Monday, 16 December 2013

Kubuntu 13.10 - A great alternative to Ubuntu and Windows.

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  22:33 22 comments

Introduction

In the past I have not been the biggest fan of the KDE desktop. I have found it to be clunky and overkill for my needs.

As I have written reviews for Ubuntu, Xubuntu and Lubuntu it seems only appropriate to complete the set by reviewing Kubuntu.

The Kubuntu website has a very good section describing the features. In essence though the rotating slides at the top of the page state that Kubuntu is:
  • Beautiful
  • Stable
  • Free
  • Social

Installation

Click here to download Kubuntu 13.10.

The download link above will provide you with an ISO file for Kubuntu 13.10 which you can burn to DVD or a USB drive.

To burn the Kubuntu 13.10 ISO to a USB drive use UNetbootin.

If you would prefer to get a DVD or USB drive with Kubuntu already installed you can buy a copy by visiting www.osdisc.com/products/kubuntu.

As Kubuntu is part of the Ubuntu family you can install it on its own or alongside other operating systems, including Windows 8 with EFI enabled.

I decided to install Kubuntu 13.10 alongside Ubuntu 13.10 and Windows 8 on the same machine which is a Dell Inspiron 15.

The Kubuntu installer is probably the best I have ever seen for any operating system. The layout is crisp, completely intuitive and easy to follow.

New users might stumble when installing alongside Windows 8 but I have written a guide showing how to install Ubuntu alongside Windows 8 and most of this works for Kubuntu 13.10 as well. (Some of the screens may be different but the logic is the same).

Really though I think Kubuntu 13.10 is so good that you should just bite the bullet and wipe Windows completely and just install it on its own. Windows users will find it a lot easier getting to grips with Kubuntu than they will with Windows 8.

First Impressions





















My whole view of KDE has changed because of Kubuntu 13.10. It is a fine desktop environment.

KDE looks good, performs well and is very stable.

Windows users who move over to Linux are often encouraged to use Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop because it provides an experience akin to Windows 7.

I would say that Kubuntu (and KDE) is also a great alternative for Windows users but it takes the desktop that Windows users are used to and adds real functionality and value to that experience.

Kubuntu is also a great alternative for users who want the stability, support and  Ubuntu repositories but without either the Unity interface or the built-in advertising.

The initial desktop view has a blank desktop with a single panel at the bottom and an empty shelf.

The left side of the panel has a menu icon (The K symbol) and an icon with 3 dots for switching activities.

The right side of the panel has icons for showing the desktop, a clipboard tool, audio settings, bluetooth settings, power settings, network settings, notifications and a clock.

The menu is very clean looking with a search bar at the top, a selection of favourite applications and a series of icons at the bottom.

In the search bar enter either a keyword or the name of the application and a list of results will appear.

Clicking on the Applications icon brings up a selection of categories and upon selecting a category you will see either further sub-categories or a list of applications.

You can add any item to the favourites list by right clicking on it and selecting "add to favourites".

Clicking on the computer icon lets you access folders as wells as settings and the software centre.

The icon with three dots next to the K menu icon shows the activities window. Activities builds on the concept of virtual desktops.

For instance you can have the default desktop as shown above or you can have a desktop which looks more like the Gnome desktop by creating an activity called "Homerun".




















The "Homerun" activity shows favourite applications, places and recent documents.




















The "Search" activity has a series of categories portrayed as icons and a search bar at the top.

You can create as many activities as you wish and you can use any of the default templates or import one from elsewhere.

On the default desktop you will notice an empty shelf. You can use shelves to group icons for your favourite applications.





















Connecting to the internet

Connecting to the internet is as easy as clicking the network icon and choosing your wireless network (assuming you are connecting wirelessly).

If the network you are connecting to is secure then you will be prompted to enter the security key.

The default browser is Rekonq but under the Internet section you will find access to the Firefox installer.

I personally recommend installing Firefox and making it the default browser and add it to your favourites instead of Rekonq.

Flash and MP3

During the install you are given the option to install third party software which includes Flash. I never actually check that option. I prefer to open a terminal and install the Kubuntu Restricted Extras package.

Once the restricted extras are installed you are able to watch Flash videos in Firefox and play MP3s via Amarok.































































Applications

Kubuntu has a decent set of applications.

LibreOffice is installed and for home use this is more than adequate for most people's needs.

The LibreOffice writer package has lots of features. For home use can many people say they use a word processing package for anything more than writing a letter? If you wanted to write a book, create a report or do a mail merge then you will find that Writer contains most of the features of Microsoft Word and without a dodgy ribbon bar in sight.

The LibreOffice Calc package is a really good spreadsheet package and again includes many of the features of Excel such as macros, functions etc.

The Impress package is great for creating presentations.

For email Kubuntu has KMail installed. Most of us use webmail nowadays and I tend to use the web interface for viewing my mail but I tried KMail out and it synchronises with GMail without any fuss.

For audio there is Amarok which is a really good replacement for Windows Media Player and Rhythmbox.

The Dragon Player is provided for watching movies.

Installing Applications







Kubuntu has a great software centre (Muon Discover) for installing any application that isn't installed by default.

Muon Discover provides a list of categories and a search utility. Clicking on a category pulls up an endless list of applications.

Clicking on Multimedia for instance returns VLC Media Player, Clementine, Audacity, Audacious, Banshee, OpenShot, Radio Tray, etc.

Trying to find a list of applications using Windows would require a lot of searching and a lot of patience but in Kubuntu it is all under one roof.

Trying to find a list of applications using Ubuntu would require searching through a lot of results (including non-free applications). Kubuntu is Ubuntu without the advertising.

Steam

One application that I couldn't find in the software centre was Steam.

You can however download Steam by visiting the Steam website

What you actually get when you download Steam from the website is the Steam Installer. You then have to run the Steam Installer from the Downloads folder.

The full Steam application will install and it will update itself without about 250 mb of data.


Issues

In general Kubuntu is stable. There have been a few times however where I have had to force an application to close due to hanging.

After installing Kubuntu I highly recommend running all the updates to get it up to date. 

Summary

My whole view of KDE has changed after using Kubuntu 13.10.

Kubuntu 13.10 ticks all of the boxes required of a great operating system:-
  • Open Source
  • Free
  • Easy to obtain
  • Easy to install
  • Works with EFI enabled
  • Can be dual booted with any other operating system
  • Has a consistent user interface
  • Has no built in advertising and/or privacy policy
  • Contains all the software you could possibly need to get started
  • Has a great software centre
  • Has a customisable user interface
  • Can run Steam
  • Can run Windows games
  • Has access to a wide range of applications via it's repositories
Kubuntu is excellent. I would recommend this to any person coming to Linux for the first time (especially Windows users), for anybody who has tried Ubuntu but wants a different user experience from Unity, and to anybody who wants to use a great operating system.

I would recommend Kubuntu over Linux Mint it is so good. It is amazing that Mint sits at number 1 in the Distrowatch rankings yet Kubuntu languishes in position 21.

Thankyou for reading.

And finally...

In the coming weeks as we draw close to the end of the year I am planning one more distro review and then I will be reviewing the year as a whole and looking forward to 2014.

Why not subscribe to this blog by entering your email address into the box provided on the right? Get the latest posts as they are released and if you don't fancy them ignore them, but if you do fancy them then you get first dibs.




To make it easier for everyone who wants to read my Ubuntu based articles and tutorials I have formatted them, rewritten them and added extra content which has resulted in the eBook "From Windows To Ubuntu".

The book isn't massive like a SAMS guide so it isn't going to take you forever to read it but there is certainly a lot of content.

Click here to buy the eBook "From Windows To Ubuntu"

About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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22 comments:

  1. the problem with kde is that is too easy to screw the desktop settings. I installed kubuntu to a bar just to watch movies and listen to music because is free. The users all all noobs from windows and they always delete the task switcher from the panel when they want to ``open task manager``:). they call me twice a month to tell them how to put the task switcher back. even when i lock items they manage to do that. ... but otherwise is great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Block the graphics elements !!!!! come on

      Delete
    2. come on get real. The guy has a problem and I have a couple of people who do the same thing, even when the panel is locked. Where is this BLOCK GRAPHICS ELEMENTS that you speak of? I can't find anything in settings and a google search for the term only finds your comment!!!!

      Delete
    3. Right click the taskbar or click the cashew and choose "lock widgets"

      http://userbase.kde.org/images.userbase/8/80/Plasma_howto-widget-lock-45.gif

      Delete
  2. I've been distro-hopping for the past week, since getting a new laptop.

    Originally I wasn't sold on going to KDE, however I have fallen in love with it. First time I tried KDE was years ago with Mandrake.

    All Ubuntu based distro's I encountered the same issue. Black screen when restarting or booting (occasionally). While in Mint I finally solved the issue, which seems to work for all Ubuntu based distros.

    I am currently running Kubuntu 13.10 now, and for the most part works well. The boot issue appears fixed, however I still find it a tad unstable. Muon tends to crash too often. Aside from that it runs quite well.

    Manjaro (too advanced for me), openSUSE and SolydK all were rock solid and worked brilliantly on my laptop.
    I'm waiting for the new Mint KDE to come out so I can give that a try.

    Other than that I am debating between SolydK, Kubuntu and openSUSE.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kubuntu is fantastic in 13.10. I have not had any issues with it so far. It's a very solid KDE distro and KDE itself is the best Linux desktop out there in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've never been a particular fan of KDE (or GNOME) since I always tended to prefer a lighter weight environment. I may check out the new Kubuntu, however (I check out new versions of KDE every so often), since it might be a viable environment to give to someone else as an alternative to Xfce, which is what I often provide on computers that I give away.

    Incidentally, it's Secure Boot that you would have to disable when installing some distributions. Secure Boot is not an inherent part of UEFI. My desktop computer at home is UEFI based, but does not include Secure Boot at all. (There may still be some distributions that would require UEFI to support and use legacy boot, but that's a different issue.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Chakra Linux works best with KDE.

    ReplyDelete
  6. If you liked old GNOME 2, you'll like KDE. It takes a little tweaking, but in the end, you get a very usable system. Unlike GNOME 3 and Unity. Take some time to configure it to your liking, and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Im typing this from my dad's Kubuntu 12.04 (its an LTS) and I have to say I love when reviewers say things like "My whole view of KDE has changed because of Kubuntu 13.10. It is a fine desktop environment."

    Your view has changed not because the desktop got better but because you havent used it in a while.

    I used to put newbs on PCLinuxOS and Mandriva because they offered the best KDE experience and since I always gave people the choice to use a desktop THEY like (i know its a strange concept to many who are defensive about 'their' desktop) and KDE always came ahead by a country mile which considering many were Windows users wasnt surprising.
    I waited switching from KDE3 like any normal human being who reads before he installs and found that at the tail end of 4.2 that I could finally do the switch. By 4.3, KDE4 became my choice.
    I remember the mess than was Kubuntu 5 but by 10.10 i finally switched my dad and other family members to Kubuntu. Every scanner, printer, fax machine and other doodad people used always worked fine and best of all Kubuntu is really a stock KDE install which is great because I dont need the small touches that other distros add, I hate most defaults. When I install someone on Linux, KDE makes customization a cinch. Again, I know this sounds strange to people who have been told that "this is your desktop and you will learn to love it" but the desktop has to suit the users needs and not the other way around. Radical concept for many.

    I still use XCFE for work and our home computers are all different because. dum, dum, dum...all the users are
    different and they have different tastes but out of the 25 or so Linux distros that Ive installed over the past few years (no more mr nice guy doing the windows crap cleanup, you want free tech support, you use Linux because I dont have time) almost all use KDE (have more people use Unity than Gnome... I hate Unity but I respect their choice).
    And in those I include a celeron based Acer, 2 netbooks and a few P4 generation computers (there are 4 AMD Athlon 7850 Dualcores)

    Im a Debian guy so its only normal that I feel more comfortable using Kubuntu (I never stopped loving PCLinuxOS-KDE which truly was the best when fewdistros could do wifi well about 6yrs ago, OpenMandriva-Mageia which I still have on my machines) but Ive found it stable and responsive KDE4.3 and since Ive been installing it that I keep failing to see why the OpenSuse and even Mint get so much more positive press for usability since there was very little to tell them apart.
    Yes, Kubuntu used to suck but that was quite some time ago. And yes, JDE 4.0 .1 and .2 werent usable but if you were a lemming then, things have changed since.
    There are plenty of Linux distros that just work and to be honest, all this 'mine is better' is starting to be annoying because the truth is that there is very, very little difference between distros using the same desktop (unless you count wallpapers and icons). Which is why I understood why Ubuntu had to differentiate itself from other Gnome distros and start Unity, there is very, very little difference between the top distros.

    A coworker of mine has been suggesting Kubuntu to a few of our less tech savvy coworkers but who are still Windows power users (they know how to change HD, video cards and a few of the basics) because he finds that the Ubuntu ecosystem is so vast online that any do it yourlselfers with minimal knowledge can trouble shoot using Ubuntu (Debian) terminal solutions for Kubuntu as well.

    is Kubuntu the best KDE? Whatever...

    It is however the closest to a stock KDE install that you will get.
    Its been working well for the past 3-4 years and the past 18-24months, its been superb and running using less resources.. (ok, nepomuk/search is still a mess and system tray icons still cant be made bigger)

    Kubuntu hasnt arrived.
    Its been there for some quite some time, its just others that are late to the party.

    Bob Belcher

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. Great comment Bob. Thanks for posting.

      Delete
  8. Cakra could be the best kde distro but they lost Everything when Anke philm Went their own way. Kubuntu is with no doubt the no1 kde distro. I have been usin it since 12.04 then i went 13.04 wich works really great. Now i am on the 14.04 wich is in development face. And it is rock solid. I also wonder how kubuntu is not so high in distriwatch....

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have a number of partitions on my drive which I use for distros. My Kubuntu 12.04 was too small, so I installed 13.10 on a larger partition. I copied a bunch of config files from 12.04 to try to save myself some work. Unfortunately, 12.10 is very unstable, crashing often. Since you found it stable, I suppose I have to build all the application configs from scratch. Ugh. I think I'll put another 12.04 in a larger partition for now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops, I meant 13.10 is very unstable for me. I suspect it was the files I copied over from /usr/share/applications, because that's the first time I've done that. I've copied config files from the home folder many, many times without a problem.

      Delete
    2. Hi Lane. Kubuntu 13.10 is the first time I have installed Kubuntu so there were no config files for me to copy over. It is stable when installed from Scratch.

      Delete
  10. I have been trying to like Kubuntu for several years now. I'd install it, it would look nice, but after a few days or a week it would start to disappoint. After reading this review I went back to try it one more time. Glad I did, after a week it has become my main OS. This is the Kubuntu I've been waiting for since 7.04, congratulations to the Kubuntu community. Fast, stable and good looking with the huge Ubuntu repository, what's not to like. Thank you for the detailed review that convinced my to give it another try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ditto really. I was never a big KDE fan until I tried Kubuntu for the first time.

      Delete
  11. Hi.

    Currently, I'm on windows 7. I want to test both ubuntu and kubuntu. Is it possible to run all on in one PC?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes indeed it is. Shrink your Windows 7 drive. In the unpartitioned space install Ubuntu. Then boot into the Kubuntu live DVD, install it and install alongside Ubuntu.

      Delete
  12. Love Kubuntu's Desktop environment.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm a noobie who has has been distro hopping for about three months and I must have tried at least 30 different distos. I found Kubuntu in week two of my search and nothing in my opinion has bettered it. For installation, wireless set up, wireless printing and bluetooth, so easy, I will keep looking but I don't think I will find anything.

    ReplyDelete

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