A review of Ultramarine Linux features some unique desktop environments out-of-the-box with a Fedora base.
Ultramarine Linux is a Fedora-based distribution which offers Budgie, Cutefish, Pantheon and GNOME desktop environments. This distro gives you an out-of-the-box experience with all these desktop favours with under-the-hood tweaks and packages. In addition, it pre-loads several packages (RPM Fusion, etc.) for Fedora, which you usually do as a post-install tweak.
On top of that, Ultramarine Linux also brings several packages from its own copr repo for package distribution.
Ultramarine Linux Review (version 36)
What does it offer?
In a nutshell, Ultramarine Linux built itself on the Fedora Linux base. In addition, it gives you four desktop flavours – Budgie (flagship), Cutefish, Pantheon (of elementary OS) and GNOME desktop. The pre-loaded applications are typical as same as Fedora. Moreover, the application list changes based on your desktop environment of choice.
As it is based on Fedora Linux, you get to experience the latest and greatest of technology such as Linux Kernel, audio and video tech, latest file system improvements, programming environment, etc.
The distro is a unique combination of the latest tech with the beautiful desktops.
The distro brings separate ISO files for different desktop environments. From the installer, you can not choose the desktop environment. You need to download the one which you prefer.
In a way, it is a good approach because isolating different ISO help to keep the ISO size in a range of ~2 GB.
It uses the same Fedora’s Anaconda installer, which is easy to use. During the test, I could not find any problem while downloading the ISO or installing it. All went super-smooth.
Desktop Flavours – the selling point
This review is based on the latest Ultramarine Linux 36 (Rhode Island) based on the recently released Fedora 36. With version 36, you get the Linux Kernel 5.17 and the latest applications and packages.
The Pantheon desktop is surprisingly stable in Ultramarine Linux. When using, you may not feel sometimes it is elementary OS. But obviously, it is not.
The team also included the elementaryOS AppCenter, which gives you access to a massive list of software and apps. Moreover, the Fedora system updates and upgrades are also possible from AppCenter itself. In addition to Fedora base, you get the elementaryOS File manager, text editor and system settings in Ultramarine Linux.
The Budgie desktop is the flagship offering of Ultramarine Linux and gives you a stock Budgie desktop experience. On top of the base applications and packages from Fedora Linux, the Budgie flavour brings Budgie Control Center and Budgie Desktop settings to tweak your desktop. The Budgie is blazing fast and should be a choice for you if you want it to be a productive desktop.
This version 36 also includes the branding related changes for Fedora 37 as the Budgie team is working on a Fedora spin.
A while back, when we reviewed the Cutefish desktop. Firstly, the Cutefish desktop is a new desktop environment created from the ground up with a vision to look beautiful while being productive. It comes with a native dark mode, a built-in global menu, and many unique features that you can read in our detailed review. Perhaps the Ultramarine is the first distro with Fedora, which provides a Cutefish desktop as an option.
Second, the team integrated the Cutefish flavour with Fedora in an organized way to give you this nice desktop with applications such as Cutefish’s file manager, terminal and settings window.
System upgrade/update Cutefish flavour uses GNOME Software similar to the Budgie flavour to install and uninstall applications.
Finally, the GNOME version is similar to the Fedora workstation edition. It’s almost identical in terms of GNOME Shell and native application versions. The only difference is the RPM fusion, as reviewed below.
Applications and Differences with stock Fedora Linux
Firstly, the base applications are installed in all the above-stated desktop environments. Essential applications such as Firefox, LibreOffice, and system monitors are all installed by default in this distro. Other than that, the default shell is ZSH with a Starship theme, which definitely improves productivity over the bash shell.
Secondly, the critical addition or difference from the stock Fedora version is that Ultramarine Linux includes the RPM Fusion repo by default. The RPM Fusion repo is a collection of packages or software available as a community project. They are not included in the official Fedora distribution because of their proprietary nature.
The Ultramarine Linux brings all the RPM Fusions types – free, non-free, free-tainted and non-free trained. So, from a general user standpoint, you need not worry about adding RPM Fusion separately to install extra media playback codecs or such apps.
The distro follows a release cadence based on Fedora Linux. So, in general, you get the updates within a month or so after an official Fedora release.
During our test, the performance is impressive in both virtual machines and physical systems. All the above desktop flavours have fantastic desktop responsiveness and an overall good impression while using them.
For example, Pantheon, which is a little resource heavy, uses 1.3 GB of RAM, and the CPU is on average 2% in an idle state. It uses 1.8 GB of RAM with a little higher CPU of around 4% based on the applications you are running in a hefty workload mode. We tested it during the heavy workload phase using text editor, Firefox, LibreOffice calc, image viewer, and two sessions of terminal applications.
Furthermore, I think the other desktop flavours would also be in a similar performance metric.
I think the performance is excellent, considering it’s based on optimized Fedora. You can efficiently run this distro in the moderately newer hardware (perhaps Intel i3 and above with good RAM capacity).
We prepared a video walkthrough of this distro just for you. Take a look.
To summarize the Ultramarine Linux 36 review, I believe it’s one of the coolest Fedora spins with some beautiful desktop environments. The vision of this distro is perfect and has a good user base. One of the plus points is the Pantheon desktop which many users like, and you get it with Fedora without manual installation. An underrated distro, in my opinion, needs more love from the community.
If you like this Linux distribution and believe in its offerings, you should head to their community pages (Twitter, Discord) for contributions/donations. The project needs some contributors as it’s a small member team.
You can download Ultramarine Linux from the official website.
Finally, in the comment box below, let me know your opinion about this distro.