Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kubuntu 12.04 LTS Review

Kubuntu is a free open source operating system that is based of off the hugely popular Ubuntu linux distro. Kubuntu includes the KDE Plasma desktop environment instead of Unity, like the main distro includes. Kubuntu also has customized packages that could or could not be the same in the main Ubuntu distro. An example could be the web browser. More on that later

If you know already, I have been review the 12.10 versions of Ubuntu. The reason why I chose 12.04 over 12.10 in this release was because of the file size. At the time when I downloaded the ISO, my own limitations caused me to get this release. Besides, the 12.10 version was almost 1 GB in size, almost too big to fit on my 1 GB USB stick. Now that we have this sorted out, lets start the review.


I flashed the Kubuntu ISO onto the 1 GB drive that I have used for previous reviews of Ubuntu. It took the normal time.


When you boot the medium that contains Kubuntu, you get a text screen that asks if you want to boot Kubuntu, or perform other tasks such as checking your RAM. Once you choose to boot Kubuntu, there is a short pause while the Linux kernel loads, then you get the Kubuntu loading screen with the loading dots. I took a shot of the Kubuntu loading screen using my camera.
After booting you get the screen to try or install Kubuntu. The Ubiquity installer is a bit customized with the KDE look and feel, although I could say that KDE's button styling in this release could use an improvement. The installer does not look as pretty as it does in other versions of Ubuntu in my opinion.

The desktop

The KDE plasma desktop looks a bit plain in my opinion. There is a lot gray in 12.04, and I'm not sure if it is supposed to be this gray. The task bar is gray, the menus are gray, the scroll bars are gray, and so on. Of course you can change this, but by default it makes me think of the Windows 9x era, where everything was a classical gray. It's not that I have a problem with gray, but I personally think that too much was used. When you load the desktop via the Live CD, you do get a widget that contains the install Kubuntu shortcut. It is in a panel-like widget, not just an icon on the desktop like I would have originally thought. You can remove the panel by hovering over it and  clicking the "X" button from the configure area that slides out. I put a few widgets on the desktop. I put a CPU monitor on the top left and a pair of eyes on the right to help show where my cursor is located (sometimes I can't find it -- it gets hidden in a corner or somewhere).
Oh, and in terms of the firefox window -- just doing some planning for the upcoming valentines day. Probably should have blacked that out, but oh well.
The default applications
Kubuntu does come with a few default applications, and some are similar to what is included with the main Ubuntu releases. Kubuntu does come with LibreOffice, something that did not some with Lubuntu because (assumingly) it was not light weight enough. For the web browser, rekonq is included by default. The browser is buggy. When trying to access my Ethernet bridge connect page, the browser crashed instantly. I have already submitted a bug report. Also during normal browsing, the URL bar also got stuck on one URL. I could click it, CTRL + A (Select All) the text, and type a new URL and access another page, but the old URL of the page before would still exist.


Kubuntu did a few games. It included a card game (of course), and it also came with others including a bouncy ball. There is also a widget you can add to your desktop that is a bouncing ball. It takes up no CPU at all and I actually enjoy playing with it. You can adjust its gravity, color, friction, and so on.

File browser

The file browser included in Kubuntu is Dolphin, which is included in the KDE desktop environment. It functions fast and gets the job done. One thing I did notice is that you only have to click on folders once to enter them. I got used to double clicking with other file managers. Guess it shows that I don't use KDE that much. I use Nautilus, which is the GNOME file manager, more often with Ubuntu installed on my PC.

Kubuntu does come with a instant messenger client, and an IRC client. As far as IM goes I still prefer to use the web interfaces of my social networks, and for IRC I usually use HexChat and IRSSI. Since this was KDE I was using, I decided to use Konversation. I must say that I like it a lot, and find it much easier to use then Quassel, the IRC client that came with the release. In other words, I can give an accurate look at the IRC client, but not at the default IM program.

Overall, Kubuntu is a usable OS. It's not the lightest OS in terms of the desktop itself, but you can get your work done using Kubuntu 12.04. It is a LTS release, so it will be supported for 5 years. I recommend you install Firefox instead of using Rekonq, though. There is a shortcut for installing Firefox in this release, in the internet submenu. Just click it, and you'll get a popup that asks you if you want to install Firefox. Then the package will download and install when finished. The Firefox install shortcut will be replaced by the actual Mozilla Firefox shortcut.

The Verdict
My overall verdict of Kubuntu is that it is a very usable operating system. Remember, what sets Kubuntu apart from normal Ubuntu is it's desktop and some default applications included. If you love KDE, or want the desktop that is the closest to Windows, then using KDE alone should be great. The LTS nature of this Kubuntu release should make it easier to use KDE on Ubuntu as well.