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
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.
System Requirements & Installation
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
As with styles, you can change your icons by clicking on the Icons button in System Settings then clicking the Get New Themes button.
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.