About the second week in January I decided to try out a Linux distro that uses KDE on our main computer that I share with my wife. This was a result of numerous large and small frustrations with Mint 12/Gnome 3 and Bodhi Linux/E17. Updates caused some major breakage with E17 (Enlightenment) and I was tired of using numerous extensions to get Gnome (as good as the Mint enhancements were) to do what I wanted it to do. Cinnamon was just in its infancy and I wasn’t that keen on MATE. And I wanted something that looked really nice and was configurable.
So I thought: the one major Desktop Environment I had checked out a little in the past, but had never been my cup of tea, might be worth another look. I’d heard of nice improvements from KDE versions 4.6 and 4.7; and 4.8 was imminent. But now the big question of which KDE distro to try?
I was very impressed with the OpenSuse 12.1 version of KDE. And I had also tried Pardus Linux a few months back and really liked that, too. Recently, however, the future of Pardus development is in doubt. Hopefully that project will continue. Also PCLinuxOS and Chakra Linux seem like solid, popular KDE distros. But I ended up choosing Kubuntu 11.10 for the simple reason that I’ve always used a distro based on Ubuntu. I was familiar with how Ubuntu works, the package management system, the terminal commands; everything would be familiar and relatively easy, except with KDE! If I was going to try a completely different Desktop Environment, everything else should work pretty much the same.
After two and a half months I’m pretty satisfied, for the most part, with Kubuntu. In fact for several days after I first installed it I was delighted by how user configurable it is; how easy it was to set up, and the beauty of the Plasma Desktop and Kwin. There’s a wonderful attention to detail about Kubuntu and KDE specifically that I’d missed with the newest versions of Ubuntu and Mint (though both are improving by leaps and bounds over the past months).
With any operating system or distro, there are a few minor things I needed to figure out. And as with most Linux distros, the Kubuntu forums were very helpful. Printer setup was fast and as easy as any Ubuntu distro. KDE does use more RAM than any other DE I’ve tried; but I expected that and with 4 Gb of RAM I’m in pretty good shape. I’ve learned to use some KDE applications that I never used before; and for the most part they’re pretty nice. I don’t use a computer-based e-mail client, so I don’t use Kmail. That’s one KDE application I’ve heard from reading the forums is a bit wonky. My wife uses Thunderbird on her user account, which works great in Kubuntu. Another KDE app I have become quite fond of is K3B, the Disk Burning utility that comes with Kubuntu. Actually, it does a lot more than just burn CDs/DVDs; and it generates an MD5 Sum for any ISO image (Like a Live Linux Distro CD/DVD), which is pretty neat! I always liked Brasero in Gnome, but K3B is an even better alternative.
But I’m not going to go on much more at the moment about my KDE love. Suffice to say Kubuntu has fulfilled my Linux needs on this year-old mid-range AMD Dual-Core Athlon desktop machine. For lower spec or older computers I would go with a lighter desktop manager. Which will lead to my next post about XFCE and a groovy French remix of Xubuntu I’ve recently discovered.
Stay tuned for more, Linux Lovers…