Mageia 3 Alpha 1 brings /usr/ merge
The developers of Mageia, the distribution that was forked from Mandriva roughly two years ago, have released the first alpha version of Mageia 3, the follow-up to May's final release of Mageia 2. With this first alpha, Mageia follows Fedora's lead of moving several top-level directories like /bin/, /sbin/ and /lib/ underneath the /usr/ directory. According to the developers, this move is now 99% completed. The openSUSE project is also working on the same transition, which it started for openSUSE 12.2 and expects to complete with the 12.3 release. Mageia 3 Alpha 1 also includes KDE 4.9 and GNOME 2.5.91, which is a development version and will be replaced by GNOME 3.6 in the final release.
There is currently no live media available for the release; Mageia was basing the live media on Unionfs but that does not currently work with the alpha's 3.5.5 Linux kernel. As Unionfs has apparently not been maintained for at least six months, the developers are currently debating whether they should maintain it themselves or switch the distribution to an alternative such as AuFS or OverlayFS.
The release notes for Mageia 3 Alpha 1 include an overview of the new features and improvements, and the Errata page lists the known problems with the release. Most importantly, users are currently not able to upgrade from Mageia 2 due to the /usr/ migration, but this problem is expected to be resolved once the move is completed. The Feature Review page on the Mageia wiki lists all of the improvements planned for Mageia 3, which is expected to be released on 20 March. Before then, the developers plan to release two more alpha versions, three beta releases and a release candidate, if everything goes according to plan.