The times changed, and my best friend is now Xubuntu 16.04, whereas my latest attempts to try Kubuntu back in 2011 and 2012 were not so nice.
I tried more recent versions of this operating system when I got orders for DVDs through the BuyLinuxCDs.co.uk site, but they impressed me so little that I didn’t bother to write anything about them.
Kubuntu 16.10 was released few weeks ago, and I decided to give it a go. The results were more impressive this time.
I downloaded the 64-bit version of Kubuntu 16.10 from the torrent, whereas you may also download it from one of many mirrors. The ISO image size is 1.5 GB. Once downloaded, I used the dd command to "burn" the image to the USB stick.
The USB memory card is in the port of my laptop Toshiba Satellite L500-19X. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!
Booting processOnce the boot process starts, you have no questions from the system all the way to the default desktop. It means that you don't even select (or can't select, if you want to phrase it like that) between the Live run of Kubuntu 16.10 and the straight installation. You always end up with the Live desktop.
The boot process itself was rather quick. You can see the KDE-style animation on the splash screen for a few seconds. But, as I have mentioned above, you will soon end up on the default desktop.
First impressionsThe default desktop features wallpaper with an abstract image in purple-grey-blue tones. There are no alternative wallpapers available out of the box, so you need to download another image yourself if you don't like the default one.
There is one folder window on the desktop. This is the Desktop folder that includes only one item - Install Kubuntu 16.10.
The bottom part of the screen is taken by the panel in light-grey colour. It has a menu button with KDE logo in the left part and notification area on the right. The latter includes network and volume controls, USB device manager, clocks, clipboard monitor and instant messenger notification element.
|Kubuntu 16.10 desktop|
There are no switches between virtual desktops and no quick launch panel by default. You can create the quick launch panel yourself by selecting the option "Show launcher when not running" in the right-click menu of the panel button of an application.
Once booted, the system took about 390 Mb of memory, which is rather decent for the resource-hungry KDE distribution. Just compare it with 800 MB taken by Ubuntu MATE 16.10!
|Kubuntu 16.10 resources|
Kubuntu 16.10 uses KDE Plasma (KDE 5) with KDE Framework 5.26.0.
Network connectionI had no problems in Kubuntu 16.10 with connecting to my home wireless network. Operating system correctly recognised and configured my WiFi card Realtek 8191 SEvB.
The only issue I would like to highlight here is that I had to type in the wireless network password twice. First time it was in the network monitor menu in the notification area, just below the name of my home network, and second time it was in the pop-up window that appeared in the middle of the screen when I clicked "Connect" after the 1st password entry. After that, the connection was established and it was stable.
Network driveKubuntu 16.10 uses Dolphin as the default file manager. This application includes the network browsing utility that helped me to navigate to the shared network drive and connect to it.
Keyboard layoutKubuntu 16.10 starts with English US keyboard layout by default. If you want to change that, you can follow the instruction that I wrote some time ago. Even though it had been written for KDE4, it is still applicable in KDE5 / Plasma. The design of the windows changed, but the process remained.
MultimediaKubuntu 16.10 does not come with any multimedia codecs. Even though I managed to connect to my shared network drive in Kubuntu 16.10, I could not play any multimedia files from there.
As to online videos, the results were different from one service to another. YouTube and Vimeo videos played well in Firefox.
|Kubuntu 16.10 multimedia tools|
However, other resources that use Adobe Flash for playing videos were not working, for example some videos on 1tv.ru or BBC iPlayer.
ApplicationsKubuntu 16.10 comes with a decent set of applications, both KDE-standard and 3rd party.
Firefox 49 is the default and the only browser in this operating system. Other Internet tools include KTorrent, KMail, Akgregator, KRDC, Telepathy messenger and few others.
Productivity tools are represented by LibreOffice 18.104.22.168 along with some KDE tools like KMail, Sieve Editor, KAddressBook and so on.
Here I would like to note that the LibreOffice application panel has some unexpected transparency that creates an issue if you open this application on top of another one. For example, here you can see a text from the window below the Writer coming across the panel icons.
|Kubuntu LibreOffice bug|
The text appeared on the panel when I launched Writer or Calc, and it remained in place even after I moved or resized the Office application window. That is very annoying.
Multimedia tools include Dragon Player, Amarok and K3B disk burning utility. The former two are useless without proper codecs in the Live run of Kubuntu 16.10, as I mentioned above.
Image tools in Kubuntu 16.10 are represented by LibreOffice Draw, ImageMagick, Gwenview image viewer and SkanLite scanning utility.
Of course, there are "usual suspects" in the system and utilities sections of the menu. Just to name a few: Kate editor, Ark, KCalc, Konsole, KDE Partition manager and so on.
If you want to change the set of applications, you should be able to do so with Discover Software Center. When I tried to use it, the list of applications was empty, because it didn't contain any information from the repositories. However, I could not find the way to refresh these repositories anywhere in Discover.
A minute or two after I closed Discover, an icon appeared in the notification area telling me that a few updates were found. I thought that would mean an automatic refresh of repositories. But even after that I could not find some applications in repository like the obvious VLC.
ConclusionKDE Plasma in the Live run of Kubuntu 16.10 left a very good impression on me. It was fast, snappy, quick, responsive, or find another synonym for that. Applications opened and worked remarkably fast, although not without small hiccups here and there.
The only slowness was when I opened a few YouTube windows in Firefox.
However, there are some issues that I mentioned above that make me a bit wary.
Generally speaking, Kubuntu 16.10 is a nice system, but you need to be an experienced Linux user to run it. Don't expect too many wonders, prepare to get your hands dirty, and it will obey your needs.
Video used on screenshot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C2QfNbrNw8