Sunday, November 22, 2015

Korora 23 Beta MATE: Pretty much an average system, but generally well thought out

After a one-week or so delay, Fedora 23 was released on November 3, 2015. Somewhat uncharacteristically, the Korora variant, on which I’ve already written about before, was released only five days later. I gave Korora high marks in the past, proclaiming it as almost the Mint of the RPM world. So today, I’ll review the MATE edition and see how that stacks up against some other competitors, such as Linux Mint 17.2 and Ubuntu MATE. But first, a couple of notes.


Author’s note: First, sorry that it’s been so long since I wrote anything. There are a couple of reasons for this, the first and foremost being that I had a lot of schoolwork that took some time.

Second, my Toshiba laptop’s screen broke. This is the one that I’d been reviewing on since I started this blog. The touchscreen digitizer broke on one half and this must have caused driver issues for whatever reason as it started freezing up a lot. Anyway, I bought a new laptop soon after. It’s a Lenovo ThinkPad X220 (model 4290-FP2 for fellow ThinkPad fans).

It has a Core i7-2640M processor running at 2.8/3.5 GHz, 16 GB of 1333 MHz DDR3 RAM, a 250 GB Crucial BX100 SSD, and Intel HD 3000 graphics. Performance is definitely affected by the i7 processor and SSD compared to my previous Toshiba with a ULV i5 processor and a 5400RPM HDD, so my distro benchmarks will start over from here on out. Here’s an Inxi spec dump for anyone who wants it:

Anyway, let’s get to the review!

1. First Impressions and Ease of Use

1.9 gigs is definitely on the high side for a MATE live ISO, but anyway I download it from and wait the 10 minutes or so for it to complete. It boots up quickly to a pretty MATE desktop, standard issue for most distros.

initial desktop.png

Perhaps not standard issue. There’s a dock that comes up when you slide your mouse to the left.


Korora seems to have prettied up their spin of Fedora MATE, with the Numix Circle icons. Unfortunately, Numix doesn’t seem to get credit for the icon pack, with it being called simply “Korora”.

The layout itself, however, is simple and intuitive, with the classic WIMP (windows, icons, menus, pointer) paradigm that was the staple of pre-2011 Linux desktops. Although it is somewhat unfamiliar for a Windows user, it is something that can be adjusted to in no time.

Ease of use score: 10/10

2. Installer

Korora still uses upstream Fedora’s Anaconda installer, which is one of the nicer installers being used today. I’m not going to waste space here with screenshots, but here’s an Imgur album if you want:

It installed in a spry seven minutes or so without any hiccups and rebooted in an astonishingly quick twelve seconds. SSDs sure are fast. This is the way 2015 is meant to be.

Release date
ISO size (GB)
Default Desktop
Install time
Boot time
Size of install (GB)
Desktop RAM use
Kernel Version
Korora 23 Beta MATE
MATE 1.10.2
Average of all distros



Installer score: 10/10

3. Design

Korora 23 sure looks a lot better than many other distros that end up unthemed and ugly. This one at least changes the icons and comes with a bevy of wallpapers. It’s default looks are perfectly acceptable and quite current.

However, to get with the times, MATE does allow you to change pretty much anything you want to. So in this following screenshot, I’m using the Arc-Darker GTK theme, Super Flat Remix icons, and Roboto fonts (Roboto Mono for terminal). The wallpaper is a custom one which is available here:


The login screen is also quite nice and can be themed using LightDM GTK+ Greeter Settings:

login screen.pngnewlogin.png

Font rendering, which I’m always a stickler about, is perfectly fine, both on the desktop and on the web.

However, there are a couple of things which MATE does not let you do, or at least the Korora spin doesn’t. The lock screen background cannot be changed - this is a bug that has been open for over a year on MATE’s GitHub issues page.

In Korora’s spin, compositing effects are also not available. This sometimes causes some screen tearing and Windows 95-esque effects. This is 2015, we should not have to deal with these things, especially when I install a 64-bit distro. Sure, remove compositing in 32-bit versions, as my own Pentium M IBM ThinkPads cannot handle it. But on a VM with ample resources on a laptop with an i7?

Design score: 8/10

4. Applications

Korora does do a good job on the default applications front, with everything that is typically installed on a beginner to intermediate Linux system.

Web Browser - Firefox
File Manager - Caja
Email Client - Thunderbird
Text Editor - Pluma (gedit clone)
Image Viewer - Eye of MATE Image Viewer
Terminal Emulator - MATE Terminal
Music Player - Audacious
Office Suite - LibreOffice

Applications score: 10/10

5. Installing packages

First thing out of the way, let’s settle it here. DNF, Fedora’s and by extension, Korora’s new package manager since May, is slow. To refresh repositories it takes around a minute. On my Arch host system with pacman, it takes around five seconds for the same task.

The GUI software manager is still YUM extender which is still the same as it was in my first review of Korora. Even upstream has switched to GNOME software, which is far more intuitive for a new user than Yumex will ever be. Also, change the name. Shouldn’t it be DNF extender now?


Installing packages score: 7.5/10

Final Thoughts: Korora remains mainly the same as it was eight months ago when I reviewed version 21 with the Cinnamon desktop. I’d love to see a dialog for adding compositing effects, similar to the one in Linux Mint MATE and Ubuntu MATE, and I’d also like to see MATE upstream fix a year-old bug. Other than that though, I don’t have any qualms about recommending this to new users. It’s quick, it’s peppy, it’s mostly customizable, and it’s a generally nice Linux system. Pretty much average.

Final score: 45.5/50 = 91%

Distro name
Final Score
Manjaro 0.8.12 Xfce
LXLE 14.04.3
Linux Mint 17.2 MATE RC
Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Beta 1
Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon
Fedora 22 Beta
Manjaro 15.09-rc2 KDE
openSUSE 13.2 KDE
Korora 21 Cinnamon
Solus 0.201529.4.0
Korora 23 Beta MATE
elementary OS 0.3
Pinguy OS 14.04.2
Linux Lite 2.4
Netrunner 15
Lubuntu 15.04
Crunchbang++ 1.0
Bodhi Linux 3.0.0
KaOS 2015.02
Mageia 5 KDE
Average of all reviews


  1. Nice reiview! Can you please review OS Linux Lite 2.6 and Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon Beta? Thank you!

    1. Not the newest version, but I've reviewed Linux Lite 2.4 and Mint 17.1 Cinnamon. You just have to scroll a few pages back.

      I'm actually working on a non-review piece about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its impact on free software and digital freedoms. I should be finished with that in about a week, then it's back to reviews.

  2. Hi and thanks for the nice review, it's appreciated a lot.

    Korora MATE has compositing, Compiz, included by default but we didn't enable it because we ran into issues with the previous, Korora 22, release. On Fedora, on whoch Korora is based, Compiz was just a older patched version 0.8.8 since the original project wasn't maintained and developed anymore for a couple of years. It became a part of Ubuntu at a later stage for the use with Unity and carries version 0.9.12 at the moment. If i'm not mistaken someone on Fedora's end started to pick it up again recently and is 0.8.9 now. A dialog for adding compositing effects would be nice indeed but i'm not sure what Mint or Ubuntu MATE are using to get it done.

    Also Korora 21 and 22 Mate looked different than 23, we had one panel on top with the MintMenu and Plank as Dock on the left. But due some issues we had to revert to the default look for now:

    It's most likely that we drop Mintmenu from this release and the future releases but might tweak the layout again with only one panel at the top and plank on the left for K23 final.

    Keep up the great job. ;-)

    1. Thank you!

      I'm not exactly sure, but I believe Ubuntu MATE has a checkbox where one can select to use compositing or disable it. I think it is through Marco, rather than Compiz. As you mentioned, Compiz is an abandoned piece of bloated junk.

      I'm sad that the newer compositing WMs are tied to their respective DEs. Mutter is part of GNOME, KWin is part of KDE (and is totally incompatible with GTK+ theming), and Muffin is part of Cinnamon. I wonder if the Mint team, which works on both Cinnamon and MATE, can port Muffin over to MATE.

      Anyway, for the Korora team (as it appears you are part of it), I would focus on creating a better GUI package manager as the current one is...not up to par for a newbie. Something like Lubuntu Software Center or mintInstall would be perfect for this distro to appeal to new Linux users.

    2. I'm indeed one of the team-members but you have to keep in mind that our team is rather small and exists of two lead developers and two (me and Jim) who just getting started learning Git and building iso's. Outside the project we have jobs, school, families etc. which also take up a lot of time. So developing other or new software is a bit harder and takes up a lot more time.

      Here you can find some info about the Roadmap for future releases:

      Yum Extender DNF isn't our work and i have to tell that i don't have any problems using it since it reminds me of Synaptic that was used by Debian and Ubuntu when i started with Linux back in 2007. The Software Center stuff that distro's use these days is something we have to thank Ubuntu for, others adapted to it. Since then every one is used to it and forgot about Synaptic. Newbies these days are different than the users from 8, 9 years ago. :-)

      By the way it seems that Ubuntu drops their own Software Center in favour of Gnome's one as of 16.04 LTS.

      About the Mint team, they only work on Cinnamon that's their thing. MATE is developed by another group of volunteers in which Clem and Vlad are involved (again) in the development some more:
      If i'm not mistaken Clem was only a manager a couple of years ago.
      We'll have to wait and see where things go since MATE is being ported/switching to GTK3.

    3. By the way I was just checking out the Compton compositing WM which is quite lightweight and almost set-and-forget. I wonder if that can be bundled with Korora (as it would just be another package to install and editing a config file somewhere).

      But I totally acknowledge that you have things elsewhere you need to do, that's part of the reason my blog isn't being updated very much.

    4. Also (as I can't edit comments for whatever reason) I wonder if the GUI software manager can be GNOME software. Fedora upstream bundles it as default now and I consider it quite intuitive.