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Kubuntu 12.10 Review


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#1 ViperAFK

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 02:50

Its been quite a while since I gave kde a good try, and even longer since I've tried kubuntu (I had a very bad impression of it years ago, so never really looked at it again).

I decided to give kubuntu 12.10 a try today, and both kde and kubuntu have come a long way. So here's my thoughts on the distro and KDE 4.9 :)


1. Installation
Mostly your standard ubuntu installation experience, but the kubuntu team made a lot of visual customizations to the installer, making it fit in very well with KDE, I actually thought it looked nicer than ubuntu's installer.

ubiquity-partitioner_0 (1).png

2. General impressions
I was greeted with a nice lightdm login screen, with a new QML based theme that made it fit in very well with the rest of the desktop, very simple and clean. It logged in fairly quickly, although a little slower than unity. Once I was logged in I was quite surprised at how peppy the desktop was, KDE has made some huge strides in this area in recent releases, it was significantly smoother than unity on this laptop.

lightdm1.png

Next I checked out some of the default apps, rekonq as the web browser, dolphin file manager, amarok music player, dragon player video player, and kde-telepathy.

Rekonq was a serviceable browser that integrates very well with the KDE desktop, but I had some performance issues with scrolling on some sites, so I ended up install chrome anyway.

The dolphin file manager is excellent, compared to gnome's nautilus it has more eye candy, more features, and superior performance, that's a win-win if I've ever seen one.

Its been quite a while since I used amarok (I think the last time was amarok 1.4!). I ran into one annoying issue with that, after it scanned my library it popped up a big message saying it couldn't import "duplicate" songs (which were not actually duplicates at all. apparently this is a known bug with amarok 2.x, its duplication detection feature is prone to false positives).

Next I checked out dragon player, when I clicked on a video file kde helpfully searched for and installed the appropriate codec and it seemed to work nicely for local files, very clean interface. Unfortunately it does not seem to have the ability to play files from a remote samba share, which is a dealbreaker for me, so I installed the trusty vlc.

This is the first time I've tried the new KDE-telepathy, the replacement for kopete. I've always disliked kopete, so this was a welcome change. I must say I'm very impressed with this, it actually works far better for me than unity's ubuntu-online-accounts/empathy combo. With empathy I have all kinds of annoying issues, like accounts randomly disconnecting and one particularly annoying issue where windows live will decide it needs to be "reauthorized", and the only way to fix it is re-adding the account in UOA. No such issues with kde-telepathy, all my accounts worked flawlessly, and it has a very nice interface.

Next I checked out the Muon Package manager. Last time I tried this was a much older version of kubuntu, and I remember it being awful and buggy. Not the case now, its very fast, stable, and easy to use. It reminds me of synaptic with a much nicer interface. A much more enjoyable experience than ubunutu's rather clunky software center. I had no issues installing or updating software.

snapshot1.png

After looking in the system settings, it was refreshing to see how many options there were. I was most impressed with KDE's power settings compared to that of gnome or XFCE. It gives you very fine-grained control over the power management.

snapshot2.png

GTK apps seemed well integrated out of the box, chrome and the preinstalled gimp looked fairly native.

KDE and Kubuntu have matured greatly since I last tried them, I noticed no major bugs and it was quite stable and fast. I never would have believed KDE could be this fast a year or so ago.

3. Things I didn't like

The way kubuntu has implemented fast user switching is a little wonky. If you select switch user in the KDE menu, it doesn't bring you to lightdm, instead it brings up krunner with another fast user switch option, and if you hit that then it brings you to lightdm as expected. Seemed like a silly way to implement that with a pointless extra click and mouse travel.

The default plasma theme could be a little better, for example by default you can barely even read the text on inactive windows in the task bar, grey text on a grey background. I ended up switching to the new windows 7 superbar-esq "icon-tasks" anyway though.

Amarok and Dragonplayer. Amarok seems a bit buggy, and dragonplayer doesn't have enough features.

Occasional graphical artifacts on the taskbar thumbnail previews (sometimes a little bit will be "left" on the screen when the thumbnail is closed)

KDE's notification area. I find it to be a little clunky, and the notifications sometimes glitchy, this is the one area of KDE that needs the most refinement IMO, but its usable.

Overall I can definitely recommend this distro. In the past I've disliked KDE, and considered kubuntu to be quite buggy, but currently it seems like an excellent KDE desktop implementation.


#2 HawkMan

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 04:45

The way lightdm organizes the user pictures looks all kinda of wrong. If it's not gong to be centered, at least it should align left not right.

#3 Javik

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 12:36

Is this better than previous versions, I've personally always found Kubuntu to be a bit buggy? I get the impression that Ubuntu's team don't show it a lot of love.

#4 f0rk_b0mb

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 12:51

Love Kubuntu 12.10. It's better than 12.04 IMO. The user screen is a little wonky at times. I just changed it to the "classic" login screen. The monitor also likes going to sleep on me when I'm watching a movie even when i disabled the screensaver and the energy saver settings. I'm sure a lot of this will be fixed in a later update. It sure beats Unity. :)

#5 OP ViperAFK

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 13:14

Is this better than previous versions, I've personally always found Kubuntu to be a bit buggy? I get the impression that Ubuntu's team don't show it a lot of love.


I didn't use 12.04, but this release definitely seems very stable and polished to me. I did have the same opinion as you about previous versions.

#6 Javik

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 19:56

Thanks, I'll have to give it another try then and see for myself. I see you have the same graphics card as I do, is this the card used on your install machine? For me it's always been the quality of the ATI drivers that has been my biggest barrier to Linux usage.

#7 OP ViperAFK

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 20:01

Thanks, I'll have to give it another try then and see for myself. I see you have the same graphics card as I do, is this the card used on your install machine? For me it's always been the quality of the ATI drivers that has been my biggest barrier to Linux usage.


The machine I installed this on (and the one I use linux on) is my laptop, which has intel ironlake graphics, so everything works pretty well for the most part (except for vanilla ubuntu with unity, which runs horrifically slow, kde runs great on it these days though, as does compiz without unity)

#8 Javik

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 21:52

Ah I see, I'll just have to have a punt then and see how it goes!

#9 Obi-Wan Kenobi

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 22:25

I tried Ubuntu 12.10 yesterday on my Latitude 1545, and it wouldn't allow me to use my wifi. Here in a little bit I might give this one a try and see if it's any better or different. I must say, though, it looks pretty good! Nice and clean! Thanks, ViperAFK, for posting this! (Y)

#10 Growled

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 22:35

KDE 3 was my favorite desktop. 4, not so much. I always have little bugs that crop up in the oddest places. I think the desktop has so much potential (more than Gnome and Unity) but the development team just can't seem to get it all to gel together.These days, XFCE wipes the floor with every other DE.

Thanks for posting this review.

#11 HawkMan

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 06:14

Since I just shipped my new Acer in for service due to broken USB ports, I figured I'd Give Kubuntu a try since it seemed to be getting such positive reviews. since I only had the Win8 RP on this older laptop.

Here's my initial impressions, and remember I'm writign this from a new/regular user perspective who might now have that much base knowledge so while the stuff I might complain anbout is trivial to me, I consider it bad design by default

So I installed it through WuBi for ease, just because I wanted it to be easy and didn't want to look up my thumbdrives. this resulted in some weirdness, where I get some NTLDR WUBI errors during startup of Kubuntu, butit doesn't affect loading. also the first Kubuntu startup where it finishes the install and then reboots took very long and almost seemed to hang.
It integrates with the win8 loader, which of course means it takes twice as long to start up into Kubuntu, but works ok, not like I reboot a lot anyway.

Now onto actual first impressions
The first thing I though when I got the grey background with a cursor on was "Oh, that reminds me of changing to custom 'cool' cursors back in the win98 days, along with litestep". Not necessarily a bad thing, but it seems to take the default cursors a lot into the style over substance direction.

Finally into a working desktop,, I decide to check out the package manager that was bragged about, well first I had to look to actually find it hidden in an illogical sub menu. Hardly a good choice for the main method of installing new apps to the OS. should be a lot more prominent, I don't see casual users dropping into this or knowing what a package manager even is.

So Muon then. If this is what the linux peopel say is what Windows 8 is copying, then Microsoft is running one hell of a copy business. Sure I mean it does it's job, and for me, again, it works fine. But a casual user isn't going to find their way in this thing. It's made by coders for coders, there's no UX or anythign behind it. Linux needs to work on a better user front end for installign apps for regular users to compete with nicer UX and categorisations systems. Granted I have used other(ubuntu) package managers and know it can be far worse, and while I haven't tried it, I suspect the Ubuntu one store thing is probably working on some of this though I'm not sure, if that's includes apps or just music and crap.

Well of to get some internet then. load up ReKonq, ooh oops, haven't connected to the wlan yet. So I clcik the icon and click my network. So far so good. Then up comes this godwaful UI with another UX hell. If my mother was to connect to a wireless network on this thing, I'd have to spend 5 minutes over her shoulder explainign where to write her password, or 15+ minutes on the phone. It's not bad, it's just another design by coders disaster. they should have just popped up a window asking for just the password. and I know they can do this better, both Ubuntu and Mind and most other distro do this better. theyhave a good start, they just seemed to have given up on the UX halfway through.

Of course this brought me to my other pet hate about linux the xxx Wallet. OMG I HATE IT! no I don't need to be asked about adding things to my wallet every time I do something to add a password, and I definitiely don't want to write my password every time I do. I just want a "Do you want to save this network" question with a simple yes and no answer. The wallet is the worst idea they ever though up, or rather the implementation of it is, the wallet itself is good enough I guess, if it was just a 100 times less annoying.

Well by now I'm figuring I need to take some notes for this mini refiew before I forget it all since it's taking some time to get to neowin. so I go to "start" (oh btw, the windows key don't bring up the "start" menu. bad design/choice), and write note and get up KNotes, which is just a sticky note app, not what I wanted. I try notepad. nope nothing, so I just go with write and launch writer and use that. Later I discover Kate dug into some utility sub menu. obvisouly index context search isn't something Kubuntu thought they needed.

So back to ReKonq, hmm still not loading any webpages. a bit back and forth, switching between my 2.4 and 5 ghz networks. nope nothing. well that's weird. Eventually it worked after restarting ReKonq, which seems weird I should need to restart an app just for it to be able to use a network I connected to. Not an issue I've seen on either windows or other linux distro's for many many years.

Writing notes I notice I have the wrong keyboard layout and can't do '. more fiddling around, and I eventually locate the keyboard settings under system settigns and input devices. My opinion is that Keyboard settings should be on the front page in the "control panel"/System settings, but at leats unlike Ubuntu Kubuntu has a decent "control panel". of course changing the layout brings is to the worst example of UX deasign by coders so far.this is definitiely not something a regular user wants to be doing. Easy enough for me, but my mother or other casuals, wouldn't want to go there. Never midn the fact I should have been asked about the keyboard during setup, or it should have picked up the NOB keyboard during WUBI setup.

Kubuntu seems to suffer a lot from this, you have nice window dressign on the first level, or maybe two levels, then it's a UX nightmare where noone has bothered to do any usability design or testing and it seems to all be the coders who have done the UX design according to coder logic. as a coder myself it makes sense to me, just not to the regular person. and despite being a coder I can appreciate a decent easy to use well made GUI :) Just because ti's nice and cool to have a complex GUI with all the options right there, doesn't make it the right way to do it, certainly not the best way.

During my internet issues I also got a bit annoyed by the lack of a simple GUI way to bring up my network info like I can on windows, especially since I don't remember the terminal commands for all of it on linux and 90% of the command utilities I needed wasn't installed by default anyway. which actually brings me to an interestign point. While I was having net problems before I restarted reKonq, I couldn't even ping the websites... after I restarted ReKonq, now I can ping them... that's why I didn't think of restarting it in the first place.

I've also by now Ran the firefox browser installed twice on the system, and guess what, it's compelted successfully twice and still no firefox. previous experience with the internet and ReKonq tells me it'll probably pop up after a reboot, which would be ridiculous. but anyway.

another small annoyance I have is the semi transparent widnows when moving. it might seem impressive, but in reality it's actually just annoying. they should either be opaque or compeltely transparent with the border visible, semi transparent just ... it doesn't work. Easy to change I know but... it's just another bad default settings IMHO.

It works and it doesn't look half bad, on the surface at least. but it's got a lot of growing up and tocuhign up to go yet to be a competer. in some ways I'd say it hangs behind Ubuntu, while others it's ahead. Ironically I consider it better than ubuntu because it has better and more complex tools and "control panel" while I consider it behind Ubuntu because of unecessarily complex menus and settings that just aren't intuitive. It's seems like a paradox but is more of a consistency issue. They're missing the middle ground.

Any typos in all this text I blame on the lack of a spellcheck in ReKonq, on a more positive note, the font rendering in general is very nice in ReKonq. Scroll smoothness however, not so much.

#12 redvamp128

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 06:25

<snip>
Any typos in all this text I blame on the lack of a spellcheck in ReKonq, on a more positive note, the font rendering in general is very nice in ReKonq. Scroll smoothness however, not so much.


I myself do not like the ***.10 releases for me they seem feature incomplete.
I would also suggest installing Chrome it works Beautiful in KDE.

I would agree the network manager leaves less to be desired- and about wallet.

You may have been a bit happier with the Kubuntu 12.04 release. It is a bit more polished.

#13 Gerowen

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 08:16

Just threw Ubuntu 12.10 on a spare laptop of mine, really liking it. I dumped Ubuntu for Debian about a day after Unity was added, but after a couple releases I think they've made some real improvements. Much snappier and fits this smaller, 1280x800 screen very nicely.

#14 OP ViperAFK

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 15:41

Since I just shipped my new Acer in for service due to broken USB ports, I figured I'd Give Kubuntu a try since it seemed to be getting such positive reviews. since I only had the Win8 RP on this older laptop.

Here's my initial impressions, and remember I'm writign this from a new/regular user perspective who might now have that much base knowledge so while the stuff I might complain anbout is trivial to me, I consider it bad design by default

So I installed it through WuBi for ease, just because I wanted it to be easy and didn't want to look up my thumbdrives. this resulted in some weirdness, where I get some NTLDR WUBI errors during startup of Kubuntu, butit doesn't affect loading. also the first Kubuntu startup where it finishes the install and then reboots took very long and almost seemed to hang.
It integrates with the win8 loader, which of course means it takes twice as long to start up into Kubuntu, but works ok, not like I reboot a lot anyway.

Now onto actual first impressions
The first thing I though when I got the grey background with a cursor on was "Oh, that reminds me of changing to custom 'cool' cursors back in the win98 days, along with litestep". Not necessarily a bad thing, but it seems to take the default cursors a lot into the style over substance direction.

Finally into a working desktop,, I decide to check out the package manager that was bragged about, well first I had to look to actually find it hidden in an illogical sub menu. Hardly a good choice for the main method of installing new apps to the OS. should be a lot more prominent, I don't see casual users dropping into this or knowing what a package manager even is.

So Muon then. If this is what the linux peopel say is what Windows 8 is copying, then Microsoft is running one hell of a copy business. Sure I mean it does it's job, and for me, again, it works fine. But a casual user isn't going to find their way in this thing. It's made by coders for coders, there's no UX or anythign behind it. Linux needs to work on a better user front end for installign apps for regular users to compete with nicer UX and categorisations systems. Granted I have used other(ubuntu) package managers and know it can be far worse, and while I haven't tried it, I suspect the Ubuntu one store thing is probably working on some of this though I'm not sure, if that's includes apps or just music and crap.

Well of to get some internet then. load up ReKonq, ooh oops, haven't connected to the wlan yet. So I clcik the icon and click my network. So far so good. Then up comes this godwaful UI with another UX hell. If my mother was to connect to a wireless network on this thing, I'd have to spend 5 minutes over her shoulder explainign where to write her password, or 15+ minutes on the phone. It's not bad, it's just another design by coders disaster. they should have just popped up a window asking for just the password. and I know they can do this better, both Ubuntu and Mind and most other distro do this better. theyhave a good start, they just seemed to have given up on the UX halfway through.

Of course this brought me to my other pet hate about linux the xxx Wallet. OMG I HATE IT! no I don't need to be asked about adding things to my wallet every time I do something to add a password, and I definitiely don't want to write my password every time I do. I just want a "Do you want to save this network" question with a simple yes and no answer. The wallet is the worst idea they ever though up, or rather the implementation of it is, the wallet itself is good enough I guess, if it was just a 100 times less annoying.

Well by now I'm figuring I need to take some notes for this mini refiew before I forget it all since it's taking some time to get to neowin. so I go to "start" (oh btw, the windows key don't bring up the "start" menu. bad design/choice), and write note and get up KNotes, which is just a sticky note app, not what I wanted. I try notepad. nope nothing, so I just go with write and launch writer and use that. Later I discover Kate dug into some utility sub menu. obvisouly index context search isn't something Kubuntu thought they needed.

So back to ReKonq, hmm still not loading any webpages. a bit back and forth, switching between my 2.4 and 5 ghz networks. nope nothing. well that's weird. Eventually it worked after restarting ReKonq, which seems weird I should need to restart an app just for it to be able to use a network I connected to. Not an issue I've seen on either windows or other linux distro's for many many years.

Writing notes I notice I have the wrong keyboard layout and can't do '. more fiddling around, and I eventually locate the keyboard settings under system settigns and input devices. My opinion is that Keyboard settings should be on the front page in the "control panel"/System settings, but at leats unlike Ubuntu Kubuntu has a decent "control panel". of course changing the layout brings is to the worst example of UX deasign by coders so far.this is definitiely not something a regular user wants to be doing. Easy enough for me, but my mother or other casuals, wouldn't want to go there. Never midn the fact I should have been asked about the keyboard during setup, or it should have picked up the NOB keyboard during WUBI setup.

Kubuntu seems to suffer a lot from this, you have nice window dressign on the first level, or maybe two levels, then it's a UX nightmare where noone has bothered to do any usability design or testing and it seems to all be the coders who have done the UX design according to coder logic. as a coder myself it makes sense to me, just not to the regular person. and despite being a coder I can appreciate a decent easy to use well made GUI :) Just because ti's nice and cool to have a complex GUI with all the options right there, doesn't make it the right way to do it, certainly not the best way.

During my internet issues I also got a bit annoyed by the lack of a simple GUI way to bring up my network info like I can on windows, especially since I don't remember the terminal commands for all of it on linux and 90% of the command utilities I needed wasn't installed by default anyway. which actually brings me to an interestign point. While I was having net problems before I restarted reKonq, I couldn't even ping the websites... after I restarted ReKonq, now I can ping them... that's why I didn't think of restarting it in the first place.

I've also by now Ran the firefox browser installed twice on the system, and guess what, it's compelted successfully twice and still no firefox. previous experience with the internet and ReKonq tells me it'll probably pop up after a reboot, which would be ridiculous. but anyway.

another small annoyance I have is the semi transparent widnows when moving. it might seem impressive, but in reality it's actually just annoying. they should either be opaque or compeltely transparent with the border visible, semi transparent just ... it doesn't work. Easy to change I know but... it's just another bad default settings IMHO.

It works and it doesn't look half bad, on the surface at least. but it's got a lot of growing up and tocuhign up to go yet to be a competer. in some ways I'd say it hangs behind Ubuntu, while others it's ahead. Ironically I consider it better than ubuntu because it has better and more complex tools and "control panel" while I consider it behind Ubuntu because of unecessarily complex menus and settings that just aren't intuitive. It's seems like a paradox but is more of a consistency issue. They're missing the middle ground.

Any typos in all this text I blame on the lack of a spellcheck in ReKonq, on a more positive note, the font rendering in general is very nice in ReKonq. Scroll smoothness however, not so much.


There is a gui to view network details, click on the network icon in the systray, and click on the arrow on the left side of the applet. I do agree kde has a lot of polishing to work on, but its already far better than it used to be.

And yeah, I hate the kde wallet too :D. When it first comes up asking to set a kde wallet password I just left it blank so it never popped up asking for one.