Updated: January 4, 2012
Two things I have to say to you! One, I've received more emails asking me to test Kororaa than any other distribution. The second one is, I'm angry with the Kororaa development team. They released two versions just a couple of weeks apart, naughty men. As I was collecting screenshots for this review, on top of Kororaa 15.1 Squirt, I learned that a new edition was made available, numbered sweet 16. A dilemma, then. What to do, what to do? Delete and start over? No, I proceeded with the original work.
All right, theatric tantrums aside, this is going to be a review of Kororaa 15.1 Squirt, the one before the last edition. I hope you will be able to project onto the latest version, and if not, several dozen more emails might convince me to write another review. Anyhow, Kororaa is a Fedora remix, spin, fork, spoon, whatever you want to call it. So it embraces the geeky and tries to make it fun. Been there, done that, not always works. What about now?
Less is more
This is such an important thing, and yet so many people fail to take notice. When you're trying to deliver a significant visual impact, then you must refrain from going wild with the decorations, embellishments and polish. True for interior design, true for cars, true for women, true for computers. Less is indeed more, and you can have sweet beauty without too much sugar.
Kororaa 15.1 comes up with a simple KDE desktop, the only visible change being the wallpaper slideshow. If you wanted familiar, you get familiar. The usual stuff all works, Wireless, Bluetooth, Samba, and such like.
Kororaa is supposed to come with a variety of codecs and plugins that should let you enjoy music and videos in all formats and shapes, but this seems to be only partially true. In the live session, MP3 playback worked, but there was no Flash.
Desktop effects, blimey!
This was a surprise that I did not expect, hence a surprise. Most recent KDE distributions struggled a bit with desktop effects on the test box, a 32-bit T60p with 2GB RAM and a super-old ATI card. However, Kororaa managed most splendidly, with elegance and speed. I believe this is the best low-end machine demo I've seen so far.
And frankly, that was all I did in the live session. But I was utterly pleased so far. One, the normal stuff works, on top of a familiar, reasonable, sane desktop that caters to just about anyone. Two, there were no crashes. Three, multimedia was ok, but we'll see what happens in the installed system. Finally, desktop effects, simply wow.
This will be a rather boring section of this review. Again, mostly because things worked as expected. I chose a rather standard partitioning setup. About ten minutes later, Kororaa was installed in a dual-boot configuration with Windows 8. Version 15.1 is still using GRUB legacy which was changed to GRUB2 in Fedora Verne, but you have some extras on that in the original tutorial, so feel free to hop there and explore.
Time to have real fun. Or at least, attempt to.
Kororaa Squirt comes with some extra programs. For example, you get LibreOffice, GIMP, Audacity, Handbrake, Amarok, digiKam, Kdenlive, and many others. There's some bias toward media applications, but the arsenal is well balanced overall.
A notable change and a deviation from the less is more school of thinking is the pimpage of Firefox with several controversial extensions. You get Adblock and Flashblock, which are supposed to save the user from online evils. Why not let user choose? Then, the mass downloader is another choice that may not suit everyone. Finally, xclear is completely redundant. I liked the status bar at the bottom, though. But again, personal taste, although I'm always right, of course.
Package management & updates
Before exploring too deeply, I decided to check for updates and hopefully resolve the Flash problem observed earlier. Anyhow, you get the standard Fedora stuff. The first few rounds of updates were rather busy. Kororaa uses the basic repositories, plus RPMForge and several Google sources. However, unlike CentOS, you don't get rolling upgrades to new versions. I was hoping I could update to the latest release, but this is not possible. While pulling the updates, desktop backgrounds continued changing. The repertoire is quite lovely, but this might annoy some people.
Back to multimedia
After some updates, Flash works, go figure.
System resources, stability, suspend & resume
Kororaa 15.1 Squirt behaved reasonably. Memory usage hovers at around 450MB, sleeping and waking the machine takes just one second and there were no crashes. Then again, Fedora has been quite stable recently.
Not everything worked smoothly. Some small issues cropped.
I wonder what this program is supposed to do. Still, it ought not tell me stupid things, no? For instance, it thought I was connected to an IPv6 network, which is utter bollocks, as I'm using IPv4. In fact, my router does not even support IPv6.
Desktop wallpaper is no longer rotating
After one or two reboots, the desktop is set to the same image used in the login screen, a tree without leaves, which are slowly growing, pay attention to the GIF animation please, with a bird and a mechanical bee in orbit. Not bad, but why did it stop suddenly?
This was the Achilles' Heel of the whole distro. Specifically, the interaction between the printing service and the firewall sucks. Especially, since there's no reason to be any problem in the first place. Firewalls should block incoming connections, not stop attempts to connect to remote printers. It was not as if I was trying to be the Internet CUPS prostitute.
Step by step, here's how it goes. First, you will see multiple entries in the system menu. Second, when you try to search for a printer, the distro will inform you that firewall rules need to be adjusted. Even though I confirmed the change, no printer was found. As to Samba, normal shares work, so Samba is indeed allowed. Unless I need to enable Samba sharing on my own machine, but I do not intend to be share anything, see my previous prostitution comment. Finally, when I disabled the firewall altogether, everything worked.
There are several questions we need to answer. Is Kororaa the best Fedora remix? The answer is yes. It's simple and elegant and introduces only relatively minor changes. It's the basic distro with some extra programs, essentially. Is it better than Fedora? Probably comparable, I'd say, but more accessible. Best remix it may be, but how does it fare pitted against the competition?
Kororaa handles quite well. I think its best selling points, so to speak, are the smooth integration and elegance alongside very good desktop effects. Now, snow and cube and whatnot are just a means, not the end, but they do demonstrate a very thorough work in getting your product to work. On the other hand, there are some problems in the execution. So we come to our last question. Is Kororaa needed?
No, it is not. It does not change the Linux landscape dramatically, nor does it introduce anything revolutionary. But for exactly this reason, it has its place in the plethora of distributions forked off the major players. Kororaa offers a gentle, gradual improvement of the proven baseline, which you may or may not like or use. But if you're somewhat interested in Fedora and do not feel like tinkering, this is the closest thing to the original you will get. And lose as little as possible in the process, since remixes usually end up with lots of bad QA. In this case, Kororaa escapes the flak rather well.
My judgment would be 9/10. A very decent, refined KDE product, similar to Fedora, with some simple extras, more useful to most than the original, possibly even accessible to average people. Regardless of its strategic role in the Linux market scheme, Kororaa does have a unique approach. Overall, worth testing and exploring. I'd say download and check for yourself.