Korora 19.1 hands on: An excellent Fedora remix

Korora 19.1 hands on: An excellent Fedora remix

Summary: Some hands-on experience with Korora 19.1 - and some comments on UEFI boot


I know, I know... I'm out of step again. Everyone is in a frenzy about the latest Ubuntu release this weekend, and here I am writing about something else.

Well, of course I have downloaded and installed Ubuntu 13.10 "Saucy Salamander".  It works. I have installed it on several of my systems, both traditional BIOS/Boot/Partition and UEFI BIOS/Boot/GPT (but I haven't bothered with Secure Boot), and it all installs and runs without any problem. 

I don't like it. 

It's not my style, I don't like the interface (Unity), I don't like the way it is developed, I don't like the direction it is going, and I particularly don't like their massive not-invented-here complex. So I will leave that to others, and I will move on to something that I do like, and that really interests me.

The Korora Project interests me. It is based on Fedora, but with lots of things included which you would probably want to add after installing Fedora anyway. You could sort of think of Korora being to Fedora what Linux Mint was originally to Ubuntu. 

Korora released version 19.1 a week or so ago. As described in the release notes, there are two aspects to this release — first, it is a rollup of updates, bug fixes, tweaks and improvements since the Korora 19 release into a new set of installation images.

If you have already been running Korora 19 and have kept it up to date, you don't need to reinstall from this image — but if you are going to be installing Korora again, on other systems or whatever, then things will definitely be easier and there will be a lot less updating after installation if you use these new images. 

Second, and for a lot of people more interesting and perhaps more important, there are a couple of new versions included with this release — Cinnamon and MATE desktops in addition to the usual Gnome 3 and KDE desktops: very nice.

I am currently partial to KDE, and I already have Fedora 19 installed with Gnome 3 (and Fedora 20 as well, for that matter), so I don't really need yet another installation of that. 

I like both Cinnamon and MATE, but I have Linux Mint installations for both of those so I decided to go ahead with the KDE version. The ISO images are very large (more than 2GB) because Korora includes so much on top of the Fedora distribution. They are hybrid images, so if you already have a running Linux system you can simply dd the ISO image onto a USB stick and you're ready to boot; otherwise, the Fedora Live USB Creator Tool for Windows can be used to write the ISO image to a USB drive. 

Once that is done you can boot the USB drive and run the installation. Korora uses the standard Fedora Anaconda installer, which I have described in detail previously.

Warning! If you are already running Fedora, and you have a UEFI boot system, anaconda will install GRUB to a directory called fedora in the EFI Boot partition of your disk. This is not a problem if you accept the default disk layout that anaconda offers, because it will create a new separate partition for it.  But if you are trying to be clever (like me, unfortunately) and you specifically point anaconda at the existing EFI partition, it will then overwrite the existing Fedora boot information, and when you are done Korora will work just fine but you won't be able to boot Fedora any more. Not fun.

Installing Fedora 19: What's new?

Installing Fedora 19: What's new?

Installing Fedora 19: What's new?

Warning! Warning!  If you then want to get really clever (like me, unfortunately), you can rename your Fedora EFI boot directory to get it out of the way... then install Korora, and after the installation is finished you can rename that imposter fedora directory to korora, and put the original directory back to its rightful fedora name.  That works well... until the first time you update Korora and it generates a new kernel and/or initrd image, and then generates a new grub.cfg file and overwrites your fedora/grub.cfg file. Ugh.

Warning! Warning! Danger Will Robinson! The above comments apply to other installations with overlapping EFI boot directory names - for example, if you want to install OpenSUSE 13.1 pre-releases onto the same system where you already have OpenSUSE 12.3 installed (does this sound like the voice of experience?), you get the same kind of unpleasant surprise. I guess the best way around this is to use separate EFI Boot partitions, but I hate to have a bunch of small partitions, because it seems messy and wasteful to me. Has anyone figured out a "good" solution to this?

Anyway, as I said, I have installed Korora 19.1 on a number of computers here, including both standard laptops and netbooks, and I had only one relatively small problem — and even that is not specific to Korora, it is a general Linux problem. 

On my HP dm1-4110ez system, the Ralink 3290 wi-fi adapter would not stay connected. It connects when you first configure it, but it drops after a few minutes (at most), and won't connect again.  I have already seen this problem with openSuSE and Fedora, and it seems to be a problem common to Linux kernel versions 3.11.0 to about 3.11.4 (it was not a problem in kernels 3.8 to 3.10). 

The good news is that if you install the upgrades for Korora, it will bring the kernel up to 3.11.4, and the Ralink wi-fi adapter works just fine again. Of course, you will have to use either a wired network or a USB wi-fi adapter to get the updates. Oh, and by the way since I mentioned having installed Ubuntu 13.10,  I will also mention here that it has kernel 3.11.0, and it also has this problem, and as yet I have not seen any updates which fix it, so beware.

Finally, once the installation is complete you can see some of the nice additions that Korora makes so that it is a bit easier "out of the box" than Fedora.

The one that most people notice first is Flash — how many times have I been told by people "I can't use Fedora because it doesn't have a Flash player"? Of course, it has always been possible to add Flash to Fedora, and the amount of effort and knowledge required have been decreasing, but here it is installed and just works by default. 

The same is true of Java: Korora included openjdk and icedtea so that just works too. Korora also includes the Google Chrome and Google Earth repositories, but the applications themselves aren't installed by default. 

If you want them, you just have to go to Software Management and choose them for installation. Korora also includes the Jockey Device Driver Manager, which detects when various third-party drivers need to be installed (such as for Radeon and nVidia graphics), and offers to install them for you. Perhaps the best news, though, is that Korora includes the RPMFusion repositories, which include lots and lots of other interesting packages.

In summary, I would give a big thumbs-up to Korora. First in general, because it is a nice derivative which can make Fedora much easier to use particularly for inexperienced Linux users, and second specifically for this 19.1 rollup release, because I can tell you from experience that installing Korora (or Fedora) from their original release 19 ISO images at this point, and then having to sit through more than 500 updates is not anyone's idea of a good time.

Further reading

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Reviews

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • Article: "inexperienced Linux users"

    Since Korora is based on Fedora, I assume that its release life cycle mirrors that of Fedora: approximately 13 months. If not, please let us know as "inexperienced Linux users" most likely don't want to be on a 13-month upgrade schedule.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Correct, Korora Releases Follow Fedora Releases

      You are pretty much correct, for the most part Korora releases follow Fedora releases pretty closely - sometimes literally within days of the Fedora release. What is unusual is the "rollup" release as described here, where they have pulled everything together into a new set of ISO images which Fedora doesn't do, and I find very convenient.

      Whether 6-month releases and 12-month support schedules are good or desirable or not would make an interesting discussion.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Korora

    I tried Korora 19 in Virtualbox 4.3 the other day and could not get it to work. It installed fine but then I had problems with mouse pointer integration and after a reboot the whole thing got screwed up. It hink it's a KDE/Virtualbox thing.
  • korora looks interesting

    I use Fedora, and find it more than meets my needs. Korora interests me because it comes with the codecs and other things to make it play most media "out of the box", though, to be honest, the process to enable rpmfusion non-free, the repository for these non-free codecs, is not challenging, even for a relative newbie.

    The thing that gives me pause with Korora is the lack of a lightweight desktop environment. If it had LXDE, Xfce or Razor-Qt among its choices, I might be tempted to give it a spin. That may seem a bit silly, given that the image size is so large the distro will never be "lightweight", but it seems to me that even when one has a lot of software available to one, a DE can still make a huge difference in terms of how much speed one gets from lesser CPU chips. I know the folks at Korora have an admirable assortment of DEs, and one more would be more hassle. I know also that I could always install Korora and just change the DE, but then I might as well install, as I do, Fedora LXDE and just enable rpmfusion. But someday, when Korora adds a lighter desktop and perhaps even lightens the package in simple ways (abiword and gnumeric instead of libreoffice, for example), I'll give korora a spin.
    • Agreed, Xfce/LXDE would be nice

      I have also been surprised that there was not at least one of Xfce/LXDE/Whatever, not only for the lightweight version but also because these have become popular in their own right, especially because of the Gnome/Unity/KDE/Cinnamon/MATE disturbances in the recent (and even not so recent) past. But honestly, the people at Korora do such a good job, and it is still a relatively small project, I wouldn't want to see them take on too much, and have the overall quality and timeliness of the distribution suffer.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Ubuntu didn't work

    I tried the new version of Ubuntu in both standard and KDE flavors and neither one worked properly. Could be the kernel problem you mentioned.
  • Thanks this is exactly what i wanted, a fedora which uses

    Cinnamon & Mate as standalone images without Gnome getting in the way! in fact i was searching for a distro like this today! Korora may be my next distro of choice (even though i adore my mint installation)
  • Korora and Ubuntu, and old hardware

    Jamie, glad to see that you're back! I was beginning to wonder ...

    By coincidence I just posted my review of Korora 19 (KDE) over this past weekend - I quite liked it. Aside from an inability to add my wireless printer, it seemed to work just fine. There were a few applications I was surprised were missing in a KDE edition, but that speaks to my personal preferences.

    In order to avoid tons of updates, I decided to install the brand new Ubuntu 13.10 the day it was released. I must admit, it is quite decent, even with Unity. I haven't found anything really to fault on it. I guess I'm not one of the haters (more likely, I am just able to adapt to every DE in common use these days.)

    What is noteworthy though is that both of these distributions installed and ran perfectly fine on a 7-8 year old Gateway M460 with an Intel 915GM CPU, 2 GB of RAM and a 40 GB hard drive. I'd like to see a modern edition of Windows (7 or 8) perform as easily on this machine as Ubuntu does.
    Thomas Gellhaus
    • Nice Coincidence

      Hi Thomas, and thanks. It's nice to be writing again. It was a nice coincidence - I had just submitted this post when I got the notice about your Korora post. Good stuff, I alwys enjoy reading your take, because your approach and focus are quite different from mine, so I always see and learn things that I had not noticed before.

      I agree with your comments about installation on older hardware - several of the systems that I use the most seem to be aging at pretty much the same rate that I am... hmmmm. I will be writing more about this next, but for now I can say that Korora 19.1 installed and works wonderfully, and performs very well, on my old Lifebook S6510 (purchased 12/2007), and on a recently acquired "refurbished" ThinkPad T400.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, as always.

  • What a pleasant surprise! WELCOME BACK !!

    With no other comment on the subject:: you know only too well that there are legions who don't like "it".
    I don't like "it" because "it" is a MAJOR distraction to the whole of Linux adoption. ENOUGH.

    Your usual bright, insightful, thoroughly hard-working style has convinced me to give Korora 19.1 a whirl. Sounds like everything one would need in a general-purpose go-to desktop for doing almost anything.

    One question regarding one gentleman's point about light-weight DEs.
    I am also a fan of light-weight DEs, no matter the size of the OS.
    Does the KDE version which comes with Korora 19.1 still include the 'old' KDE's beautiful netbook/notebook DE? That would solve the problem admirably.

    I seem to get the impression that this KDE 'old' beautiful netbook/notebook DE is languishing for some reason.
    Any suggestions as to what to do about this; how to work around it?

    Again, it's good to have you back.

    Warmest regards...
    • KDE Netbook still present and working great

      Hi, and thanks for the warm welcome. I will try to remain more active.

      I was remiss in not mentioning the KDE Netbook desktop. It is still included, and it still works very well on my netbooks. I haven't really thought much about it being neglected, but now that you mention it I haven't seen or heard anything about it for quite a while. Then again, I seemed to be the only one who was talking about it anyway... I'm afraid the simple truth is that netbooks are dying out, so even when there is still something nice, interesting and useful around for them, it just doesn't get much use or attention.

      I'm planning to write a bit about the openSuSE 13.1RC2 release this weekend, I'll be sure to include some shots of the latest KDE netbook then.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Off-Topic; but none of your wisdom is off topic.

    I have quite a few older laptops (does H-P 2133 MiniNote ring a bell? TWO of them!).
    I an a little disturbed that, more and more, Mint's 32-bit offerings are saying "PAE" is required on 32-bit machines. I know what this means, but I am at a loss as to determine if my older laptops can use Linux Mint. I an at a loss as to even HOW to DETERMINE if my machines even HAVE PAE.
    Worst case would be to determine the absolute LAST version of Mint I could possibly use.
    Any and all help would be deeply appreciated.

    Warmest regards...
    • HP-2133 Mini-Note

      I also still have a 2133 - but only one, sadly, because I fried the other one by stupidly using it on a blanket on my lap with no cooling or other insulation under it. I must admit that I don't keep it up with the latest Linux releases any more, because it works very well for me the way it is, and getting newer releases to install on it is not always easy (mostly because of the VIA Chrome graphic processor and the Broadcom 4311 WiFi adapter).

      I could be completely wrong about this, but my understanding of PAE is that you only need it in order to address more than 4GB of memory with a 32-bit CPU. If that is correct, then I doubt it will ever be a problem for out 2133 netbooks, because I'm pretty sure they can't take more than 4GB (and I can't imagine that we would want to put more than 4GB in those little things even if it were possible).

      If I am wrong about this, someone please correct me...

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Did you mention Fedora? NO THANK YOU!

    Sorry to be rude, but I must admit I did not read more your explanations why you hate Ubuntu.
    Well, I don't like it too - and I won't explain why.
    On the other hand, I am a victim of Fedora!
    I was using it for almost 2 years as my desktop OS, and it was never my cup of tea: inconsistent behavior of its bundled software, every version upgrade gave me lot of pains, and the last one provided me a Linux style - B.S.O.D - a total crash of the disk!
    After figuring out that there's nothing much to save, I switched to Ubuntu, and never had to suffer from such things again.
    Yes, Fedora is cool, lot of new gizmos and tricks, but it's a test bed, which is exactly like a Fakir's Bed of Nails.