IntroductionIn 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:
InstallationClick 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.
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.
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 internetConnecting 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 MP3During 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.
ApplicationsKubuntu 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.
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.
SteamOne 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.
IssuesIn 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.
SummaryMy 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
- Easy to obtain
- Easy to install
- Works with EFI enabled
- Can be dual booted with any other operating system
- Has a consistent user interface
- 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
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.
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