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Mageia: A Linux Distro on the Rise

Having sprinted up the popularity charts, this distribution is worth a closer look.

Popularity is a fickle mistress, and that's just as true with Linux distributions as it is in the rest of life.

Lately, the DistroWatch page-hit rankings have provided a particularly vivid illustration: Mageia Linux, which didn't even appear in the site's top 10 when I wrote about it late last year, is now in the No. 4 spot for rankings over the past six months, behind only Mint, Ubuntu, and Fedora.

With an average of some 1,630 hits per day, it also continues on an upward trend.

It's not uncommon for individual distributions to shift up and down slightly on the list over time, of course. Still, this is quite a big jump. If nothing else, it makes me want to give Mageia another look.

A Wealth of Desktop Choices

Longtime Linux fans no doubt remember that Mageia is a fork of Mandriva Linux that was launched in late 2010. Whereas its beleaguered French parent is a commercially run distribution--now at No. 27 on DistroWatch--the Mageia project is community-based and nonprofit.

Released in May, Mageia 2 is the latest stable version of the free and open source operating system, and it offers a number of compelling features.

Perhaps most interesting of all, in fact, is the plethora of desktop environments Mageia users can choose from. Not only does Mageia 2 include KDE 4.8.2, GNOME 3.4.1, and Xfce 4.9 as desktop options, but it packs three others as well: LXDE, E17, and the lightweight Razor-qt 0.4.1.

Packed with Powerful Software

Mageia's look has also been updated in this second release of the software for "a smoother appearance regardless of desktop," the project team says.

Among the many power-packed applications that come along with it are the new GIMP 2.8, LibreOffice 3.5, Digikam and Showfoto 2.6 photo-management systems, the VLC 2.0.1 media player, Amarok 2.5, Flash Player Plugin 11.2, Chromium Browser 18, and the business-oriented Extended Support Release of Firefox 10.

None of this is to say that the recently heightened interest in Mageia means that it's necessarily right for you, of course. I do think, however, that to have come as far as it has since its launch not so very long ago, Mageia must be doing something right.

Mageia 2 is available as a free download from the project site. Could be a nice weekend project to check this one out.

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