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Kubuntu 11.10

October 3, 2011
By

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

 


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22 Responses to Kubuntu 11.10

  1. Hans on January 11, 2012 at 1:31 am

    @ mark:

    hi Mark,

    this question may be stupid, but anyway:

    Would the Lancelot menu work in Ubuntu 11.10 without a lot of fiddling around?

    Thanks, Hans

  2. Jose on December 31, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Ugye jól látom hogy az ajánlott memóriakövetelmény csak 512MB-t? Hogy lehet az hogy sokkal kevesebb (pontosan fele annyi rammal) elfut mint az ubuntu?

  3. Zia on December 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    The Classic/Breadcrumb menu difference seems very alike to Windows XP Classic/Modern menu.

    Very good choice to help whoever wants to migrate from Windows to Linux.

    Anyway i'm what's called a Gnome refugee, i like Ubuntu but not Gnome3/Unity, so i alternate between Kubuntu and Xubuntu.

  4. Chip Bennett on November 12, 2011 at 9:18 am

    @ iainm2:

    UbuntuOne can't be made to work natively with Dolphin because the UbuntuOne developers are too busy making Windows and Mac clients.

    Personally, I think that Kubuntu could be a surefire way to gain desktop market share, but Canonical is apparently too interested in Apple-fying itself. If Kubuntu weren't the hands-down best just-works-right KDE distro, Canonical's second-class treatment of the ostensibly official Kubuntu distro would be enough to send me looking elsewhere.

    /rant

  5. Brian Masinick on November 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I am back after calling up this review with the single page view; it works nice, glad you added it, Jim!

    As far as the various alternatives with KDE, that, to me, is one of its redeeming features. Being able to use either a Kickoff or Classic navigational menu are pluses, as far as I am concerned. At times, the Classic Menu seems "nicer", more familiar, and yet, with both Favorites and the breadcrumb features available, getting to the applications most frequently used is not a big deal. Being able to populate either the Taskbar or the desktop with quick access to applications is another useful choice.

    I have not been nearly as enthusiastic about the way that Plasma allows you to populate the Taskbar as in versions of KDE that are now long past, but I do feel that KDE 2, KDE 3, and Xfce do a better job of making it easy to create one click access to most commonly used applications directly on the Taskbar; that's still my preferred way to quickly run programs.

    I find it easier in Xfce, for example, to install versions of Firefox Nightly and Seamonkey Nightly, or for that matter, Google Chrome, Opera, and other apps, then tie them or pin them to the Taskbar. Even Windows, whether XP, Vista, or Windows 7, do a better job in my opinion, with this particular feature than KDE 4, but early versions of KDE "Did this the right way", at least for me.

    Still, with the multiple ways of navigating and selecting the most commonly used applications, and the way that you can customize different navigational views that are distinct on different desktops, that still makes KDE more flexible in that regard than any other desktop environment.

    In performance, for a desktop so rich in features, it is still possible to set up KDE in a reasonably efficient manner. If you choose not to enable every possible feature, and you have a system with only modest performance, you can still configure KDE to work pretty well, and Kubuntu does a good job with this.

    My Kubuntu 11.10 installation is on a Gateway 2000 Model PA6A, a 2007-2008 vintage 17" portable with a 1.73 GHz Intel T2080 Duo Core processor with a 1024 KB cache, 800.00 MHz Clock Speed for each processor, 2015.3MB of usable memory, and a single 160.0GB WDC_WD1600BEVS disk drive. It is not cutting edge; it's getting old, yet it works great with Kubuntu, nearly as snappy as Xubuntu 11.10, though not as nimble as Lubuntu 11.10, which is downright fast, even on this aging equipment.

    If you are going to use KDE 4.7+, then Kubuntu 11.10 is one of your better options. Compare it to Sabayon, openSUSE, and Mageia, and Kubuntu is as current as the latest releases from the others, and it performs at least as well, if not better, than most of the others, and at least right now, it is about as up-to-date and defect free as its competition, and I check those things fairly often.

    All in all, Kubuntu 11.10 competes very effectively with other recent KDE-based distributions. It has few defects, no glaring issues at all that I have uncovered, it performs respectably well, and it is up to date. Those are good characteristics to have. You're not going to have to toy around with Kubuntu a lot to get it to work; you only have to put into it what you want. With the Ubuntu repositories behind it, that is an easy proposition; you won't have to spend countless hours fiddling with it.

    I did choose to replace Network Manager with wicd, but for a change, Network Manager did work fine; I just prefer wicd.

    Muon had some problems occasionally during testing, but those appear to be ironed out nicely. You might want to go out and grab another Web browser from Muon (or you can install synaptic if you prefer it), but the default Rekonq Web browser will get the job done effectively if you would rather not fiddle with the default configuration. You may want to set identification strings in the browser to make it render certain sites effectively, but that capability seems to be there, and it does the job.

  6. GreyGeek on November 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Last weekend I installed Kubuntu 11.10 on an old Dell Inspiron 8200 laptop. It slid on like a silk glove. Even the whittle bug between keys G, H and B worked beautifully. I needed to use XRender to eliminate a title bar dislocation and get desktop effects to work. Also, I had to install firmwware-b43legacy-installer to get the Broadcom 4306 to turn on. All in all, Kubuntu is about 10% faster than the XP Pro SP2 that was pre-installed on that laptop. Very usable, even though the 8200 is a 32 bit Pentium 4 with 1GB of RAM and a 2.0 GHz CPU.

    On my own laptop, a Sony VAIO VGN-FW140E, I run Kubuntu Lucid LTS, and it is an absolute dream!

  7. Alex on November 11, 2011 at 10:59 am

    @ Condoulo:

    Condoulo wrote:

    As for the Kickoff menu, I actually do continue to use it. But, I give it the same shortcut that I would give GNOME-DO in GNOME, Super+Space, and then I’ll just type in what I want to open.

    For me, the killing feature of KDE is krunner ( alt+f2). It's far better than gnome-do. Besides, you can change the shortcut …

  8. iainm2 on November 11, 2011 at 6:21 am

    Yes it is good but why can UbuntuOne not be made to work with Dolphin. I also don't think that fonts in Kubuntu display as nicely as they do in Ubuntu (tin hat and flame proof coat on) but maybe this is just my perception.

  9. lefty.crupps on November 11, 2011 at 4:41 am

    @ Makanaima:

    > But can you stream movies from a windows/samba share

    stream with smb://server/path/to/files in any KDE app. This is one of many "KIO Slave" options (sftp:// and imap:// and more) that I wish GNOME apps would incorporate :(
    http://gnuski.blogspot.com/2011/10/gnome-desktop-

  10. lefty.crupps on November 11, 2011 at 4:38 am

    KDE 4.7 looks nice! I'm on Debian with KDE 4.6 and its not gone anywhere in a long time. I've never been a fan of Kubuntu's KDE implementation tho, they always seem to dumb it down and remove the options that I use, like GNOME would do. Do you think that is the case?
    http://gnuski.blogspot.com/2011/10/debian-sid-idl

  11. Condoulo on November 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    I am a user of Ubuntu on my laptop, with Unity of course, and I use Kubuntu on the desktop because it seemed to be what worked best w/ catalyst and my multiple monitors.

    Overall, I've been really enjoying Kubuntu 11.10. The Muon Package Manager really took me by surprise, and I have to say I really enjoy using it.

    As for the Kickoff menu, I actually do continue to use it. But, I give it the same shortcut that I would give GNOME-DO in GNOME, Super+Space, and then I'll just type in what I want to open.

  12. Makanaima on November 10, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    But can you stream movies from a windows/samba share without having to copy the whole bloody thing to your local desktop?

    If not, it's back to gnome GIO/VFS for me….

  13. Brian Masinick on November 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Of the full-featured Ubuntu variations for the 11.10 release, this one is the most complete one. Like Jim, when I installed it, I did not encounter any problems. Actually, I did not encounter any problems, except a few minor ones, during development either. Just before, or right around release, I did have a few synchronization issues with the Muon package manager, one or two dialog box errors, and one issue with Rekonq, but each of these issues was quickly resolved within one or two package updates, and there is even a chance that the root cause of the issues were package update related, catching the updates midway through some fixes. All the problems are gone, and they were so few during development that I am inclined to conclude that the issues were all local network-related; in any case, everything works perfectly now, and it's definitely the BEST Kubuntu release I've seen, and it has now been improved to the point where it is also a leading KDE-based distribution as well.

    Bill Julian wrote:

    Jim I have been running 11.10 for two (three?) weeks or so at this point. On my “mid-range” 15 inch laptop it loads up and runs nicely. Like you I go straight to the Classic Menu, which seems more efficient for me. When I first saw it I characterized the “Kick-Off” menu style as “a solution in search of a problem.” I still think that is what it is, but I like the idea that KDE provides a choice! Gnome 3 crew, can you take a hint?

    The basic app package for 11.10 works well for me once the Chrome browser is on board.

    I do not miss kpackagekit at all. The Kubuntu improvements in this area are good.

    For new users there is a nice website at http://www.howtoforge.com/the-perfect-desktop-kub
    for desktop configuration.

    This is the best of the Buntus. Thanks for a nice review Jim.

  14. Gustov on November 10, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Even better than Lancelot is the Takeoff Launcher. Read about it at
    http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2011/11/08/takeoff-with

  15. Abe on November 10, 2011 at 10:56 am

    @ mark:

    And what is great about Lancelot Menu is you can install and use it concurrently with other menus. No need to switch on/off like one has to do with KickOff or Classic menus. Also, you can have its widget in a panel or on the desktop.

    And yes, I agree with sigra, Kubuntu is simply the best and has been my favorite Distro after dropping Novel Suse when it signed its agreement with MS.

  16. john kordic's g on November 10, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I bought a Dell Mini about 3 years ago that came with Ubuntu and was my big 'experiment' with Linux.

    After 3 months, my wife and I hated it with a passion. She called it depressing.

    I was about to figure out how to install XP on a netbook when a coworket told me his son knew about Linux. He was 13 then.

    Told me about CHOICE in desktops and to try Kubuntu.

    We gave up on XP as our main OS one month later (kept it dualboot for games)

    and by years end all four family computers were running Linux.

    Have used PCLinuxOS, Xubuntu, Puppy and tested many other distros but Kubuntu stays on our big desktop because without it, we'd probably be back in Win virus hell.

    The kid told me to stick with the Buntu's if I was confident in my google fu and wasnt afraid to copypaste into terminal. And have to admit, he is right. The search returns for a problem are MUCH higher than other distros. Its allowed me to be more self reliant (not that IRC folks havent been great when I had major glitches) and not just reinstall everything anew. Dont laugh, its so easy and fast to do that it often seemed like the best solution (always backup).

    So you can say I have a bit of a bias outlook on this.

    however, Im not yet sold on Muon. I get what theyre trying to do but it still feels unfinished. kpackagekit did not bother me like it did others. it did what I needed it to do.

    still waiting for someone to add size options for system tray icons.

    you can make everything bigger with KDE, icons, fonts, taskbars but no matter how much bigger the panels get, the icons stay small. for people with bad eyesight, its a propblem since you often look at it.

  17. Bill Julian on November 10, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Jim I have been running 11.10 for two (three?) weeks or so at this point. On my "mid-range" 15 inch laptop it loads up and runs nicely. Like you I go straight to the Classic Menu, which seems more efficient for me. When I first saw it I characterized the "Kick-Off" menu style as "a solution in search of a problem." I still think that is what it is, but I like the idea that KDE provides a choice! Gnome 3 crew, can you take a hint?

    The basic app package for 11.10 works well for me once the Chrome browser is on board.

    I do not miss kpackagekit at all. The Kubuntu improvements in this area are good.

    For new users there is a nice website at http://www.howtoforge.com/the-perfect-desktop-kub
    for desktop configuration.

    This is the best of the Buntus. Thanks for a nice review Jim.

  18. Jim Lynch on November 9, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Mark, thanks for the tip. Great idea. :smile:

  19. sigra on November 9, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Kubuntu in my book is the best distro of all hands down.

  20. mark on November 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    If you don’t like KickOff menu, as apparently many don’t, then replace it with Lancelot Menu.

    http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2011/07/19/lancelot-menu/

    I personally prefer the “show categories inside the applet” option. “Open categories in a popup menu” is also an interesting option.

    Nice.

  21. Jim Lynch on November 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Oops! Please note that this review of Kubuntu 11.10 was written AFTER the review of Ubuntu 11.10. I messed up on the date when I published it.

    Doh! :blush: :angel: :whistle:



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