2013-07-09

Review: Korora 19 "Bruce" GNOME

Activities screen
In the comments of my review of Korora 18 "Flo" KDE, a bunch of people asked me to review Korora 19 "Bruce" GNOME. Now that this new version is out, I'm going to review it. It hasn't been too long since my last review of Korora, so I'll skip the introduction and get right to the main stuff. I reviewed the 64-bit edition (usually I review the 32-bit versions of distributions essentially by default, but this time the 32-bit edition seemed rather delayed to the point when I first downloaded the ISO file, I was under the impression that Korora might have dropped 32-bit support) on a live USB made with MultiSystem. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

After the boot menu, I was greeted by the same sort of boot splash as last time. That led relatively quickly into the desktop, which is a standard GNOME 3/Shell desktop, so I won't dwell too much on that. The only thing of note is the wallpaper, for two reasons. The first is that it looks quite nice with its subtle brown shades and Korora branding. The second is that one time after logging in, it failed to load properly and I was left instead with the drab gray background from the GDM login screen lingering.
Additionally, I wanted to try the new GNOME 3/Classic desktop, but it seems like logging out and back in is not enough to enable that environment; a full reboot is required, which is of course impossible to do in a live session, and moreover, I thought rebooting after these kinds of software installations (except for kernel upgrades, of course) were relics of Microsoft Windows.

Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla Firefox is the default browser. It comes with most proprietary codecs included as is typical of Korora, as YouTube and Hulu worked fine along with my laptop's volume keyboard shortcuts.
LibreOffice is the default productivity suite. There aren't too many other included applications of note beyond the standard GNOME and Fedora utilities. The only other issue to note is that GNOME Files caused a hiccup in the desktop when it launched: the top bar and all the window titlebars disappeared briefly, but they thankfully returned quickly and without further issue. Also, speaking of GNOME Files, there is a file previewer included as well; I think it is GNOME Sushi, yet the list of programs shows Gloobus-Preview installed, so I'm not entirely sure what it is (both programs look fairly similar), but it works well in any case.

I was able to use the YUM Extender package manager to install Google Talk and Redshift. Both of those worked quite well.
GNOME Files + GNOME Sushi
My experience with installing Skype, on the other hand, was much less positive. Skype only offers an RPM file for 32-bit versions of Fedora, so I figured I would need to install the dynamic TAR package. I downloaded it and simply extracted the appropriate files and folders to the recommended destinations. When I tried to run the Skype executable file, though, the terminal claimed that Skype couldn't find some necessary library on which it depends. I then tried to follow instructions online to install Skype, but those didn't work either, probably because of conflicts with packages already installed. Next, I rebooted, giving me a clean slate, and tried again to follow the instructions for installing the RPM file. I noticed that installing the prerequisite dependencies gave some errors about older versions of packages, so I figured the thing to do might be to upgrade the system packages. I did that through "sudo yum update", but that went fine until the end at which point I was kicked out of the desktop and couldn't get back in. I performed a hard reboot and tried the "sudo yum update" command after pressing 'CTRL'+'ALT'+'F5', but the same thing happened there. At that point I basically gave up. (I also didn't bother checking Mupen64Plus, for the record.)

Korora used about 510 MB of RAM at idle, which is now significantly more than KDE. Furthermore, applications were a little slow to launch and respond to inputs, and the handful of DE-related hiccups I experienced gave me the feeling that the system was slightly unstable, and I couldn't shake this feeling off.

That's where my time with Korora 19 "Bruce" GNOME ended. The nonworking nature of Skype is a deal-breaker for me, and I suspect that is the case for a lot of newbies who might be interested in Linux as well. Most new computers now have 64-bit processors, and I as well as a lot of other users would like to put such hardware to good use with a 64-bit distribution. If I can't do what I need to do every day with such a distribution, then I can't recommend it. In fairness, given that most of the distributions I test are in 32-bit guise, it is possible that many of the positive reviews I have given in the past would on average turn more negative if I reviewed the 64-bit edition instead, but for now, it is what it is.
You can get it here as before, and don't worry, there is a 32-bit edition available for each DE shipped.

18 comments:

  1. Actually, skype is a pain to install on most 64 bit systems, I would blame the skype team, not Korora...

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  2. Have you seen the UberStudent distro? http://uberstudent.com

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  3. Skype works fine with Debian and Slackware 32-bit systems, probably Redhat based ones as well. I wouldn't blame errors with software installation in a live session on the distribution though, some things need a proper install, like the force switch to ignore the architecture.

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  4. I use 64bt exclusive skype is a must for me and always works out of the box on any distro that its installed on a hardrive. this includes Redhat, Arch, Debian, Fedora,etc This crap that things only work as 32bt is a joke. its like saying a veteran car is more advanced than a new one.

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    1. I agree with Kevin, 64 bit skype is required for Linux. It takes a bit to install the 32-bit Skype in a 64 bit OS and if you are not using Ubuntu/Debian, life becomes a bit tougher actually. There are some quick fixes suggested for Fedora/Kororaa but at times they worked for me and many times they didn't. So, it may not be the fault of the OS. Also, Gnome 3.8 is quite buggy compared to KDE. I reviewed Fedora 19 Gnome 3.8 (32-bit) and it is no where close to the performance offered by Fedora 19 KDE (4.10.4). Plus, I found GNOME a bit counter-intuitive to use. I really loved GNOME2 :(.

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    2. I am indeed a Linux noob and have been trying many user-friendly out-of-the-box working Linux distros. So far, BY FAR, I have have found Korora 19.1 MATE more than my expectations from an ideal linux system! I love this distro and I am using it on MATE desktop which is quite friendly, simple, light and very GNOME2-like (at least from what I remember from GNOME2).

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    3. @Ehsan: It's great that the latest update to Korora with MATE has been working well for you. Thanks for the comment!

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  5. I use Fedora 19 x64 and just installed the 32bit rpm without any problems , skype works perfectly on my pc.

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  6. Korora has a package called skype-helper made specifically for this reason, install it then install skype rpm from their website and it will run flawlessly.

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  7. Skype installs fine here on Ubuntu LTS 12.04 x64, in fact I have hardly had any issues with Skype on any previous versions of Ubuntu or current 13.04, earlier there was the case of upside down video that was simply cured by modifying the skype shortcut command.

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  8. @Anonymous 1, Barnaby, Arup: Yet I haven't had trouble installing Skype on 64-bit versions of live distributions based on Ubuntu, Chakra, or some others. Why should Fedora be any different?

    @Anonymous 2: I haven't tried it, but frankly it doesn't seem to offer a hugely compelling reason for me to do so.

    @kelvin: I'm a little confused; what exactly are you trying to get at with your comment about 32-bit distributions?

    @arindam sen: I too am of the opinion that GNOME 2 (especially when shipped in Linux Mint) was the best desktop that I could use.

    @dnlcerqueira: Did you install the RPM that is labeled for use in Fedora 16 "Verne"? There were dependency issues for Korora 19 "Bruce", which is why I didn't follow through with that.

    @Anonymous 3: That package has been removed from Korora 19 "Bruce" because enough users were able to get Skype to work without it. Sadly I am not one of those users.

    Thanks for the comments!

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  9. Yes installed the rpm for fedora 16 without any dependency issues , since korora is fedora based it should work the same way.

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  10. I've tried the last few versions of Korora but only in VirtualBox. It looks fantastic and I really want to like it but it always seems very sluggish although my system has nice specs. Perhaps it would run better from a live boot and most likely better again on a proper install but for me if something doesn't run well in a virtual machine it doesn't get another chance.

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  11. @dnlcerqueira: I apologize for my lack of clarity, but what I meant was, are there no dependency issues stemming from the fact that the official Skype RPM is for a version of Fedora that is 1.5 years old now?

    @crabdog: Which edition are you trying? If you are trying the GNOME edition, I think that has been fairly consistently sluggish.

    Thanks for the comments!

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  12. I have zero dependency issues when installing the rpm from fedora 16.
    this is the print screen :
    http://img15.imageshack.us/img15/4061/tnv.png

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    1. @dnlcerqueira: I'll keep that in mind for the next time that I review Korora or Fedora. Thanks for the tip!

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    2. Quote: "I wanted to try the new GNOME 3/Classic desktop, but it seems like logging out and back in is not enough to enable that environment; a full reboot is required, which is of course impossible to do in a live session, and moreover, I thought rebooting after these kinds of software installations (except for kernel upgrades, of course) were relics of Microsoft Windows." --You didn't "install" anything. It was Live.

      Did you simply try restarting X11? Also, not every distro includes Gnome 3 Classic as a default login option (from LiveCD) --which is not a Korora issue. Neither, is Gnome 3 Classic a fall-back mode for older graphics cards, fyi :-)

      You failed to mention any of the add-on work that the Korora team builds on top of Fedora. The list is on their site.

      You failed to mention any of the advantages that Korora benefits from their "upstream" distro Fedora, such as, the ACL / application firewall SELinux, that after over a decade of constant development has become very mature AND is the main reason I have run Fedora since Red Hat days over a decade ago.

      You do not include any mention of the other features of Korora, such as, active firewall by default, dynamic firewall with "profiles", delta-rpm updates with checksums, etc. etc. --again, list of the Korora site, and upstream Fedora site.

      It's unfortunate that you didn't try to install Korora in a VM (Virtualbox, e.g.) as system updates, including dependencies ALWAYS work better when not constrained in a mapped filesystem in RAM from a read-only LiveCD environment, where every program has to be read from media and decompressed into RAM --which also effects response time and end-user experience --as most distros offering a LiveCD version note on their sites.

      About the 540MB of RAM usage: you did not breakout MB taken by any LiveCD support programs (since you didn't install the distro), how much RAM may be taken by Gnome 3, or that taken by the base Korora (Fedora) system. Far better to install the actual OS in a VM, then check RAM usage.

      To dedicate so much 'space' in your so-called distro review to your problems with Skype --a third party app, as others have posted here, seems to miss the concept of a distro review. Did you even read the Korora site?? Another poster mentioned Skype-help, which is available on the Korora website. Did you try that??

      I would like to kindly suggest, that if you intend on reviewing distros, that you forego doing so from a LiveCD. Yes, a LiveCD is convenient for a first-look, and to see if a user's hardware is supported by the default mix of drivers included in the release, and even for some admin work on an already installed system --boot the LiveCD to get to the hard disc, for example.

      But, as a benchmark for system performance? No. As a measure of RAM use/efficiency? No. To properly upgrade the system (--given all programs/changes must be downloaded to, then the upgrades also written with proper symlinks, etc. in the root filesystem image in RAM)? No.

      Try to raise-the-bar on your reviews. Show all the developers that have dedicated SO MUCH time, energy, and dedication to their various contributions some overdue courtesy by conducting a *real* top-down distro review.

      If you feel you're too rushed, don't have enough time, or aren't that interested, why not wait until you can do a proper review?

      Really, a few words about booting a LiveCD (no matter the distro), something about the look of the desktop, and some words about default applications on the LiveCD (when anyone can change the app install mix to their liking in a few minutes from the repos) really doesn't constitute a proper review.

      Neither does quitting because you had a third party app install problem on a read-only media driven LiveCD environment.

      If you're not sure how to write a proper distro review, there are plenty of examples on the Net that could help you up your game. ;-)

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    3. @Anonymous: You have totally missed the point of my reviews. The point of this review along with others on this site like it is not to simply go back over the same information that I can just get from a website. The point is to determine if a distribution is something that I can customize to my liking and use on a daily basis given my application and other requirements. Is such a review going to be the same as many other reviews available online? No, but that's not the point at all. I realize that you have read enough distribution reviews to have formed a certain expectation of what a distribution review should look like. Yet I have seen several readers of late express appreciation for the way I do reviews, so clearly there is a market out there for these reviews. Also, you may not have had great experiences with live sessions, but I have. Last summer (and for several months after that as well) I wrote a series of long-term reviews for distributions that I thought would be worthy of a longer-term review achieved by installation on an actual hard drive; what I found corroborated my past experiences with Linux Mint (which has been the only distribution I have used on my primary computer), which is that for most distributions, live performance is indeed an excellent indicator of installed performance in terms of resource usage, application performance, et cetera. And finally, regarding the passage you quoted, I did indeed try restarting X/11, but the GNOME 3/Classic session was not available after that either, and I am fully aware that GNOME 3/Classic is no longer a low-resource fallback option; furthermore, how exactly does your point about installing the distribution to a hard drive conflict with my point about restarting the system? My point is that except for kernel updates, software installation on a Linux distribution (live or installed) should not require a reboot. Anyway, I appreciate the time you've spent to express how you believe this review should have been. But by your own admission, such reviews are a dime a dozen online, so if you want to read more of those, don't look here, but if you'd like to read something a little different, do look here. Thanks for the comment!

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