Mandrake Move

By Pete | @kingpetey | 24 Feb 2004

The idea behind Mandrake Move (here) is simple, you have a bootable CD with Mandrake Move on and a USB flash drive to store your data then you can use any PC at your disposal to do your work. Its a nice idea but as I found out it doesn't always work how you expected.

Mandrake Move isn't the only or first CD running Linux distribution, many other companies and organisations produce them including (here)SuSE, Knoppix (here) and Slax (here) but Mandrakesoft (here) is the first to market it as an OS that you can simply take anywhere to get to a familiar desktop and common programs. Normall CD running Linux (here) distributions are advertised as ways to try the OS without having to alter your hard drive in any way. While Mandrake Move still does this it is designed so that if you wanted to you could use it in other computers and get a familiar interface.

Mandrake Move comes in two different versions, the first is a free to download from Mandrakesoft. The second is a boxed version which comes with a USB flash disk and is available for about 70 EUR for the 128mb flash disk and 129 EUR for the 256mb flash disk. The boxed version also allows you to save configuration files to the flash drive which in some ways only makes the free version useful for a trial. Being able to save configuration files to the flash drive is a handy feature for saving time on each boot. A whole range of items can be saved from network settings, to keyboard/mouse settings and desktop shortcuts.


The first computer I tried it on was a Pentium 500 with 256mbs of Ram. The boot loader worked fine as well as the first 2 stages of the boot process but shortly after I got a fatal error by something caused by my CD drive. I tried various things in the boot loader including turning off the auto detect but it didn't want too boot. After a while looking for help on the net I gave up.

The second computer had a bit more power, a Pentium 2ghz with 1024mbs of ram. When first booting the X server died because of my monitor, I rebooted and put the ?noauto? command into the boot loader. This time it got a bit further but the loader couldn't detect my USB mouse and whenever I tried to select the correct mouse it would tell me that it could not find the correct modules.

A quick mouse change later and I finally got to a desktop. With a resolution of 800*600 everything looked a bit big on my 17 inch Monitor though Mandrake or RedHat have never liked my monitor yet SuSE allows a full range of resolutions. Almost all of my hardware (apart from the USB mouse and the monitor) was detected fine including my TV card, Network card and my flash drive.


As I was using the free version I couldn't save any of my configuration files to the flash drive. The network was very easy to set-up using the wizard and I was on the Internet in no time. If your looking for all the normal programs that come with Mandrake 9.2 you will be disappointed but in order to fit everything onto one CD Mandrake have selected a wide range of the most popular programs. The result is a selection of programs that load fast and covers 99% of the needs of a desktop user.

Mandrake Move uses KDE (here) as a desktop and has a nice selection of programs including OpenOffice (here) the office application suite, Kmail the mail client, Gaim (here) the instant messenger and Konqueror the web browser. There are also a number of games included including Frozen Bubble, Lbreakout2 and if you can get 3D working on your graphics card Tux Racer.

One of the nice features of Mandrake Move is being able to take the CD out of the drive once it is booted, this allows you to play audio CD's or load work files from a CD. If your looking to run a web server or similar in Mandrake Move then you may be disappointed but then again this this is not what Mandrake Move is designed for.

Final Thoughts

I can see Mandrake Move being used in cheap PC's without hard drives rather than for carrying around. I can also see Mandrake Move being used a lot in the home between 2-3 PC's that either don't have hard drives or the user does not want to modify them in any way.

In my view if I was going to be moving about different geographic locations I would rather buy a laptop then carry a CD around with me in the hope that I can find a PC to work on and that the hardware of that PC will be supported. Though Mandrake Move is considerably cheaper than a laptop I doubt it would get used as an alternative.

People are often worried that CD booting takes too long however I had my Mandrake desktop up in 1min 22 seconds which I thought was pretty fast. My hard drive installation of SuSE 9 takes longer at 1:33 but Windows XP only takes 53 seconds to boot.

Overall Mandrake Move is nice if you want to sample Mandrake or just do some hassle less work, the graphics look nice and the configuration is easy. The hardware support wasn't quite perfect though was better than a lot of Linux distributions I have used.

So should I buy Mandrake Move?

The price is little more than what a flash drive costs anyway so if your thinking of buying one and want to give Mandrake a try its worth it. If your not sure if your hardware is going to work first you can always download it first and check everything works. (here)


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This is the only product of its kind to offer built-in handling of USB keys, allowing for automatic and seamless backup of configuration settings.

The USB Flash version is a really great idea - the trouble with CD's is that it really slows things down, but a bootable USB drive? I think think that's a great idea. :)

The speed of USB Flash drive is much faster than a bootable CD, so I think its a really good if I can boot from a USB Flash drive. :D