GNU/Linux distributions are like ships in the night - they come and go and sometimes disappear from sight altogether. Some last just a few months, while others, despite being the brainchild of a single individual, stay on for years and years.

But it's not often that a distribution changes its parent and returns. That's what's happened to Kororaa GNU/Linux, a distribution that was begun by Canberra-based Christopher Smart (pic below) in 2005.

Like many users, after he started using GNU/Linux Smart moved from distribution to distribution until he finally found one that he liked - Gentoo, the distribution that allows one to customise every bit according to one's hardware.

Kororaa was created because he wanted a way to install Gentoo quickly and easily, without having to build the entire system from scratch. He had an itch and in true geek fashion he decided to scratch it.

However, Smart came up against a hurdle in November 2007 when he wanted to put out a binary distribution and found the work involved too much for one person to handle. Work on Kororaa (Maori for a species of penguin found in Australia and New Zealand) stopped.
Christopher Smart
"Then the Gentoo-derived Sabayon came along and I didn't see much need for an easier version of Gentoo, as it seemed to fit the bill quite nicely," Smart told iTWire.

"Always having been a bit of a distro-hopper, I went back to Debian, then to Ubuntu, but I was never happy. I have always been drawn to Fedora because of many reasons, but primarily their freedom drivers (promoting free culture and free software over proprietary solutions), but also because they stick to upstream and improve it there for the benefit of everyone, rather than doing their own thing.

"Fedora is responsible for many of the great desktop enhancements we take for granted today, like AIGLX (Accelerated Indirect GLX), D-Bus, DeviceKit, HAL, NetworkManager, Ogg Theora, and PolicyKit."

No matter what distribution he has been using, Smart has always tried each Fedora release with gusto, only to be frustrated in the end due to his having come from a Gentoo/Debian background. "So, in 2009 I decided that I really needed to give Fedora an honest try and that I would do so for three months."

Smart does not only have an interest in GNU/Linux as a user; he also tries to help other people to switch over and has a website set up for precisely this purpose.

"That three months went by fast and before I knew it I had converted almost everyone at work to Fedora and was loving it," he said. "Next step was to convert my family from Ubuntu and openSUSE."

At this point he realised that he had to revive his own baby, Kororaa, again for one reason - "due to Fedora's strong stance on free software a standard install is missing lots of 'extras'."

"I set out to create the first Fedora Remix version of Kororaa, which I released on Christmas Eve 2010. In the first week of February I've released the second beta (derived from Fedora 14). It includes lots of those 'extras' to make things 'just work', including an extras installer for things like Flash and proprietary drivers."

Smart has set out in detail the reasons why he switched to Fedora as the base for his distribution.

"At the moment it's just me creating Kororaa. I have asked Mollie (his good friend Matthew Oliver) to test out the first version and also check out a bash script I wrote, but he didn't even reply! No dramas though, as the Fedora Remix tools make it all pretty easy."

He raised the possibility that the movement of other distributions could create a bigger user base for Kororaa.

"I think that it will be interesting to see what happens when Ubuntu finally moves to Unity in the next release. Will their entire user base just switch and be happy, or will they look elsewhere for a distro what sticks to upstream? And if they look elsewhere, will there be a suitable distro waiting for them? Maybe Kororaa can help to meet that need for anyone looking to switch to Fedora."



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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.






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