I moved to Kubuntu early Sunday morning, and it was not without a few minor perils. I wanted a clean install, thus formatting /home was a must. I was coming from Linux Mint 14 XFCE to Kubuntu 13.04 which of course uses KDE as the default desktop manager. I really didn’t want any cross contamination in /home nor did I want to dual-boot. It was all in or nothing. So I chose the all in and I am glad I did.
I want to first talk about the install and we will get to the minor perils later. The installer uses a very simple but efficient interface and for me was really quick including updates, (An option during the install.). I went with the manual option and reused the partitions already in place, but as mentioned above, I did format all of them except for /swap. The first boot was very fast to the desktop. Something I did not expect at all was that my Atheros wired connection was up and running with the alx driver. I wrote about having to build the kernel module for this driver in the past.
The next screen capture shows both wired and wireless detected and connected. I really liked having both available without doing anything. I am glad that the devs at Kubuntu chose to add this module or chose this kernel that includes the alx driver. Definitely saves some time and frustration.
This brings us to our first minor peril, after suspending the session the wired network is unresponsive. In fact it doesn’t even show that it exists at all. Open manage networks and under the wired tab is nothing. Running ifup or dhclient do nothing either. After some failed attempts at a fix from Google searches, I finally found one that works. Apparently this has been a bug since v12.04. Fix this by adding nomsi to the /ect/default/grub file as root. Be sure to run sudo update-grub after if you need to alter grub.
Most of the visual default settings were okay, but I did alter some of the eye candy effects since I am only running a moderate speed dual core. I am a bit pragmatic about those things anyway so it was not a loss in my book. I do think they look cool and I’m sure plenty of people love those effects. I was surprised that I can honestly report that even though I removed about 75% of the effects, there was not a noticeable improvement in system responsiveness. Perhaps I am running a system at the level it was designed for basic usage?
One of KDE’s main attractions is the levels of customizations someone can do to the desktop. I can clearly understand why people want to do this since KDE offers so many options. It can seem daunting at first, but diving in can be fun and even slightly captivating. My wrist was getting sore from the constant use of the mouse as I explored one option after another.
I did find one more small annoyance and that is the Leave button on the main menu does nothing. Right clicking the desktop runs the appropriate action, but not the button in the menu. Hmm…anyone else see this behaviour or lack of it?
The basic installation does give someone all the applications to do everyday computing needs. Installing more programs is easy to do through the Muon Software Center.
I used this almost exclusively to install some of my favourite applications only using the command line once. I did try to search for applications and for some reason nothing resulted from this. So I just went down the list and installed as I wanted. Now this may seem petty and probably is, but every time an installation finished the screen would refresh and leave the focus back at the top. This minor annoyance wouldn’t be one if the list was only a couple of hundred of choices long, but as most of us know Ubuntu has thousands of choices. This forces one to resume scrolling over and over to get back to where you were when the last choice to install was made. Anyone at Kubuntu reading? Break this into categories or remove the refresh for the entire screen. I did install everything I wanted and a few more that in the past I had passed on because of the KDE overhead. Not an issue now.
Speaking of KDE overhead, it is pretty massive compared to what I am used to running in XFCE or Openbox. This is something I am going to be looking into later. I have no plans to use about half or more of the applications that are running resident, but it is not really clear what removing them will do to the system. I like some of the widgets available for the panel and configured it the way I wanted. Rebooting during one of the network down periods messed up all the changes I did and I still have not found the Dropbox widget. Having the icon does nothing apparent to the eye. The options available in the panel are something I will explore in more detail later.
I like having an application like LibreOffice install with a current version. There is definitely something with Kubuntu for everyone and installing more applications is really easy despite the one minor annoyance. I am pleased with the overall look and feel, comfortable with the speed of the system, and I am looking forward to seeing what KDE has in store for me to learn. I am planning on giving Kmoney a try also and if it goes well, I can finally stop using Windows in a virtual machine (Virtual Box installed flawlessly.).
For now I am going to stick with this configuration and only make a few minor tweaks as I learn more about KDE. It has certainly changed from the last time I used it via Mepis and that was several years ago.
Edit: Today I am happy to say that the Muon Software Center did behave as it should. I had categories to choose from and I searched for the same item that refused to appear on Sunday. I did install updates and there were plenty. I can only assume that was a bug that was quickly caught or an install error the updates fixed. Either way it worked a lot better.