Korora 20 (Peach) hand-on: Even better than I expected

Korora 20 (Peach) hand-on: Even better than I expected

Summary: I install four different desktops: Gnome, KDE, Cinnamon and Xfce.

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Korora 20 (Peach) was released last week, and it is a beauty - even better than I had expected. 

I have been watching for this release, because Windows 7 Starter Edition on my Samsung N150 Plus decided to barf all over itself a week or two ago, and rather than waste time trying to figure out how to fix it I just completely wiped the disk and reinstalled everything from scratch. 

It is so much nicer not to have a partition taken for Windows bootloader, and another partition taken for Windows itself, and another partition taken for Windows Recovery image: now it has nothing but Linux installed, and it just feels cleaner. 

So far it has openSuSE 13.1, Fedora 20, Mint 16, Debian 7.3, PCLinuxOS 2013.12 and SolydX 201311.

I was ready to install Korora, but with Fedora 20 out now I knew that Korora 20 wouldn't be far behind, so I decided to wait. In fact there was a beta release of Korora 20 at the beginning of December, but that Korora beta was built on a Fedora beta, and that was one beta too many for me.

So, now the final release of Korora 20 is out, and waiting has really paid off because it adds a new desktop!  In addition to Gnome 3, KDE, Cinnamon and MATE which were already available with 19.1, there is now also an Xfce version. 

That is great news, because that's exactly what I want on the N150 Plus. So I am going to install four different desktops on four different computers here - Xfce on the N150 Plus, KDE on the Lenovo T400, Cinnamon on the Acer Aspire One 725 and Gnome 3 on the HP Pavilion dm1-4310ez. 

Note that those last two are UEFI boot systems: I will write about the Korora release in general and the four desktops today, and then I will follow up with more detailed UEFI information in the next post. What I will say for now is that it installed on both of my UEFI systems with absolutely no problem, including Secure Boot, and without conflicting with the previously installed Fedora 20 on those systems.

First, for those who might not be familiar with it, what is Korora and why is it interesting? Korora is derived from Fedora, and one very simple way of thinking about it is that Korora is to Fedora what Linux Mint is to Ubuntu. 

The original operating system with lots of packages and utilities added, many of which an experienced user would have had to add themselves anyway, some even an experienced user wouldn't have thought about.  Things like LibreOffice, Adobe Flash, Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird, GIMP image editor, and more. 

It's not an entirely correct analogy, though, because Korora also adds some very interesting and useful repositories to the basic Fedora distribution, so there are also a lot more packages available out of the box too. Two good examples of the repositories added are rpmfusion and Google chrome.

Second, and this is really important, I mentioned in my recent post about Fedora 20 that their "base" distribution (Gnome 3) is well equipped with applications and utilities, but the other desktops spins are all pretty much "bare bones", so you have to add whatever applications, utilities and what have you that you want. 

A lot of people consider this to be an advantage, so they can build the system the way they want it.

Another lot don't: they want the system to be complete and ready to use after the installation is finished, with all the common applications and utilities. That's what Korora has done - all five of the desktop distributions are fully equipped and ready to work, as we will see.

The ISO images for all of these distributions are available from the Korora Download page. All of them are hybrid ISO images, which means that you can either burn them to a DVD (they are much too large for a CD) or write them directly to a USB stick. 

I always do the latter, because its faster and easier for me, and of course I can reuse the USB sticks, rather than ending up with piles and piles of CDs and DVDs that I have used only a very few times.

The Korora installer is actually Fedora's anaconda (duh), so you can check my recent Anaconda Hands-On post for details about how it works, how much I like that and why.  The only important thing to say here is that it works very well on both MBR and UEFI systems.

Ok, now to look at each of the desktops.  First up is the Cinnamon version, which I have loaded on my Aspire One 725:

Korora Cinnamon
The Korora Cinnamon Desktop

This is Cinnamon 2.0.14. In typical fashion, the Korora developers have not just taken the standard Cinnamon desktop, or even the stock Fedora Cinnamon desktop. The have really put some thought and some work into it, they have adapted and adjusted, tweaked and configured it. 

What they have ended up with is the nicest, most useful and easiest to use "base installation" Cinnamon desktop I have seen. I honestly think it is even nicer than the base installation of the recent Linux Mint 16 distribution. 

The panel has been moved from the bottom of the screen to the top, it has controls and icons added to the right end for display setup and brightness, and it has several launchers added to the left side for Firefox, Thunderbird, Terminal and Files. 

Not only do I think these are good changes (in fact they are almost exactly what I would do myself), but they provide an excellent example of some of the things that can be done with the latest Cinnamon desktop.  The only change that I made to this desktop for my own preference on the AO725 was to enable panel Auto-Hide.

Next, here is the KDE desktop:

Korora KDE
The Korora KDE Desktop


 This is based on KDE 4.11. Of course, the KDE Netbook desktop is also included:

KDE Netbook
The Korora KDE Netbook Desktop

As can be seen from the application/utility list below, the KDE version is different from the others in a number of significant ways. This is mostly because the KDE Software Collection includes its own version of a number of applications and utilities. 

One obvious example of this that I frequently mention is didKam for photo management (and Gwenview for photo viewing). Others are things like Amarok (audio player), and the Konqueror web browser - although in this specific case, Korora also includes Firefox, probably as a compromise because of the extreme popularity of Firefox and the fact that Kornqueror is starting to feel a bit old and clunky.

Here is the Gnome 3 desktop, showing the Applications menu:

KororaGnome
The Korora Gnome 3 Desktop

Once again, Korora hasn't just taken the standard Gnome 3 desktop. They have configured it with Places on the top panel, and added a window icon area and a weather applet.  These are all included in Gnome 3, but are not usually shown on the desktop, by adding this configuration Korora is showing a bit more of the flexibility of Gnome, and perhaps making former Gnome 2 users a little more comfortable with Gnome 3 out of the box.

Finally, the Xfce desktop is the newest member of the family:

Korora Xfce
The Korora Xfce Desktop

Those who are familiar with Xfce will notice that this desktop uses the standard Xfce menu, rather than the Whisker menu which is becoming popular in some distributions. I have also made my standard Xfce-on-a-netbook adjustments here, moving the bottom panel to the right side, and changing it from 100 percent to auto-size. 

This screen shot also shows that the Xfce menu is available not only on the Menu button at the top left of the screen, but also by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop background. Another nice little Xfce touch can be seen here - "Open Terminal Here" is always available on the first menu, so if you work with a terminal frequently, you don't have to go back to one of the panels or run down through the Xfce menus to get one started.

I mentioned above that all of these different versions were fully loaded with applications and utilities.  What does that mean, exactly?  Well, they are all running Linux kernel 3.12.6 and X server 1.14.4, and here is a fairly complete list of applications:

  Cinnamon KDE Gnome Xfce
LibreOffice 4.1.4.2  X  X X X
Firefox 26.0  X  X X X
Thunderbird 24.2  X     X
KMail   X    
Evolution     X  
Pidgin 2.10.7       X
VLC Media Player 2.1.2  X  X X X
Yum Extender  X  X X X
Flash Player 11.2r202  X  X X X
IcedTea (Java)  X  X X X
Orage Calendar/Clock       X
KOrganizer   X    
Pharlap Driver Finder  X X X X
GIMP 2.8.10  X X X X
Okular PDF Viewer   X    
PDF Document Viewer 3.10.3  X   X X
Inkscape 0.48  X X X X
digiKam 3.5.0   X    
Shotwell (Photo) 0.15.1  X   X X
Raw Therapee     X X
Simple Scan  X   X X
Skanlite   X    
Ekiga Soft Phone  X   X X
Linphone   X    
Gwibber  X   X X
Liferea  X   X X
KNode   X    
Audacity X X X X
Amarok   X    
Rhythmbox X      
Hand Brake  X X X X
Open Shot  X   X X
Project Planner  X  X X X
Empathy  X   X  
 Darktable  X X    

The point of this chart is primarily to show how complete the software selection is for every one of the four distributions. 

All four desktop distributions include LibreOffice, Firefox, Flash Player, VLC Media Player, GIMP, Inkscape, IcedTea (Java web plugin) and such. In addition to those sorts of things which are the same across all versions, each version also has some kind of photo management (Shotwell or digiKam), Audio player (Amarok or Rhythm Box), Mail reader (Thunderbird or Kmail), PDF viewer. It's all there, in every version.  Whatever desktop you choose, you get a fully equipped Linux installation.

Another significant new (well, changed) feature of this Korora release is the Pharlap driver manager tool, replacing jockey from previous editions. A recent Korora News posting explains more about this package and why the decision to change from jockey was made. Pharlap will be of primary interest and benefit to those who have hardware which requires custom, third party or non-FOSS drivers, such as nVidia and Radeon graphic controllers and some models of Broadcom WiFi adapters.

Finally, in addition to these four desktops Korora also has a MATE (Gnome 2 style) distribution - I just don't have the time, equipment and dedication to load and test it as well.

So, if you like Fedora but you have been put off by the lack of some applications, or if you are just looking for a complete, fully loaded out-of-the-box Linux system that is easy to install and works very well, Korora could be just the thing, check it out.

Further reading

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

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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18 comments
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  • Is it anything more than Fedora + RPMfusion

    I'm not sure I see the point of Korora. Is it anything more than Fedora with RPMfusion already added? Adding RPMfusion is a trivial process, it can be done with two clicks from the RPMfusion configuration page
    http://rpmfusion.org/Configuration/
    Once you have the RPMfusion repos you can just use yumex to add the akmod-nvidia package and your done. How hard is that?
    bjrosen@...
    • Pre-installed and pre-configured packages

      For an experienced Fedora user/administrator, who is comfortable adding rpmfusion and then installing and configuring all of the packages the want/need after that, Korora does not have a big advantage - and it might be considered a disadvantage because the packages they pre-install are not likely to be a perfect match to what anyone else would choose.

      BUT, if you don't what to go through adding the repository and then choosing, downloading and configuring the packages, then Korora can be a major advantage. In fact, if you want to use any of the desktops other than Gnome 3, the advantage gets even larger because the Fedora spins of the other desktops don't even have LibreOffice, Flash, etc installed, so there is even more that you have to install and configure.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      jw
      j.a.watson@...
      • Korora

        Being new to Linux, I have not presumptions about any of the types of desktops. That being said, I am trying to utilize some older computers that do not have DVD drives and do not boot from a USB, so do you have any other suggestions to be able to get the software on an older system?

        Thanks,

        Rick
        rlester@...
    • Why?

      Korora philosophy is to have complete desktop suitable for the "average" user with various goodies installed that users want installed and experienced users will install immediately.

      With Linux distros there are several philosophies seen: minimalist, basic, moderate, complete, and kitchen sink. Minimalist distros provide a basic OS with GUI and not much software installed to minimize the initial requirements. Basic distros have more apps installed but try to be selective. Moderate try to have enough apps and codecs that most office users probably will not need to add any. Complete try to cover all the major categories with an app and will have most of the codecs installed and often cover areas that the typical office user will not use. The kitchen sink will often have multiple apps for the some functionality and all the codecs installed. As you increase in install size there is a strong tendency to use free ($0) as well as FOSS apps and drivers.
      Linux_Lurker
    • Haha

      Then I would answer your point with "why should there be so many flavors of Linux?" Isn't any Linux flavor just a basic kernel topped off with different flavors, goodies, eye candy? Just let those who want to enjoy their choices do so without your uncalled for and unneeded knowledge
      Charles_B
    • Not quite...

      From Korora website: "Korora includes a tool called Pharlap (Jockey in release 19 and earlier) for simple installation of third party drivers such as those for NVIDIA graphics cards and certain wireless devices.

      Korora also comes with all the development tools and kernel headers you need to easily install out of tree kernel modules, such as those required by VirtualBox. These modules are automatically built when you get a new kernel update thanks to Dynamic Kernel Module Support."

      Otherwise, it's just a spin. But that's the beauty of it. It's nicer and easier to configure and still compatible.
      ruel24
  • Pre-installed and pre-configured packages

    I've heard people say Korora is Fedora for the lazy. I used to be a big Fedora fan back when F16 was out but went away. I recently installed F20 in a virtualbox and had some issues, but Korora 19 worked beautifully. I'll probably check out Korora 20. Korora is definitely more polished than Fedora. I like the Mint is to Ubuntu what Korora is to Fedora comparison. That's exactly what I thought when I first used Korora.
    jaws222
    • I do agree...

      ...Korora was really like using much more user friendly Fedora. And CentOS? It's like Debian. Praised being stable (and likely is). But in reality it's terrible thing to make it working fine. Just think about language support? USB dongles? Multimedia/codecs? Dualboot.

      Debian (hard)--->Ubuntu (easy, you won't like Unity)---->Mint (easiest and most user friendly)
      CentOS (hard)---->Fedora (easier, not for newbies)--->Korora (easy enough for newbies)
      MacBroderick
  • TOOOoooooooooo many!

    WAY to many distro's.
    K.I.S.S. !!!
    .
    .
    .
    fm-usa
    • Slimming down

      "Windows Home Edition", Windows Professional", "Windows Premium", "Windows Extreme", "Windows Media Center", "Windows Server", "Windows CE", "Windows RT". "Threshold", "Blue", "Longhorn". Way too many SKUs for Windows.

      Seems MS has the same problem.

      Most Linux distros are for very specific applications which you won't be interested in. You wouldn't run Windows-Server or Windows-CE on your desktop, so you would also not run a linux server distro or a linux embedded distro on your desktop either. So that cuts out a lot of the distros right there.

      After that, the two most popular branches of Linux are Debian (.deb) and Redhat (.rpm). Pick one. Each branch has a number of specialized variants, designed for very specific applications, server, embedded, system-on-a-stick. We've already coverred that you're not looking for those.

      Also, there's always someone out there who thinks they have a great idea on how to make linux better, and is working alone. Consider these to be development distros, much like Longhorn, Blue, and Threshold. You wouldn't install Threshold onto your computer unless you were a MS developper so you wouldn't install these development distros on your desktop either.

      And once you filter out the non-desktop distros, specialized distros, and development distros, you end up with a very, very small list of Linux distros.

      But for linux, everything is out in the open. It's not all hidden behind closed doors like it is at MS. So while it's NOT complicated, it admittedly looks that way.
      mheartwood
      • You're confused

        ======================
        Item by item:
        ======================
        "Windows Home Edition", Windows Professional", "Windows Premium", "Windows Extreme", "Windows Media Center", "Windows Server", "Windows CE", "Windows RT". "Threshold", "Blue", "Longhorn". Way too many SKUs for Windows.

        Windows Home Edition....Windows XP, end of life reached, XP first released in 2001. It is now 2014.

        Windows Professional....This isn't a "skew", per say, but more so a variation that would most likely be used by businesses. After all, how many home users have run a domain, which would require an NOS like Server 2003/2008/2008 R2., and so on. Further more, why include enterprise level features for home users?

        Windows Premium....This was Vista, which was the predecessor to Windows 7, which was the predecessor to Windows 8. In other words, that is two major releases back. When comparing skews try to compare apples to apples.

        Windows Extreme...What the hell is Windows Extreme?

        Windows Media Center....Yeah, you got that one right, it is confusing. Uhm, other than to say that if one were running a, for example, a media center. The version name intimates that it may contain some features that are designed for, well, media centers. Just say'n.

        Windows CE...Sheesh, not a general purpose skew. CE is for mobile and embeded devices. Why....never mind!

        Windows RT....Probably the best example of a confusing skew. Windows 8 RT vs Windows 8 Pro, I agree, this is utterly confusing. Leave it to MS to create products and names that most poeple, I suspect, don't very well identify with. Lion, Leopard, Gingerbread, Maya, those are names that people remember. RT, not so much.

        Threshold...see Extreme.

        Blue...see Threshold.

        Longhorn....C'mon, stop being stupid, this was a development name only, and it became Vista. No one that purchased a computer or bought an OS from MS ever bought or received Longhorn. Keep it real for god's sake.

        ========================

        Feel free to take a gander at the different distros found on Wikipedia
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Linux_distributions
        Raid60
        • The difference is that the various Windows editions...

          ... of even just Win7 (Starter / Home / Home Premium / Professional / Ultimate each come with varying degrees of capability, with each additional capability translating to additional cost.

          Mate, that's bogus. You're clearly either a MS employee and are happy for US to pay for additional features (you of course, get it for free) or you're an idiot who likes to pay for what should be core features, like networking. Which so makes all your post pointless: bottom line... MS is about money.
          RobinHahn
          • Mate, keep it real, there were TWO versions for consumers.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_7_editions
            http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/14422-compare-windows-7-editions.html

            1) Starter (OEM) was intended for Netbooks, not a generally available version that a consumer would choose off the shelf. More over, mate, it was stripped down to accommodate the less capable hardware, something Linux nuts jobs always bash MS for not supporting.

            2) Windows 7 (OEM) Home Basic was intended for emerging markets. Confusing, yes, but again, by and large not a large foot print of users. I haven't seen Home Basic being promoted, that is, when 7 was available.

            3) Windows 7 Home Premium, this is what I run because I don't need the added cost of supporting a domain environment.

            4) Windows 7 Professional is the standard release used for most desktops in an enterprise environment.

            5) Windows 7 (V.L) Enterprise was NOT released to the public and was only available through volume license agreements.

            6) Windows 7 Ultimate was similar to Enterprise but was packaged for those who wanted some extended capabilities such as bit locker.

            So, mate, the only three non-OEM or volume license options are Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. Professional being the one that would be most widely used in enterprise. That leaves effectively TWO VERSIONS for the home users.

            Would two versions be too many? I don't think so.

            Lets see how many versions of Mint there are. Mint just happens to be my preferred distro and there are currently eight production versions of Mint...WOW, and each are based on feature sets being included, or not!!!

            http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
            Raid60
          • Can't decide 4 self

            I guess you're one of those people who gets confused by having to make your own choice, and would rather have MS dictate to you what your system will look/work like. As for the rest of us woth our own functioning minds, having a choice isn't a problem at all. I guess you'd *also* have trouble deciding between your local progressive vs RINO candidates (not much choice there even if they *do* pretend to be different).
            jelabarre
  • What about Robolinux?

    I would like to see one of the ZDNet writers discuss Robolinux and how it compares with other distros such as Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora and Korora. Robolinux has some kind of VM that runs Windows software easily. Do the others have something similar? It is the applications that matter to me, not the OS.
    bmeacham98@...
  • Older Laptops

    I'm wondering whether this Distro will install on older non PAE laptops now that Windows XP is come to the end of support (XPiring). Mint variants seem to be one of the few Distros which I have tried which do install and run on these older XP laptops to extend their useful life - something I have been asked to do from time to time.

    I also wondered about an article on Robolinux, which I installed but found did not seem to live up to it's hype, perhaps it required more skills than I possess. For instance, I could not get connected to my wireless router - which might possibly be because I have a broadcom wireless adapter which performs very badly, even in Windows (I have a non-Broadcom replacement, not yet fitted, to try and allieviate my frustration).
    The Former Moley
    • non-PAE

      Hi Moley! SO nice to hear from you!

      The Korora requirements don't mention PAE, so I assume that it is not a requirement.

      I haven't ever looked at Robolinux, I will take a look at it sometime soon.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      jw
      j.a.watson@...
      • non-PAE

        I installed Korora 20 in a 32bit Virtualbox VM that has PAE/NX disabled, and it runs no problem. Need to test ElementaryOS next.
        jelabarre