OpenMandriva Lx 23.01: A Breath of Fresh Air for Distro Hoppers

OpenMandriva is changing course by introducing the ROME rolling release, which makes its debut in OpenMandriva Lx 23.01.

OpenMandriva is a community-centric Linux distro forked from discontinued Mandriva Linux with roots in then-legendary Mandrake Linux. It was created in May 2012 by OpenMandriva Association as the distro aimed at experienced and first-time Linux users.

One essential aspect of OpenMandriva is that it is one of the so-called original distributions. In other words, it is not based on another existing one. The distro is designed to be easy to use and to provide a wide range of software and features to meet the needs of a variety of users.

Until now, OpenMandriva was only released via the well-known fixed-release model. However, the beginning of 2023 marks a significant change to the distribution, providing for the first time a parallel release, ROME, which adheres to the rolling release approach.

And now the first stable ROME series release, OpenMandriva Lx 23.01, is already available, so let’s see what it brings.

A direct descendant of Mandriva Linux and the first Linux distribution utilise the LLVM compiler. This release keeps using the entire LLVM toolchain which completes the work that began in 2015, even before Android switched its compilers.

OpenMandriva Lx 23.01 “ROME” Official Announcement

OpenMandriva Lx 23.01 “ROME” Highlights

The new “ROME” release is available in two flavors, each with one of the two most popular desktop environments, KDE or GNOME.

Under the hood, users will find Linux kernel 6.1 and systemd 252. In addition, PipeWire, the server for handling audio, video streams, and hardware on Linux, has been bumped to its latest 0.3.63 version.

Plasma Flavor

OpenMandriva Lx 23.01 "ROME" Plasma Desktop
OpenMandriva Lx 23.01 “ROME” Plasma Desktop

As expected in the spirit of a rolling release model, the OpenMandriva Lx 23.01 “ROME” Plasma flavor provides the latest and greatest from this desktop environment, KDE Plasma 5.26.4. Additionally, the distro comes with the KDE Frameworks 5.101 and the newest app set provided by KDE Applications 22.12.

On the user software side, the approach is also interesting. For example, the Plasma flavor includes Chromium 108 preinstalled by default, accompanied by the Falkon browser. However, including the Kdenlive 22.12 video processing software in the default installation seems strange.

GNOME Flavor

OpenMandriva Lx 23.01 "ROME" GNOME Desktop
OpenMandriva Lx 23.01 “ROME” GNOME Desktop

Here you get the latest and most up-to-date release of the GNOME desktop environment, v43.2. The default browser is, unsurprisingly, Firefox 108. On top of this, the default installation includes a host of additional software, like GIMP 2.10.32 image editor, Clapper 0.5.2 media player, Inkscape 1.2 vector graphics editor, Shortwave 3.0 free radio player, and so on.

It makes a good impression that in OpenMandriva Lx 23.01 “ROME,” you get a vanilla GNOME experience, as the desktop environment is not preloaded with a pile of extensions, as is sometimes the case with other Linux distributions.

Software & Tools

And now comes the exciting part. OpenMandriva’s software is packaged in the RPM format and can be managed with the DNF package manager. Unfortunately, the current implementation of DNF is already old and leaves a lot to be desired, particularly in speed. So everyone is looking forward to its new DNF5 implementation (which Fedora expects to transition) to address these needs.

Why do I mention all this? Because OpenMandriva Lx 23.01 “ROME” offers DNF5 as an alternative in its repositories, making it one of the first distributions to put this new tool in the hands of its users. But things don’t end here. You may also manage the software using the famous openSUSE tool Zypper, available for installation and usage.

The LibreOffice suite is introduced here in its bleeding-edge 7.5.0 beta version. To round up the list, we will mention Thunderbird 102.6, Virtualbox 7.0.4, OBS Studio 28.1.2, Calligra Suite 3.2.1, and FFMPEG 5.1.2, which are also available for installation.

In both OpenMandriva Lx 23.01 “ROME” flavors, the Welcome app allows you to quickly and easily customize the entire system using convenient GUI in-house built tools such as OM Control Center, Repository Selector, Update Configuration, Desktop Presets, and so on.

OM Welcome App
OM Welcome App

Bottom Line

In conclusion, we can say that OpenMandriva’s first rolling release is a breath of fresh air for Linux desktop users. Despite being slightly bloated with software, the availability of a plethora of GUI tools for system administration and the distribution’s seamless operation during our tests will give this great but underestimated Linux distro a much-needed boost.

You can refer to the official announcement for detailed information about all changes. And finally, if you want to give OpenMandriva Lx 23.01 “ROME” a try, installation ISO images are available on SourceForge.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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