Kubuntu 13.10

The release of Ubuntu 13.10 has brought with it updates to the various Ubuntu spins. Kubuntu 13.10 is certainly one of the most important so it’s time to take a look at it. I haven’t done a full review of Kubuntu in quite a long while, so I was very curious to see how it had changed and what it had to offer.

I’m happy to say that Kubuntu 13.10 didn’t disappoint, I found myself liking it much more than Ubuntu 13.10.

What’s New in Kubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

KDE 4.11 Plasma and applications
Muon Discover software center
User Manager menu
Wireless setup in installer
KDE Telepathy chat application improvements
Improved network manager applet
New About System page in System Settings

The KDE 4.11 Plasma desktop and applications have been updated in this release. You can get a full list of changes on the announcement page.

The big highlight in this release is the Muon Discover software center. I’ll have more to say about that in the software section of the review, but the short version is that I like it. I like it a lot, and I’m very glad to see it in Kubuntu 13.10.

This release provides a User Manager menu with a simpler interface.

Kubuntu 13.10 User Manager

Kubuntu 13.10 User Manager

Kubuntu 13.10 now also offers wireless setup during the install. This should make it easier for Wi-fi users to add the third party software and updates from the install menu, instead of having to wait to do it later.

KDE Telepathy, Kubuntu’s chat application, has been bumped up to 0.6.2 and includes a number of improvements.

The Network Manager applet offers a better user interface for connecting to networks.

The About System page provides you with a summary of your Kubuntu 13.10 system. You can find it in System Settings.

Kubuntu 13.10 About

Kubuntu 13.10 About

System Requirements for Kubuntu 13.10
You can get a full list of system requirements on the Ubuntu system requirements page.

Kubuntu 13.10 Download
You can download Kubuntu 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 1.02 GB. Kubuntu 13.10 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Kubuntu 13.10 Installation
Installing Kubuntu is very easy and fast, no manual disk partitioning is required.

During the install you have the option to download updates while the install completes, and you can install third party software as well. I opted for both since I hate doing that stuff after loading my desktop. It’s just easier and faster to get it out of the way during the install.

You can watch some slides while your install completes.

Kubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

Kubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Kubuntu 13.10 Desktop
One of the things I hate with some distros is a desktop full of icon clutter. I generally prefer to keep my desktops clean and only put icons there that I must absolutely have available. Kubuntu 13.10 didn’t disappoint me in that regard. There weren’t any icons showing when my desktop loaded.

If you’re completely new to Kubuntu, don’t worry. It’s very easy to find your way around. Click the K (Kickoff Application Launcher) button on the panel to access your applications, system settings, shutdown button, search box and recently used applications.

If you dislike the sliding menus, just right-click the K button on the panel and choose “Switch to Classic Menu Style” to get rid of them. I used to detest the sliding menus in KDE, but I’ve warmed up to them somewhat and now I generally don’t bother going back to the classic style.

The System Settings menu is easy to find and contains everything you need to manage your Kubuntu 13.10 computer.

Kubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Kubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Kubuntu 13.10 Computer Menu

Kubuntu 13.10 Computer Menu

Kubuntu 13.10 System Settings

Kubuntu 13.10 System Settings

Linux Software Included in Kubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
KPatience

Graphics
Krita
Okular Document Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Skanlite
Gwenview
Kamoso
KSnapshot

Internet
KTorrent
BlueDevil
Akregator
KDE IM Contacts
KPPP
Quassel IRC
KDE IM Log Viewer
KMail
Mozilla Firefox
Rekonq

Multimedia
Amarok
K3B Disc Burner
KMix
Dragon Player for Video

Office
KAddressBook
Kexi
KMail
LibreOffice
Kontact
KOrganizer

Linux Software Management Tools in Kubuntu 13.10
The biggest feature in this release of Kubuntu is the Muon Discover software center. It pretty much puts Kubuntu on par with Linux Mint and Ubuntu in terms of attractive software management interfaces.

Main Tabs
There are three tabs at the top: Discover, Installed and Sources.

Discover is the default view and it lets you browse software by category. Underneath the categories are the Popularity Contest and Best Ratings menus. They let you see popular and best rated applications in the software center.

When you go into a category of applications, you’ll see Popularity Contest and Best Ratings for that category of apps. This is a neat way of surfacing potentially useful applications that users might not be aware of when they first start browsing.

The Installed tab lets you see the applications you have, and it also lets you know if there are updates. Just click the Updates icon in the upper right corner to install your updates.

The Sources tab lets you see which sources you are currently using, and you can add or configure sources.

Application Tabs
When you click on an application you’ll see three tabs: Overview, Add-ons and Reviews.

On the overview page you can see a screenshot of the application and description, along with the size of the download and how much disk space it will take up. You also see a star rating and the number of reviews by other users.

The Add-Ons tab lets you easily find add-ons for that application.

The Reviews tab shows the user reviews for the application. You can mark each review as useful or not. Keep scrolling and more user reviews will load.

To add or remove applications just click on the Install button, then type in your password and click the OK button. Your app will download and install itself. To remove a software application just click the Remove button.

Kubuntu 13.10 Muon Discover Software Center

Kubuntu 13.10 Muon Discover Software Center

Kubuntu 13.10 Multimedia Category

Kubuntu 13.10 Multimedia Category

Kubuntu 13.10 Install VLC

Kubuntu 13.10 Install VLC

Kubuntu 13.10 Muon Discover User Reviews

Kubuntu 13.10 Muon Discover User Reviews

Kubuntu 13.10 Installed Software

Kubuntu 13.10 Installed Software

Kubuntu 13.10 Software Sources

Kubuntu 13.10 Software Sources

Problems & Headaches Found in Kubuntu 13.10
I was very pleased with the performance of Kubuntu 13.10, it was quite speedy for me. I didn’t see any noticeable instability.

However, there are a couple of known problems listed on the news announcement:

  • Network management crash on upgrade (Bug:1231360)
  • USB installation media fails to boot if created with persistence enabled (Bug:1239833)

If you’ve seen any bugs or had any problems, please share them in the comments below for the benefit of other readers. Thanks!

One minor headache I noticed was that the Muon Discover software center doesn’t appear in the Favorites menu on the panel by default. It really should be there given how important it is for new people who might not know where to look to find it.

I’d also consider relabeling it to say simply “Software Center” as that is a lot more intuitive than “Muon Discover” which is really a geek kind of name (the words “software center” appear under the name Muon Discover but they should just replace it instead). How many people new to Kubuntu will know to look for “Muon Discover” versus something like “Software Center” or “Software Manager?” Probably not very many I’d guess.

Where To Get Help for Kubuntu 13.10
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you.

You might also want to check out the Kubuntu support page which offers community help, commercial support, documentation and an answers system. You can also check out the Kubuntu community page for web forums, and the Kubuntu mailing list.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Kubuntu 13.10
Although I generally dislike comparing them directly, I have to admit that I found Kubuntu 13.10 to be a much more interesting release than Ubuntu 13.10. Perhaps I still have some lingering dislike for Unity, but Kubuntu 13.10 seemed faster and far more pleasant to use.

If you’re currently using Kubuntu 13.04 then I think it makes sense to upgrade to Kubuntu 13.10. The new software center is quite good, pretty much on par with the ones in Linux Mint and Ubuntu. That alone would make an upgrade worthwhile.

Kubuntu 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Kubuntu 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.



Kubuntu 11.10

The release of Ubuntu 11.10 also means that all of the related spins have also been updated, including Kubuntu 11.10.

Many people have expressed dissatisfaction with Ubuntu after Canonical added Unity to it. Kubuntu has often been mentioned as a possible replacement for Ubuntu for users who dislike Unity and want to move to another environment. Does Kubuntu 11.10 work well as a replacement for Ubuntu 11.10? We’ll find out in this review.

Desktop

Desktop

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

KDE 4.7
Kontact Suite 4.7
Amarok Improvements
Muon Suite 1.2 (Muon Software Center, Muon Package Manager)
Low Fat Settings

KDE 4.7 includes improvements to the Network Management widget, a breadcrumb feature in the Kickoff menu, improvements to Dolphin’s default look and visual updates that include a new Oxygen icon theme. Gwenview can also compare two or more images.

I really like the breadcrumb feature in the Kickoff menu. I have never been much of a fan of the sliding menus but the breadcrumb at least makes it easier and faster to move around. I’ll probably still default to using the classic menu, but I’m glad the breadcrumb is there. The rest of the improvements will also please most KDE users.

Breadcrumb

Breadcrumb

Kontact 4.7 is the latest version of KDE’s PIM suite. This release includes Kmail 2. As noted on the news release page, this is a major upgrade to Kontact so you should make sure you back up all of your mail, contact, calendars and other important data before considering an upgrade.

Kontact 4.7

Kontact 4.7

Amarok has a refined interface, improved reliability and native support for remote NFS & SMB/CIFS collections (see the screenshot in the multimedia section). I don’t listen to music much these days so I’m not a big user of Amarok, but I think these improvements are worth noting (particularly improved reliability). If you want more details on the changes to Amarok, see the 2.41 and 2.43 release announcements.

The Muon Suite is probably the real standout feature for this release of Kubuntu. It replaces KPackageKit as Kubuntu’s software management tool. I’ll have more to say about in the software section of the review (screenshots are also in that section). Suffice to say that I’m very pleased with it. Improved package management and a software center bode well for KDE users.

The last standout feature in this release is the Low Fat Settings. Low Fat Settings are geared toward making Kubuntu run better on older, underpowered computers. They reduce memory usage and can also help speed up the loading time of KDE. Memory usage can be reduced by up to 32% and the loading time can be sped up by up to 33%.

Here’s a list of what the LFS change when you use them:

Turning off compositing by default.
Disabling the automatic loading of various modules, such as bluedevil, the free space notifier, some Nepomuk services, and a other components.
Reducing the number of default Krunner plugins that are loaded automatically.
Reducing the amount of graphical effects used in the window decoration.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

A Pentium 4, 1GHz system is the minimum recommended for a desktop system.

Table 3.2. Recommended Minimum System Requirements

Install Type RAM (minimal) RAM (recommended) Hard Drive
No desktop 64 megabytes 256 megabytes 1 gigabyte
With Desktop 64 megabytes 512 megabytes 5 gigabytes

The actual minimum memory requirements are a lot less then the numbers listed in this table. Depending on the architecture, it is possible to install Ubuntu with as little as 20MB (for s390) to 48MB (for i386 and amd64). The same goes for the disk space requirements, especially if you pick and choose which applications to install; see the section called “Disk Space Needed” for additional information on disk space requirements.

Installation

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end. As you might expect Kubuntu 11.10 is very easy to install. The install is quick and you should be up and running with few or no problems. It’s a good idea to check the box that let you install third party software such as Flash, and also the one that downloads updates during the install. It will save you time and effort later on.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:

Boot

Boot

Login

Login

The Desktop
As I noted earlier, this release of Kubuntu includes KDE 4.7. Dolphin has a new, cleaner default look that you can check out in the screenshot below.

Dolphin

Dolphin

Desktop

Kubuntu 11.10 Desktop

The other big desktop change is the breadcrumb feature in the Kickoff menu. The breadcrumb definitely makes navigating more convenient and it helps you to know where you are in the menu without having to navigate backward.

Breadcrumb

Breadcrumb

Still, it makes me wonder if the sliding menus in KDE are really worth keeping in the first place. If you switch to the Classic menu by right clicking the K button you can navigate through application categories without the need for something like the breadcrumb. It’s apparent immediately what category you are browsing.

Classic Menu

Classic Menu

Am I just an old fuddy duddy here? Or does the classic menu seem more intuitive? I don’t know, maybe I’m just nitpicking but the older menu seems much quicker and easier to use even with the breadcrumb included in the sliding menu. What’s your take on this? Tell me in the comments, I’d be interested in know how many people switch the Kicker menu back to the classic version after installing KDE.

System Settings
Here’s a look at the System Settings menu for this release. All of the usual tools are there for you to manage your system.

System Settings

System Settings

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
KPatience

Graphics
Gwenview
KSnapshot
LibreOffice Draw
Okular

Internet
Akregator
BlueDevil
KMail
Kopete IM
KPPP
KTorrent
Mozilla Firefox Installer
Quassel IRC
rekonq

Multimedia
Amarok
Dragon Player
K3b
KMix

Office
KAddressBook
Kontact
KOrganizer
KTimeTracker
LibreOffice

Software Management
The Muon Software Center and Package Manager are a big change in this release. Previously Kubuntu used KPackageKit as its software manager.

Muon Package Manager

Muon Package Manager

The Package Manager is geared toward administrators, while the Software Center is better suited for desktop users.

Applications are broken down into the usual categories in the Muon Software Center. You can see user ratings and reviews when you click the More Info button of an application. You can also see a screenshot of the application before installing it on your system. Add-ons for the application can also be seen on the More Info page.

Overall, I think the Muon Software Center is a good thing for Kubuntu 11.10. It’s very easy to use and makes adding and removing software a breeze in Kubuntu. I’m sure there are some out there that will miss KPackageKit but give this new alternative a chance. I think you’ll be pleased with it once you’ve spent a few minutes using it.

Muon Software Center

The Muon Software Center

Kubuntu Software

Kubuntu Software

Internet Software Category

Internet Software Category

Chromium 1

Chromium in the Internet applications category.

Chromium 2

The Chromium More Info page.

Chromium Reviews

User ratings and reviews of Chromium.

LibreOffice Writer

LibreOffice Writer

Software Repositories
Click the Settings menu to change your software sources in the Muon Software Center. I recommend sticking with the default settings unless you have some pressing need to change them.

Software Sources

Software Sources

Adding & Removing Software
It’s very simple to add or remove software. Just find the application in the Muon Software Center and click the Install or Remove button. You can also do it from the More Info page of an application. I had no problems installing Chromium and other applications on my system.

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
Since I installed third party software during the install, I had no problems running flash videos in rekonq. Sound and video were both fine.

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
Kubuntu 11.10 comes with Amarok, K3B, KMix and Dragon Player as its default multimedia applications. It’s an okay selection of apps, but I’d definitely hit the Muon Software Center to pick up some of the other programs that are available such as VLC.

Amarok

Amarok

Multimedia Apps in Muon

Multimedia Apps in Muon

 

I’m pleased to report that I didn’t encounter any noticeable problems while using Kubuntu 11.10. Everything worked well from the time I installed it, I didn’t see any burps or bugs. Kubuntu 11.10 seemed pretty fast and stable to me. If you’ve encountered any problems, please share them in the comments below though. Someone might have an answer that could help you or your experience could help someone else out if they run into problems with Kubuntu 11.10.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Kubuntu support page. You can access documentation, the technical answers system, free community help or you can purchase paid support for your Kubuntu 11.10 system.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Kubuntu 11.10 provided a pleasant experience for me. Existing Kubuntu users will most likely enjoy it, except perhaps for KPackageKit die-hards that might not want to use the Muon Suite. I suspect those folks will definitely be in a very small minority, however.

Ubuntu users who are still not happy with Unity should definitely consider giving Kubuntu 11.10 a look. It’s a viable alternative to Ubuntu for the folks that are still having trouble accepting Canonical’s decision to move Ubuntu to Unity. I highly recommend it as a possible replacement for Ubuntu.

Kubuntu 11.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Kubuntu 11.10
Web Site:  http://www.kubuntu.org
Price: Free
Pros:  Muon Suite 1.2; Low Fat Settings, KDE 4.7, Kontact 4.7.
Cons:  Could use a wider range of bundled multimedia applications as part of the default installation.
Suitable For:  Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5

 

Kubuntu 11.04

The release of Ubuntu 11.04 has garnered an enormous amount of attention, mostly due to the inclusion of Unity as its default desktop environment. But, as with any new version of Ubuntu, there are alternatives available and one of the most prominent is Kubuntu. Kubuntu 11.04 is a KDE-based distro that might work well as a substitute for those who are uncomfortable with Ubuntu’s Unity.

I know that there are some folks out there who are die-hard GNOME users or who might otherwise view a KDE-based distro with a suspicious eye. I urge you to give Kubuntu 11.04 a chance. As you’ll find out in this review, it’s turned into a pretty darn good desktop distribution. It’s definitely worth a look for anyone who hasn’t settled on a preferred distro or who might be questioning continuing on with his or her current choice.

Desktop

Desktop

What’s New In This Release

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Plasma & KDE Applications 4.6.2
Samba Filesharing
New Language Selector Module
Printer Configuration Bug Fixes
OwnCloud
Phonon GStreamer Backend
GTK Oxygen Theme
Patience game included
Enhanced DVD Installation
LibreOffice is the default office suite

If you aren’t familiar with KDE 4.6, you might want to spend a few minutes reading the release announcement. There’s also a Kubuntu features tour that will help get you started with this distro.

The Samba filesharing is definitely cool. Just right click a folder in Dolphin and select properties to share it on your network. This is an excellent tool that should make it easy even for total Linux newbies to share files over their networks.

I detest dealing with printer problems. In fact, I hate printers in general because they always seem to run out of ink or otherwise cause me headaches. The bug fixes for printer configuration are quite welcome. I appreciate anything that minimizes printer headaches.

OwnCloud is an interesting file storage tool, but I suspect that most desktop users will probably not want to bother with it. It’s not a managed cloud service like Ubuntu One. You have to set it up on your own hardware and manage it yourself. That said; check it out if it interests you.

The GTK Oxygen theme is a nice touch in this release. It makes GTK applications like Firefox fit in better when running on your KDE desktop.

As with Ubuntu itself, I’m very happy to see LibreOffice as the default office suite in Kubuntu 11.04. If you haven’t spent any time with it, check it out.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

The minimum memory requirement for Ubuntu 11.04 is 384 MB of memory for Ubuntu Desktop. Note that some of your system’s memory may be unavailable due to being used by the graphics card. If your computer has only the minimum amount of memory, the installation process will take longer than normal; however, it will complete successfully, and the system will perform adequately once installed.

The minimum memory requirement for Ubuntu Server 11.04 is 128 MB of memory.

Systems with less memory may be able to select “Install Ubuntu” from the boot menu to run just the installer, rather than the whole desktop, or may be able to use the alternate install CD.

Installation

Kubuntu 11.04 is a live CD distro; you can simply opt to boot off the CD and run it without having to install it. The welcome screen gives you the option to install it or run it off the CD.

The install itself is a breeze and should be no problem for anybody. The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end. Please be aware that you can install third party applications (flash, etc.) and download updates while doing the install (see the Install 1 image). I highly recommend doing this since it will save you time later on.

Try or Install

Try or Install

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 

Booting & Login
Here’s what the boot menu and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop
The Kubuntu 11.04 desktop is uncluttered, all you’ll find when you boot into it is the Desktop Folder and it’s empty by default. So there are not tons of little icons infesting the desktop. The panel at the bottom contains the kicker button, if you right click this you can switch to the classic KDE menus and use that instead of the sliding menus. Also on the panel is a folder link to places on your system, multiple desktops, show the desktop, clipboard, volume, networking, date/time and a panel configuration button.

Menu

Menu

Classic Menu

Classic Menu

Desktop

Desktop

 

Toolbox

If you click the toolbox icon in the upper right corner you’ll get quick access to the following: Add Panel, Add Widgets, Activities, Shortcut Settings, Desktop Settings and Lock Widgets.

Kubuntu comes with a nice selection of desktop widgets that serve a variety of purposes. You can browse these to add the ones you want or click Get New Widgets to obtain more for your system.

Widgets

Widgets

 

Get New Widgets

Themes
Air is the default theme and you can get more by clicking the Get New Themes button. When you pull up the Get New Themes menu you can search or browse for additional themes. You can also order the themes according to newest, rating, most downloaded and installed.

Themes

Themes

 

Get New Themes

Wallpaper
The default wallpaper is a funky bluish color with somewhat surreal images on it. There are no other wallpaper included with Kubuntu but if you click the Get New Wallpapers button in Desktop Settings you’ll find a bunch of other ones that might tickle your fancy.

Wallpaper

Wallpaper

Get New Wallpaper

Get New Wallpaper

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
KPatience

Graphics
Gwenview
KSnapshot
LibreOffice Draw
Okular

Internet
Akregator
BlueDevil
KMail
Kopete
KRDC
Krfb
KTorrent
Firefox Installer
Quassel IRC
rekonq

Multimedia
Amarok
Dragon Player
K3b
KMix

Office
KAddressBook
Kontact
KOrganizer
KTimeTracker
LibreOffice (Spreadsheet, Drawing, Presentation, Formula Editor, Word Processor)
Okular

Software Management
KPackageKit has gotten much better over the years to the point where it’s a pretty good software management tool. Applications are broken down into the appropriate categories and you can also search for them if you want. In the left side you’ll see three options: Get and Remove Software, Software Updates and Settings. The settings tool lets you change your update settings, and configure repositories (among other things).

Software Management

Software Management

Software Management 2

Software Management 2

Software Settings

Software Settings

Adding & Removing Software
When you find an application you want, click it and you’ll see more information. You can opt to click the install button or click the More drop down menu to see more info on dependencies, etc.

System Settings
The system settings menu contains lots of different options for you to configure your system to your liking. Click the kicker button on the panel to access the System Settings control panel.

System Settings

System Settings

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
When you go to install Kubuntu 11.04 you get the option to install flash and other third party software. I recommend that you do so or you will have to install it later on. I opted not to since I prefer to see the default selection of software so I can include that list in the review.

Since I didn’t opt to install flash, YouTube videos did not run. So make sure you click the little check box (see the Install 1 screenshot in the install section of the review) for third party applications while doing the install.

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
The selection of multimedia applications installed by default is quite modest. Amarok, Dragon Player, K3b and KMix are all you get. However, there are quite a lot of multimedia applications available in KPackageKit (Kubuntu’s software management application) so you should have no problem finding what you need.

Multimedia Applications

Multimedia Applications

Dragon Player

Dragon Player

Problems & Headaches
KPackageKit has improved but it still lags behind the Ubuntu Software Center. You won’t see user ratings and reviews in KPackageKit. This is unfortunate because it can be very helpful to know what other users think of an application before taking the time to install it yourself. I hope that a future release of KPackageKit contains these features since many people (myself included) have really come to expect to see what others think of an application.

Beyond that, I found nothing really to complain about. Kubuntu 11.04 ran very well for me, I had no problems with speed or stability.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Kubuntu support page where you’ll find documentation, community help and even professional support services.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Kubuntu 11.04 is an excellent alternative to Ubuntu 11.04. I strongly suspect that some disenchanted Ubuntu 11.04 users will be taking another look at Kubuntu 11.04.

If you’re a KDE hater than obviously Kubuntu is not going to appeal to you under any circumstances, but if you are able to keep an open mind then I think you might find yourself enjoying it immensely. The Unity controversy has really made me glad that generic Ubuntu is not the only game in town for those who love the whole “buntu” thing. Ubuntu’s loss just might end up being Kubuntu’s gain as dissatisfied users defect away from Ubuntu because of Unity.

Kubuntu 11.04 is appropriate for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Kubuntu 11.04
Web Site: http://www.kubuntu.org
Price: Free
Pros: KDE & Plasma 4.6.2; new Samba filesharing; printer configuration bug fixes; new language selector module; GTK Oxygen theme.
Cons: KPackageKit still lags behind the Ubuntu Software Center, user ratings and reviews are not available.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate & advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5

 

Kubuntu 10.10

This week can definitely be summed up as Canonical Week, first with the release of Ubuntu 10.10 and then the release of its sister distros (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, etc.). This time around I took a look at Kubuntu 10.10.

My impression of the last release of Kubuntu wasn’t very positive. Well imagine my surprise when I finally got a chance to look at Kubuntu 10.10! It’s got some great changes in it that make it a definite upgrade for current Kubuntu users, and that also make it worth looking at by non-Kubuntu users.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Combined Desktop/Netbook ISO Image
Ubiquity Installer Changes
KPackageKit Improvements
New Browser – Rekonq
New Ubuntu Font

The combined ISO image is a nice touch that will save some downloading time for those who wish to use Kubuntu as a netbook OS, as well as a desktop OS.

The changes to the Ubiquity installer are quite good. I’ll have more to say about them in the installation part of the review.

I was thrilled to see that KPackageKit has finally come into its own as a software manager in most respects. See the software section of the review for my detailed comments. Suffice to say, it’s a huge improvement over previous versions of KPackageKit.

Rekonq is Kubuntu’s new browser, it sports a new interface that is designed to save space and minimize clutter. I spent some time using Rekonq and found it to be tolerable but nothing that would woo me away from Firefox or Chromium (the Firefox installer is also included with Kubuntu so you can install it from the Internet applications menu, and you can get Chromium from KPackageKit). I can’t see myself actually using Rekonq as my default browser, there’s just nothing in it that makes it better than Firefox or Chromium.

Konqueror is also available via KPackageKit if you prefer to use it instead of rekonq.

Another thing I don’t like about Rekonq is the bundled ad blocker. The Kubuntu developers have irresponsibly decided to bundle an ad blocker into Rekonq. This is a terrible thing to do and has the potential to adversely affect content producers since most web sites rely on advertising revenue to survive. It’s one thing for a user to decide to use an ad blocker, that is his or her choice (hopefully they will wisely white list the sites they really enjoy so that those content producers can survive financially). But it’s another thing entirely for a distro developer to do it.

Somebody at Canonical needs to have a few words with the Kubuntu development team and have the ad blocker either removed from Rekonq or turned off by default. I suspect that this has not caused Canonical any headaches because most people are probably unaware of it. Well the time for that is over. Canonical needs to make a decision about whether it wants to support the web economy or not. Bundling an ad blocker like this is pretty much a slap in the face to content producers, even if Rekonq isn’t used by very many people.

Shame on you Canonical. It’s time for you to reverse this awful decision.

The new Ubuntu font family looks as good in Kubuntu as it did in Ubuntu 10.10; kudos to Canonical for including it.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to run Kubuntu 10.10:

1 GHz x86 processor
512 MB of system memory (RAM)
5 GB of disk space
Graphics card and monitor capable of 1024×768
CD-ROM drive
Sound support
Internet access

Installation
Kubuntu uses the Ubiquity installer. When you first boot into it you’ll see a welcome screen that gives you the option of whether or not to install Kubuntu or try it as a Live desktop (see the booting section to see the screenshot of the welcome screen).

The first install screen gives you the option to install third party software and to download updates while the installer runs. I opted to do both during my install and I’m glad I did. It’s a very helpful time-saver to have the third party software and updates installed by default instead of having to do it after the installer finishes.

Once the install starts you can view a slideshow of Kubuntu features while the install completes.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.


Booting & Login
Here’s what the boot & login screens look like.

I love the new Welcome screen, as I did in Ubuntu. It’s slick and it makes it easy for newbies to understand that they can simply load the Live CD desktop and try Kubuntu without actually installing it. I think other distros should copy this welcome screen; Canonical did a great job with it.

The Desktop
The desktop itself seems pretty much unchanged, for the most part, in this release. Kubuntu’s Message Indicator Plasma Widget is now on by default though, for IRC and IM applications.

One of the things I hate about KDE in general is its sliding menus. You can easily change that by right-clicking on the Kicker (K) icon on the panel and choosing the classic menu. I did that and it made it a lot easier and faster to navigate the menus. I don’t know who thought sliding menus were a good idea in KDE, but it was an awful initial decision and it still is. Please change this, KDE developers. It just irritates the hell out of me when I see them still included.

You can see the difference between the default and classic menus in the screenshots below.

Admin Tools

System Management
To access the admin tools, click the K button on the panel and choose Settings then System Settings. The tools are broken down into the following categories:

Common Appearance & Behavior
Workspace Appearance and Behavior
Network and Connectivity
Hardware
System Administration

It’s quite easy to find your way around the tools, even if you’re a complete newbie to KDE and Kubuntu.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Games Available in KPackageKit

Graphics
Gwenview
KSnapshot
Okular
OpenOffice.org Drawing

Internet
Akregator
bluedevil
KMail
Kopete IM
KPPP
KRDC
Krfb
KTorrent
Firefox Installer
Quassel IRC
rekonq

Multimedia
Amarok
Dragon Player
K3b
Kmix

Office
OpenOffice.org
KAddressBook
Kontact
KOrganizer
KTimeTracker
Okular

One rather obvious omission from Kubuntu is the KOffice suite. KOffice includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, graphics tools, etc. OpenOffice.org certainly is enough for most people, but let’s not forget that some folks might use Kubuntu because they prefer KDE applications. KOffice is available in KPackageKit though, so you can easily install it if you really want it.

Another glaring omission is the lack of GIMP or any other serious image-editing program. Ubuntu itself includes Shotwell to give folks a tool to manage and edit photos. Unfortunately, there doesn’t see to be any equivalent bundled into Kubuntu. This omission is rather puzzling, but there are plenty of image editing tools in KPackageKit. GIMP is there as is KolourPaint, Krita and many other helpful tools. Still, something of significance really should be included with Kubuntu in future releases.

Software Management
KPackageKit is Kubuntu’s software manager. Frankly, I have not liked KPackageKit at all…until this release. KPackageKit has finally come of age and come into its own as a software manager.

It has been changed to use aptcc on the backend and it is now possible to find individual packages by searching by name. You can also easily browse categories of applications. I remember hating KPackageKit each time I looked at Kubuntu, but with this release those days are finally over and it has made using Kubuntu much better. You can even see screenshots of applications before you install them.

These screenshots will give you a look at the new KPackageKit. What a difference one release can make in a software manager!

Adding & Removing Software
To add or remove software, just find it in KPackageKit and click the Install or Remove button. Then click Apply and your changes will be applied.

I found KPackageKit to be a pleasure to use in this release. It’s something I’ve been waiting to see in Kubuntu for a long time, and now that it’s here I couldn’t be more pleased with it. However, there’s always room for improvement even in the best software management tools. It would be nice in future releases to be able to rate and/or review software packages, similar to the Software Manager in Linux Mint, etc. I suspect we’ll probably see that kind of functionality at some point. Until then this release of KPackage Kit is still a tremendous improvement over prior release.

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
When I did my install, I opted to have third party apps installed. Flash seemed to be included with that, so my test YouTube video worked fine.

Multimedia Applications
Kubuntu 10.10 comes with a number of multimedia programs including Amarok, Dragon Player, K3b and KMix. There’s also a ton more available in KPackageKit, so you should have no problem finding whatever you need.

When you first start Dragon Player, you’ll get popup message asking if you want to install video & MP3 encoding tools. It doesn’t take long to install them, so I recommend that you do if you find that you require that kind of functionality. See the screenshots below for details.

 

Problems & Headaches
One of the things I harped on last time (probably too much) was that Kubuntu is rather ugly looking compared to Ubuntu. That, unfortunately, has not changed in this release. You won’t find the same gorgeous desktop colors and finesse in Kubuntu that you see in Ubuntu. Kubuntu is still more of an afterthought in terms of desktop branding than Ubuntu. I’m not going to penalize Kubuntu for this, but I do want to point out that it’s still a shame that Kubuntu is rather drab and plain looking compared to Ubuntu.

The other big annoyance I encountered was Rekonq’s ad blocker, but I already covered that in the beginning of the review so I’ll skip ranting about it again.

GIMP or some other image editing program needs to be added by default to Kubuntu, and it would be nice if KOffice were also included.

As I noted earlier, I’d like to see user reviews and ratings included in a future release of KPackageKit. It would be the icing on an already sweet cake.

My overall experience with Kubuntu 10.10 was quite good. It seemed very stable and I did not see application crashes, bugs or other headaches while I was using it.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Kubuntu support page, which contains link to free documentation, community help, paid support and a technical answers system.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I’m much happier with this release of Kubuntu than I was with the last one. It’s made some great strides in software management, installation and readability (thanks to the Ubuntu fonts). It’s a much more worthwhile distro and is catching up to Ubuntu itself (though it still lags in some things such as desktop theme, branding, etc.).

I definitely look forward to the day when Canonical starts to treat Kubuntu as equal to Ubuntu in every way. KDE users certainly deserve that and I think it will come to pass eventually.

This release is pretty much a no-brainer upgrade for existing Kubuntu users, there’s plenty here that will improve their overall desktop experience. Those who are interested in learning more about Kubuntu should also consider it; it’s definitely worth a download.

Kubuntu 10.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

Click to the next page to view this distro’s full image gallery.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit Eye On Linux for more Linux coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux
Web Site: http://www.kubuntu.org
Price: Free
Pros: New Ubuntu font; KPackage Kit improvements; installer changes; new Rekonq browser; combined desktop/notebook ISO.
Cons: Still rather ugly looking compared to Ubuntu; Rekonq browser includes an ad-blocker turned on by default.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Summary: Kubuntu 10.10 sets a new standard for this distro; it’s almost (but not quite) as polished as Ubuntu itself.
Rating: 4/5

 

Kubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04

I recently took a look at Ubuntu Netbook Edition, this week I decided to review its KDE-based counterpart Kubuntu Netbook Edition. As you’ll find out in this review, the two sport radically different interfaces (and I’m not just talking about wallpaper). Which is better for a netbook user? Read on to find out.

Kubuntu Netbook Edition uses the Plasma Netbook interface. Plasma Netbook is geared toward small devices and the interface is very different than desktop KDE. You can use “Search and Launch” to launch applications, or you can browse for applications. You can also search your email, contacts and some web sites. I’ll have more to say about Plasma Netbook in the desktop section.

What’s New In This Release
Since this release is 10.04; it shares some of the same new features as its desktop counterpart. Rather than regurgitate all of them here (since I covered them in the desktop review), here’s a link to the Kubuntu site that lists the new stuff in 10.04.

Firefox running in Kubuntu Netbook Edition, after being installed.

OpenOffice.org comes with Kubuntu Netbook Edition.

The live CD desktop.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements

Here’s a list of what you’ll need to run Kubuntu 10.04:

  • Intel Atom processor @ 1.6 GHz
  • 512 MiB of system memory (RAM)
  • 4 GB of disk space
  • Screen of 1024×600 resolution
  • Graphics chipset with support for visual effects

Installation

The install is as easy as any other Kubuntu or Ubuntu OS. It’s also very fast. The screenshots below walk you through the install process, from beginning to end.

Booting & Login

Bootsplash & Login Screens

The bootsplash screen has the new Kubuntu logo on it. The login screen lets you choose between KDE and a failsafe.

Beyond that, there’s not much to the login screen. You won’t find any of the sort of branding that you see on Ubuntu Netbook Edition. The login screen is sparse, with the default Kubuntu wallpaper featured prominently in the background.

Kubuntu Netbook edition boots pretty fast, and it shuts down just about as fast. Given that this distro is designed for netbooks, it performs exactly as it should.

The Desktop
I covered a little bit about Plasma Netbook in the introduction to this review. It’s a very easy and comfortable interface to use. You navigate around via three main parts: The top panel, the favorites list and the categories. You also have the option of using the search box.

When you first look at the Kubuntu Netbook Edition interface, it might throw you off. It doesn’t look like Ubuntu Netbook Edition at all, and it’s obviously very different than desktop Kubuntu. But give it a few minutes, and you’ll be very pleased with it.

The installed Kubuntu Netbook Edition desktop.

To open an application, click on it if it’s in the favorites, or type in the name in the search box. Or simply browse through the appropriate category. When you’ve found an application, hover your cursor over it for a moment and you’ll notice that a yellow star appears in the upper left of the application’s icon. Click the star to add the application to your favorites. To remove an application from favorites, put your cursor over it, and click the red minus sign.

Click the yellow star in the upper left to add an application to favorites.

Click the system icon to adjust your system’s settings.

Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
KPatience
KDiamond
Kmines
KSudoku
LSkat
KReversi
Kanagram
KMahjongg

Graphics
KSnapshot
OpenOffice.org
Okular
Gwenview

Internet
Firefox (Installer)
KMail
KTorrent
KRDC
Kopete
Krfb
Blogilo
Akregator

Multimedia
Dragon Player
KMix
Amarok

Office
OpenOffice.org
Korganizer
Kontact
KAddressBook
KTimeTracker
Okular

Others
Kanagram
KTouch
Parley

Konqueror Sucks
One of the first things I did was to install Firefox via the installer in the Internet applications menu. I don’t use Konqueror these days, mainly because it comes bundled with an ad blocker on by default. I’m not sure who’s bright idea it was to ship it that way, but it will never be used by me. Advertising is still the backbone of the web economy and sites like mine depend on it to earn money to keep publishing content. A browser that is released with an ad blocker on by default is a truly evil thing.

It’s one thing if a user decides to use one but it’s another thing entirely for browser/distro developers to have one included and turned on by default. Firefox has also always seemed compatible with more sites than Konqueror anyway. At this point, Konqueror is pretty much an also-ran browser that really serves very little purpose when compared to Firefox, Chromium or Chrome. So there’s not much point in bothering with it.

Software Management
Kubuntu Netbook Edition uses KPackageKit for its software management. It is not one of my favorite software managers, and I wish the Kubuntu developers would add something similar to what Ubuntu Netbook Edition uses. KPackageKit just doesn’t give a particularly great experience to the end user. That said, however, it is functional.


Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
Flash is not installed by default, so you’ll have to install it before you can enjoy YouTube videos and other multimedia goodies that use flash. DragonPlayer, KMix and Amarok are the bundled multimedia programs that come with Kubuntu Netbook Edition.

Problems & Headaches
My experience with Kubuntu Netbook Edition was very positive, but I did run into a couple of problems. The first thing I noticed was that Plasma Netbook crashed a few times. There was no particularly pattern to it; I couldn’t nail down one thing or another I was doing that set it off.

Plasma Netbook crashed a few times.

The other problem I noted earlier. The inclusion of KPackageKit as the software manager takes the value of this distro down. It really is quite a primitive software manager in some respects compared to what Ubuntu or Linux Mint offers.

At this point in time, Kubuntu (netbook and desktop) should certainly be on par with Ubuntu when it comes to software management. I hope the Kubuntu developers have plans to improve the overall user experience in future releases when it comes to software management.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Kubuntu support page. You can also check out the Kubuntu forums and mailing list.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. And that’s definitely true with this netbook distro. Undoubtedly there are going to be those that very much prefer Ubuntu Netbook Edition to Kubuntu Netbook Edition. Fine, no problem. Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion and should choose what works best for them.

And yet, there’s no denying that Kubuntu Netbook Edition provides a welcome change from its Ubuntu counterpart. Sometimes doing things differently can be a real breath of fresh air, and I’m very glad that this netbook distro is around to offer a choice for users.

Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users should be comfortable with Kubuntu Netbook Edition.

I highly recommend checking out Kubuntu Netbook Edition before you make a final choice in netbook distributions. You might find it to be a pleasant surprise.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Kubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04
Web Site: http://www.kubuntu.org
Price: Free
Pros: Uses Plasma Netbook; comes with a good range of software; fast boot & shutdown times.
Cons: Plasma Netbook crashed a few times; Kubuntu Netbook Edition still uses KPackageKit for its software manager.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Summary: Kubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04 provides a good alternative to Ubuntu Netbook Edition. KDE users will particularly enjoy having this distro on their netbooks.
Rating: 3.5/5

 

Kubuntu Linux 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx)

Last week I looked at Ubuntu Linux 10.04 and found it to be a delightful surprise. This week I thought it would be fun to look at the KDE version, Kubuntu 10.04.

Alas, I was not nearly as pleased with Kubuntu as I was with Ubuntu. While there have definitely been some improvements in Kubuntu 10.04, it lacks some of the important things that defined Ubuntu 10.04.

Read on to find out why you should avoid Kubuntu Linux 10.04 LTS.

What’s New In This Release

Here’s a list of some of what’s new in this release:

The Kubuntu logo has been updated on the splash screen and in the desktop menus
KDE Plasma Desktop 4.4
Linux kernel 2.6.32
Amarok 2.3
Installer slideshow
Touchpad configuration
Firefox KDE integration
System notification updates
Gnome application system tray integration

The updated Kubuntu logo is fine but seems to only appear on the bootsplash screen and the desktop menus. Beyond that there is no other branding to indicate that Canonical is behind the release of this distro.

The new Plasma desktop has some goodies in it including an improved system tray that includes widgets, better search via Dolphin and the ability to let you browse through a recently used timeline. You can now also group windows into tabs.

The inclusion of a slideshow during the install is a great idea. It lets newbies know what’s available in this distro and helps keep the user entertained while the install concludes.

If you’re using a laptop then the touchpad configuration in System Settings is a welcome addition. I rarely use my laptop so it’s not particularly relevant for me but I’m glad to see it in this release.

The system notification updates are also helpful. When I first opened Konqueror, I was greeted with a menu asking if I wanted to install additional codecs. See the screenshot of this in the Sound and Multimedia section of the review to see what it looks like.

I’m very happy to see Firefox integrated with KDE. That’s an excellent thing for those of us who prefer Firefox as our default browsers instead of Konqueror. It’s also good to see GNOME apps blending into the KDE Plasma desktop in a more cohesive way.

The new Kubuntu logo appears in the desktop menus. 

System Requirements & Installation

System Requirements
Here’s a list of what’s necessary to install and run Kubuntu:

1 GHz x86 processor
512 MB of system memory (RAM)
5 GB of disk space
Graphics card and monitor capable of 1024×768
CD-ROM drive
Sound support
Internet access

The Kubuntu install is similar to the regular Ubuntu install and should not present any problems for experienced or inexperienced users.

The screenshots below walk you through the install from start to finish, and you can watch a slideshow while the install is completed.


Booting & Login

Bootsplash
The bootsplash screen in Kubuntu is one of the few places in this distro that you actually see Canonical’s new branding. The Kubuntu logo has been updated to reflect Canonical’s changes. Unfortunately, this is about the only thing that is on par with its GNOME based cousin in this respect.

The Kubuntu bootsplash screen.

Login Screen
The login screen immediately disappoints, it has nothing on it to indicate a connection with Canonical. It simply comes across as a generic login screen that could be a part of Joe Blow’s distro as opposed to something from a major Linux company like Canonical. The login screen is a harbinger of more disappointment to come in Kubuntu.

The Kubuntu 10.04 login screen.

The Desktop
As noted earlier, Kubuntu uses the KDE 4.4 Plasma desktop environment. I noted some of the good things that come with this version of Plasma in the What’s New section, so I won’t repeat those here. But suffice to say, Plasma definitely has some pluses to it.

If you are expecting Kubuntu’s desktop look and feel to resemble the gorgeous Ambiance theme used in Ubuntu 10.04, think again. Kubuntu’s desktop does not resemble Ubuntu’s at all. Frankly, I dislike it. It’s bland and dull. There’s nothing striking about it whatsoever and I recommend customizing Kubuntu as soon as possible to change the look and feel.

I know that some will say “…but it’s KDE you idiot! Why should it look like the GNOME version?” It’s called branding and Kubuntu utterly lacks any significant kind of Canonical branding on the desktop and in general (with the exception of the bootsplash logo and the logo in the menus).

The fact that Kubuntu is KDE-based is beside the point. It has the “ubuntu” in its name so it’s right and reasonable for users to expect it to have a similar look and feel to the GNOME version. Instead it looks like a desktop that could have been included in Joe Blow’s Distro rather than something major from Canonical.

Themes
If you want to download new themes to change the style of Kubuntu, access System Settings then click on Style. The default style is Air and you can change it to Oxygen if you want. But there are other choices available via the Get New Themes button on the Style menu.

Wallpaper
The default wallpaper is Ethais, an icky light-bluish mess that I immediately wanted to replace. To change your wallpaper, go into Desktop Settings and click on Wallpaper. There’s a whole bunch of different ones you can download to replace the default Kubuntu wallpaper.

Icons
As with styles, you can change your icons by clicking on the Icons button in System Settings then clicking the Get New Themes button.

The Kubuntu 10.04 desktop is bland and dull looking.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
No games included.

Graphics
Document Viewer
OpenOffice.org Drawing
Image Viewer
KSnapshot

Internet
KTorrent
Krfb
Akregator
Kopete IM
KPPP
Quassel IRC
KMail
Firefox Installer
Konqueror
KRDC

Multimedia
Amarok
K3B
KMix
Dragon Video Player

Office
OpenOffice.org
KOrganizer
Kontact
KAddressBook
KTimeTracker

Others
KNotes
KCalc
Klipper
KMag
Kate

Software Management
One of the biggest problems with Kubuntu is its lack of the Ubuntu Software Center. Kubuntu uses KPackageKit to manage software and, frankly, it sucks. It’s ugly, it’s non-intuitive and it really has no place in any distro with “ubuntu” in its name. The word “ubuntu” suggests ease of use and comfort in a desktop distro, but KPackageKit provides little in that regard.

It would be one thing if there was no Ubuntu Software Center available at all; users would not have very high expectations and might settle for KPackageKit. But we’re way past that point and something needs to be done to improve the software management experience in Kubuntu.

KPackageKit needs to be replaced with a KDE version of the Ubuntu Software Center.

Sound and Multimedia
I had no problems with sound working in Kubuntu. The only thing I needed to do was to install flash to run YouTube videos. Once flash was installed the videos played well and sounded fine.

One thing I found lacking was the non-inclusion of the PiTiVi video editor. I was puzzled to find that it wasn’t available in Kubuntu. It certainly would have made sense for it to be included in the Multimedia applications menu by default for users that want to edit videos.

If it’s available in Ubuntu 10.04 then why not have it available in Kubuntu 10.04?

Flash wasn’t installed by default in Konqueror.

When first opening Konqueror, a menu will popup asking if you want to install plug-ins.

Problems & Headaches
As I noted earlier, one of the things that puzzles me about Kubuntu is that it uses a totally different desktop theme that looks nothing like Ubuntu’s. Some may find this pleasing but I do not. The Ambiance theme in Ubuntu 10.04 helps set it apart from other distros and makes it easy to identify at a glance. I’m not sure why the folks at Canonical don’t do a KDE version of Ambiance for Kubuntu. The default desktop theme is basic and essential branding for Canonical’s desktop product and there’s no reason for Kubuntu to look so different from Ubuntu.

The use of F-Spot as a replacement for GIMP has been very controversial among Ubuntu users. But in Kubuntu, neither application is installed by default. So there really is nothing for desktop users to use as an image-editing program. This is an odd decision on Canonical’s part. Why isn’t one application or the other included in Kubuntu?

One truly bizarre omission is Gwibber. Gwibber is the social media client found in Ubuntu but there seems to be nothing similar available in Kubuntu. This is particularly odd in light of this bit of text from the Kubuntu News page:

“Our selection of tools and applications will provide you with all that you need for most of your tasks, with many more available just a few clicks away. Whether browsing the web, playing your music, composing an email or connecting with your friends on social networks, Kubuntu 10.04 LTS brings you a stable, innovative and attractive platform for all your desktop needs!”

Huh? Connecting with friends on social networks? How? With what? I looked on the Internet applications menu but Gwibber wasn’t there and neither was anything else to replace it. If Canonical is going to market Kubuntu as being social media friendly, it really needs to make sure that there is something along the lines of Gwibber included with it.

Another inconsistency is that the title bar buttons are on the right, unlike in Ubuntu where they are on the left. Yes, I know that some people prefer them on the right but it seems clear that a single standard from Canonical on this would make sense. And no, I’m not buying the excuse that since this is KDE the buttons are fine on the right. Some interface consistency would probably be helpful to most users.

Firefox was not installed by default but there is an installer built into the Internet applications menu. Frankly, I’d rather that Firefox be the default browser but this is a KDE distro so it’s not surprising that Konqueror is the default browser. Konqi is a fine browser in its own right but I still prefer Firefox or Chrome for my daily browsing needs.

Finally, I was shocked to notice that Ubuntu One was nowhere to be found in Kubuntu. Um…isn’t Ubuntu One (the music store and the online service) an important part of the Ubuntu experience? Shouldn’t there be some trace of them in Kubuntu? Is Ubuntu One only meant for GNOME users?

What a strange situation for Kubuntu users. It’s as if their money isn’t wanted by Canonical. The decision to omit Ubuntu One from Kubuntu makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.

You’ll find a Firefox installer built-into the Internet applications menu.

You’ll need to install Firefox.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Kubuntu Wiki, FAQ, and Community Support page.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I had high hopes for Kubuntu after last week’s review of Ubuntu 10.04. However, it seems clear that Kubuntu is still a bit of an orphan and not very high on Canonical’s list of priorities. The lack of similar theme, title bar buttons on the right, no software center, and various other problems mean that Kubuntu just isn’t up to par with Ubuntu.

Frankly, anybody could have released Kubuntu. There is little or nothing here to indicate that it is part of Canonical’s product family. It’s just a generic KDE-based desktop distro with little or nothing to set it apart or to draw users to it. I’m forced to wonder why Canonical even bothers with it in the first place. I think it’s time for the company to decide whether or not it really wants to continue releasing Kubuntu. Either make it on par with Ubuntu in all ways or simply discontinue it altogether.

I recommend that everybody avoid Kubuntu. If you must use a KDE-based distro, wait for the KDE version of Linux Mint. You’ll have a much better experience and you won’t waste your time with Kubuntu. I’m sorry to have to say that, I had hoped for much more from Kubuntu 10.04. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t measure up to Ubuntu 10.04 and it’s best avoided if at all possible.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Kubuntu Linux LTS 10.04
Web Site: http://www.kubuntu.org/
Price: Free
Pros: Provides the latest KDE 4.4 Plasma desktop. Install includes a slideshow to entertain users. Touchpad configuration menu for laptop users. Firefox integrated with KDE. Better system notification updates.
Cons: Lacks a social media app like Gwibber. F-Spot, GIMP and PiTiVi are not installed by default. Ambiance theme from Ubuntu not available. Uses KPackageKit for software management, the Ubuntu Software Center is not available. The Ubuntu One online service and music store are also not included.
Suitable For: Only the most die-hard KDE users who simply must have “ubuntu” in the name of their KDE-based distro. Others should wait for the KDE version of Linux Mint.
Summary: Kubuntu is a sad disappointment and should have the “ubuntu” removed from its name. There is nothing in this release that remotely puts it on par with Ubuntu Linux 10.04 LTS.
Rating: 2.5/5

 

Kubuntu Linux 9.10

Last week I took a look at the latest release of Ubuntu. This week I thought it would be great to continue with Kubuntu Linux 9.10. For those who aren’t familiar with Kubuntu, it’s basically the KDE version of Ubuntu (Ubuntu uses Gnome as its desktop environment).

Before I get into this review, I wanted to note the ongoing server problems DLR has been having. Please accept my apologies if you’ve been trying to access DLR or the DLR forum. DLR is growing and the additional traffic has caused some server overloads. My hosting company will be moving DLR to a more robust server (hopefully this week) and that might help. I have also installed the WP Supercache plugin. I thank all of you for your patience while we get the server/bandwidth issues worked out.

Please note also that I have added another page navigation plugin that will let you easily move between pages. Each page has a title so you can skip the parts of the review that don’t interest you. Just look below the regular numbered page links at the top and bottom of each review and you’ll see a handy dropdown menu. I hope it provides some value and makes navigation easier and more comfortable.

I have also added the Sociable plugin to make sharing DLR content easier. You’ll see icons for Facebook, Digg and other social networking sites right at the bottom of each article. Hope that helps for those who wish to share content that the enjoy here on DLR.

Okay, with that said, onto to the rest of the review.

What’s New In This Release
There’s a lot of great new stuff in this release. Here’s a list of some of what you’ll find in this release:

KDE 4.3
Social Networking Features (Various Widgets)
OpenOffice.org Integration
Ayatana Integration
New Look for Installer
Amarok 2.2
KPackageKit
Userconfig Returns
Enhanced Network Manager
GTK+ Integration
Firefox Installer

Some folks might not enjoy the social networking features included in this release but I liked them a lot. I have a Facebook and Twitter account so I find apps that let me access those two services to be quite useful and I’m glad to see them in Kubuntu 9.10. Note that if you are on Facebook you can become a fan of Desktop Linux Reviews.

The latest version of Kubuntu comes with social networking desktop widgets.

The latest version of Kubuntu comes with social networking desktop widgets.

The OpenOffice.org integration is nice but really didn’t matter too much to me. I use OO relatively sparingly these days as I write my columns for ExtremeTech using Google Docs most of the time and I write these reviews in WordPress. But I always like to have OO available just in case and it’s nice that it’s better integrated with KDE this time around.

The slicked up installed looked good too though I didn’t notice any significant change in terms of speed or ease of the install.

Requirements & Installation
I was unable to find Kubuntu-specific system requirements on the Kubuntu site so here are the general Ubuntu system requirements:

Bare Minimum requirements
* 300 MHz x86 processor
* 64 MB of system memory (RAM)
* At least 4 GB of disk space (for full installation and swap space)
* VGA graphics card capable of 640×480 resolution
* CD-ROM drive or network card

Recommended minimum requirements
* 700 MHz x86 processor
* 384 MB of system memory (RAM)
* 8 GB of disk space
* Graphics card capable of 1024×768 resolution
* Sound card
* A network or Internet connection

Installing Kubuntu is as easy as installing Ubuntu. This release has a gussied up installer that is more pleasing to the eye.

Unfortunately, as I noted above, I can’t say I noticed any speed improvement. For some reason Kubuntu takes a bit longer to install than Ubuntu. I’m not sure why but I’d like to see parity in terms of the installation. Though I may be nitpicking here a bit because it’s not like there’s a huge difference between the two. Kubuntu just seems to consistently lag Ubuntu while being installed.

The Kubuntu installer has been gussied up for this release.

The Kubuntu installer has been gussied up for this release.

Installing Kubuntu is as easy as installing Ubuntu.

Installing Kubuntu is as easy as installing Ubuntu.

Desktop & Apps
When I first booted into my Kubuntu Linux 9.10 desktop, two things greeted me. One was the Desktop folder which was opened and empty. And the other was a microblogging service menu. If you like KDE 4.3 then you’re really going to enjoy Kubuntu 9.10.

Please note that if you prefer KDE 3.5, a remix is available. I’m not going to do a review of it but wanted to note it here for those who are still not ready to make the leap to KDE 4.3.

Personally I find myself liking KDE 4.3 more now than I have in the past. I don’t know if I’ve just gotten used to it or what. But it’s easy on the eyes for sure and it’s a nice break from Gnome and some of the light-weight desktops. Even the sliding menus didn’t annoy me too much this time around.

Here’s a sample of some of the software that comes with Kubuntu 9.10.

Graphics
DNG Image Converter
Document Viewer
OpenOffice.org Drawing
Gwenview Image Viewer
KSnapshot

Internet
KTorrent
Krfb Desktop Sharing
Kopete IM
Quassel IRC
KMail
Firefox (Comes with Firefox Installer)
Konqueror

Multimedia
Amarok Audio Player
K3b CD & DVD Burning
KMix Sound Mixer
Dragon Video Player

Office
KAddressBook
Okular Document Viewer
KOrganizer
OpenOffice.org
KTimeTracker

Adding & Removing Software
Kubuntu uses KPackageKit as its software add/remove tool. I’ll have much more to say about it in the problems section but suffice to say I wasn’t particularly impressed with it. I was able to add some software using it but the experience left much to be desired.

The Kubuntu Desktop

Sound and Multimedia
I had no problems with sound after booting into my Kubuntu desktop.

In order to play YouTube videos in Konqueror, I had to install a Flash plugin. I went into the KPackageKit software tool and found the plugin. I loaded it and then restarted Konqueror. When I first loaded a YouTube video there was no video on the page. The message about the plugin was gone so I knew it wasn’t that that was causing a problem. Looking through the Konqueror settings, I realized that Adblock was turned on by default. I turned it off and reloaded the page and then the video loaded. I have a lot more to say below about Adblock being on by default.

One Adblock was turned off, I had no problems loading YouTube videos. The videos looked great and the sound was flawless.

I was not able to get my DVD to play in Dragon Video Player. The DVD was listed there but didn’t load or otherwise play.

When I started Dragon Video Player it told me I should install additional packages for better multimedia functionality. However, it didn’t specify which ones and the popup message disappeared in a few seconds. This is not exactly a great way to let a user know about these kinds of things. A popup with a link to additional packages or some other clue might be a good idea.

What I Liked Most
I found myself liking this release of Kubuntu a lot better than the last one. I particularly liked the social media networking widgets I was able to run on my KDE desktop. I like to keep track of what’s going on and those two widgets came in handy.

I also liked the fact that KDE is finally moving toward including Firefox by default, hopefully in the next release it will be installed and will eventually be the default browser for KDE.

Problems & Headaches
One of the things I liked least about Kubuntu was the default blockage of advertising in Konqueror. I don’t know who made this decision but for sites like DLR it has the potential to hurt a lot financially. Default blocking of ads in a browser is a great way to insure that the only sites who survive are the ones that charge a subscription fee or who force you to pay to read each article via micro-transactions (charging 99 cents per article or whatever).

Having Adblocker on by default also screwed up the YouTube videos I was trying to play as nothing loaded in Konqueror with it on. I figured it out but it might cause some serious frustration to newbies to KDE based distros and those folks might not have any idea what the problem is on their system.

Come on Konqueror developers or whoever made the decision to have Konqi block ads by default. Wake up and understand the consequences of your decision. It’s bad for the web economy and it’s quite stupid to block YouTube videos from loading in people’s browsers. It’s no wonder that Konqueror has such a small base of users compared to Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc.

And speaking of browsers, another thing I didn’t like was that Firefox wasn’t installed by default. There is a Firefox installer present in the Kubuntu menu but why make the user install it at all? If you’re going to stick the Firefix installer in then why not just have the browser itself already included? I don’t know if this is a KDE thing or what but it makes no sense to me.

Another issue with Kubuntu is the lack of the Ubuntu Software Center. If you download regular Ubuntu you get a very nice software app included that’s easy to use and that provides a nice range of software. Kubuntu lacks this and has an add/remove software tool (KPackageKit) that strikes me as ugly, non-intuitive and just generally disappointing. When trying to view “All Packages,” for example, nothing was displayed. I could view individual categories and it would refresh appropriately but nothing happened when I tried to view all packages.

KPackageKit left a lot to be desired when it came to managing software.

KPackageKit left a lot to be desired when it came to managing software.

I know that the Ubuntu developers put most of their effort into the Gnome-based version of Ubuntu but if you are going to release Kubuntu then why not include the Ubuntu Software Center in it too? KDE users certainly deserve the same attractive interface and ease of use that Gnome users get.

Finally, one glaring omission from Kubuntu is Ubuntu One. Despite some problems I had with it while reviewing Ubuntu 9.10, I generally viewed it as a positive addition to Ubuntu. And yet there seems to be no link to it in any of the Kubuntu menus. Ubuntu One is prominently displayed in the Places menu in Ubuntu 9.10 but no such link exists anywhere in Kubuntu 9.10 that I could find.

Why wasn’t Ubuntu One included in Kubuntu? Since it appears to be accessible in any browser then why not include overt links to it in Kubuntu? It appears to be yet another glaring example of Canonical’s double standard for KDE users. Perhaps the company simply expects KDE users to sit down, shut up and accept second class citizen status? If so, that’s a bad attitude to have and I say that as someone who doesn’t really use KDE all that much. I’d like to see some parity when it comes to Gnome and KDE by the Canonical developers.

Where To Get Help
You can always post a note in the Desktop Linux Reviews Forum and we’ll do our best to offer feedback or at least point you in the right direction. You might also want to check out the Kubuntu Wiki, the Kubuntu FAQ, and the Kubuntu Support Page (forums, IRC, mailing list, commercial support).

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I’m please to (mostly) give this release of Kubuntu a thumbs up. Yes, there were some things I didn’t like but overall I think this is a step up from the last release and it’s quite usable. I’d like to see a better software management tool but it is functional as it is (though it leaves much to be desired in some ways) and I don’t think it’s a show-stopper.

Kubuntu can be used by beginners and more experienced users alike. However, beginners might want to opt for the KDE version of Linux Mint after it is updated to incorporate the latest version of Ubuntu (9.10). It’s not that Kubuntu isn’t worth using, it’s just that Linux Mint is a bit more elegant and includes additional software that makes using it easier and more comfortable right from the start.

Still, I think that Kubuntu is worth a download and well worth considering if you’re a KDE fan.

Summary Table:

Product: Kubuntu Linux 9.10
Web Site: http://www.kubuntu.org/
Price: Free
Pros: KDE 4.3, social media desktop widgets, Firefox installer, OpenOffice.org integration.
Cons: Poor software management tool. Does not include Flash by default for playing YouTube videos, etc. Adblock is on by default and may potentially impact multimedia experience on the Web.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux user.
Summary: Kubuntu Linux 9.10 updates the KDE desktop to version 4.3 and provides some additional goodies for KDE users. Well worth upgrading to if you are currently running an earlier version of Kubuntu.
Rating: 3.5/5

Kubuntu 9.04

No writer is completely without bias. I do the best I can to be even-handed and objective when reviewing a distribution. I have to admit though that I’ve been far too biased toward covering Gnome-based distributions and haven’t nearly covered as many KDE-based counterparts. I’ll be trying in the future to have a more balanced selection of reviews that cover both desktops plus some other environments.

So, with that said, I thought it would be fun to take a look at Kubuntu 9.04. I reviewed its Gnome counterpart on ET a while back and it’s fitting that Kubuntu be one of the first distributions reviewed here on DLR.

What’s New in This Release
Quite a few new goodies in this release and here’s a sampling of what you’ll find:

KDE 4.2.2
New Package Kit app for software management
Printer config in System Settings
Quassel (IRC client)
Amarok 2.0.2
KDE 4 plasma widget network manager
Digikam 0.10.0
Ktorrent 3.2
Qt 4.5
GTK app integration

Installation
Since Kubuntu 9.04 is a Live CD you can run it without installing it to get a taste of it. I installed it as I like to see how long it takes to install and if any snafus come up during the install process.

I ran into one problem while installing but it had nothing to do with Kubuntu. I had not been keeping track of the space on my disk and VMWare stopped the install because I didn’t have enough space. So I had to restart the install after freeing up some hard disk space. Whoops! I lose track sometimes because I usually have a few distros hanging around plus all of my usual stuff. I wish I had a 100 terabyte hard disk…now that would come in handy doing these reviews for sure!

After restarting the install, I had no problems getting Kubuntu 9.04 running and I was able to boot into my KDE 4.2 desktop.

Picture 3

Desktop & Apps
It’s definitely a change of pace for me booting into a KDE desktop rather than Gnome. The first thing I saw was the Desktop folder open. I closed it as I dislike having it open.  The sound also worked fine as my desktop booted up.

The KDE panel is attractive to look at and clicking on the K button is the functional equivalent of the Start menu in Windows. The folder with a star allows you easy access to the following parts of your computer:

Desktop
Documents
Music
Pictures
Public
Templates
Videos

You’ll also notice on the panel that you can configure multiple desktops and access the Plasma Dashboard that will let you configure widgets for your desktop. Widget options include but are not limited to the following:

Notes
Weather
Dictionary
Life (Game)
Comic Strip
Binary Click
System Tray
Eyes (XEyes clone)
Network Manager
Luna (display moon phases)
Timer
Twitter
Fuzzy Clock

There are quite a few widgets to choose from, more than enough to clutter up your desktop and drive you mad as you try to organize them. As you can tell I am not really a widget person. My desktops usually end up cluttered enough with this or that so adding a lot of widgets could potentially make it worse. Your mileage may vary, however.

Note also that there is a software updates icon on the panel too. Click that and you can begin updating your newly installed Kubuntu system. I had no problem downloading and installing all of my updates. My system was connected to the internet right after booting into my KDE desktop, no additional network configuration was necessary on my end.

Kubuntu 9.04 includes some of the following in its base install:

OpenOffice.org
Konqueror
Gwenview (image viewer)
KSnapshot (screenies)
Okular (doc viewer)
Kontact (PIM)
Kopete (IM)
Amarok
KTorrent
Akregator (feed reader)
Krfb (desktop sharing)
K3b (CD & DVD burning)
Dragon Player (video player)
KAddressBook
KOrganizer
KMail

If you want to add more software you can click the K button then System Settings and then Add/Remove Software under the Computer Administration menu section.

Picture 7

Problems & Headaches
One thing I noticed about Kubuntu 9.04 is that the Live CD boot up time seemed slow compared to Fedora 11 or even Linux Mint. I’m not sure if this is a KDE thing or what but…chunky…is how I would describe it. Not that that is that big of a deal but a speedier loading time would surely be nice.

I was annoyed to notice that Firefox and GIMP were not installed by default. Okay, I get that this is a KDE distro and that Konqueror is the main browser. But come on, no Firefox? I like Konqi but I’m not going to use it as my main browser all the time. And GIMP is simply a must-have app on any Linux system. There’s no reason not to include it by default. Oddly enough I did a search and there seemed to be some GIMP help files included but not the application itself. Weird.

I was also annoyed by the way the menus would slide back and forth as I navigated the Applications menu. This is clearly a KDE thing but I don’t like it all. I’d prefer a cascading menu to the sliding back and forth thing. Perhaps this is something I will get used to over time as I use KDE more and more. But right now…grrrrrrr…I don’t care for it.

I also thought the Add/Remove Software tool sucked. You can search and you can apply filters but you can’t seem to easily or comfortably browse categories of software. That really isn’t acceptable as some users, particularly newer ones might prefer to browse for new apps. I’d like to see this changed in future versions of this tool.

I found it strange that when I clicked on the icon in the panel for the Plasma Dashbord, my panel disappeared. Why must the panel go away when the Plasma Dashboard pops up at the top of the screen? The panel is at the bottom so shouldn’t it just stay? This is peculiar behavior for a desktop environment, I didn’t care for it.

Picture 6

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
You are either a KDE/Kubuntu person or you’re not. I didn’t particularly enjoy using it and I would not use it as my main Linux distro. Given that we have alternatives like Linux Mint that are so much more of a pleasure to use and are at least equally pleasing to the eye, Kubuntu falls short.

Who should use it? Probably experienced Linux users that enjoy KDE and prefer it to Gnome. I would not recommend that newbies to Linux bother with it except as way to tinker and get some KDE experience on their desktop. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad per se but there are other alternatives out there that might be better for newer folks.

Summary Table:

Product: Kubuntu 9.04
Web Site: http://www.kubuntu.org
Price: Free
Pros: Easy install, colorful desktop. Good selection of desktop widgets.
Cons: Crappy add/remove software tool. Annoying sliding menus.
Summary: Kubuntu offers a KDE based alternative to regular Ubuntu.
Rating: 2.5/5