Rough Edges of the ROSA Desktop Fresh R9 LXQt

ROSA is not a leader among the Linux distributions, per the Distrowatch rating.

However, Linux Notes from DarkDuck blog watches this distribution very carefully. There were reviews of ROSA 2012 Marathon, ROSA 7 KDE, ROSA 8 Plasma 5. Even though ROSA 2012 Marathon was far from perfect, the latter versions were much improved. Each time I felt this distribution was greatly undervalued by the Linux community. Maybe because its main development team is based in Russia and there is a stigma against anything Russian made in current Western propaganda?

ROSA R9 was released in April 2017, and an additional release of LXQt version was released in June 2017. I have never seen a distribution with the LXQt desktop, and I could not miss this opportunity to check what it feels like.

The ISO image of ROSA Desktop Frresh R9 LXQt is about 1.4 Gb in size. It is available through several mirrors. I downloaded it and “burnt” onto a USB stick using the most usual way: command dd.

The USB stick is in the port of my laptop Dell Inspirion 17.

Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Fasten your seatbelts. Let’s go!


Booting up

Once the boot process starts, you have a menu with options to boot from HDD, boot ROSA Desktop Fresh R9 LXQt Live, Install the operating system, or troubleshoot. The HDD boot is the default option, and you have only 10 seconds to make your choice.

ROSA is a distribution with roots deep in Mandriva, now an obsolete but once a famous distribution. Mandriva itself and all its offspring (OpenMandriva, Mageia, PCLOS etc) have their distinct boot process. You need to pass through a questionnaire: user license agreement, location, keyboard, clock settings are in the list of questions. Once you pass this unoriginal test, you land on the default desktop.

First impressions

ROSA Desktop Fresh R9 LXQt boots onto a screen with the classic layout.

There is only one Live Install icon on an empty desktop with a light-blue wallpaper. There is an option to change the wallpaper, but you need to have your own image. At least, by default the wallpaper change option (right-click on the desktop and select the Desktop Preferences option) takes you to the ~/Pictures/ directory, which is empty by default.
There is a panel at the bottom of the screen. The left part of the panel is taken by the menu button with a ROSA logo on it. Next to it sit shortcuts to PCManFM file Manager, LibreOffice Writer and New Moon browser. We’ll come back to that browser later, just remember the name for now.

The right part of the panel is taken by the notification area, where you can find clocks, USB, battery, network and volume indicators. There is also a keyboard layout indicator, clipboard monitoring tool and an LXQt configuration shortcut.

ROSA R9 LXQt welcome screen

When the system was loading, I specified that my computer’s clocks are set to local time and that I do not live in London timezone. However, ROSA R9 LXQt decided that my clocks are set to UTC and adjusted the clocks to my timezone. A bit annoying.

ROSA R9 LXQt resources

The freshly booted system took about 380-390 Mb of memory, which is actually on par with Kubuntu 17.04 that uses a much more advanced Plasma (KDE 5) desktop environment.

Network connectivity

The Intel wireless card that my laptop has was not a difficult question for ROSA R9 LXQt to deal with. It was correctly recognized and configured. I only selected my home network and Rtyped in the password. All the rest happened automatically, and I was connected to the network and Internet in no time. All tip-top.

Exploring LXQt

If you are not aware, LXQt is a relatively new player on the “market” of Linux desktop environments. As you can guess from its name, it has roots in LXDE desktop environment, but rewritten with Qt development tools. These Qt tools are also used for KDE / Plasma. It is not a surprise then that LXQt has quite a lot of common with Plasma.

The LXQt configuration panel is a good example: its structure and design are the same as in Plasma DE.

At the same time, LXQt is very young. You can even say that it has not been officially released yet: ROSA R9 LXQt uses version 0.11.1.

Keyboard layout

The question of keyboard layout was one from the boot sequence’s list. I chose English UK there, and that layout was activated by the operating system. If you don’t like your boot-time choice, or need to add more layouts, you have an icon in the notification area of the desktop. Right-click it, select the Configure Keyboard State Indicator option, and then click Configure Layouts button. This will open the window with mouse and keyboard configuration from the control panel. The Layouts is one of the tabs there, but it is not open by default as you would expect in this situation. So, another click for you.

The process of layout setup itself is easy and straightforward. The shortkey combination can be configured on the same window in a separate drop-down list.

As you can see, ROSA Desktop Fresh R9 LXQt allows you to make the necessary configuration, although the number of clicks to make to get to the necessary window could be reduced.

Applications

ROSA R9 LXQt comes with a relatively small set of applications available out of the box.
RThe default browser in this operating system is Pale Moon. It is an offspring with Firefox roots, but with certain changes. You have a warning on the default tab right after opening it: not all Firefox extensions may work correctly. If you continue using this browser, you may get warnings here and there. For example, I had them with Blogger and Yahoo!Mail web sites. They don’t recognize Pale Moon.

Apart from Pale Moon, you have qBittorrent, Pidgin and Trojita applications in the Internet section of the menu. The latter is an IMAP-only mail client written in Qt for the KDE project.

The productivity tools in ROSA Desktop Fresh R9 LXQt include LibreOffice Calc, Writer and qpdfviewer applications. Not too many, and only basics.

Graphic tools include LXImage viewer, Nomacs image manager, XSane scanner and a screenshot utility. There’s no graphics editor available out of the box.

The Sound&Video section sports ROSA Media Player, PulseAudio controls, Audacios player and a Kamoso webcam utility.

There are no games in the default distribution.

Of course, there’s a selection of utilities: PCManFM file manager, qTerminal, Calculator, Xarchiver, JuffEd text editor and so on.

There are some ROSA-specific applications. ROSA Freeze allows you to save the system settings before making an “experiment” with configuration. ROSA Image Writer is a disk burning utility. Unfortunately, the latter could not start in my Live version of ROSA R9 LXQt.

There is a special item in the Accessories part of the menu that allows you to install and remove software. Unfortunately, it also did not start in my Live run of this Linux operating system. That’s why I cannot tell you about the process of application installation or about available applications in the repository.

Many applications ask for a confirmation when you try to close them: qTermnal, Trojita and some others. That’s a bit annoying but understandable. Each of these pop-up windows have a checkbox that eliminates further questions.

Multimedia

Audacious is the default player for MP3 files in ROSA R9 LXQt. It started playback of the music files without any additional requests or component installation. Just point and click.

ROSA R9 multimedia

YouTube and BBC videos also played well in the Pale Moon browser. However, the playback of 1tv.ru video was wrong: the audio channel was corrupted.

Conclusion

LXQt is a desktop environment that is under heavy development. Unfortunately, there are still some rough edges in it.

ROSA Desktop Fresh R9 is not the first distribution from that team to feature LXQt. But you still can feel these rough edges here and there.

It generally feels OK. The only major issue I can name is a problem with video playback on one of the tested sites. But there were many smaller issues. All-in-all, I would say that ROSA R9 LXQt is still a distribution for those who like to get their hands dirty, who like to help developers and who like some challenges. It is not a distribution for newbies, but a a good distribution for real Linux fans to have fun with.

If you want to try it yourself, you can place an order on BuyLinuxCDs.co.uk site.

Video used on the screenshot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEjLoHdbVeE

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