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.
What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:
Kontact Suite 4.7
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.