February 13, 2006

Test drive: Kororaa

Author: Marcel Gommans

Ever wanted to try Gentoo, but you didn't want to spend hours compiling to get a working installation? Kororaa may be the answer. It's a great tool to get a working Gentoo installation, rather than a distinct distro in its own right. It takes some of the complexity out of installing Gentoo, but still provides the advantages of Gentoo's Portage system and extensive package availability.

I have seen a few distributions that offered a quick way to install Gentoo, but Kororaa is the first that I've tried. Kororaa is a young project that is still working toward its first official release. The current version is 2005 beta 2 r1. Kororaa is free and released under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Kororaa is available in several flavors. You can choose between KDE and GNOME, and between x86 and AMD64 processor versions. The x86 version is optimized for Pentium III processors. To install Kororaa you need two CDs. You can download a universal install CD, and you have to select the package CD for your desktop environment of choice and your processor. I chose the x86 version for KDE and started the installation. For more information and available mirrors, take a look at the download page.


When you boot the installation CD, you can choose from several kernels and boot options. I decided to go with the default 2.6.14 kernel. After booting, you get a command line, and a message that invites you to type Kororaa and press Enter to start the installation.

Kororaa uses a text-mode installer rather than a GUI installer like Anaconda. During the install you can create and format partitions that you need, and choose between Ext2, Ext3, ReiserFS 3.6, or ReiserFS 4.

Next up is package selection. I decided not to select individual packages, but let Kororaa install the default packages. It took Kororaa about 40 minutes to install about 390 packages. Then Kororaa lets you choose the services to want to start at boot time, such as CUPS and hdparm, and installs the GRUB boot loader. Finally, you set up the root password and add a user, and the install is complete.

Hardware detection is a bit spotty with Kororaa. It recognized my Inter8x0 sound card, but it had trouble with my X Window System configuration. I had chosen 1280x1024 as the resolution for my monitor, but it brought up X at 1024x768. When I tried to fix this using the Configure Desktop option, the highest resolution available was 1024x768 -- though my monitor and video card support higher resolutions.


Kororaa comes with a fine selection of packages. Kororaa's KDE version comes with KDE 3.5, Quanta Plus 3.5 for Web development, and SuperTux and Frozen Bubble for gaming. It has Kooka 0.44 for scanning, Kuickshow 0.8.7 and Showfoto 0.1 for image viewing, and the GIMP 2.2 for image manipulation. You get Ktorrent 1.0 for downloading BitTorrent files. Kororaa also includes the Konqueror and Mozilla Firefox 1.0.7 browsers, and provides a choice of Kmail and Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0.7 mail clients. Kopete is there for instant messaging. In the multimedia menu you can find K3b and GNOME CD Master for CD and DVD burning. For audio and video you get MPlayer, RealPlayer, amaroK, and Kaffeine.

Kororaa features OpenOffice.org 2.0, and uses the Blackdown JRE for OpenOffice.org's Java requirements. Overall, Kororaa comes with a nice set of software installed by default.

What Kororaa lacks is software for administration. For example, I did not find a tool to add users, so admins will need to perform that task manually.

For installing and removing software, Kororaa uses a tool called Kuroo. Kuroo is a front-end for Portage/Emerge, and it uses Gentoo's Portage repository. This means you have thousands of packages available, and it's a good reason for choosing Kororaa. It makes it easy to get exactly the packages you want to use.

Kuroo makes installing software pretty easy, but it requires some basic knowledge of the way Portage and Emerge work. If you're not familiar with Emerge or Portage, plenty of documentation is available.

I installed Inkscape to test Kuroo, and it worked flawlessly, but it took my machine, a 2.54GHz Pentium 4 with 512MB of RAM, about 15 minutes to compile and install it.

Although Inkscape feels like it works faster on Kororaa than on any other distro I have used on this PC, I wonder if it is really worth the time it takes to compile every package you install. Gentoo has some binary packages available, but most packages need to be compiled. I imagine that some applications make good use of the speed difference, but for the ordinary desktop user, I do not see that many advantages to this approach. Of course Gentoo is not focused on source packages. It works this way because it focuses on being as flexible as possible. But compiling takes so much time.


I liked using Kororaa. Installation is pretty easy, and without having to do all the compiling yourself you end up with a working system in a little more than an hour. It is also a fast system to work with, and because it is Gentoo-based, you can find just about anything you need when it comes to additional software.

Although the current release is a beta version, I did not have any real problems, other than the resolution settings. If you run into problems, you can ask for answers in the Kororaa forum.

I do not think Gentoo is a distribution for people new to Linux, but users who are a bit more experienced and want to give Gentoo a try should consider taking a look at Kororaa.

Marcel Gommans is an IT manager from the Netherlands who discovered Linux more than five years ago.

Click Here!