Shining with KDE Plasma 5.27.3 and vanilla GNOME 43.3, OpenMandriva ROME 23.03 will impress and satisfy every user’s taste.
First, let me confess that OpenMandriva always reminds me of the once legendary Mandrake Linux, which was my first introduction to Linux. That’s why I eagerly await each of its new releases, and the recently launched OpenMandriva ROME 23.03 deserves nothing but admiration. So let’s find out what it’s all about.
OpenMandriva 23.03 ROME Higlights
OpenMandriva is a community-centric Linux distro forked from discontinued Mandriva Linux, created in May 2012 by OpenMandriva Association as the distro aimed at experienced and first-time Linux users.
In recent years, OpenMandriva has relied on the established point release model for its releases. However, in addition to these, at the beginning of the year, the project decided to bet also on the rolling release model, with ROME 23.01 being the debut release. OpenMandriva ROME 23.03 continues this tradition in the best possible way.
Under the hood, users will find the latest Linux kernel, 6.2.6, and systemd 253.1. In addition, PipeWire, the server for handling audio, video streams, and hardware on Linux, has been bumped to its latest 0.3.67 version. Finally, you can also find Wayland 1.21 and Mesa 23.0.
OpenMandriva ROME 23.03 KDE Plasma
Although it offers GNOME and, for the first time LXQt edition, OpenMandriva’s ROME KDE Plasma is the distribution’s flagship. The distro provides the latest and greatest from this desktop environment, KDE Plasma 5.27.3, accompanied by the KDE Frameworks 5.104 and the updated app set provided by KDE Gear 22.12.3.
On the application side, the browsers chosen by the developers create a strong impression. Instead of the popular Firefox, the Plasma edition of OpenMandriva 23.03 ROME offers Falkon as the default browser, with Chromium preinstalled for those seeking more traditional alternatives.
Continuing with apps, we must warn that some users may find the distribution more cluttered than necessary. I share this because here you will find in the default installation, for example, Telegram, Krita, NeoChat, Kdenlive, and others that may be outside what every user needs or uses. Nonetheless, the latest updates to LibreOffice 7.5.2 and VLC 3.0.18 are guaranteed to please users.
The in-house built OpenMandriva Control Center, one of the distribution’s most significant advantages, is, of course, available.
Thanks to it, users can not even touch the terminal command line because they will find everything they need to manage the distribution fully here. For example, software installation, repository configuration, hardware drivers, and security settings are a click away.
Overall, the Plasma 5.27.3 implementation in OpenMandriva 23.03 ROME runs very quickly and smoothly, the developers’ attention to detail is obvious, and working with the distribution and the desktop environment was a real pleasure throughout our tests. So now, let’s see how things are with the GNOME flavor.
OpenMandriva ROME 23.03 GNOME
We’ll get right to it with something that needs to be said clearly. Fans of the vanilla GNOME experience will fall in love with the OpenMandriva 23.03 ROME’s GNOME release at first sight. Here they get version 43.3 of the desktop environment, with GNOME 44, released just a few days ago, likely to follow as an update soon.
You can not find any additional GNOME extensions preinstalled or modifications made – just GNOME’s purest form. This primarily reminds me of Fedora’s approach, as in the face of OpenMandriva, the Red Hat-backed distribution may face serious competition. But the parallels don’t end there because you can manage the software with the well-known DNF package manager, just like in Fedora.
Unlike the KDE Plasma edition, here you’ll find the latest version of Firefox, 111.0, as the default browser. GIMP 2.10.34 and Inkscape 1.2.2 are provided for digital graphics enthusiasts. The Transmission torrent client has been bumped to its latest 4.0.1 version.
However, as with the KDE Plasma flavor, the developers bloated the distro with an lftp client, Shortwave internet radio, ROSA image writer, and so on, all included in the default installation. Furthermore, all OpenMandriva 23.03 ROME flavors use the well-known, distribution-agnostic, and most up-to-date Calamares 3.26.1 installer, so there are no surprises, and the installation goes smoothly.
Finally, all flavors include out-of-the-box Flatpak support, adding OpenMandriva to the growing family of Linux distributions that rely on Flatpak as an additional software source.
OpenMandriva ROME 23.03 is a fantastic rolling release distro with something for everyone. Working with the distribution is a joy because of the superb KDE Plasma implementation and the vanilla GNOME experience, which runs lightning fast. So, if you are a distro hopper, OpenMandriva is a must-try.
Our only criticism is the amount of software included by default, but given that OpenMandriva’s ROME is just a few months old, its developers will find the right path over time. One thing is sure – the Mandrake Linux legacy from 20 years ago is still alive and continues in the OpenMandriva – a desktop-centric and software-rich Linux distribution entirely focused on ease of use for new users.
You can refer to the changelog for detailed information about all changes or visit the project’s website. And finally, if you want to give OpenMandriva ROME 23.03 a try, installation ISO images are available on SourceForge.