2011-06-07

Review: Kororaa 14 "Nemo"

Main Screen + GNOME Main Menu
This review has been a long time coming. I actually wanted to include Kororaa in my comparison of Fusion and Fuduntu, but the final release of Kororaa only came a few days ago, and I felt it wouldn't be fair to compare two final products to a beta release of a distribution.

So what is Kororaa? Based on my previous statement, it would be pretty easy to guess that it's a Fedora remix. But it's actually a little more complicated than that. You see, Kororaa actually started life as an easy-to-use Gentoo derivative; it was basically Sabayon before (or maybe just around the same time as) Sabayon existed, and regular readers of this blog know from my numerous reviews of Sabayon that it is a Gentoo derivative that's supposed to be easy-to-use and that just works. After about 2 years, however, Kororaa went dormant, due, if I understand this correctly, to the developer not having enough time or resources to properly maintain a Gentoo derivative. He then found Fedora, and since then Kororaa has been a Fedora remix. Furthermore, while I believe that Gentoo-based Kororaa focused solely on KDE, Fedora-based Kororaa has both KDE and GNOME releases, both of which I will be testing in this post.

I tested these editions of Kororaa via a live USB system created with UnetBootin. I tested the installation procedure of the KDE edition via VirtualBox within the live session with 1024 MB of RAM allocated to the guest OS. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

GNOME

I tested the GNOME edition first. After changing the BIOS and getting through the boot menu, I was greeted with...nothing. I was kind of expecting either a boot splash or a scrolling wall of text, and I got neither. Thankfully, this passed quickly, and I was led into the GDM login screen, which quickly gave way to the desktop.

PackageKit + Kernel Panic
The desktop appears as a classic GNOME 2 session, with two panels and some icons on the desktop. The desktop icons consist of place shortcuts, mounted volumes, and a "Help" PDF file. The top panel has, from left to right, a 3-submenu "Applications-Places-System" classic GNOME menu, shortcuts to Mozilla Firefox, the Evolution mail client, and the Tomboy notetaking application, and a system tray. The bottom panel has a task switcher, a workspace switcher, and a shortcut to the trash folder. The default GTK+, Metacity, and icon themes are all Elementary (including the thin scrollbars, for that matter), which combined with the wallpaper give the desktop a slick, refreshing, and soothing feel. There are just two small gripes I have here. The first is that while I like the wallpapers, they cycle, and this annoys me for some reason; I'd much rather see a traditional constant wallpaper (but a lot of choice for users if they want to change it). The second is that although the Elementary themes are used, Nautilus does not have the Elementary mod, so it remains in its default state, which is something of a mess. Thankfully, I know that Fuduntu uses Nautilus Elementary, so if I really wanted to do so I could install that package from the Fuduntu repositories (or something like that).
Unfortunately, these minor gripes gave way to a somewhat bigger issue. I got a notification that the kernel had crashed. Interestingly, this did not functionally affect the live session at all; I believe the exact same problem and lack of consequences happened with Fusion 14 "Thorium" in that comparison test. It's still a little concerning to me though to see something as serious as that.

YouTube on Mozilla Firefox 4
As mentioned earlier, Mozilla Firefox is the default browser, and it is at version 4, which is great because Fedora 14 "Laughlin" came out before Mozilla Firefox 4 did. I was kind of expecting to see multimedia codecs included out-of-the-box due to Kororaa's mission to make Linux easy to use for new users. Granted, the website does say that Adobe Flash isn't included but can easily be installed using the "Add/Remove Extras" program. Being my stupid self, I didn't read that last part, so I went to the package manager straight away.

The default package manager is of course PackageKit as is included in Fedora and practically all of its derivatives. It wasn't quite as fast as Synaptic Package Manager (more on that shortly), but it did the job well, and I was able to watch YouTube videos in relatively short order. I was also able to test my wireless and sound cards and my keyboard's volume shortcuts at the same time, and those all worked flawlessly.
Speaking of Synaptic Package Manager, I was pleasantly surprised to see it included too! This must be the first time I've seen it included in a Fedora-based distribution. Unfortunately, it refused to load packages from other repositories, so it was essentially useless, which saddened me a little.

LibreOffice Writer + Nautilus + Desktop Cube
LibreOffice is included, which is good and surprising considering that I don't think LibreOffice was officially out when Fedora 14 "Laughlin" came out.
Some other programs present in the live session include Evolution and Tomboy as mentioned earlier, GIMP, Inkscape, Shotwell, Gwibber, Pidgin, Audacity, OpenShot, and VLC. There were some confusing areas for me; for example, I got mixed up by the kernel updater Ksplice and the general update manager.
Cheese Webcam Booth is included, and it recognized my webcam and mic just fine.
I was able to get the latest Fedora RPM of Skype (version 2.2 beta) from the Skype website, and it installed fine. It recognized my webcam and mic perfectly fine, and the nice thing is that it even had a button to open the PulseAudio volume control panel as PulseAudio is installed in Kororaa. That's cool. Another nice thing is that it started up a lot more quickly than I'm used to.

Synaptic Package Manager + "Help" PDF + Desktop Wall
As I mentioned earlier, a "Help" PDF file is visible on the desktop. It's fairly short, but it has important links to the forums, IRC channels, and other venues for getting help, which is a boon for new users, and I greatly appreciate that.
Compiz desktop effects worked perfectly fine, which is not surprising given similarly good behavior in Fusion & Fuduntu. A nice thing about the desktop cube was that the top and bottom, instead of being generic beige squares, were branded with the Kororaa name and logo.
That's basically where my time with the Kororaa GNOME edition ended. Aside from the small kernel hiccup, it was quite pleasant, friendly, and enjoyable to use.

KDE

Main Screen
After making that partition bootable, rebooting, and getting past the menu, I was once again greeted by no boot splash of any kind. Oh well, at least at that point I knew what to expect. This led into a KDM login screen, which led into a prettily-customized Kororaa KDE splash screen, which led into the default desktop.

Unfortunately, upon logging in, I saw the same kernel crash, once again with no real ill effects. It's annoying, and I'm concerned that there's something bad going on deep down that I don't know enough about.
Save for yet another batch of rotating wallpapers, the desktop looks like absolutely vanilla KDE 4. There really isn't anything to talk about here.

Mozilla Firefox 4 + LibreOffice Writer
Mozilla Firefox, again at version 4, is the default browser, which is nice. It is very well-integrated with KDE 4, and it has some extensions which new users might find useful like Adblock Plus and FlashBlock.

This time, I decided to use the "Add/Remove Extras" program to install Adobe Flash. It's a small, simple program that's quite easy to use; the only matter of concern for new users is the box that talks about how Adobe Flash is proprietary software and is also a security risk. While this is technically true, the rather blunt wording is likely to scare off the new users Kororaa is trying to court.

LibreOffice is the default productivity suite once again, and it too is very well-integrated with KDE 4.
Dolphin + KDE System Settings + Desktop Cube
Other installed programs include Choqok, KDE games, GIMP, Inkscape, Skanlite, digiKam, showFoto, KolourPaint, Blogilo, Amarok, Audacity, JuK, and Kdenlive, among others. I feel like the KDE edition of Kororaa is trying harder to be the "everything and the kitchen sink" distribution compared to the GNOME edition, which explains why the KDE edition ISO file is 1.7 GB (but which does not explain why the GNOME edition ISO file is 1.5 GB).

KWin desktop effects worked perfectly fine, which is great considering that many KDE distributions in the past have had issues with my computer's hardware.
I had no stability or other issues with KDE, which is at version 4.6 in Kororaa.

At this point, I began the installation process in VirtualBox. To do that, I first had to install VirtualBox, which I did in the KDE Control Module; I'm not sure if this is the same as KPackageKit, but in any case it reminded me a lot of the Linux Mint Software Manager (which is a great thing) and it worked really well.
One nice thing about VirtualBox 4.0 was that I had the option of allocating up to 3072 MB of RAM to the guest OS, which is something I have never seen before (previously, I could only allocated up to 2048 MB of RAM to the guest OS). That aside, I quickly started the live virtual machine and started the installation.
Partitioning in Anaconda Installer
The installer is of course Fedora's own Anaconda, and it's now basically as easy to use as Ubuntu's Ubiquity. The partitioning step is now essentially foolproof, and the other steps are straightforward as expected. I opted to replace the existing Linux systems, and it decided to create LVM groups; I wasn't too concerned as long as it worked. After partitioning, the installation itself started; the installation itself took about 10-15 minutes, which is about par.
One step that I missed in the installation was the creation of a user account, so I was glad to see that included post-installation. After that and a few more questions, I was able to log in to a desktop essentially identical to that of the live session. That's where my time with Kororaa ended.

Let me first say that I'm pretty sure that the kernel panic issues come from upstream, because I saw it in Fusion 14 "Thorium" as well, so while it did slightly mar the experience, I'm not going to blame Kororaa for it. Other than that, I was somewhat annoyed by the rotating wallpapers (both editions) and the lack of Nautilus Elementary in the GNOME edition. I liked the "Help" file, the included applications, the overall ease of use, the fact that Kororaa worked very well with my computer's hardware, and the fact that Kororaa seems to have treated both the GNOME and KDE editions with equal care. Overall, I would highly recommend Kororaa to any newbie to Fedora (or to Linux in general). That said, while I know that this is the first release of the "rebooted" Kororaa project, it's important to note that Kororaa 14 "Nemo" came out after Fedora 15 "Lovelock" (and many months after the direct upstream Fedora 14 "Laughlin"). Hopefully the developer will release Kororaa 15 at least a little while before Fedora 16 "Verne".

2 comments:

  1. The developer could have used a kororaa logo (if any) in the gnome edition...using elementary logo removed this distro's individuality..

    also you have forgot to give the link to kororaa website.. i do not know why you are reluctant to give a link to the websites.. its disgusting..

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  2. @jai ho: Ah, crud. I forgot to do that again. I have no excuse this time. My bad! (https://kororaa.org/download/) Also, regarding the logo, considering that Elementary OS's next release will eschew the GNOME 2 and GNOME 3 interfaces in favor of its own thing (which doesn't use the Elementary OS logo for the menu button, as far as I have seen), I feel like using that logo is just as acceptable as using the GNOME "foot" logo (or in KDE the "K" logo) for the menu. Plus, if you look at Kororaa's logo, it doesn't exactly lend itself to being used as a menu button icon, but that's just what I think. Thanks for the comment!

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