1 Aug 2017

Linux Mint 18.2 KDE - what else can you desire?

Linux Mint is the distribution that tops the Distrowatch rating year after year. Its release cycle was following the Ubuntu releases for many years, including the non-LTS versions. But since the version 17 back in 2014 they only release Linux Mint based on Ubuntu LTS versions, currently Ubuntu 16.04, and then refresh the distribution every 6 months with newer packages.

Linux Mint 18.2 was released at the beginning of July 2017, and you can already read the quick screenshot tour of Linux Mint 18.2 Cinnamon, the flagship of the Linux Mint team.

Apart from Cinnamon, there are also MATE, Xfce and KDE versions. Linux notes from DarkDuck has previously reviewed Linux Mint 17.2 KDE. It was about 2 years ago, in August 2015. Let's have a look at Linux Mint 18.2 KDE now.

The ISO image, as usual, is available from one of many mirrors and via torrent. The Linux Mint 18.2 KDE 64-bit image is about 1.9 GB in size, which is quite a lot, 300 Mb bigger than a 2-years old release.

I burnt the image to the USB stick with the dd command and plugged that USB drive to the port of my Dell Inspirion 17 laptop.

Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

Booting up

The boot process of Linux Mint 18.2 KDE 64-bit is very simple. There is a countdown on the boot screen that takes you to the Live version of this operating system after 10 seconds of waiting. If you touch the keyboard during that time, you have some other options like OEM install, troubleshooting and so on.

Once the actual boot sequence starts, there are no more questions. The boot time is very short.

First impressions

The freshly booted system leaves you on the black-colour themed desktop. The wallpaper is black with just a Mint logo in the right part. There are several dozen alternative wallpapers available out of the box. Just right-click the empty desktop space and choose "Configure desktop".

The panel is at the bottom of the screen, and it is also in black colour. The left part of of the panel has only a menu button with Plasma (KDE) logo on it. Yes, the menu button is not Mint-themed. But you can change the icon by right-clicking it and choosing the "Configure Launcher Settings" item.

The right part of the panel contains the notification area with clocks, volume, battery and network indicators, network and bluetooth indicators, clipboard and USB managers, printers, notifications and some other usual suspects. There is also the Instant Messenger icon that calls up the Plasma Messenger.
Linux Mint 18.2 KDE welcome screen


The freshly booted Linux Mint 18.2 KDE system only took about 420 Mb of memory, which is on par with the 17.2 version, and less than half as much as the Cinnamon version.
Linux Mint 18.2 KDE resource usage


Network connection

There were no issues with  connecting my laptop to the wireless network. Linux Mint 18.2 KDE correctly configured the wireless card and found my home network. I had to type the password and then I was connected. The only "but" is that, as usual in KDE, I had to type in the password twice.

Keyboard layout

Linux Mint 18.2 KDE comes with English US layout by default. If you don't like it, or want to add more, you can follow the guide.
The indicator appears on the panel once you configure more than one layout, and it can be either text or flag.

Applications

Linux Mint 18.2 KDE comes with a decent set of applications, which you can expect from the 1.9 GB ISO image.

Firefox 54.0 is default and the only available browser in the default distribution. There are also KMail, KTorrent and Konversation (IRC chat) applications in the Internet section of the menu.

The Graphics section of the menu sports GIMP image editor, Gwenveiw image viewer, Skanlite scanning utility and digiKam image manager.

The Multimedia section includes Amarok and Dragonplayer players, K3B disk burning utility and the Multimedia codecs installer.

The productivity tools of Linux Mint 18.2 KDE include the full suite of LibreOffice applications, even with Math and Base tools. There is also a Kontacts utility.

Of course, there are several dozens of smaller utilities, both KDE-specific and generic, like Firewall configuration, Ark, KCalc, Konsole and so on.

The default application manager for Linux Mint 18.2 KDE is Software Manager (mintinstall). All Ubuntu and Mint repositories are just under your fingertips.

Multimedia

Amarok is the default player for MP3 files in Linux Mint 18.2 KDE. As you could guess from the previous section, there are no multimedia codecs available in Linux Mint 18.2 by default. Instead, there is an installer that takes you through the necessary steps.

Amarok also asks you to install plugins when you try to play an MP3 file for the first time. You have a choice between gstreamer-plugin-ugly, gstreamer-libav and gstreamer-fluendo. I selected the first (ugly) option and clicked the Install button. The installer found half a dozen dependencies, all of which were installed in a matter of seconds. Amarok started playing the music immediately after that.
Linux Mint 18.2 KDE multimedia
Firefox started playing videos on YouTube, BBC and 1tv.ru immediately without any additional annoying manipulations.

Conclusion

Linux Mint 18.2 KDE left a very nice impression on me.

As you may know, I now use Kubuntu 16.04 as my default operating system. It fulfills my requirements. But now, after checking this new release from the Mint team, I am seriously considering switching to it.

Fast, slick, trouble-free, hassle-free. Just how the OS should be.

If you remember, I liked the 17.2 version two years ago too, but my hardware was a bit too slow for it. My new laptop is powerful enough for running the KDE system.

Let's see if I would be lazy, or really go about switching.

If you are interested in getting Linux Mint 18.2 KDE, or any other Linux Mint flavours, or in any other Linux distribution in general, why not visit BuyLinuxCDs.co.uk site where you can order a disk with your favourite operating system? The disk will be delivered right to your mailbox!
Linux Mint 18.2 KDE desktop cube

Video used on the screenshot https://youtu.be/XeY6qpAl-fs

9 comments:

  1. Besides the fact that memory count changes depending on the tool you use for it, KDE does the trick of activating Akonadi only when/if you open KMail, then the memory usage doubles and the processes of Akonadi stay there regardless you need them or not.

    So, open KMail, close it and check your RAM again.

    Another thing about KDE is the GTK applications used for almost any basic task on the desktop, which means the QT ones are either abandoned or inferior.

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    Replies
    1. The browser is the only "task" that there isn't a comparable QT replacement (though Qupzilla shows promise). There are solid QT based applications for all other "tasks" including the office suite.

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    2. I don't know what "solid QT based applications" means, what I know is all the major distros install GTK applications for the main areas of the desktop INSTEAD of KDE/QT ones.

      My guess is there are two reasons, first the GTK applications are some sort of "de facto standard" and second the GTK applications get more love, meaning they are more actively maintained and developed.

      I guess the issue with QT applications involves even more the LXQT desktop, because you don't want to get lots of KDE dependencies on top.

      Then, again, some of the old premises of KDE were nonsense, pretty much like Gnome. I wrote an example above, the whole story of "semantic" or "ontology" with huge software for indexing that provides support for a whole class of applications, whose last incarnation is Akonadi. When you say "QT applications" you cannot actually compare KMail with a common mail client because of that, it DOES NOT simply read and write mail.

      In short, this review is a bit flawed because it does not consider how KDE actually works in a realistic scenario. It is not a problem limited to KDE only, it is basically the problem with Linux as a desktop. You know, Fedora ships Gnome 3 but Red Hat does not, it is the Gnome 3 "classic", because Fedora does not have "paying customers" while Red Had has.

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    3. Solid Qt applications means they're of solid construction, e.g. fully functional, high quality, and high stability. In my experience Qt applications generally follow the KDE style, and so offer more functionality (kate, dolphin, Wireshark has now been ported to Qt, kdenlive, etc).

      There might not always be a Qt equivalent (firefox ships as default on a lot of distros which is GTK based), but generally a KDE distro will ship with Qt applications instead, whilst a distro using a GTK based desktop environment such as Gnome or Unity, will ship with GTK applications, so it depends on what disto / DE your looking at (I'm using KDENeon - other than Firefox, I'm not sure it comes with any GTK applications).

      LXQt is still work in progress, but will eventually replace the GTK LXDE. Until LXQt is mature enough, distros will just stick existing GTK apps in, but ultimately they'll be replaced with Qt ones, otherwise you running both Qt and GTK frameworks at the same time, which isn’t very efficient.

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  2. I was surprised when you mentioned that KDE uses less memory than Cinnamon, but I did my own test, and the clear "winner" was KDE, 505MB, vs 717MB for Cinnamon.

    It used to be that KDE was a resource hog, and Cinnamon was considered "slimmer". How things change!

    ReplyDelete