Kubuntu 19.10 is the focus of the November 9th through November 16th BDLL (Big Daddy Linux Live) “distro challenge”. I’ve been using Kubuntu 19.10 for almost two weeks now, and it has been an absolute treat. There are a few points in particular that I want to touch on, but I’ll start by saying it has been the best KDE experience I have experienced so far on any operating system, be it Fedora, Manjaro, Solus, or openSUSE.
Leading with the first step into getting Kubuntu, their website (https://kubuntu.org) is both clean and well-organized, making it easy to find the proper resources indexed within. There’s a nifty little button on the landing page labeled “Feature Tour” which offers an illustrated list of applications and their uses that are provided with Kubuntu. I think this is a fantastic utility and I appreciate the scroll-based design, rather than click-based navigation through the tour. Onto the Download page, there are currently three active versions of Kubuntu at the time of me writing this, and they’re all presented on the download page with optional sublinks to torrents or alternate download mirrors. I highly recommend using a torrent if you do plan to give this a try as it helps reduce strain on the servers as well as seeding for others.
Once you’ve actually gotten the ISO written to a medium of your choice and have booted into it, you’ll be provided with various choices from starting Kubuntu to an OEM install option. I typically recommend just booting in the normal conditions “Start Kubuntu” unless you plan on installing/distributing for someone else. The default screen presented to you is an installer on an empty (but gorgeously wallpapered) desktop, with the option to load the rest of the desktop for a “live” system or to continue through the installation process. Partitioning was fairly straightforward and I used the manual partitioner to finesse things the way I tend to prefer them. The installation was very quick, taking just over a minute to complete. Smooth sailing and it’s time to reboot!
I must say I do love SDDM (also known as the “greeter” or login screen). It’s straightforward but doesn’t make it a chore to fiddle about with power settings or login options (for other desktops or Wayland sessions). It’s a nice balance between powerful, beautiful, and intuitive… And I must say, the blur effect KDE has that is applied to the login screen’s wallpaper is stunning. I highly recommend having a look. Login successful, and then I had the opportunity of getting a full, unobstructed look at one of the best KDE wallpapers of all time!
There’s a single panel on the bottom of the screen, dark, possibly Breeze dark? It’s neatly laid out in a way that I feel would be comfortable for most people, something I would call a “traditional” layout. This ensures that the default appearance will likely cater to the majority of desktop users, Windows users. Other defaults are well-set, such as the choice to set double-click in the file manager and desktop over single-click. While I prefer single-click myself and prefer its efficiency, I think that it’s less familiar as a default, which may frustrate people and drive them away. The performance values I’ve seen with Kubuntu in this release have not only made it incredibly enjoyable outright, it’s also just made it incredibly difficult to even try switching to anything else. I’m noticing smoother gameplay, completely regardless of the amount and type of applications running in the background. The only time I do experience issues with performance in this regard is when virtual desktops/workspaces are enabled, in which I will see persistent stutter.
This brings me towards one of only two complaints I have. The virtual desktops/workspaces experience in KDE itself, and unfortunately this extends to Kubuntu, is atrocious. Dynamic workspaces just aren’t there, meaning if you need more space, you have to create it manually. Desktops like GNOME and Pantheon (elementary OS) create workspaces dynamically, allowing me to focus on what’s important, rather than setting aside time to re-organize all my work. Beyond that, the keybinds for moving between them and moving windows between them is equally terrible. The second point has to do with the default set of applications. I do believe it is somewhat difficult to choose the perfect set of default applications to ship in a distribution/OS, but there are a ton of strange things loaded in by default that probably could be done without. In 2019 I feel comfortable saying that most users do not need a CD/DVD burning and ripping application out of the box, so K3B is very out of place here. Seeing a bunch of odd applications in the Office and Internet tabs of the main menu gives a somewhat haphazard feel, as if they’re installed purely to cover bases that may very well not need to be covered.
All that being said, this release of Kubuntu has been incredible. I’ve had zero issues with crashes, both in regards to the desktop environment and applications within. Any issues I tend to have with KDE such as desktop and compositor crashes when changing widgets and panel configurations are nonexistent for me here. This is Kubuntu’s best release ever, and I look forward to 20.04, the next LTS! It’s going to be amazing, and I plan on comparing my experience then to my experience now. Give Kubuntu a try, seriously! It’s amazing. This is KDE in its best light. Thank you all for reading. <3