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Kubuntu 10.10 - Tiny Review

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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-29-10 04:05 PM
Original message
Kubuntu 10.10 - Tiny Review

I may come back later and give a more in-depth review. At the moment, I'm still evaluating it and so cannot say much with any authority. I've been running it since it came out in a virtual machine, but the live environment is always different.

The main thing I want to say here is that for the first time ever in my memory a Linux distro has recognized and configured all my hardware *correctly* via the installer without me having to do a single thing manually.

This includes:
- Canon Pixima Printer
- Wireless Networking USB Dongle
- Nvidia Graphics Card
- High-end Logitech Gaming Mouse
- Sound
- Five Separate Hard Drives, SATA/PATA mix, with 8 Partitions

At one time or another each of those has given me problems with one or more distros. Usually it's just the one thing, not all of them, and the graphics card has most persistently given me fits. Not this time.

This is the first time I've honestly been able to say, "It just works."

The installer also recognized, for the first time ever, that I have more than 4GB of memory and installed the proper PAE kernel so that I could address all of it in a 32 bit system. (I've been running 64bit Linux Mint 9.04 for awhile now and have loved it, but I do still occasionally run into issues with the 64 bit that bug me. Plus, except with certain things, I haven't experience that much of an improvement in performance to justify continuing to use it.) I've grown accustomed to having to do a kernel change first thing with distros that don't allow you to choose yourself beforehand. I was stunned.

Anyway ...

If you like the KDE desktop environment (and I do) I can tentatively recommend this even for newbies.
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-30-10 12:52 AM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks!
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-01-10 05:30 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. I should add a correction ...

It's not so much a correction as an explanation.

I noted that the installer detected and set up my graphics card correctly, to the point of enabling 3d and everything.

Well, that is true, but I didn't say enough about that. What it does is set up the open source driver for my card, which is all it can legally do on a default install. I still needed to install the NVidia proprietary driver myself. The open source driver works, but not well. It would not be something I would recommend for anyone to use long-term.

However -- and this was another new, positive development -- the systems application called "Additional Drivers" is there to automate this process. That app has been there for awhile, but it's never really worked correctly. It did work correctly on my system this time. When I started it, I told it to search for additional drivers, and in a few moments it came back telling me about the NVidia driver. I told it to download and install it (this is where it always failed before) and a few minutes later, it was all done. I just had to log out/in again, and everything was smooth.

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Syrinx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-01-10 05:00 AM
Response to Original message
2. whenever I tried Kubuntu it seemed really slow
Edited on Mon Nov-01-10 05:01 AM by Syrinx
I haven't tried the latest version.

Admittedly, I never have the latest and greatest hardware. Now, I'm using a dual-core intel with only a couple gigs of memory. But last time I tried Kubuntu, probably six months ago, it was painfully slow. I'm talking so slow that I had to wait on system paint events. I mean I would click on a menu, and I would watch it being drawn pixel by pixel. I would love to go out and get a better system, or at least a lot more memory. But the main Ubuntu OS (Gnome/GTK) runs great on what I've got.
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-01-10 05:26 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I hear you ...
I've experienced the same thing myself, which is one reason I haven't used it since, I think, version 8.04.

There are two issues here concerning Kubuntu.

The first -- and main -- issue is KDE itself. It is resource intensive, not quite as bad as Aero, but close. The developers made a decision as of KDE 4.0 to exploit newer hardware, and what you see as distinctive of KDE requires it. On the positive side, trimming it down to where it isn't eating up all your clock cycles doing its thing is possible. On the downside, it isn't trivial. Most of it can be done via menu options, but this isn't intuitive. There's no step-by-step on it, and some of the options that wouldn't seem to make much of a difference make a whole lot of difference.

On first log-in to your desktop, KDE makes an attempt to determine what your hardware can handle and customize its settings for that. However, this doesn't work as well as it should. It does in fact do what your hardware can handle, which is to say what it can do without freezing entirely. This doesn't mean it is usable.

KDE really requires compositing to be of much use with its current incarnation. That means you need 3D support, which likely means you're going to need a video card from NVidia or ATI and their proprietary driver properly installed.

The second problem is the way Kubuntu implements KDE. The development team for Kubuntu makes no real effort to streamline KDE's integration with the system. I wasn't fully aware of this myself until I used Linux Mint KDE edition, which is actually built from Kubuntu. However, the Mint team strips and tweaks to make things run more efficiently.

One thing I have discovered with this install is that your choice of themes for the plasma environment can affect this noticeably. The Oxygen theme is the default. It also seems to be the one that slows things down the most. I have a relatively high end system that doesn't have any problems unless I've got two dozen windows up with Compiz enabled. However, when I changed the default theme from Oxygen to one called "Glassified" I could see how things sped up.

KDE isn't for everyone. I prefer it, but that's just me.
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Syrinx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-02-10 04:35 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. thanks for the information
I might give Kubuntu another try sometimes when I'm bored, and try to tweak the settings.

I gotta say, you know your stuff. :hi:
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-03-10 03:40 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. I just know how to use Google ...

... and pick the brains of various *nix admins I know. :)

I forgot to mention one specific thing that is a major irritation.

Kubuntu starts a desktop search app that positively kills system performance. I've seen it have as many as a dozen threads running at one time, all of them causing the hard drive to churn. It's nice-ed all the way to 19, but there are two problems with this. One, this only seems to apply to the background processes. It periodically launches an instance of itself (cron job possibly ... haven't looked since I just kill it entirely) that has a standard system priority that will eat up whatever it can. Second, and most importantly, none of this matters when it comes to grinding your hard drive, *especially* when you've got several instances of the same application all causing the read/write head to go traipsing across the platter at seemingly random moments.

I've watched this thing take a Phenom X2 quad core with 8GB and make it act like an 8088 machine trying to run Windows 7.

It's not specific to Kubuntu. SuSE has one too, and it does the same damn thing.

Strangely, I think this runs by default on Ubuntu as well but doesn't seem to have the negative side effects. Maybe it's a problem between the search app and KDE. Dunno. I just know that this thing doesn't run by default in Mint KDE.

So, anyway, turning that thing off is recommended. To really make it die, you have to turn it off via system settings *and* delete the .desktop file associated with it in /usr/share/autostart.

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