Well, I downloaded the first alpha release of Mandriva Linux 2011. As with all alphas, it is not intended for production use, but for testing. That said, this is what I this live DVD looks like:
1. Mandriva 2011's future desktop:
Hey! Did you notice the penguins? I like them! The black and blue pattern is reminiscent of my Mepis 8.0 wallpaper (my favorite). For some, such color choice may be too dark, but I couldn't possibly like it any better.
2. The application launcher:
There you have it. It's the new one! Mandriva boasts KDE 4 SC 4.6.0. As with all Mandriva releases, you may change your language and locale at start the DVD.
Concerning applications, it comes with Firefox 4 Beta 11 and OpenOffice. Interesting...they didn't pick LibreOffice. Also, this release comes with useful tools for images, movies, and audio. There weren't any issues related to sound or my wired connection. I did miss K3b. Apparently, it is not included.
4. Issues I encountered:
At first, the window display was a bit buggy, but then it stabilized. Interestingly enough, this time Mandriva was unable to activate desktop effects. Again, no big deal being this an alpha. I wonder if I could make them work the same way I did it with Mepis 11 Beta 1.
To sum up, this alpha looks robust enough to say that Mandriva devs have been working hard. We can expect Mandriva 2011 to be as solid and powerful as it has always been.