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Distro reviews

Kubuntu 9.10 – Karmic Koala

ubuntu910beta-small_004

Clean, appealing and free! Thats Kubuntu and a whole different world to proprietary alternatives! 9.10 offers faster boot-times the excellent hardware recognition you've come to expect and a massive community!

I run several distro’s and have good reasons for doing so.  My most recent version of Ubuntu that is left on one of my rigs is a heavily modified 8.04LTS.  Having spent time getting into KDE, I thought there was no better reason to try out the latest Canonical offering KDE style!  I wanted this review to be a little different to the others out there since there are plenty of them (and probably much better) this article is going to look at some of the changes I have made to Kubuntu, my reasoning and my quest for the perfect distro!

It is the first time Ive ever run Ubuntu with the KDE DE and (as I frequently mention) have been an avid Gnome supporter.  This support is somewhat lessened by my other love (XFCE 4) and its a subject we will be covering shortly with Sam Linux Xfce.  That being said, this review is of Kubuntu, so without further ado lets press on with the review!

INSTALLATION/HARDWARE RECOGNITION

Ease of installation and Ubuntu go hand in hand with Kubuntu 9.10 being no exception.  The stalwart of any distro claiming to be new user friendly is the option for either an automatic dual boot install or a complete HD install.  Both features are happily present in Kubuntu and just like previous versions of Ubuntu, the install process is a series of easy to follow steps with prompts which lead you by the hand.  Great stuff and simple, I would challenge anyone to go wrong with the install process that Canonical implements.

PACKAGES

Some great stuff on offer and some rather strange choices in my opinion for the default packaging of 9.10.  The most welcome of which (for most users will be OpenOffice which is presented here in version 3.1.  Ive personally long been an advocate of Abiword (since I don’t need all the extra features of OO) and I’m glad to say Abiword is available from the repositories in the form of version 2.6.8.

Firefox was not bundled as default which to me is strange since Ubuntu seems to pride itself on being new user friendly and FF is something that most users will recognize.  In my opinion someone coming to Ubuntu from a Windows background will feel more at home with a familiar face (Firefox)

Linux is all about making it into what you want, so with a little tinkering I was running the latest build of Chromium and all was well.  Ive long since given up my dependency on Firefox and now only keep it on my system “just in case”  Ubuntu 9.10 and Chromium play very nicely together and the package is just as fast/stable as it is on my other Ubuntu rig running 8.04LTS.

KTorrent 3.2.4 handles your BT needs however I am a Transmission user and I haven’t yet been convinced with KTorrent or Deluge which whilst good are not the packages I am familiar with.  I have been a user of Transmission for a considerable time, so I suppose its simply a comfort zone for me.

K3b v 1.68.0 handles your disk burning requirements and whilst I have mainly used Brasero, I have spent enough time with K3b to be happy with it, so that stays in situe

Kwin was replaced with Compiz (personal choice) the whole process was painless and took a very short period of time.    I must have my spinning cube and wobbly windows if I am going to have eye candy. (edit: although I am informed Kwin offers both these features, I stick with the “devil you know”)

For a full list of included packages read this.

CONCLUSIONS

If anyone says to you that Linux requires excessive use of the command line, they are either trying to deceive you or they have had no experience with Ubuntu.  From installing my Nvidia drivers to replacing Kwin with Compiz, I did not have to touch the command line.  The only exception was when installing Chromium which for most will not be the browser of choice (if the stats of Chromium v Firefox are correct)

With the incredible hardware detection of a Canonical offering, the whole process from download to install was painless.  What I will say about Kubuntu is that it is just as problem free as its Gnome relative.

Bootup times seemed considerably faster than 8.04LTS as well as shutdown on the distro-hopping rig.  Setting up of user accounts is simple and really reviews of the Ubuntu product are pretty generic since they all (in my experience) are so good.

So what did I have issue with?  Well firstly I have to say its not a fault of Canonical that I prefer Xfce over KDE.  KDE on the test rig used for this review did not feel as “punchy” as other Xfce or Gnome DE’s.  That being said it was no slow coach and compared to the average Windows experience, it flies. (IMO)  I think Linux users get very quickly used to the responsiveness of their OS and when presented with anything less than immediate (often the case on a Windows system) they tend to feel it is slow.  Thats what I believe anyway.

It may seem like I am being fussy with minor (easily correctable points) but why does the default setting have to be a single click for opening folders?  Having been brought up for years on the theory of one-click for focus and a second to open.  I will never get my head around folders that open with one click.  I bring this up as is always the case for a Canonical distro there’s very little to dislike and if I didn’t the review would consist of “its great, get it!”..having said all that, changing back to my beloved double click was painless.

I know many people consider a pretty screen saver to be bad for the environment.  In these days where people are telling us to save energy, the automatic standby mode of your monitor is a better option.  Screen savers though, are something which I would have personally expected to be installed as default and having to install Kscreensaver seemed to be a little odd.  Unless I’m mistaken 9.10 Gnome includes them as default, so why not Kubuntu?  The one stumbling block for a new user to Linux could be searching the system for screensavers that don’t exist…just a thought.

Canonical have built a reputation of bringing Linux to the new user (and keeping the old vet happy too)  and Kubuntu 9.10 is no exception to this.  It boots quicker on the same specs than 8.04.  It looks visually more pleasing and it offered no compat issues with any of the hardware on test.

For this review I was running on an AMD 1.8ghz system with 512mb ram,  NVIDIA Driver Version 173.14.20 (on a GeForce Fx 5200) so its a pretty old system.  None the less it flew like an off the shelf modern PC.

If you are looking at alternatives to Microsoft Windows or you are wanting an out-of-box distro which will be up and running with little fuss, the obvious answer is Ubuntu…although since version 8.04 (in my opinion) is that really surprising to anyone?  It should be noted that there are a great many other distro’s which are just as good as Ubuntu (they’ve been covered here) but Canonical has done what many others have not yet achieved, that being mainstream brand recognition.  Before anyone shouts OpenSUSE or Redhat, keep in mind I am talking about “the average Windows user” and I think that if Linux is to receive mainstream migration, its going to need names like Ubuntu in order to introduce people to the wonderful world we Linux users already enjoy.

Visit http://www.kubuntu.org/ for your copy!

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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About openbytes

Online tech writer, novelist/author of sci-fi literature and co-host of the TechBytes Show! I believe in multi-culturalism & diversity. Luton Town FC supporter.

Discussion

9 thoughts on “Kubuntu 9.10 – Karmic Koala

  1. You can have both wobbly windows as well as the cube with KWin :)

    Posted by Christoph | October 31, 2009, 1:49 am
  2. , keep in mind I am talking about “the average Windows user”. Before anyone shouts OpenSUSE or Redhat, keep in mind I am talking about “the average Windows user”

    Please dont make me laugh.
    The average windows user hasnt heard of Linux, even less Ubuntu.

    Choose a distro on its merits but ‘use it because all the cool poseurs do’ isnt one of them.

    As for user friendly, I havent tried Kubuntu 9.10 yet so I might be wrong but even 9.04 STILL could not offer a decent dual boot menu, so when you want to install it on someones computer they are greeted with a black and white DOS looking menu with multiple options.
    THat’s user friendly?

    The first time my buddy saw it, he went “Oh sh**, what happened?” and was the reason I installed PCLinuxOS 2007 on his computer instead of Kubuntu 7.04.
    Many other distros like Mandriva made it nicer and less jarring for newbies even back then but 2-3 years later Kubuntu still hadnt done it.

    My wife uses Kubuntu on her DEll mini (she used the Gnome it came with and asked if I could install Windows on it instead!!) and asks me why every time she opens the lid to take it our of sleep she is greeted by the creepy text saying something about “killing requests for dead queue”.
    Geeks probably dont notice these things but thats NOT very user friendly.

    I use Kubuntu like I use Mandriva and PCLinuxOS and Gentoo with KDE4.3 and please dont make me laugh with the ‘its so muuuuch better’ than distro X.

    The differences between top distros is so minimal that only geeks notice or care.

    Your most important choice to make is your choice of desktops, NOT the distro.
    I can use Kubuntu and the other 2-3 top distros with no difference (mandriva’s control center is still miles ahead) as can kids/wife but put a Gnome desktop and while I will use it as well, I just wont enjoy it as much. (my sister in law called my wife’s Dellbuntu when she received it ‘depressing like a mid90’s Windows’).

    As for apps, you forgot the great Digikam, the better and better Gwenview, Amarok which I saw is back to its customizing glory and Kopete which has been doing video for years now. Along with Ktorrent, K3b, they are world class apps.

    >I must have my spinning cube and wobbly windows if I >am going to have eye candy. (edit: although I am >informed Kwin offers both these features, I stick >with the “devil you know”)

    This makes no sense, wobbly is there by default and cube is Ctrl-F11 I believe and is also on by default.
    I IMed a friend who has 9.10 and he informed me they were there by default like in 9.04so I dont understand why you would try KDEs Kwin to get a good feel for the DE.

    Grade for post:

    C- (needs to apply himself more)

    Posted by wayne gretzkouille | November 3, 2009, 2:34 am
    • Im pleased I made you laugh, although if you had read what I actually wrote (or maybe simply understood) then you probably wouldn’t have.

      Read that statement again, when I said mainstream brand recognition, I was refering to the fact that Ubuntu has been mentioned on Click…BBC, ITV…that to me is mainstream recognition (a fact that I as a UK user have seen and have commented on before) thats what I meant by mainstream and if you cast your mind back about a year and a half, I don’t think Ubuntu was mentioned at all on Tv.) When I say “average user” I mean just that, on average….I would call my mum an average user but she doesnt know what itunes is. When I refered to Redhat/OpenSUSE I was suggesting that for a linux user (and those in the Linux world) they are pretty mainstream too, Im sure every Linux user knows that Linux != Ubuntu only. For everyone else, the story is different.

      Now you have two choices, you can either distract with a silly discussion about what classifies as mainstream or we can move on with your other points….incidently Crysis is considered a mainstream software title and yet it was only two months ago I that I read about it.

      Quote “Choose a distro on its merits but ‘use it because all the cool poseurs do’ isnt one of them.”

      When did I suggest otherwise? Infact if you read what I say about Linux (and the fact that for me Windows was not fit for purpose) I actually say Linux required less “fiddling/fixing” than Windows ever did. On that basis then it would be the “poseurs” who use Windows not Linux.

      Quote “The first time my buddy saw it, he went “Oh sh**, what happened?” and was the reason I installed PCLinuxOS 2007 on his computer instead of Kubuntu 7.04.”

      and I know someone who reckons they can talk to the dead. What this? A baseless claim of “a friend of mine…” a little like “I use Linux but….”

      Quote “The differences between top distros is so minimal that only geeks notice or care.”

      and your point is? If “geeks” care, let them. If they don’t, so what? each to their own.

      Quote “Your most important choice to make is your choice of desktops, NOT the distro.”

      Rubbish….Ubuntu (regardless of DE is aimed towards the new user far more than any DE running on say Gentoo. Are you really saying Wolvix Xfce and Ubuntu Xfce are the same?

      Quote “This makes no sense, wobbly is there by default and cube is Ctrl-F11 I believe and is also on by default.”

      No it wasn’t and I couldn’t configure Kwin to it (maybe a hardware issue), hence the migration back to compiz. If you read my first few lines you would have understood that since I have been a fan of Xfce and Gnome, this was more to document my opinions of giving KDE another go. Its an opinion.

      “C- (needs to apply himself more)” er thanks….and if I may return the favor (in the case of your post)

      “D – needs to read things properly before jumping in with a counter.”

      Let me remind you:

      “I wanted this review to be a little different to the others out there since there are plenty of them (and probably much better) this article is going to look at some of the changes I have made to Kubuntu, my reasoning and my quest for the perfect distro!

      It is the first time Ive ever run Ubuntu with the KDE DE and (as I frequently mention) have been an avid Gnome supporter.”

      Posted by openbytes | November 3, 2009, 9:52 am
  3. I just put Ubuntu 9.10 (GNOME version) on my new work laptop, a Toshiba Portege R600. Even up to 9.04 there were a pile of reports of problems, small and large, with this model and Linux. I am extremely pleased to say that Ubuntu 9.10 is driving this machine *flawlessly*. Everything just works perfectly. I even have the wobbly windows :-D

    9.10 is very bloody good indeed and I am heartily recommending it to all.

    Now the very last thing I need is to get Lotus Notes 7.04 working in Ubuntu, then I won’t need to boot into Winders ever again ;-D

    Posted by David Gerard | November 3, 2009, 8:37 am
    • As I say Im moving away from Gnome. Thats a personal choice and since Gnome Ubuntu introduced me to Nautilus, thats whats on my KDE variant.

      I skipped recent vers of Ubuntu on my secondary rigs (Ive had one running 8.04LTS) and I am pleased to say that everything is still good (looking at 9.10), if not a little punchier….

      Regards
      Goblin

      Posted by openbytes | November 3, 2009, 9:57 am
  4. wow.. i like the display.. real artwork isn’t it.. =)

    Posted by sweetpaseo | November 6, 2009, 10:05 am

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Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Writer/Novelist of many facets both in the world of technology and fantasy/sci-fi. Co-host of the TechBytes audiocast and writer for both OpenBytes and Goblin's Domain. Supporter of free and open source software.

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