As many of you will know, recently Ubuntu released its latest operating system, Intrepid Ibex Inevitably, Ubuntu tends to get all the attention, so in the interests of other Linux users, I thought it may be useful to take a look at the KDE version, who's claim to fame is it uses KDE 4.1 natively.
I have mixed feelings on it so far, but am coming around to be more positive than initially.
Note: All these comments are based on working from a live CD, so obviously better performance would be available from a full hard drive installation. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments.
The download needs no comment. I chose an Australian mirror, as when I'm awake, they tend to be asleep and the download was fast and efficient. The iso file fits on one CD. Although I have a 64 bit computer, I know the troubles that can cause with certain software and so this time, I opted for a 32 bit system, in the hope it would perform with less issues.
Running from the CD.
This is where it gets tricky.
I'm sure most of you will be aware, you can run 32 bit software on 64 bit hardware, but three times in a row, Kubuntu froze up solid when attempting to run from the CD on a dual core AMD 64 bit CPU. I tried various boot configuration options, then for no apparent reason, it loaded. The trouble is, very soon after, when exploring the system, it froze again and I gave up.
Placing the CD in an older 32 bit AMD machine, yielded much better results.
It has run consistently and without issues, in its default form and indeed, I'm writing this from within, still running from a live CD.
Further experimentation, loading the live CD on my Acer laptop (which is an AMD Turion 64) yielded good results as well.
It recognised the wireless chipset and loaded the atheros drivers automatically. Where previously, there had been an issue with WPA-PSK-personal, the connection was configured and achieved via the network icon on the panel. I simply entered the network name and key and after a couple of attempts, it connected and has been stable.
The laptop also (like many), has a built-in card reader. This again had proved to be problematic in the past, but placing a SD card in the slot, resulted in it being recognised and automatically mounted.
So it appears, it is very much down to what hardware you have, as to how this is going to run.
It's amazingly fast, considering it is running live, and although applications take time to load (as you would expect) once they are up and running, it's very sweet indeed.
It has a really nice look and feel about it, with some remarkably cool features.
You can see here, the default desktop, to which I've added a Widget - the clock. A really simple operation; Right click the desktop and select Add Widgets.
Notice also the clean menu that expands page by page for each category and the new sticky notes - Notes Plasmoid.
KDE seems to love to use Konqueror as its default browser. It works and is multi-functional. I can't help thinking though, many will be installing Firefox as soon as they get the chance. It's what you get used to I guess. I have to say though, this version seems very clear while I'm typing this page, so they must have something right! What is clearly wrong though, is its ability to manage subsystems properly. Soslug uses a subsystem to upload images and in Konqueror it has failed more than it has worked. I ''never'' have a problem with Iceweasel, the Firefox derivative, so quite why Konqueror is behaving in this way remains a mystery. I've had a quick look through the settings, but cannot see anything immediately obvious.
One of the best applications known to man, has to be K3b. It comes in version 1.0.5 and the screen-shot says it all. It doesn't come any better than this!
Office duties are dealt with via Open Office 2.4, a very capable alternative to the market leader. Again the user interface seems to have been tweaked slightly and is presented in a very clean looking form.
On the subject of office (and personal) organisation, Kontact is a reasonable personal organiser, incorporating a calendar, to do, schedule and so on.
If you want to view an image, it's Gwenview, where for demonstration purposes, I've ''mirrored'' an image. This application is really fast and has a reasonable array of controls - Mirror, Flip, Rotate and so on.
Kubuntu incorporates a really efficient real time search facility. Just like "you know who", start typing a word in the search box and Kubuntu will narrow down which application you want. For demonstration, I've started to type KSnapshot, on which these screen-shots were taken and you can see after only two letters, I'm at my destination.
Finding files is a breeze via Dolphin. Note how it has automatically mounted all my hard drives and partitions (left hand side). I had no problem accessing anything on this computer. I have tried my network and it was a non-event navigating to a shared folder. Indeed, due to the problems I had with Konqueror, this formed part of the process of getting the screen-shots to a computer that would upload them for me. Files are mostly shown in a ''picture'' form.
It is easy to change common System Settings as well. here's how.
Of course, as all good modern distros, Kubuntu has its own package manager Adept, which offers hundreds of extra applications for download at the click of a button.
All in all, Kubuntu is a competent system with lots of very nice advanced features. Undoubtedly, it is very pleasant to look at and could be made to look quite stunning, particularly with 3D effects. I hesitate slightly, due to the initial problems running it and it seems it is likely to be more suited at this point in time, to people with some prior Linux experience. So far, I've not been able to access any multimedia at all. CD's or DVD's wont run out of the box, but that's not unusual with a Linux system, given the various horrendous licensing issues. This almost certainly is down to codec issues, as even streaming radio is non-operational. No doubt with a little time and some loving care, that could (and would) be sorted.
In my view, a more competent browser is essential and I'm at a failure to understand why the KDE/Kubuntu developers persist with Konqueror. When you can't do basic things without issues, it becomes an annoyance.
Given that some tweaking will be required, some knowledge of Linux would be an advantage. But I'm sure at the end of the day, it will appeal to a lot of people.