DistributionWatch Review: Linux-Mandrake 7.2 - page 3
Discrepencies between boxed and ISO versions
In English, the About KDE menu command in the Control Panel said that this was KDE2, Release Candidate 1. What I had in my hands were disks that were supposed to be released in a couple of weeks, with marketing material that indicated KDE 2.0, but actually contained KDE 1.99. (Remember, I had no box.)
Then a new message thread popped up on the Cooker (the perpetual name of Mandrake's development version) mailing list, complaining mightily about the fact that boxed sets of the Complete version of Linux-Mandrake 7.2 are already in U.S. stores with this non-final release of KDE inside.
Faced with this new and conflicting information, I spoke with Daniel Morales, Vice President of U.S. Operations at MandrakeSoft, who confirmed that several thousand sets of Linux-Mandrake Complete 7.2 are indeed already in some retail channels in the United States. This channel primarily consists of Wal-Mart stores through the U.S.
Morales explained that the decision to put Linux-Mandrake 7.2 boxes on the shelves before KDE 2 was fully ready to go was a very hard one to make, but essential if Linux-Mandrake was to get on the shelves of one of the country's largest retail outlets for the holidays.
Wal-Mart communicated to MandrakeSoft and its primary distributor, Macmillan Software, that if Linux-Mandrake was not delivered to Wal-Mart for distribution before October 31, then the product would not be stocked at the retail chain's shelves until January 15. This practice is used by Wal-Mart to manage the massive influx of products that appear in its stores during the holiday season, but non-compliance means that some products are left out in the cold during the largest consumer spending season of the year.
Faced with this obstacle, the developers and executives at MandrakeSoft decided to print a limited batch of CDs--just enough to fill the units being delivered to the Wal-Mart retail channel. According to Morales, the RC1 edition was tightened up by MandrakeSoft's own development team, eliminating many of the bugs that plagued the desktop environment at that stage of its development.
"It was a very difficult decision," Morales said, "balancing between the market and the needs of the community."
Morales said that the material with the 20,000 released boxed sets indicate that the version of KDE shipped inside is a beta version. (My local Wal-Mart had apparently not stocked the software as yet, so I was unable to confirm this.) Bill Gardner of Macmillan Software provided the number for the first print run of Linux-Mandrake 7.2 as being 20,000.
Gardner reiterated that both MandrakeSoft and Macmillan feel that this is "the highest quality release of Linux-Mandrake ever." The pre-release of KDE 2.0 does not effect the overall quality of the product, in his opinion.
Gardner also stated that there are other channels this first print run will be introduced to besides Wal-Mart, though he did not reveal which other stores would see this version of the 7.2 release. The reasons for this, he explained, were similar to the Wal-Mart holiday mandate, though Wal-Mart's requirements were certainly the most stringent. He added that beginning Nov. 1, a second print run of the CDs was getting started, and that this second run did contain the final version of KDE 2.0.
MandrakeSoft has officially announced the release of 7.2,and a line at the bottom of their press release does inform the reader that "If not included in your product, the final version of KDE 2.0 is available through Mandrake Update." This advice was echoed by Morales, who feels that the users are not going to notice much of a loss in the functionality between the version shipped with the boxes and the download version.
Morales said that for now, upgrading through Mandrake Update is the best recourse for users to get KDE 2.0 on their systems. Morales added that if enough people request it, MandrakeSoft will send out CDs with the KDE 2.0 binaries.
As for the near future, Morales said that a new run of CDs is being created right now for inclusion in later boxed set releases. "Expect them to have the full version [of KDE 2.0]," he emphasized. Morales could not confirm the dates that the new boxes would hit the U.S retail shelves, saying that it depended on when deliveries to the various retail channels would be made.