers. It is widely recognized as more stable, more secure, and less costly than Microsoft® Windows®. It runs on every type of machine Microsoft® Windows® does, and then a lot more beside. Major players in the IT industry have embraced Linux, including IBM and HP. Mandriva Linux is generally a superior alternative for your PC. Linux on the desktop is still a fairly new thing, and no one can claim it is perfect. But there is good evidence that more and more users are finding it to their liking.

Is Linux complicated to use ?

It used to be. Mandriva has put much work into improving that situation. Linux is now on-par with other destkop Operating Systems. Some things may be easier to do, and some things may be harder, but overall usability is similar. Linux however has clear advantages in terms of power, flexibility, security and features.

Are there viruses under Linux?

Virtually none. Linux is inherently more secure than other operating systems. Add into that Mandriva Linux's easy-to-use firewall, secure mailers and Web browsers, and you have a system that's free of most nuisances the Internet can bring, and drastically reduces others (such as spam). You should go on making backup copies of your data, though - hardware failures can still occur.

II Mandriva and Mandriva Linux

What does Mandriva do ?

Mandriva produces Mandriva Linux, a Linux distribution, and various associated products and services for both corporate and home use. We
take all the scattered pieces of software that make up Linux and turn it into a coherent, usable whole - a "distribution". We provide the mortar that ties the bricks together, as well as the paint, polish, and keys to your new computer home. Mandriva has the tools and
support that turn Linux into something you can use. Mandriva takes great care to take into account user feedback. We have products
for a wide variety of uses, from desktops (such as Discovery and PowerPack) to advanced server solutions (such as Corporate Server). See
our product page.

How does Mandriva Linux compare to other Linux systems ?

Mandriva Linux's goal has been from the start to turn Linux into something everyone can use. We strive to make our system as user-friendly, cutting-edge and intelligent as possible. We recognize that most users want a system that "just works" and does not require hours upon hours of fine-tuning. Mandriva Linux is well-known for its ease-of-use and strong tradition of innovation. This recognition is embodied in the numerous awards we received for our products.

What is Mandriva Club ?

Mandriva Club is an online service that really sets Mandriva apart. Club membership is an indispensable complement to Mandriva Linux.
Members have access to a number of exclusive services, including :

  • Early access to new versions of Mandriva Linux

  • Easy download of Mandriva products

  • A very large software repository

  • Forums where they can interact with Mandriva and the community

  • Discounts on products sold through Mandriva Store

A full description of Mandriva Club benefits is available here.

Mandriva Club received in 2004 an Open for Business Choice Award for "Best Value-Added Service". Refer to this page for details.

What is Mandrivaonline ?

Mandrivaonline is an innovative service that helps you keep your system up-to-date. This is essential for security and also improves
stability. Mandrivaonline provides automated updating and status information. See this page for a description.

What is Mandriva Expert ?

Mandrivaxpert is Mandriva's online platform for technical support. Use it to get help from our professional staff in a timely
fashion. Visit Mandriva Expert's homepage for details.

III What Linux can do

Can I put Linux on my computer and still keep Windows® ?

Of course. Mandriva Linux's intelligent partitioning tools will use the space available on your hard drive so that Linux and Windows® can peacefully coexist. You get to choose which one you want to run when turning on or rebooting your computer. Also note that Linux can read and write on Windows® partitions (note however that writing to NTFS partitions is not recommended) , which means you can access all your Windows® data under Linux.

Can Linux run Windows® software ?

Linux has native equivalents to many Windows® programs, and also has a quite a few programs Windows® does not have. If you still need
to use Windows® software, something can be done: Wine and others can help you. A lot of Windows® software will run with one of those
solutions - but using native Linux software is often a better idea.

Can I use Office on Mandriva Linux ?

OpenOffice.org is included in Mandriva Linux. A powerful, Microsoft® Office-compatible Office suite, OpenOffice.org has a word processor, Writer (compatible with Microsoft® Word®), a spreadsheet program, Calc (compatible with Microsoft® Excel®), a presentation program, Impress (compatible with Microsoft® PowerPoint®), as well as several other utilities. OpenOffice.org covers all your productivity needs, both basic and advanced.

Can I manage my personal/business finances ?

GnuCash is a personal finance manager suitable for home and small business use. You can monitor your incomes and expenses, and track
your bank accounts and stocks. GnuCash is one of those wonderful time-savers that make your life just this little bit easier.

Can I burn CDs/DVDs ?

Yes, of course. K3B, included in Mandriva Linux, is a very user-friendly program that can help you produce any kind of CD or DVD
you can think of.

Can I use my digital camera ?

Just plug it in and start Gphoto or Digikam. See our list of compatible hardware.

Can I edit photographs ?

The GIMP is a sophisticated picture editor for Linux, similar to Photoshop®. It's a delight just to play around with all the different
tools, filters and scripts that made the GIMP famous.

Can I play DVDs ?

Yes you can. Mplayer, Xine and Totem are three full-featured media players you can use to play MPEG, AVI, DivX files as well as
DVDs. Please note however that we do not distribute the code needed to read encrypted DVDs for legal reasons. You will have to install it separately, but that is not at all difficult to do.

Can I play MP3s and similar ?

Yes you can - you can play most kinds of audio files under Mandriva Linux, including MP3, OGG, Real and others. You have a choice
between several music players - just pick the one you prefer. All have sophisticated theming and play-list capabilities.

Can I browse the Internet ?

Yes, naturally. Konqueror, Epiphany, FireFox and Mozilla are some of the best web browsers available. They all provide pop-up-blocking
and advanced security features - those annoying pop-ups, viruses and spyware programs will be nothing but a bad memory under
Mandriva Linux.

Can I use MSN® Messenger Messenger®/ICQ®/Yahoo!®/AIM® ?

Yes, and you can even use the four at once, thanks to GAIM and Kopete.

Can I send and receive emails ?

Of course. Kontact does just that and much more. It will help you manage all your personal information, from address book to
timetable. It is nicely integrated and a joy to use.