Finally, I am Kubuntued! I have been an avid user of Linux, mostly Red Hat distributions and mostly for work. However this is the first time I tried the Kubuntu distribution for my everyday things, both for home and work. It is nicely sitting here on my Dell Inspiron 700m after toppling Windows XP from its long-held position.
It has been a good journey since then. I have found some good and some better applications for my needs. As it is, most of the tools I used even on my Windows versions were open source and cross platform. So it was not a huge shift for me.
I was not very happy with Red Hat or Mandrake distributions and had read a lot about developments in Ubuntu.
The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Philosophy: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customise and alter their software in whatever way they see fit.
This is in accordance with my philosophy of software development and using it for better productivity. I am also an active user and advocate of the open source model and applications, so this is a happy moment for me.
The choice of Kubuntu was an instant choice because of my prior pleasant experience with KDE. I had also worked for some time on KDE for Windows using Cygwin. KDE is now fully GPL compliant as Qt, the underlying library for KDE, has been released under GPL.
I went with the latest stable release of Kubuntu – 6.06 LTS (Dapper Drake).
Ubuntu and Kubuntu are not different operating systems, they are just packaged with different desktop managers – Gnome and KDE respectively. You can install KDE on Ubuntu and Gnome on Kubuntu without any loss of functionality.
It was my earlier experience of high productivity with KDE that prompted me to order Kubuntu rather than Ubuntu. Nothing against Gnome, in fact I have installed the Gnome libraries for using applications like Mozilla Firefox, gvim, dia and OpenOffice.
Otherwise it is all KDE, I use
- Konsole: X terminal emulator for KDE or the command window
- Konqueror: KDE file manager and browser
- Kontact: which includes KMail for emails, Akregator for reading feeds and Korganizer for scheduling and organizing.
- Kate: intelligent KDE text editor
- K3b: CD and DVD burner
- Amarok: audio player
- KMPlayer: multimedia player
- Kopete: messenger to chat with buddies over 8 different protocols including Yahoo!, MSN, GTalk and IRC.
- KDevelop: C/C++ integrated development environment that supports KParts
- KXML Editor: XML editor for KDE
- KPlato: project management tool
I will like to start using KOffice at somet time, it feels great to be able to try and experiment different office suites thanks to the OpenDocument format. The amazing configuration for shortcuts recognizes the Windows key as one of the modifier keys and lets me retain some of the used-to Windows shortcuts like Win+E for file manager, Win+M for showing desktop. I haven’t tried the KDE eye-candy like Baghira theme and KXDocker but will do it after some time.
Kopete, the messenger, can integrate with the address book in Kontact and import data from there. It also has a concept of metacontacts that can handle multiple messenger accounts for the same person with a single entry in the chat window. That makes it a lot convenient.
K3b lets me burn DVD videos, for which I would have had to buy an extension for Nero on Microsoft Windows. It is surprising that when you categorically buy a DVD writer, the software for burning DVD videos is excluded. K3b has been great, I have churned out a good number of CDs.
Head over at KDE applications repository.
I have also installed Mono. I don’t need any .Net application today, but just the possibility makes it so much interesting. Wine will be the next thing in this league.
The Look’n’Feel department of KDE is also abuzz. The desktop configuration provides lots of options, which are required to be looked at only if you are interested in changing them. Otherwise you can choose to ignore them completely. More resources can be found at KDE-Look.org.
The good thing about K/X/Ed/Ubuntu disks is that they also work as live CDs. I could boot using them and verify whether the necessary hardware worked. Most of the hardware worked out of the box, including the 802.11g wireless. The 1280 screen resolution did not, but it required a minimal effort of downloading the 915resolution package from the Ubuntu repositories. It is worth verifying if all the repositories are enabled (which can be done in Adept by using right click menu on repositories in View->Manage Repositories window) before you start downloading packages. This was good performance considering that I was installing this on a device with a tag Designed for Microsoft Windows XP!
Two things that I have not tested are the dialup modem and the SVideo port. They are not being used, and hence not being tested. Rest of the things are working without a problem.
Additional efforts and help
I had to do some additional fiddling to get things like MP3 working. But most of these things have well documented answers, either in the KDE repository or in the community. Here are some additional resources for working with the Ubuntu distributions:
- Kubuntu Wiki
- KUDOS Unofficial Kubuntu FAQ
- Kubuntu forums
- Ubuntu and Kubuntu unofficial guide.
- Ubuntu weblog
- Linux on Laptops
The installation was a breeze, no problems at all. The good thing was it threw a lot of options at me, but I did not have to configure them, they already had their default values. I have read about some tough experiences, but it took me all of 6 hrs to install and set up my environment. However, it took some incremental time to import some things, like my mail and contacts, from my older environment. Using it is easy, even non-technical people will find it easy.
The one thing that hurts Linux, the pioneer in open source, is ironically the mesh(s) of open source licenses. The user has to usually delve in to the technical details to understand the debates and different positions. This, in my opinion, is the biggest deterrent today. It is not the complexity, it is not the number of options. The licenses and the debates have created so much data that the layman is left in the dark without any knowledge. Open source will become easier and more approachable for the layman only if the licenses themselves get leaner. I digress, but this is the only reason why I would hesitate to recommend this to someone. The biggest advantage of Linux to the common man is neither the licenses or GPLs or costs – it is the increase in productivity at affordable cost.
Otherwise, I would recommend this to each and everyone. For the ones looking for support, Canonical offers commercial support. Let this not be considered to be anything against Microsoft Windows, but for me the overall score for Kubuntu is higher.
Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.