The Showdown: Fedora 11 vs Mandriva 2009.1

The Final Contenders

Well here we are. After a couple of weeks of research I have finally narrowed down my choice to either Fedora 11 or Mandriva 2009.1 to use during the course of this experiment. The two distros are both very mature and feature rich which makes this choice extraordinarily difficult. To help alleviate some of this I have decided to square them off head to head in a series of different areas. So without further ado let’s start this.


Both distributions have significant communities behind them. A quick jump to their respective websites and you can easily see that they are very comparable. Each sports a community wiki that helps newbies and expert alike get up and running and tweak advanced features.

The Fedora Wiki
The Fedora Wiki
The Mandriva Wiki
The Mandriva Wiki

The Winner: TIE


Again both distributions seem to offer the same amount of customization. Most of the resources I was able to find regarding the manner had more to do with customizing GNOME or KDE then anything distro specific.

The Winner: TIE


Fedora is directed by a community elected board of directors. They then vote internally to make large decisions. Mandriva is directed by the Mandriva company which is a commercial entity.

The difference in setup is quite clear. Fedora’s management can be shaken up at any time if the community feels they are going off track. Mandriva on the other hand is a large company and is not going anywhere. I think this makes Fedora more flexible to take on future challenges and react more quickly.

The Winner: Fedora

Install Media Size

Fedora is offered in both ~690MB Live CD and ~4.5GB DVD configurations for all popular architectures and variations (GNOME, KDE, etc)

Mandriva is offered both ~690MB Live CD and ~4.4GB DVD configurations for all popular architectures and variations (GNOME, KDE, etc)

The major difference seems to be that Mandriva lets you really customize your experience during install, more so than Fedora. It allows you to select what you will be using the computer for and only install that software accordingly.

The Winner: Mandriva

System Requirements

A fast operating system is one that leaves most of the system resources alone so your programs can take full advantage of them.


  • 400MHz Pentium II or better
  • Minimum RAM: 192MB for x86 or 384MB for x64
  • Recommended RAM: 256MB or 512MB for x64
  • Hard Disk Space: 90MB-9GB depending on what is installed


  • Any Intel or AMD processor
  • Minimum RAM: 256MB
  • Recommended RAM: 512MB
  • Hard Disk Space: 3GB-4GB

The Winner: Fedora


Both Fedora and Mandriva support a wide range of free codecs, but neither includes popular codecs like MP3 and DVD in their base installs. This is due to restrictions placed on the distribution of these technologies. Once installed, both of the distros can download support for these making them effectively equal.

The Winner: TIE

New Features

Fedora is known to sit comfortably on the edge of bleeding technology and often supports new code as it becomes stable. Mandriva, on the other hand, seems to adopt new technology in a slower, more methodical way, picking and choosing what will make the schedule.

The Winner: Fedora

Out-Of-Box Experience

A freshly installed distro should have a certain… fresh feel to it. Like you could take on the world with this new piece of software! While, by all accounts, Fedora is a solid distro, this category is where Mandriva really shines. It’s Mandriva One release specializes in giving the best “out-of-box” experience possible.

The Winner: Mandriva

Release Schedule

As the length of this experiment is rather short (4 months) it would be nice to see how these distributions perform during an upgrade. Fedora will be releasing its newest version, Fedora 12, in November of this year. Mandriva is also planning a release of it’s upgrade, Mandriva 2010.0, in October of this year.

Both distributions also follow a regular, roughly, 6 month schedule. This means that every 6 months or so they release an upgrade to the distro.

The Winner: TIE


Fedora implements the very top of the line security features available to Linux, the Security-Enhanced Linux module. This takes specifications from the Department of Defense and implements them in the distro. While Mandriva may support some of these features, Fedora is known far better as the security-oriented distro.

Fedora's website even has a very detailed security response center
Fedora's website even has a very detailed security response center

The Winner: Fedora

Shipped Kernel

From what I can tell Mandriva ships with 2.6.29 of the Linux kernel while Fedora ships with version I can’t tell if those extra 4 (2 stable?) updates are actually in the shipped Mandriva distro or not. Assuming it’s not this gives Fedora an ever so slight edge on Mandriva… at least before any updates are applied.

The Winner: Fedora

Gut Instinct

This one is tricky. I actually wasn’t going to include this category if the distros were close in count after all of the above showdowns. That being said I can now safely say, and the above comparisons thankfully agree, that my gut instinct is telling me to go with Fedora. More than anything else I get the feeling that Fedora offers a better overall foundation than Mandriva. From that foundation I just don’t think Mandriva offers me anything that I couldn’t simply add to Fedora as well.

The Winner: Fedora

The Winner By TKO: Fedora

Score Card

Fedora: | | | | |

Mandriva: | |

Tie: | | | |

Well it’s been a long week since I committed to choosing my distribution, but here we are finally. Come September 1st I am going to plop the Fedora 11 DVD in my computer’s optical drive and embark on a 4 month long journey of Linux discovery. Wish me the best!


  1. Multimedia: I would point out that Windows has barely any codec support per default and requires separate encoding software, media players, and codec packs.

    Windows has minimal MP3 encoding support (reference encoder, not LAME, no VBR option) and may not even play DVDs depending on what version you have (requiring VLC, Mplayer, or a codec pack).

    New Features: Mandriva has sometimes shipped with stuff before other distributions have as they pull in packages from OpenSuse and Fedora development trees in addition to their own. As a whole, anything that’s totally not ready or outright dangerous won’t be supported.

    Release Schedule: Fedora can be upgraded by a number of ways, using the preupgrade utility by launching it as root is the easiest.

    Mandriva is easier to upgrade in place because all you have to do is remove all your repositories and then have Easy Urpmi add new ones for the new version you want to upgrade to, then it’s as simple as running urpmi –auto-select as root. Though you may wish to remove orhpaned packages first with urpme –auto-orphans.

    Mandriva is also far less likely to go haywire during an in place upgrade because the non-free drivers (like Nvidia’s) are in their repository, not a third party one.

    Out-Of-Box Experience: I’ve never used Mandriva One on my main system since there’s no X86-64 version of it and I have 4 gigs of RAM. (32-bit operating systems can only see 2.5-3.2 gigs depending on how much RAM you have in your video card and how much the BIOS shadows). I end up using Mandriva Free off the DVD.

    Security: Tough call. SELinux can cause problems with innocent applications (especially Windows apps in Wine). Mandriva has no mandatory access controls by default but will have Tomoyo officially as of Mandriva 2010. Mandriva audits the security of the system routinely via MSEC and reports to you if anything needs fixed.

    Shipped Kernel: uname -a should give you an idea, but distributions don’t typically use the official Linux kernel, they typically create one based on their needs and submit patches upstream. Ubuntu doesn’t contribute a lot, they mainly backport from newer kernels. Fedora will have a lot of stuff that’s not upstream yet since Red Hat does a lot of kernel work. Mandriva does *some* customizing and their own patches, but has kernel-linus if you want the official Linux kernel (though this is an unsupported state).

    I’ve never been able to stay with Fedora because it always does things that aggravate me, but overall it “tends” to be a good choice if you don’t mind a little sloppiness every now and then just because it’s cutting edge.

  2. I’m sorry to say that but you are comparing the uncomparable… Mandriva and Fedora do not share the same objectives and can’t be compared without taking this into account. Fedora’s is to go as fast as possible in the development of FOSS, Mandriva’s is to give the user the best Linux experience ever.
    This explains the lack of out-of-the-boxness of Fedora and the less cutting edgeness of Mandriva. This also explains why the multimedia integration is far easier for new users in Mandriva as this is one of the quality feature they sell and are worried about.
    I know both distribution very well as I use them both in my everyday life. One is for fun, to improve FOSS in general. The other is to be productive and to help the user to use the capabilities of his computer.

  3. System Requirements should have been a tie, too. Operating system manufacturers and computer manufacturers have lots of different opinions about the criteria that establish “minimum requirements”; they should be taken with a grain of salt. Mandriva and Fedora are both based on the same kernel – the only meaningful difference is KDE vs. GNOME, and system requirements aren’t any different between these two desktop environments.

  4. There seems to be quite a bit of… varying opinion on the two distributions in questions; I blame my snappy headline ;). While I don’t disagree with the majority of what the commenters have been saying, nor do I pretend to know any better than anyone else, I just want to quickly give a little more insight into the reasoning behind some of my “winners” above. As I am mostly new to Linux, and completely new to both Fedora and Mandriva, I relied primarily on research to help direct me in my choice. Perhaps my above analysis, and thus the showdown outcome, was a direct result of the quality of readily information available regarding both distributions. In any event, I am glad to hear the varying opinions and hope that this sort of quality dialog continues throughout the duration of the experiment! Thanks and look forward to hearing more from you!

  5. + Multimedia support :
    Please note that Mandriva have out of the box MP3 support, and thus since years ! The same goes for DivX support. However i do agree about out of the box encrypted DVD support ( please note the encrypted, as non encrypted DVD can be read from start )

    + kernel :
    Latest kernel update in Mandriva is : kernel-desktop-

    + Security :
    Concerning SELinux, whereas SELinux is a great security tool, it can hardly be setup easily by someone. So for the end user, SELinux give no advantage. On the contrary, Mandriva have MSEC which allow to control easily some security settings, and notify the user.

  6. + Gut Instinct

    Last but not least. I’d rather go with Mandriva than with Fedora as an end-user for several reasons :
    1. Mandriva is less cuttings edge and tend to select carefully the features to implements. I’m not a beta-tester! I want to use my computer, not digging in bugzilla and internet for fixes and workarounds

    2. Fedora is a testing ground for Red Hat to test and help the features mature before being integrated in RHEL. On top of that, support ( I mean security updates ) is shorter with Fedora, whereas all Mandriva versions are supported 2 years. Again as a user or an enterprise user, this is better, and upgrade between one release ot another one are smoother.

  7. *** Copy from original post
    System Requirements

    A fast operating system is one that leaves most of the system resources alone so your programs can take full advantage of them.

    400MHz Pentium II or better
    Minimum RAM: 192MB for x86 or 384MB for x64
    Recommended RAM: 256MB or 512MB for x64
    Hard Disk Space: 90MB-9GB depending on what is installed

    Any Intel or AMD processor
    Minimum RAM: 256MB
    Recommended RAM: 512MB
    Hard Disk Space: 3GB-4GB

    *** End of copy from original post

    Where did you get that Mandriva system requirenment?

    Mandriva site gives this for One/Flash

    Processor – Any Intel, AMD or VIA processor.
    Memory & storage- RAM : 256 MB minimum, 1 GB recommended. Hard disk : 2 GB minimum, 16 GB recommended for a full setup.

    I’m running 2009.1 on PII, 300M with 64M RAM on one of my boxes.
    It was installed directly from the installation media (Mandriva Linux Free DVD).

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