Desktop Linux: Ubunt and Kubuntu Compared: Page 2

Kubuntu offers many of the same features as Ubuntu, but uses the KDE desktop instead of Unity.
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Another area where Kubuntu does very well is with its quality applications. From the Amarok music player down to K3b DVD burning software, these KDE applications reflect polish and quality in a way that gtk applications often fall short visually. And to make things even more compelling, Kubuntu remembers to include the little things, like a clipboard manager by default. This is an area where Ubuntu leaves you to your own devices, in that you'll need to install one yourself.

Both Ubuntu and Kubuntu offer the ability to detect and install proprietary drivers should you wish. Kubuntu relies on the older method of a standalone application for this, whereas Ubuntu has integrated this into their software sources dialog. In addition, both distributions are compatible with Ubuntu software packages and PPA repositories. This means you could quite easily run the same software on an installation of each distribution without any issues whatsoever.

Menus, Options and Settings

Despite the various tools that are available for installation, Ubuntu's Unity isn't known for its abundance of menus by default. Kubuntu on the other hand, takes a page from other distributions running the KDE desktop. Just to give you one example, you can browse into the Kubuntu System Settings and change your network management backend from NetworkManager to Wicd from within a very easy to follow GUI menu.

Another fantastic example is setting up different applications to rely on different sound cards. For example, if I have a USB headset and an internal sound card, then I can setup one to be used for games and the other for music and/or video. Bear in mind, this doesn't even rely on PulseAudio, this is simply using KDE's Phonon Configuration Module. I don't recommend using Phonon with PulseAudio's own control management as it can lead to issues, but if you're opting to run an ALSA-only setup, Phonon is pretty neat.

One issue I have with Kubuntu is that in some areas the menus feel like overkill. Three different settings paths for the same function can feel a bit excessive when it comes to making simple application setting changes. Sometimes these features are useful, but in other instances, they are a little more than the casual user might be looking for.

In Summary

Kubuntu is a solid, responsive Linux distribution for anyone running Ubuntu-capable hardware. Some have even argued that KDE offers a more familiar experience than Unity for those coming away from Windows. And despite its differences from Ubuntu proper, Kubuntu users can rely on much of the same knowledge they may have gained from using Ubuntu.

On the flip side, however, KDE isn't for everyone. It's not uncommon for those who do enjoy using Unity not to enjoy KDE as much. After all, KDE is a very powerful desktop and its options are a lot to take in for someone who has never experienced freedom and desktop control to this extent before.

At the end of the day, my advice is this—try Kubuntu, but do so on a system no older than a couple of years in age. This way everything is going to be at its top performance and you won't frustrate yourself expecting it to behave like a lightweight desktop, such as XFCE or LXDE. Remembering this tip will lead to an experience which will empower to you to make the best decision for you and your workstation.

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Tags: open source, Linux, Ubuntu, KDE, desktop, Unity, Kubuntu

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