Made in Mageia: ISOdumper

Two events are competing for your attention in the Mageia world today: the international Software Freedom Day, and Mageia 4’s EOL, effective immediately.

For the former, we want to wish you all a merry Software Freedom Day and hope that had the opportunity to attend one of the numerous related events.

For the latter, we can only encourage you again to upgrade to Mageia 5 as soon as possible so that you can benefit from further security fixes and bugfix updates. The full blog post about this can be read here. At this occasion, we would like to present to you a home-brewed tool that facilitates dumping ISO images to USB sticks; particularly handy if you’d like to upgrade to Mageia 5 using the classical installer DVD.

ISOdumper, image dumping made easy

Several programs are available for dumping ISO boot images to USB sticks – for installing the operating system. Doing this by hand is hazardous: a mistake can overwrite a disc partition. Mageia has its own package, ISOdumper, which does a lot more than the basic task. It is available from normal repositories, you can install it through the Mageia Control Center or Add/Remove software. The latest release is 0.42.



It is a GUI program which requires, and solicits, root privileges. In every case you must choose in the ‘Device’ list the USB stick you wish to use.

  • ‘Write image’ is the basic task, for which you select the ISO image (*.iso) to write to the USB stick. But ISOdumper has a plus: it calculates the MD5 and SHA1 checksums – displayed in the ‘Details’ panel – enabling confirmation of the written ISO image if you have its original checksums to compare with.
  • ‘Backup in’ is a very handy facility for backing up the current USB stick formating & contents to an image file on your disk (*.img); from which it can be subsequently restored by the ‘Write image’ function. This enables you, for example, to use temporarily a USB stick for ISO booting without sacrificing its previous content.
  • ‘Format device’ not only offers a frequently sought but often hard-to-find facility for formatting USB sticks, with the plus of offering several filesystem types: FAT, NTFS, ext.

ISOdumper has its own wiki page with detailed usage instructions. Its code is hosted at Mageia’s git repositories, and you can also download the 0.42 release source tarball directly.

Development history

We had a tool named usb-imagewriter in our repositories to dump ISO images on USB sticks, but it was limited to deal with .img files, and the progress bar wasn’t working. A Mageia user and contributor, Papoteur, thus started to hack it, and as it was not maintained upstream anymore, had to fork the project.

He then added a feature for backup which creates a snapshot of the USB stick content before writing the ISO image. Some users complained that it was difficult to recover the device when the installation was done, thus Papoteur also added a simple feature to format the stick.

On the technical side, the tool is written in Python and uses GTK+/Glade UI library. The traditional dd command is replaced with customized writing functions and USB detection uses Udisks2 tools. The formatting feature is a tool from Clément Lefebvre (Mint).

We all thank Papoteur for his work on this handy tool! Have fun with ISOdumper and Mageia 5! And farewell Mageia 4, you were a great release! :)

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Mageia 4 about to reach its end-of-life

As you may know, our policy is to support stable releases for 18 months; Mageia 4 was released on February 1st, 2014, so it should have been supported until August 1st, 2015.

However, due to the delayed release of Mageia 5, we chose to extend the support period of our previous release to give you more time to upgrade your systems.

That brought the new end-of-life (EOL) date for Mageia 4 to September 19th, 2015, i.e. 3 months after the release of Mageia 5. 

As we are now very close to this date, we wanted to give you a heads-up in case you haven’t done the upgrade yet: after September 19th, Mageia 4 will not receive any new security or bugfix update, so you are encouraged to do the upgrade as soon as possible.

Most users who did the upgrade had a smooth experience, just make sure to check the wiki to see how to do it. Feel free to ask for help on IRC, the forums or the mailing list if you need further guidance to upgrade to Mageia 5.

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Solid and strong and humming along – here’s Mageia 5!

After more than one year of development, the Mageia community is very proud to finally deliver this long-awaited release, Mageia 5. This release announcement is a big sigh of relief, an “At last!” that comes straight from the heart of the weary – tired as one can be after long days of hard but rewarding work.

And still, we chose to take our time to fix major issues and have a high quality release, without rushing it. Maybe our best release so far, taking into account the impressive work that was done on the installer, both to add new features and to get rid of old bugs.

If our “At last!” also echoes in you after months of waiting for this release, go grab it right now! While it downloads, feel free to read on and learn more about Mageia 5:

What’s new in Mageia 5

The main spotlight of Mageia 5 is the support of UEFI systems. If you are not familiar with the term, feel free to check our detailed article about it. In a few words, let’s say that most systems with recent hardware (3 years old or newer) are equipped with UEFI, so in order for our users to be able to install Mageia 5 easily on recent hardware, UEFI support was a must.

Implementing support for UEFI boot and the partitioning changes that are inherent to this new technology meant making lots of changes in our installer. It was done incrementally, fixing bugs as they showed up, and discovering new and old issues along the way. We were lucky to have a very dedicated team of QA testers for this release, and they fiddled with the installer to try to find its shortcomings on the most exotic settings. All in all, those tests spawned many fixes and new features in our installer on top of the new UEFI support: RAID support, GRUB 2 integration, changes to the partitioner…

Of course this new release is not only about the installer changes; all packages have been updated, and we did a lot of work to ensure that all packages built fine against the new toolchain in Mageia 5. Among others, you will find:

  • Low-level: Kernel 3.19.8, 1.16.4
  • Toolkits: Qt 5.4.0, GTK+ 3.14.8
  • Desktop environments: KDE 4.14.3, GNOME 3.14, Cinnamon 2.4.5, MATE 1.8.0, XFCE 4.12, LXQt 0.9.0, Plasma 5.1.2
  • Applications: LibreOffice, Firefox ESR 31.7.0 (will soon be updated to Firefox ESR 38.x)

Feel free to browse Mageia App DB’s comparison page (applications only and all updated packages) to see the differences between Mageia 4 and Mageia 5. All in all, Mageia 5 contains almost 2,000 applications and 25,000 packages, all available from the official repositories.

Why choose Mageia

One word: community. Mageia is a top-notch Linux distribution entirely made by and for its community. No strings attached, no company behind it, only users who have a great time developing the distribution that they use daily, at home or at work. And as a Mageia user, you are part of this rewarding experience, and you can contribute in many different ways to make it yours.

Mageia is shaped for its users, and is therefore suitable in any environment: work, home, servers, leisure. Everything is supported directly by the community through the official repositories, out of the box. Mageia has always striven to offer a universal usage experience across a large set of desktop environments, integrated with some of the best control and administration tools available.

The Mageia 5 look

As always for the artwork, we called for contributions from the community and we received high quality proposals. We chose the starry night painted by Robert Gormly, but you’ll also find many additional wallpapers and screensavers that we selected from the community contributions.

Mageia 5 official wallpaper

A special thanks

This release would not have been possible without the support of our whole community, so this is a thank you from everyone to the sysadmins, the QA and security teams, the documentation team, the atelier team and the translators, the packagers, the bug triagers and the developers, and finally, everyone else for their feedback and support on forums, mailing lists, and IRC channels, as well as their bug reports and donations.

Have fun with Mageia 5!

Posted in community, Mageia, release, users | 57 Comments

Mageia servers are down

Edit: The servers are now all back online, thanks again to the guys from the Lost Oasis datacenter for their generous hosting and support.

We call it “the famous release syndrome”! Part of Mageia servers are down at the moment. Investigation in progress, we hope to get it back on line soon. Stay tuned!

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Waiting for Mageia 5: Spotlight on UEFI support

This article is addressed to users with some technical background. Summary for the non-techie: Mageia 5 supports UEFI, which means it’s now easier to install it on recent hardware. Bottom line: after the initial installation, which might be a little different (see below), UEFI really shouldn’t trouble you.

What’s UEFI?

UEFI has been around for a few years now, previously called EFI. It is a completely new and different firmware for booting 64 bit PC and replaced the old BIOS firmwares. It brings improvements over old BIOS, but it’s mainly known in the Linux community for rendering the installation of Linux systems more difficult on computers bought with a preinstalled system:

  1. because it necessitated development to support it;
  2. because of a security feature called Secure Boot, which refuses to boot any bootloader that is not signed with an official signing key;
  3. because it’s not always obvious how to boot to a DVD or an USB key (it depends on the firmware, whether Secure Boot is active, whether Fast Startup is active, etc.)

UEFI systems also use a new (to PCs) partitioning format called GPT, with a special EFI System Partition (ESP) which contains the bootloaders.

The references at the end offer fuller explanations.

Mageia and UEFI

With Mageia 4, in order to install to a system with UEFI you had two solutions:

  • activate legacy BIOS compatibility mode, aka Compatibility Support Module or CSM,
  • or follow manual instructions from our wiki, involving command line instructions to run as root during installation. Doable but not easy.

Mageia’s installers are now fully UEFI aware, so you can install easily along with other pre-existing systems.

What about Secure Boot?

First of all, Secure Boot is not UEFI. UEFI is the firmware, Secure Boot is one of the features among others. However, most pre-installed computers come with Secure Boot activated, which prevents users from booting any other system or installation medium. In order to install Mageia, you need to deactivate it in your firmware’s configuration. In order to manage to get to the configuration, see in your computer’s documentation how to proceed. There are lots of resources on the internet covering that subject. As of today, all manufacturers have an obligation to provide a way to disable secure boot.

Installing Mageia on an UEFI system

Both the Live and Classic images can be installed on UEFI hardware, but not the Dual arch ISO. Depending on your hardware or preference, just burn the 64 bit ISO image to DVD, or dump it to an USB flash drive. Existing Mageia users can use IsoDumper for this (install isodumper from the software center). For others, check this procedure. See also our dedicated wiki page. Then boot your computer from the prepared medium.

Booting the Classic installer on a UEFI system currently offers menu choices dependent on the boot medium: you need to choose the appropriate boot menu entry whether you’re installing from DVD or USB; this is not necessary for the Live installers. Once launched, there is no difference from non-UEFI for Live usage. Installation differs very slightly in needing to create or use an existing EFI System Partition (ESP) and mount it on /boot/EFI, and there is no choice of bootloader which is automatically Grub2 (grub2-efi). The preparation and deployment of Mageia installation media for UEFI systems is fully covered in our wiki.

Resources about UEFI:

If you are curious to know more, Adam Williamson wrote a good introduction to UEFI; there is also some information about it on our wiki page.

What about upgrade from Mageia 4?

It is not supported to upgrade an instance of Mageia 4 that had been installed in non-UEFI mode towards a Mageia 5 in UEFI mode.
Upgrading from an UEFI Mageia 4 to UEFI Mageia 5 is supported (as well as from non-UEFI Mageia 4 to non-UEFI Mageia 5 of course).

Mageia 5 is almost there, stay tuned!

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