Kubuntu 10.04 - aka Lucid Beta 1

The first beta of the next Kubuntu Long Term service release is out.
I have been running the development release candidates on one of my entertainment computers for a while now and unfortunately for me the upgrade was not so smooth. Ok, it was a disaster, but only because I was running a bunch of backports and had other non-supported ppa repositories for various hardware reasons.

After a backup and full re-install averything went smooth as silk.

The new installer is more polished than any Ubuntu installer I have seen so far and even includes a slideshow that highlights key points of the new OS.

After re-booting all of my hardware was supported out of the box including my ATI video card, even though the native and opensource drivers are not available yet. Some how it emulates the 3d functionality which is supposedly slower, but I haven't noticed. Still I can't wait for the official drivers so I have native 3d hardware support again. That said, all of the desktop effects work flawlessly for me with the emulated driver.

One of the goals of this release is faster boot times and already the beta boots extremely fast. Under 12 seconds from pressing the power button to the initial log in screen. Once you type in your login you are presented with an updated load screen where the different load icons (disk / hardware etc...) fade in from left to right and then the whole thing gracefully fades away into the desktop. This is a really slick touch.

The new desktop is very eye catching and aesthetically it is a huge improvement over the old desktop, but I still prefer KDE 3.5. I do like some of the new features and am still getting used to others, but KDE 3.5 had a lot built in that is simply missing in KDE 4. I know it will take some time for all of the KDE 3.5 features to find there way into 4.0 but eventually they will.


New KDE 4.0 features I like or at least don't hate:

  1. Activities - Activities allow you to have multiple desktop configurations. You still have the ability to have multiple virtual desktops. Activities allow you to set a different background image, show different widgets etc for a given activity. So say for personal finance you could create an activity called Finance and then place your finance folder, a calculator, stock tickers and links to any of your financial programs on your desktop. Then any time you want to manage your finances you can just click on you finance activity. I must admit I am still getting used to and finding uses for this.
    Konqueror has had a similar feature (view profiles) forever and since Konqueror allows as many split views and tabs as you need I still find this more useful. I am sure there is an easy way to have the best of both worlds by placing links to Konqueror profiles on an Activity desktop but I haven't gotten that far yet. Still, Activities offer a paradigm shift in the possible ways you can configure and use you desktop.
  2. New Kickoff Menu Style - I must admit I am not a big fan of this one at all, but I am sure a lot of people will find this new menu style a lot easier. If the new Kickoff  Menu was the only option I would be more than a little upset, but in true KDE fashion they make it easy to change the menu back to the standard menu style. Thank YOU!
  3. New Desktop View - Again I am not a fan of this one, but only because I am so used to the old folder view desktop. With the new Desktop View and folder placed on the desktop is a plasma widget that displays the folders contents. You can have as many of these widgets as you like and paired with activities this opens up a lot of possibilities. For instance you could have a Photo activity that displays your photos folder in one folder widgit, you camera folder in another widgit and an ftp folder in another widget along with shortcuts to all you photo editing apps. Simply plug in you camera, open the Photo activity and drag photos from your camera to you photos folder or to the web. Of course there are applications like Picasa and DigiKam that do all that for you, but this kinda flexibility is totally new in a desktop manager.
  4. New Desktop Effects - The new desktop effects are great, although part of me wishes KDE would just leave the effects to Compiz, Compiz is simply overkill for most users. The built in effects are nice and do not require any additional installation or complex configuration.
  5. New drag to screen edge snap feature. Drag any window to the left or right edge and the app will snap to fill half the screen. Drag to the top to maximize. Drag from the top to un-maximize. This feature is just useful. I used to simulate this with compiz, but having it there out of the box as a built in effect is great.
  6. Audio - The new audio system is much improved. I have one complaint about not having a mix setting anymore on the mixer. Other than that, the new mixer is much more user friendly and the audio system is much cleaner. Sound quality is better across the board both input and output.

Things I miss about kde 3.5

  1.  Locate protocol for Konqueror
    - not really a big fan of the whole strigi desktop indexing thing. I just want my locate protocol to be recognized in konqueror again.
  2. Filter plugin for Konqueror
    - In kde 3.5 when browsing a local file system the search engine filter is replaced by a local view filter. This was oh so useful. Yes you can still add * whatever to the path to filter, but the current view search filter was a nice touch.
  3. Terminal Emulator doesn't follow folder view
    - The attached terminal emulator use to follow the folder view it was attached to. Double clicking on a folder would navigate to the folder both in the folder and the attached terminal. I must admit this has confounded me on more than one occasion.
  4. No kippi or kim kio slaves for Konqueror.
    - These were huge time savers. These allowed you to right click on an image or selection of images and resize, compress, rotate ....etc. from the folder view. I know this will come eventually but it is tough living without it.
  5. ........ More to come as I encounter them

OK, so most of these are KDE gripes not Kubuntu, but Kubuntu just being Ubuntu with KDE as the default desktop manager I feel they are somewhat appropriate here. Really though KDE is just the desktop and Ubuntu is the OS so I might update this to be more Ubuntu specific and move all of these likes dislikes to a KDE 3.5 VS KDE 4 thread.

Anyway, all in all I am enjoying the latest Kubuntu. It already seems very stable at beta1. It boots much faster and I had no problems installing firefox, flash, audio/video codecs or anything else. Amazon video on demand works better now than it ever has for me on any linux distro as does skype and skype call recorder (for pod-casting).


Stay tuned for more feedback, and feel free to post your experience or any questions.