Although Fedora 19 and Korora 19 are genetically identical, we admit it's a little unfair to pit these distros against each other. Fedora is more than an OS: it's an ecosystem and caters to a wide spectrum of users. On the other hand, Korora is just one branch of that ecosystem that has been pruned and cultivated to serve one section of Fedora users: the everyday desktop user.
Fedora has always pitched itself to power users and developers who would appreciate the many enterprise-centric features in the distro that eventually make their way into the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux distro. This release is no different.
One of Fedora 19's aims is to facilitate creation of cloud infrastructures. For this purpose it includes the latest release of OpenStack, codenamed 'Grizzly' that lets users set up their own cloud infrastructure, similar to public clouds like Amazon EC2 as well as OpenShift Origin, Red Hat's own Platform-as-a- Service (PaaS) solution.
These and several other OS management tools are available only on the Fedora 19 DVD and not on the live editions. You will, however, find the qemu-based Boxes emulator in the Gnome Live CD. Although the tool works pretty much like VirtualBox it lacks some of the flexibility of the latter, yet offers advanced features, such as the ability to connect to a virtual machine via the Internet.
Another key focus area of Fedora 19 is 3D printing. It includes software for creating 3D models and tools for generating and sending code to 3D printers. To assist software developers the distro includes a tool that provides language-specific templates and can even publish projects directly to GitHub.
The redesigned Anaconda installer is Fedora's Achilles heel and, by extension, Korora's. The installer is a work in progress, and we weren't impressed by it. For starters, the interface has been tweaked but still lacks the consistency you'll find in other mainstream distribution installers. Also while Anaconda successfully picks up the other OSes and distros, it refuses to identify them. Furthermore, users can't install the bootloader to any location other than the Master Boot Record.
On the upside, disks are now identified by their mount points. You can also create a user in the installer itself, and inexperienced users will appreciate the simplified procedure for creating a LVM-based filesystem. All said and done, the new Anaconda installer works best only for simple partition layouts, and isn't intuitive enough for more complex setups.
If you are an existing Fedora user, you're better off using the new FedUp upgrade tool that was introduced with Fedora 18. FedUp is a dracut and systemd process that is simple to use. In a couple of commands, it will update the repositories to point to the new release, download all the packages required and reboot to install them.
On the desktop both Fedora 19 and Korora 19 use Gnome 3.8, which has a new privacy settings option and a new Clock app. After installation, you can opt to use Classic mode for a Gnome 2-style experience which is built with a collection of Gnome Shell extensions.
The release also features three major changes in the Activities overview. First, the overview is tabbed and by default opens the new frequently used tab. Second, it lists Utilities and Sundry with a darker background than the other apps. These aren't apps and instead launch sub-menus that list the apps in their respective groups. Finally, the search in the overview has been overhauled. In addition to matching the search string with installed apps, it now also displays results from individual Gnome apps.
When you first log into your account, you get to choose your locale and configure the Wi-Fi connection and set up any online accounts. You're then shown a full-screen video to help you get started with Gnome. When it ends you are dropped to the desktop with the Gnome Help open which besides the textual help also has three additional videos that show you how to launch apps, switch tasks, and respond to messages using the Message Tray.
The Gnome Online Accounts app can now connect to your Google, Facebook, Windows Live, Microsoft Exchange account as well as an ownCloud server. In addition to Gnome Online Accounts, Korora 19 also includes the ownCloud desktop client.
While Fedora 19, like always, has opted to implement a stock Gnome Shell, Korora 19 has tweaked it somewhat to make it more user friendly. So unlike Fedora 19 which has a very bland desktop with no icons, you get the ability to place icons on the desktop in Korora 19.
Then there's Gnome's Nautilus file manager, now known as Files. Under Fedora, it uses the Sushi file pre-viewer and has a very limited right-click context menu. However, in Korora 19 Files uses the gloobus-preview which renders previews faster than Sushi and features a meatier context menu that's hooked up to Deja Dup backup tool.
Also, the user menu in Korora 19 displays the Suspend option along with the Power Off option and ships with the Gnome Tweak Tool for modifying the advanced settings in Gnome 3. Due to these tweaks, Korora 19 presents a more usable desktop than Fedora 19.
If you're looking for drivers for your fancy graphics card or codecs to play patent-encumbered files in Fedora 19, you're barking up the wrong tree. Fedora by design avoids bundling any proprietary or non-FOSS component. So along with LibreOffice, Firefox, Shotwell, Rhythmbox, and Totem video player you get the satisfaction of running a libre desktop.
But if you lack the morals of a free software purist, that is to say you are a regular desktop user, Korora 19 is designed for you. It has full multimedia support which includes equipping Firefox with plugins to play Flash and Java content along with the VLC media player, and the Jockey device manager to handle proprietary drivers.
Unlike Fedora 19's live ISO for the Gnome desktop which weighs in at 919MB, Korora 19 Gnome ISO is 1.8GB. The distro uses the extra space to pack in popular apps for every desktop task imaginable. Firefox has the Adblock plugin and the DownloadThemAll download manager. There's also Audacity audio editor, OpenShot video editor, Handbrake video transcoder, GIMP image editor, RawTherapee for processing RAW images, Gwibber microblogging client, Liferea news aggregator and more.
Now remember that all this software can be installed on a stock Fedora release as well, by installing repositories, such as RPMFusion. But you get them pre-installed with Korora along with custom repositories, such as Chrome, Adobe, and VirtualBox.
Another key difference between Fedora 19 and Korora 19 are their package managers. Fedora 19 includes the software front-end to PackageKit, which lacks the functionality of Yum Extender that's in Korora 19. There's nothing stellar in the KDE version on Fedora 19 as well. You get the Konqueror browser instead of Firefox, Calligra Office instead of LibreOffice, and multimedia duties are handed to Amarok and Dragon Player.
Korora's KDE edition also trumps Fedora's in terms of apps. Along with the Gnome editions ability to handle proprietary codecs and driver, it's got several KDE-specific apps, such as Dolphin and Krusader file managers, Choqok microblogging client, Kdenlive video editor and Kamoso webcam app.
In the grand scheme of things, Fedora 19 is best suited as an Enterprise desktop, which doesn't care much for the proprietary codecs and the latest hardware drivers. If you've a fast Internet connection and the knowhow you can take a stock Fedora 19 release and turn it into Korora 19 in a couple of hours. Or you can save yourself the trouble and just download Korora 19.