It has been quite some time since I last wrote about Korora Linux (Korora 20 - Peach) and I think that is a mistake on my part, because Korora is a good distribution that deserves consideration. I think of Korora as being "Fedora++". They start from the Fedora distribution, and then add in (or put back) all sorts of interesting and useful things that the Fedora developers can't (or won't, or didn't) include. They also configure and customize several different desktops, making them much more useful than the default desktops.
The latest Korora Release Announcement explains that this release has taken longer than usual after the Fedora 23 release because they have been waiting for the corresponding RPM Fusion repositories to be declared stable.
Some of the major advantages of Korora come from packages that are in RPM Fusion - and indeed, one advantage is simply that it has the RPM Fusion repository pre-configured. I can certainly sympathize about the delay, because my Acer Aspire V11 laptop requires a proprietary wi-fi driver that I have to get from RPM Fusion for Fedora, and I had the devil of a time with it for quite a while after Fedora 23 was released.
Anyway, the new Korora release is available now, and I have installed each of the Korora desktop versions on one of my laptops:
- Gnome 3 - Acer Aspire V13
- KDE - Acer Aspire One725
- Cinnamon - ASUS R-Series 513C
- MATE - Acer Aspire V5-131
- Xfce - Acer Aspire V3-111 (aka E11)
All five of those are UEFI firmware systems. I installed all of them with Secure Boot disabled, but because Korora includes the Fedora shim.efi boot file, I could just as well have enabled Secure Boot if I wanted. The one thing you have to be careful about is that Korora uses the same EFI boot directory name as Fedora, so if you are loading both distributions on the same system, you have to use two different EFI Boot Partitions.
The Live ISO images can be downloaded from the Korora Project Downloads page. They have a rather nice, original selection process, rather than using a long list of five different versions each in 32- and 64-bit versions. Oh, and at the moment you can still get Korora 22 if you want.
The images run about 2GB+ each, so this is not a lightweight distribution. They are hybrid ISO images, so you can either burn to DVD or dump directly to a USB stick to create your installation media.
When you boot any of the Live images it comes up to the desktop with an installer icon. You can test and explore until you are satisfied that it is what you want, and that everything works with your hardware. Then just launch the installer and you're ready to go.
The installer is of course the Fedora anaconda installer. I wrote about it in detail when Fedora 23 was released, so I won't go through that again here. It's just wonderful, and with all of the different Linux installers that I have to deal with here, I'm always pleased when I get to use anaconda again.
The first installation I did was the Gnome 3 version, which came up looking like this:
First, don't let that rather garish wallpaper put you off. It is only one of many which are included with Korora, and the default configuration after installation uses a wallpaper slide show. A lot of the others are quite nice, so you don't have to look at this one often - or at all, if you don't want to.
Beyond that, I think the Gnome version is a very good example of how extensively Korora has customized the default Fedora desktop. It has the Places menu added to the top panel, and the Dash to Dock extension added to bring the Dash bar to the desktop. These were two of the things that I wrote about in my post on How to Customize Gnome 3, so they are obviously things that I also find useful. The content of the Dash bar has also been extended to put a number of useful applications in easy reach - Firefox, VLC Media Player, LibreOffice Writer and Shotwell, for example. To top it all off, the desktop bar even has Intelligent Hide enabled, so it gets out of the way when necessary.
The Korora Gnome desktop also has the nicest and most useful weather applet I have seen yet added to the top panel. This is admittedly a small thing, but I often add such a thing to the panel, and it's a nice touch to have it done already, and to discover a nice applet as well.
I installed the KDE version next. As with the Gnome version I had no problem with the installation, but I was a bit surprised to find that this desktop is nowhere near as extensively customized as the Gnome version.
Of course this is not a problem, because you could use my previous post about How to Customize KDE as a guide and make something very nice... but compared to what they have done with the Gnome desktop, this one feels very "plain vanilla".
This version includes the usual set of applications and utilities - Firefox, GIMP, digiKam, LibreOffice, VLC Media Player and all of the standard KDE software compilation utilities and applications. If you're really masochistic, it includes Konqueror as an alternative to Firefox, for example.
My next installation was the Cinnamon version. Once again, no problem installing.
The desktop and panel have not been customized (other than the panel being at the top rather than the bottom), but the Mint Menu has a nice, useful selection of Favorites defined.
The next-to-last installation was MATE, which I found to be one of the more interesting ones:
This is pretty much a classic Gnome 2 desktop, which is what MATE is all about. Where the KDE version had only a bottom panel, and the Cinnamon version had only a top panel, this one has both. The top panel contains the menus, launchers, controls and status icons, while the bottom one contains the window icons and workspace controls. Neither of the panels is set to Autohide, but that is a two-click task for each of them, and then you have a nice, clean desktop.
The MATE menus are the typical Gnome 2 category/cascading style, split into three groups for Applications, Places and System. If this desktop style suits you, the Korora MATE distribution would be an excellent choice.
It is equpped with Firefox, Thunderbird, Filezilla, GIMP, Shotwell, LibreOffice, VLC Media Player and much more.
Oh, and as I was poking around on this version I realized that I haven't specifically mentioned this until now, but all of the Korora versions (even the Gnome version) include the Yum Extender for DNF, which I find to be a much more pleasant GUI for package management and updates than the Gnome Software utility that is included with Fedora. In fact, I dislike the Gnome Software utility so much that I have gotten in the habit of just using dnf directly from the command line, as I find it faster, easier and more reliable, and trying to figure out Updates with Gnome Software just drives me crazy. In the amount of time I would wait for Software to start and be ready to use, I can be done with whatever I was doing via dnf - especially updates. This is not the case with YUM Extender, so I might be tempted to stay with the GUI for this on Korora. Good stuff.
Finally - and in some ways I would say "saving the best for last" - I installed the Xfce version. As with the Gnome version, this one has obviously had some significant effort put into customizing the desktop.
Here we have two panels again, but rather than the typical top/bottom arrangement, one is at the side of the display, containing a very nice selection of frequently used applications and utilities, and it has Intelligent hiding enabled.
The normal Xfce menu is also present, at the left end of the top panel.
Some time ago, when I used to keep Korora installed on most of my laptops, I always chose the KDE version because I thought it gave me the best combination of the Fedora Core and a good desktop (read as: not Gnome 3). Today, however, I would choose the Xfce version, not only because I have a slight preference for Xfce itself, but also because I think it is the best integrated and customized of the five Korora desktops.
Before closing this post, there is one more important and very useful utility I want to mention. All versions of Korora include their pharlap driver manager utility (similar to the much better-known jockey utility). When you start pharlap it scans the repositories, then checks the available driver list against the hardware in your system. That produces the list shown here, which tells you how many drivers are available for various parts of your system.
The Acer Aspire V3 on which I installed Korora Xfce is well known for having a Broadcom BCM43142 wi-fi adapter which has been a royal pain on almost every version of Linux I have installed on it. This was especially true of Fedora, because I first had to add the RPM Fusion repositories, then figure out what packages I needed to install to get the Broadcom wi-fi working. Ick.
When I select Network in the pharlap screen, it shows me both the wired and wireless adapters, and the available drivers for each. The Broadcom adapter is listed as having two possible drivers - but this is one of the reasons it has been such a pain - the kernel-modules driver doesn't work for this adapter.
The very good news here is that if I select akmod-wl, and then click Apply Changes, it will download and install all the necessary packages. Then after a reboot, the wi-fi is working! Hooray!
Summary: Korora 23 is out, with five different versions for the most popular desktops. All five of them installed for me with no problem, and all of them include a very good selection of utilities and applications. If you have been put off by Fedora's strict FOSS policy, Korora might be a good way for you to get the Fedora base with non-FOSS packages and repositories included. If you have hardware which needs special driver, such as some graphic or network adapters, the Korora pharlap utility is good enough to justify the installation itself!
Read more about Linux and open source:
- Hands-on with Kali Linux Rolling
- How to customise your Linux desktop: MATE
- How to customise your Linux desktop: Cinnamon
- How to customise your Linux desktop: Xfce
- Hands-On with openSuSE Leap RC1: A walk through of the installer
- Hands-On: KaOS Linux 2015.10
- Thus versus Calamares: Comparing Manjaro 15.09 installers
- Upgrading my Linux-Windows multi-boot system to Windows 10
- Hands-On: Linux UEFI multi-boot, my way
- Hands-On: Linux UEFI multi-boot, part two