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: https://gist.github.com/anonymous/88b3da352f76b8c4c4d7
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 http://kororaproject.org 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.
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
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: http://imgur.com/a/fHo66
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.
ISO size (GB)
Size of install (GB)
Desktop RAM use
Korora 23 Beta MATE
Average of all distros
Installer score: 10/10
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: https://www.dropbox.com/s/4l7dymr1xoihlhm/mountain-tomorrow-polyfy2.jpg?dl=0
The login screen is also quite nice and can be themed using LightDM GTK+ Greeter Settings:
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
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%
Manjaro 0.8.12 Xfce
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
Korora 23 Beta MATE
elementary OS 0.3
Pinguy OS 14.04.2
Linux Lite 2.4
Bodhi Linux 3.0.0
Mageia 5 KDE
Average of all reviews