21 May 2012

How fresh is the dew: ROSA 2012 Marathon?

Do you know what is happening with Mandriva as a company? It has been on the brink of collapse for quite a few years already. You can learn more from my discussion with Eugeni Dodonov, who used for work for Mandriva for several years.

There is no surprise that a Linux distribution under such poor management gets lots of forks. Mageia was a fork which I adore. Mageia 1 is a distribution which I have been running on my laptop from almost Day 1 of its release.

Mandriva 2011 Hydrogen was the latest release of the Mandriva team, and the world saw it in August 2011. This release was radically different from all previous versions of Mandriva Linux for a number of reasons. The biggest changes on the user interface side were brought by the team at ROSA Labs. ROSA Labs is actually a company closely related to Mandriva, they share the same management.

In May 2012, though, ROSA Labs released its own Linux distribution. Without much hesitation, it was also named ROSA. “Rosa” in Russian (spelt роса) means “dew”. So, what is in ROSA 2012 Marathon? Is it fresh like dew or as tiring as a marathon?

I decided to check for myself and downloaded the image. You can download it either from ROSA’s own server, or from Yandex mirror. We’ll see the Yandex name later in this review, but for now I’d like to mention that the downloading speed from Yandex was not bad at all. Other than direct downloading, there is a torrent option too.

The ISO image size of ROSA 2012 Marathon is 1.4 Gb. It is actually smaller than than size of Mandriva 2011 which was 1.6 Gb.

I used Unetbootin to “burn” the image onto my 8 Gb USB stick.official page

So, the preparations are over. USB stick is in the port of my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let’s go!

Booting up and design

If you’ve ever seen the Mandriva or Mageia boot process, then you already know the boot sequence for the ROSA 2012 Marathon. Same questions, same terribly long waiting time, same desktop. The only difference from Mandriva 2011 was in the splash screen, which wore ROSA branding, of course. Otherwise, you won’t be able to see many differences in the interface, if any at all.

The freshly booted system took just below 400 Mb of memory, which was exactly the same result as for Mandriva 2011.

The first thing I did after the boot was to add the memory widget. There is one for the desktop in ROSA 2012, but unfortunately, there are no widgets for CPU and Network monitoring.

The menu in ROSA 2012 Marathon is the same as in Mandriva 2011. No wonder, because this is ROSA Labs’ own development. I saw no obvious changes in the menu since Mandriva 2011. Even the Timeline tab was still disabled in the Live run – it requires Nepomuk to run properly.

The bottom panel showed an item called ROSA Sync in the notification area. The icon suggests that this is a cloud storage provided by the company behind the distribution. I tried to create an account for ROSA Sync, and was redirected to the Mandrivasync.com site. Then, I was automatically taken to another site 2Safe.com, which in its turn bears ROSA branding. Quite complicated, isn’t it? This service is still in the testing phase, as declared on the start page. It gives you an ability to have 2Gb of storage, which looks funny in the age of Dropbox, Google Drive and Yandex Disk.

Since I have mentioned Yandex here again, I'll continue about this company. In case you are not aware of it, Yandex (YNDX) is a Russian competitor of Google. It is a rather successful competitor, because Yandex and Google have almost equal market share in Russia.

ROSA 2012 Marathon includes Yandex as the default and the only available search engine in the Firefox browser. It could be OK, if not for the fact that Yandex is not that good in international search.
Compare search result from different search engines for the same query and decide yourself:
In addition to that, a Yandex search in ROSA's Firefox takes you to the Russian search engine page with all the labels and descriptions in Russian. Not sure if this is good for international users. 


The wireless card of my laptop, Intel 3945 ABG, was not configured by ROSA 2012. Again, this is exactly the same result as in Mandriva 2011. Command dmesg showed me that firmware files were missing. As a workaround, I decided to copy these files from my Mageia installation, but you would probably need to download them from the Internet if you face the same issue. After copying the files, ROSA Desktop Linux automatically configured my network card. My home wireless network was shown in the list. A few more keyboard taps and mouse clicks, and I was connected.

Slow, slow, slow… stop!

The performance of ROSA 2012 Marathon system was very slow during my Live run. Even running from the USB stick, it took significant time to process mouse clicks. For example, the feedback for the right click on the image file placed on the desktop (desktop screenshot, which I took) came after about 40 seconds of waiting. That’s just for the context menu to appear!

By the way, the file appeared in the top-right corner of the Desktop when I saved it. Not in the usual top-left corner. Have Russians started to use Right-to-left writing? Funny enough.

I have tried to open several tabs in the Firefox browser in order to put the desktop screenshot into the Blogger post. This caused the system to hang. Only the power button helped here. As a result, you cannot see my own screenshot of the system. If you want to see some, then probably the official page is the best place to do this.

Let me return to the question I asked at the very beginning: Is ROSA 2012 Marathon fresh like dew or as tiring as a marathon? I would select the latter option. It is too slow to be refreshing.

In the meantime…

The ROSA Labs team decided to give the LTS label to its first ever release of a new distribution. If you are not aware, LTS stands for Long-Term Support. This means 5 (five!) years of support for the distribution which came from nowhere. Nowhere, you may ask? Yes, if you think about ROSA. But no, if you think about all the Mandriva heritage (or legacy?).

Mandriva 2011 Hydrogen and ROSA 2012 Marathon are almost twins with indistinct differences.

Is ROSA a new name for Mandriva Linux? This well may be. As long as the Mandriva company has less and less chance to survive, then company management may make a decision to move the development wholly to new pastures. Why not?

In this case, I can only wish good luck to the team, which faces lots of new challenges in the conversion of Marathon into Dew.

Also to read: Review by Prashanth
My review of ROSA 2012 Marathon LXDE


  1. "Slow, slow, slow… stop!"

    Do not review distros from a USB stick. It's just bad form.

    1. OK, I read your comments about why you do live system reviews. All you've done is convince me that all your reviews are a disservice to the Linux community. If you want to fairly evaluate any distro you shouldn't run them live.

      Second, the misinformation here is staggering. Mandriva's management in Paris and ROSA Labs' in Moscow are the same? Since when? What is your source of information? Clue: you're entirely wrong about this.

      The distro didn't come out of nowhere. ROSA previously had 2010.2 and 2011 releases.

      I did a full and proper review of ROSA 2012 Marathon and my results are 100% the opposite of yours: http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2012/05/the-russians-are-coming-a-firs.html Oh, and if you had taken the time to look at ROSA properly you'd have figured out that it isn't Mandriva 2011 rewarmed. There is precious little Mandriva left except for the look and feel of the desktop, and there are entirely new apps developed by ROSA Labs.

      Poor form all around.

    2. Here is a link between Mandriva and ROSA. Single man, single point of contact.
      I have written about this man and his impact on Linux community already.

      PS. I don't allow discussions about testing strategy on my blog. You either accept it or close the browser window.

    3. You are really really doing a disservice to the Linux community with your reviews.

      Title the damn articles..
      "Testing live CD for XXXX distribution!"

      And then see how many people will actually read these "reviews".

    4. I disagree with both the unknown poster and please listen.

      If a distro is going to create a live cd version then they should make sure that the live cd is up to scratch and performs well. Otherwise don't produce a live cd.

      If you are seriously going to think about switching from one distro to another are you going to do it blindly by installing it fully and then deciding afterwards it was a bad move or are you going to try the live cd first to see whether it suits your needs?

      I think we all accept that the live cd isn't going to perform exactly the same as the full installation (although puppy linux breaks this rule by being better on a usb drive). The live installation though should give you enough confidence to know that if you do a full install it will be better than what you already have.

      Therefore I read this blog regularly because of the live cd tests and not despite them.

      As for the spurious Mandrive/Rosa are they/aren't they the same. Well I say Tom-ate-oes you say Tom-ah-toes.

    5. @PleaseListen:
      I think more disservice, and I would even say more HARM make people who create Live CDs/DVDs that don't work.

      This is not an issue for experienced user to take a risk and install a system even with issues in Live mode. If it does not work in installed mode, there is always a fallback: the previous system.

      But the newbie... the person who wants to see the Linux for the first time, and who barely managed to burn his (her) first ever own CD... only to get disappointment. (S)he has no other fallback option, other than come back to Windows. And, in this case, there will be no "second attempt".

      Is it the purpose of Live CD? To scare the new user? I doubt...

      I am working on a bigger article about this at the moment. The time will come and it will be published.

    6. @Manic Miner:
      Thanks for support!

    7. In all honesty, a newbie will be most interested in whether the actual installation procedure is an experience that does not put him before general (not specific) problems or issues. Then it may be interesting to read whether an actual installation has some specific issues (on your well specified hardware).

      Running a live version is something that EVERYBODY can do. Hence, you're providing a service that everybody can do for his own and even can do better as this everybody will have his experience on his own hardware ...

    8. lIVECD/DVD/USB were only created to give newcomers the opportunity to experience what a linux operating system should be without destroying their system. so any linux distribution that does not run to satisfaction level up to 80/90% should be installed in any company, especially by a newbie

    9. @DarkDuck

      We can disagree about weather live system represents the full capacity of the OS.
      But I am 100% certain that full install would resolve some of the problems of live system, and it will NEVER the other way around.

      At least understand that people that worked hard to create this did not intend for it to be used that way.

      Just name your titles properly, and see exactly how many people are interested in reading Live Distro Review. You might be surprised, and you will definitely lower the confusion.

      And about they doing HARM by creating "broken" Live USB experience, I agree. But they are not "selling" Live USB experince! It is only there as a demo. I am glad that they put XX hours of effort into creating solid installed OS experience than splitting the attention to live system.

  2. "Mageia was a fork which I adore."
    You said everything in that sentence. You are biased, so why waste time reviewing Rosa?

    1. Not exactly. I try to be objective, as far as I can.

      I have Xubuntu and Debian Squeeze (GNOME) installed on my laptop too, and I adore those systems as well.

      Although, I wrote both positive and negative reviews of Debian, Ubuntu and their derivatives. My like to Xubuntu and Debian does not get over.

      Same for Mageia. I like it, but it does not mean I automatically dislike any other Mandriva derivatives.

      Also, I have never had Fedora (hmmm, almost) or PCLOS installed on computer, but I appreciate these systems a lot.

      So, there is no direct link between my adornment, installed systems on my personal computer, and what I write in my reviews. Bad is bad, good is good.

  3. This is one of the worst reviews I have ever read. Bias all around, no proper test with proper installation on harddrive. Really it's better to have less reviews and those of higher quality. It's really not that much work. If you are doing distro reviews you should have a spare 20 GiB partition on your harddrivejust for reviews like this.

    I installed ROSA here on my spare partition (and I'm not even a reviewe, I have it there just in case and to explore other options about twice or three times a year). And it works great. So great that I might even switch from current Kubuntu to ROSA as my main OS.

    1. "This is one of the worst reviews I have ever read. "

      Have you ever tried to write a review? Share a link, and then criticise...

      I would have a spare partition for installation, if I trust a system. But I don't because Live CD does not work.
      I had bad experience with installation of untrusted system. No more!
      Read the article which I linked above.

    2. I don't want to come across in the sense that I always agree with Dark Duck but
      the style of the reviews on this blog are always consistent.

      The reviews are always written from the point of view of a user who has downloaded a distro and burned it to usb or cd/dvd and booted live. There are notes given as to why this is.

      The reviews follow the same format describing initial boot time, memory used, performance, features and likes/dislikes.

      Upon booting Rosa in live cd mode the benchmark system (which is always the same) ran slowly and then hung. Therefore the remark from the reviewer was slow, slow, slow, stop.

      The review is therefore perfectly accurate in this case.

      To say its better to have less reviews is also a bizarre thing to say. If you are buying a new car and you look online at customer reviews wouldn't you prefer to gauge lots of opinions rather than just 1 or 2.

      If you think it would be better to have a review of systems that have been physically installed start up a blog and do it. I would read that as well. All opinions are subjective therefore there is no right or wrong. What works for you doesn't work for others.

  4. I am not sure why some of you are crying foul about someone's review. if you disagree, write yours proving the same distro works for you. surely, many people who share the same experience with you would agree.

    i will consider myself an experience linux user. i hated the fact that i could no get this ROSA distribution to work to my satisfaction in live-usb mode. there is no way i could further my interest in such distro. since it has failed the first test. if you have burnt many cd/dvd and distroyed many systems because you wanted so much to get a distro to work you won't be so keen {after awhile} to install any os that shows some ailment in live mode

    1. Yes... You won't by a car which crashes during the test drive! ;)

  5. A very informative article and lots of really honest and forthright comments made! This certainly got me thinking a lot about this issue so thanks a lot for posting!

  6. Some screenshots of ROSA 2012 Marathon here: http://linuxscreenshot.netsons.org/rosa-2012-marathon-2/

  7. DarkDuck, I'd just like to thank you for your other article about Rosa Lab itself. As comments there are not allowed:

    GREAT ARTICLE. Thank you.

  8. I never judge a distro on just one review. Distros that work beautifully on one machine fall over on others. It's not unreasonable to say that if you can't boot the Live CD you're likely to have trouble installing it. Then again, it could just be your DVD drive or something about your computer. Ho-hum.

    1. That's why I am not the only person who write reviews. There are plenty of other resources. Compare different points of view, then try yourself. 8-)

  9. I have installed ROSA Gnome edition LTS (Gnome 2.32) on my IBM Thinkpad T42, it works flawlessly. As a long time Gnome user and former Mandriva user, I feel right at home. Great someone takes ut the great Mandriva distro. Everything works out of the box, multimedia, wlan, even my mobile broadband works. Recommended!

    1. Thanks for letting me know.
      I will probably have a look at ROSA GNOME later.

      Although, please note: this review was about the KDE version of ROSA Marathon.

    2. KDE is ****, you know that, do you?
      I pickup Rosa2012 because of GNOME 2.32. I specifically entered into google search something like "distro that still uses gnome 2" with results no older that month. Rosa was one of them.
      Nowadays we are in front of rising of idiocracy. Look what happen to windoz (8!), and look what is happening to linux (unity, gnome 3/shell, KERNEL 3!) I can't believe when I saw that some pricky tulips did to kernel 3+, AND, YES - that also consider ArchLinux, too, since it uses kernel 3+.
      Arch was distro where I first time noticed some "brave new" acrobatic idiotisms, like modules removed from rc.conf and placed to /etc/modprobe.d/
      Now, in Rosa I'm facing with problem "how to set priority of modules on booting", oh, and imagine - there is no cpufrequency in Rosa - yor mighty processors will rumbling at fullspeed ALL time... that is OK if you live in Siberya (Sibir), but where is room temperature +30C, that is not OK... and so no, bla bla;
      My recomandation is "keep your older distros no mather if they lost support(updating) - if you can" :-(

    3. Will you agree that sometimes new releases bring brand new useful features? I wouldn't scrap all new releases altogether...

  10. ROSA 2012 is the fastest distro on my machine.
    Maybe not booting and install. But after install it is really fast. Faster then Ubuntu, Linuxmint, Fedora, etc.

    I use the x64 version.

  11. I tried the ROSA liveCD today, and found it slow too! A bit disappointed...

  12. Thanks for taking the time to do these reviews DarkDuck.
    Try to ignore the naysayers and the viciously obnoxious Caitlyn.
    She is just as nasty to commenters on the link she provided.

    I always try a distro live to begin with and if it gives me grief, then it generally goes no further, so your tests are very valuable to anyone new to linux and those who still havent settled on "the one".

    @PleaseListen. I have tried a great many distros and a fair few worked fine as a live disk, but then refused to play as nicely when installed, so you are quite wrong to say an installed distro will never behave that way.

    Keep up the good work DarkDuck.