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OpenMandriva’s Rolling Release, ROME: Mostly Ready for Prime Time

The folks at OpenMandriva say that with this release, the new rolling release option, ROME, is ready enough for most use cases, although production users should wait for the “all clear.”

OpenMandriva screenshot with rose wallpaper

On Friday, OpenMandriva announced that ROME 23.01, the Linux distribution’s rolling release version, has been released and is ready to stand beside its conventionally released Rock edition. Being a rolling release, as long as users keep up with updates they will have the most up-to-date version of the operating system available. Users of Rock, on the other hand, will need to wait for the next point release to have all of the features added since the last release.

ROME has been in the works since early last year. In July it was released as a Technical Preview, followed in September by Silver, a step up that developers said wasn’t quite ready yet for release candidate status. While this latest release, Platinum, still carries a “candidate” status, the folks at OpenMandriva seem to think that it’s stable enough for most users, although you might want to think twice before using it in production.

“The experimental rolling branch has existed unannounced since the release of 4.0, and it was tested and refined in the 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 cycle,” the project said in its release announcement. “Development happens in Cooker [the development branch of OpenMandriva], and once deemed safe for general use is copied to ROME repository. We do not expect ROME to break, however minor hickups may still happen.”

What is OpenMandriva?

OpenMandriva is a community maintained fork of Mandriva, a once popular commercial distro that quit being developed in 2011 after being around for about 13 years.

The distro started life as Mandrake, which many consider to be the first “user friendly” Linux distribution, mainly because it shipped with integrated tools for configuring the operating system through the graphical user interface, allowing less tech savvy users to avoid the command line. Many of those tools are still incorporated into OpenMandriva.

Early on Mandrake was based on Red Hat Linux, but it quickly became a completely separate distribution, although it continues to use Red Hat’s RPM for package management.

In 2005, MandrakeSoft acquired Conectiva, a Brazilian company that produced a Portuguese and Spanish language distro for the Latin American market, and rolled the two distros into a single distros called Mandriva — with the name change being necessitated after MandrakeSoft lost a trademark dispute with Hearst Corporation, which claimed the distro’s name infringed on its trademarked Mandrake the Magician syndicated comic strip.

Unlike Mandrake/Mandriva, which offered KDE as its default desktop environment but supported GNOME and other desktops, OpenMandriva officially supports only KDE, but community spins are available with other DEs, such as GNOME, LXQt, Xfce, and others.

Inside OpenMandriva ROME

As you might expect from a rolling release, all of the software in this Platinum candidate of OpenMandriva ROME comes as close as possible to being the latest and greatest available.

The kernel is version 6.1.1 (clang compiled by default, but with the option to “easily” install a GCC compiled kernel). For the desktop, ROME comes with KDE Frameworks 5.101, Plasma Desktop 5.26.4, KDE Applications 22.12.0 , all built using the clang 15.06 compiler. Plasma Desktop and graphics applications have been modified to handle the new JPEG XL file format.

Also included in the install are LibreOffice suite beta1, Krita 5.1.4, Digikam 7.9, SMPlayer 22.7.0, VLC 3.0.18, Falkon browser 22.12, Chromium browser stable 108.0, as well as the project’s Unique OpenMandriva brand name tools, including Desktop Presets, a tool users to configure your desktop to resemble Windows, Mac OS or a different Linux system.

From the repository you’ll find Firefox 108.0, Thunderbird 102.6 Virtualbox 7.0.4, OBS Studio 28.1.2, GIMP 2.10.32, Calligra Suite 3.2.1, FFMPEG 5.1.2; Zypper and dnf5 as alternative package managers, PHP 8.2.0, and more, including games, tools, development tools, and educational software.

“If you are a user who needs a system to remain working, while still wanting to get the latest and greatest features without having to wait for a new point release, ROME is for you,” the project says.

Download and Install

Want to take OpenMandriva ROME for a test drive? Well, it’s ready for you to download and install. Lots of useful pre-install information is available on the project’s Release Notes page, and download links can be found on the project’s downloads page.

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