2010-08-23

Comparison Test: Newbie-Friendly KDE Distributions

In anticipation of my new laptop, I decided to test 5 major KDE distributions to see which one could work best on my laptop. As it happens, I ended up testing all of these on my old Sony VAIO desktop and installed Linux Mint 9 GNOME on my laptop. Go figure.
Each of these distributions aims to provide a hospitable and workable environment for the new user/Windows migrant. As such, there are a few features I expect to see included out-of-the-box. One of these is Firefox. A lot of implementations of KDE provide Konqueror instead of Firefox; while Konqueror may be faster and doubles as an excellent file manager, in terms of extensibility, ability to handle pretty much any webpage, and name recognition, Konqueror doesn't come close to Firefox. Along with this, I expect to see proprietary codecs included out-of-the-box. The story is similar for KOffice versus OpenOffice.org, so I also expect to see OpenOffice.org present and integrated nicely with KDE. I also want to see good hardware support (as tested by checking for support of my Logitech Quickcam Communicate STX USB webcam) out-of-the-box. The distribution shouldn't be too sluggish in live mode (but before that, it should have a live mode so that the user can try the distribution out first before taking the shot in the dark that is the installation process). In essence, the distribution should have Firefox (well-integrated), OpenOffice.org (well-integrated), hardware support (as per my webcam), and a reasonably fast live mode.
Although the newest version of KDE is 4.5, all of these distributions come with 4.4, which isn't a whole lot worse as far as I know. The distributions are openSUSE 11.3 (live CD), PCLinuxOS 2010.07, Sabayon 5.3, Pardus 2009.2, and PC-BSD 8.1 (live CD) along with a mystery contender that shall be revealed at the end of this post. Many of these distributions implement KDE specifically to better serve the new user, as many of these distributions are based on other distributions that are notoriously hard to work with.
As I was running low on blank CDs and DVDs at this time, I decided to try to put each of these distributions on my USB stick as a live USB. Only Sabayon and PCLinuxOS cooperated, so I decided then to test all of these distributions in VirtualBox. All of the impressions I have written are from these tests in VirtualBox; Sabayon and PCLinuxOS's performances as live USBs have not crept into this post (I hope).
With these things in mind, follow the jump to see how each contender fared. (NOTE: There are a lot of pictures after the jump, so your browser will probably slow down a bit. Please continue reading, but keep this in mind.)

5. PC-BSD 8.1 "Hubble" (Live CD)

The Boot Splash
PC-BSD is the interesting character of the bunch, mostly because it is the only distribution that is not actually Linux (it is based on FreeBSD). As everyone knows that BSD frequently leads to shark attacks (xkcd; as it turns out, shark attacks are a problem with OpenBSD, not FreeBSD), PC-BSD attempts to rectify this situation. Aside from its roots in BSD making it unique, PC-BSD, unlike most other distributions that install individual packages (and may or may not resolve dependencies), eschews the whole package management scheme altogether and replaces it with the concept of a PBI (Push-Button Installer or PC-BSD Installer) — a self-contained installation file akin to a Windows executable file. Thus, new users never have to deal with dependency hell. Of course, if a particular program is not available as a PBI, one can always get the source from FreeBSD's Ports and compile the source into a working program (or so one would hope; this is exactly what makes FreeBSD so scary). With all this in mind, let us proceed to the actual experience.
The Installer
I got the PC-BSD live CD that allows for live testing and net installations. Unfortunately, live mode refused to work — I would always be taken straight to the installer. This means that I had to create a separate virtual hard disk for PC-BSD's installation. The installation itself went smoothly, though the FreeBSD installation option will likely confuse new users, and the disk/partition labeling scheme (e.g. "da0s1") is a bit different from what a typical Windows (e.g. "C:\") or Linux (e.g. "sda1") user would see. Furthermore, the RAM and disk space requirements are quite high for what would at first seem like a fairly vanilla implementation of KDE in BSD.
After the installation finished, I restarted the virtual machine and booted from the virtual hard disk. One issue with dual-booting with Windows or Linux distributions is that PC-BSD uses the BTX bootloader instead of GRUB. The boot and startup time was somewhat slow but still reasonable. The look is fairly vanilla KDE, with 2 exceptions. Of course, the KDE menu button uses the PC-BSD logo; more important, however, is the fact that the notification area icons are all black and integrate nicely into the KDE panel. One of the features of KDE 4.5 is better notification area icon integration; PC-BSD seems to be ahead of the game in this regard, as it still uses KDE 4.4 but does its own integration very well.
The Main Screen
There is a fairly large selection of applications. Firefox and OpenOffice.org both work well and integrate nicely with the desktop theme. Most proprietary codecs are included out-of-the-box.
Though I was using VirtualBox, I was able to test recognition of my webcam by enabling USB devices in the settings for each guest OS and then using a program like Kopete (which is what I used most of the time to do this). Unfortunately, even with this, PC-BSD refused to recognize my webcam, which is a shame. BSD is noted for valuing stability over the bleeding-edge, so it may not support all new hardware; that said, my webcam is over 5 years old, so for PC-BSD to not support it is simply inexcusable.
I mentioned earlier that PC-BSD has some rather high disk space requirements and that it has its own PBI system of installing programs. As it turns out, the reason for these huge requirements is that because PBIs are self-contained, one may end up installing certain packages multiple times across different PBIs; what this means is that each PBI is around 100 MB in size. That is huge! It's also quite unnecessary, in my opinion.
Firefox and OpenOffice.org
PC-BSD is an amazing idea, in that it is probably the prime candidate in bringing BSD to a wider audience (Apple is still in denial that Mac OS is BSD-based, so they don't count). So why did it come in last? Its live mode didn't work, so users have to install before they can try the operating system. Also, its hardware requirements are quite taxing. Finally, it seems to be a little spotty on the peripheral hardware support. It's a great start, to be sure, but it definitely needs more work.








4. PCLinuxOS 2010.07 KDE

Main Screen with KDE 3-style Menu
For a while, PCLinuxOS used to be known as a sort of Mandriva-on-steroids distribution. In the last year or so, however, it has added enough of its own neat features to make a name for itself. In fact, the Helios project has made it and Linux Mint (previously known as Ubuntu-on-steroids) (along with SuperOS, which was actually known before as Super Ubuntu (before Canonical enforced the Ubuntu trademark)) as the preferred distributions for Linux installations, as these 2 distributions are renowned for actively seeking out and coddling new users with ease-of-use and excellent hardware support (along with a good mix of software). I had actually tested version 2009.2 before and really enjoyed using it (this was before the birth of this blog). Let's see how the latest version of PCLinuxOS fares today.
A Neat Trick in Folder View
The boot and startup time is probably the fastest of the bunch, but the boot splash of the darkening PCLinuxOS bull mascot, while a nice concept, doesn't accurately tell when the boot process is done. The panel is a little unusual in that it uses Windows 7 panel-style icons only, instead of bars with icons and text. It also uses a similar "pinning" concept. The mix of applications is decent, and PCLinuxOS has its own remastered Mandriva Control Center (as the PCLinuxOS Control Center), which is amazingly featured and very easy to use. Firefox is well-integrated with the system theme (which, thankfully, is the default Oxygen theme instead of Mandriva's dated Ia Ora theme), and most proprietary codecs are included out-of-the-box.
Firefox
So why did the famed PCLinuxOS end up second from the bottom? Well, all productivity applications have been dropped (even AbiWord); there is only a link to install OpenOffice.org, which cannot be tested in live mode as package managers are generally quite slow in live mode. Cheese Webcam Booth and Kopete were both dropped, so there is absolutely no way to be sure that my webcam works in PCLinuxOS. PCLinuxOS was the only distribution of the bunch to have KDE Plasma stability issues, which is surprising because this distribution is renowned for stability as well; this can be brought on by opening other applications and Firefox simultaneously. Finally, PCLinuxOS eschews the Kickoff menu for a KDE 3-style menu, which a lot of people have said works better; I don't agree, because there is no longer any description of cryptic-sounding programs like KRDC, KPPP, and Kivio, so this has lots of potential to confuse new users.
Overall, I think PCLinuxOS has taken a few steps backwards with this release. Hopefully these issues will be sorted out by the time the next release comes around.


3. openSUSE 11.3 KDE (Live CD)

Boot Splash
openSUSE is probably the oldest distribution of this bunch. It started a short while after Slackware as a remastered version of it (Slackware is the oldest currently surviving Linux distribution). Later, the distribution's focus shifted towards making a solid, user-friendly, independent distribution. openSUSE has created several innovations in both the KDE and GNOME environments, including the Kickoff and Slab menus (later reimplemented in KDE as the Lancelot menu), among other things. With these things in mind, let us proceed.
Welcome Screen
openSUSE has a very nice boot menu, giving the user lots of options, including language and screen resolution. The actual boot and startup time is somewhat slow but still reasonable. One is then greeted with a helpful welcome screen, explaining to new users what Linux, KDE, and openSUSE are (among other things). Unfortunately, my Desktop view widget crashed and displayed an ugly error message; this was fixed by changing the Activity from Desktop view to Folder view. openSUSE seems stable enough, and it looks very professionally done (it kind of reminds me of Microsoft Windows 7 in its looks (though it is certainly much more stable)). On the flip side, loading applications was quite slow.
Firefox and OpenOffice.org
openSUSE has also become well-known for its fully-featured YaST control center. I didn't fully explore YaST, but from what I could tell, it looks very thorough and very stable. Firefox and OpenOffice.org both worked and were very well integrated — I do believe that openSUSE also pioneered better integration of Firefox and OpenOffice.org with KDE 4.X. However, no proprietary codecs were included for legal reasons; though I understand the rationale (and getting them is easy enough with YaST2), this will likely put off new users (especially when in live mode). The webcam worked as tested in Kopete.
Overall, openSUSE seems very well-made, but the lack of proprietary codecs is (in my mind, as it is important to new users as well) a big sore point, and the live mode is quite slow.




2. Sabayon 5.3 KDE

The Main Screen
As readers of this blog know, I have tested the previous version of Sabayon before. I really liked it a lot in live mode, so much so that I went ahead and installed it (which ended in a fiasco). Just for a little history, Sabayon is based off of Gentoo, which is (in)famous for making users compile all programs from the source code; Sabayon turns Gentoo into a mostly binary-based distribution (like e.g. Ubuntu). Let's see how the latest version of Sabayon stacks up.

Firefox
The boot and startup time is reasonably fast. The more professional-looking blue theme (new in 5.2) has been carried over unchanged. There is, as always, a comprehensive selection of application, including XBMC and games like a demo version of World of Goo. Interestingly enough, Clementine (a fork of Amarok 1.4) replaces Amarok as the music player. Firefox and OpenOffice.org are there and well-integrated with the system theme. Most proprietary codecs are included out-of-the-box. The webcam works as tested in Kopete.
So what are the issues? The OS becomes rather slow when Firefox and other applications run simultaneously. Furthermore, there is this weird, persistent static in the speakers (and the only solution is to mute the volume control). Finally, the spellchecker in Firefox seems messed-up, as it marks almost every word as misspelled (I think the spellchecker uses either Italian or Spanish as its default language).

OpenOffice.org Writer and Calc (Tabbed Windows)
These are all fairly minor niggles. Overall, Sabayon provides a very solid and feature-filled desktop experience.















1. Pardus 2009.2 "Geronticus Eremita" (Live CD)

Boot Splash
Pardus is the only distribution of this bunch that is not based on any other parent distribution. It is made by a Turkish organization for use by the Turkish government and military, so obviously, stability is a priority. On the consumer end, it actively tries to woo new users with its unique set of tools and its own implementation of KDE 4.X. Let's see how this relatively unknown distribution fares.
Customized KDE Splash Screen
The first thing to strike me upon boot is a nice maroon theme. This carries on through the desktop experience. Pardus, like openSUSE, offers a number of different options upon boot (e.g. resolution, language). Unfortunately, the default language at boot is Turkish, but this can be changed in the boot menu itself (but this is dependent on new users seeing this option at the bottom of the screen). The boot and startup process is somewhat slow, but that's because there are so many programs included and squashed to fit onto a CD. Thankfully, loading programs after startup is very quick, and Pardus isn't especially burdened by Firefox and other applications running simultaneously.
Main Screen and Kaptan
Pardus seems to use its own icon set which looks like a more cartoonish, maroon version of the Oxygen icon set. It's a nice, soft theme that will likely put new users at ease. The first thing that loads is the Kaptan tool. While distributions like Linux Mint and openSUSE have simple welcome screens that users are likely to close right off the bat, Kaptan is a full-fledged step-by-step desktop configuration tool, allowing one to configure things like the wallpaper, Desktop vs. Folder view, number of virtual desktops, and theme, among other things. How cool is that?
Main Screen Post-Customization
The Pardus PISI repositories aren't exactly filled, so the live image itself comes with oodles of useful software. Firefox is present and even uses the Pardus theme (instead of the standard Oxygen theme). OpenOffice.org is also present, but it doesn't get the special Pardus treatment (aside from the splash screen) — it gets the standard Oxygen theme, which makes it look a little out-of-place here, honestly. Most proprietary codecs are included out-of-the-box. The webcam works as tested in Kopete.
Are there any downsides? As I said earlier, the repositories aren't very big, so aside from a couple of programs like Skype which are installable from the repositories, most of the software a user will be able to use is preinstalled. The only other issues are that the live CD and installation DVD are separate, and that the default language upon boot is Turkish (but this can be changed, provided the user knows (literally) where to look).
Firefox and OpenOffice.org
It's truly a shame that Pardus isn't a more popular distribution; it may have to do with the whole Turkish default thing, as that may give the impression that Pardus is a Turkish language-specific distribution. Pardus has one of the best implementations of KDE 4.X that I have seen, and actually makes (successful) concerted efforts to reach out to new users during the live session (and as far as I've heard, during the installation process as well). It seems to support most peripheral hardware, and there's not a whole lot more to ask for in terms of software selection or stability.







Mystery Contender: Chakra (Alpha 5)

Main Screen
Chakra, like some of the other distributions tested, tries to implement KDE to woo new users and is based off of a distribution that is famously hard to operate — in this case, that distribution is Arch. That said, this implementation is fairly bare-bones — in fact, the Chakra developers say openly that the same result can be had by getting Arch and adding the KDEmod packages. Arch is famous as well for its rolling-release model and for its nimbleness, as users install only the packages they want and need (and nothing more); Chakra works off of the same philosophy, but it at least starts with a basic KDE platform. The reason why I didn't compare Chakra to the others is because it is an unfair comparison, as Chakra is still just a project in its alpha stage. Let's see how it does.
Rekonq
Boot and startup is somewhat slow, considering that there is no shiny boot splash (and considering that Arch and Chakra are supposed to be nimble). One is then greeted with a fairly vanilla KDE desktop. The application selection is rather sparse; there is absolutely no productivity software included (save for a text editor). For purposes of maximizing speed and minimizing disk space, Rekonq, which is a new browser that combines Konqueror and the WebKit engine, is used instead of something more familiar like Firefox. Surprisingly, most proprietary codecs are included out-of-the-box. Also, the webcam works as tested in Kopete. Chakra also seems surprisingly stable, especially for an alpha release.
As Chakra has recently split from Arch with its most recent "Phoix" release, future development remains to be seen. (I didn't test that because it is a positively huge live DVD). I think Chakra is a great start, but if it wants to woo more new users, it should include Firefox and OpenOffice.org (as those are more familiar applications to new users). Good luck to the Chakra team!

Yes, yes, Pardus won this one. But who's the real winner in all of this? KDE. All of these distributions used KDE 4.4, and not one of them experienced a single Plasma crash — ever. Now, with version 4.5, KDE has finally reached amazing levels of stability and features. Furthermore, Firefox, OpenOffice.org, and GNOME/GTK+ applications actually integrate well with KDE. With GNOME looking to fall with version 3.0, if anyone is about to switch or upgrade distributions, now might be the time to migrate to a distribution with the newest version of KDE. Have fun, and I hope you thoroughly enjoyed this article!

26 comments:

  1. I love the website, go day to see him ever again post. Congratulations and published as yet.
    How about the article, is that other, very interesting.Maybe you'd let you comment on my site.
    Anyway, blog is great. Good luck!

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  2. @Documentary: Thanks for the support!
    @Anonymous: Thanks for the support! All I would additionally request is that you keep links to commercial websites to a bare minimum (unless said links directly pertain to this article or comments on this article). Thanks again!

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  3. hey, 1 question regarding pardus... how would you install something like google chrome stable or something that isnt in the repository? or how would you upgrade to 4.5 and what about ppa's?

    sorry if i asked too much questions :)

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  4. You ought to check out SimplyMEPIS 8.5. MEPIS is the distro that got me into KDE.

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  5. This is useful, but you should also try the KDE Edition of Mandriva ONE 2010.1. It works great here.

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  6. And the winner is Mandriva.
    Your article sucks for ignoring Mandriva while more obscure distros as PC-BSD, Chakra, Pardus and Sabayon are included.

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  7. I agree with the poster re: Mandriva. Mandriva is an active contributor to the KDE group. I am not sure if any of these other distros contribute any code to KDE. If you are that intent on promoting KDE then Mandriva should be included. Not having codecs available "out of the box" would not even be a consideration. BTW ... KDE 4.5 is available for Mandriva on the KDE.org site. I have upgraded the latest Mandriva2010.1 to KDE 4.5. It is awesome!

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  8. @Nick: Thanks for your questions. They certainly aren't too many. As Pardus is an independently-developed distribution, I don't know what sort of package files it uses; I do know that its package manager is called PISI, but I only suspect that it's RPM-based (in which case one can download and install the RPM file manually). Otherwise, I'm not entirely sure. If it isn't possible through PISI, then that's certainly one strike against Pardus for not having popular applications in the repository like Google Chrome.
    @Alan Moore: I have reviewed MEPIS as well. It's a somewhat older post, but if you look either in the search bar, archives, or "Popular Posts", you can find the review there. Have fun!
    @Anonymous posters: I do, in fact, have reasons for choosing to not review Mandriva (or Kubuntu or Fedora KDE). The reason I didn't review the latter two is because the parent developers put a lot more effort into their respective GNOME versions, so their KDE releases are pretty vanilla (at best) and half-baked (at worst). Neither of these things, of course, apply to Mandriva; the reason why I didn't review that is because Mandriva's parent company seems to be going through a bout of serious financial trouble, so I'm not sure how much longer Mandriva will actually be around (at least in its current incarnation). The other thing is that PCLinuxOS uses a lot of Mandriva repositories and tools, and it (according to reviews of both) supports more hardware out-of-the-box than Mandriva does; hence, projects like HeliOS Solutions (run by Ken Starks) use it (as well as Linux Mint) as opposed to Mandriva (and Ubuntu).
    Thank you all so much for your comments! I feel really lucky that this made it to Linux Today!

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  9. I have installed Mandriva for many of my newbie friends who loved their Linux experience. I chose Mandriva because of better documentation and larger forum. (I won't wish a *buntu on my enemy). Also apart from contributing code to KDE they also contributed code to build the very user friendly Mandriva control center.

    Also as an Arch user for several years I respectfully disagree with the comment that it is difficult to use. Since you customize it exactly the way you want - it takes a while setting it up but once you do it never breaks because of the rolling releases. So I figure I came out ahead by not spending time handling issues with each upgrade apart from getting a lightweight system.

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  10. @Anonymous: I respect your preferences, but why the hate for Ubuntu? I would say that for all its faults and flaws, it is the distribution to most successfully spread the word about desktop Linux. (Personally, I use Linux Mint, which is currently based on Ubuntu (but has its own tools and themes) but could possibly move to a straight-up Debian base later on. I really like its hardware support, codec support, software selection, and implementation of GNOME.) Of course, this still needs more work, but it's better than before 2004. I also believe that Mandriva is a very good distribution for newbies, and I don't deny that it has very good documentation; I fear that if Mandriva ceases to exist, then including it in this comparison would probably make the article irrelevant (if and when Mandriva does cease to exist).
    Furthermore, I do know that Arch gives the user total control over the system (and that despite (or because of?) the rolling release model, Arch systems are very stable). I did this comparison from the perspective of a new user; how many new users would figure out how to use pacman on the first try (or even know what that is)? I see that you are more of an intermediate user, so more apt KDE comparisons for you would be of, say, openSUSE, Arch with KDE, Slackware, and Gentoo with KDE.
    Thanks for the comment!

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  11. @PV: let me clarify. I don't hate Ubuntu - it has its strengths and is a good candidate for a newbie interested in GNOME. The *buntu's KDE experience is terrible because Canonical doesn't dedicate any resources towards it. All KDE integration work is done by volunteers and they are doing fantastic work. Canonical doesn't provide any documentation for Kubuntu either and its forum has far fewer KDE users. I would never recommend the *buntus for a newbie who prefers KDE because I hated my own experience with Kubuntu. I agree with you that I wouldn't recommend Arch to newbies either. Cheers !

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  12. @Anonymous:
    In that case, yes, I also wouldn't show Kubuntu to a newbie to display KDE (on a side note, how many "newbies" actually know what KDE is right off the bat?) - that's why I did this review, to see what distribution that's supposed to cater to newbies and actually implements something more than just vanilla KDE does it best.
    Thanks for your comment!

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  13. Great review. Esp the Pardus 2009.2. I knew nothing about this release. However, I think Mint KDE should have been included as well. KDE + the Mint Tools and Mint Software Center is a pretty compelling newbie experience!

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  14. @thebluemint: If you read a couple of other Linux-related posts on this blog (and I mention it at the beginning of this post as well), you'll see that I am a huge fan of Mint. That said, I know that the Linux Mint team puts the majority of their development efforts into the GNOME version - otherwise, we would see the KDE version come out at the same time as the GNOME version or even earlier. (Ironically enough, Mint 1 was a KDE distribution only, but then Mint 2 changed the focus to GNOME.) All the distributions tested here put their efforts primarily (or, in some cases, solely) into their KDE releases, so I wanted to see how they stack up in that regard. openSUSE KDE is better-developed than openSUSE GNOME - same goes for PCLinuxOS and Sabayon. Pardus, PC-BSD (aside from the separate GNOBSD project), and Chakra (aside from the separate KahelOS project) only have KDE versions. Hence, these are supposed to be each distribution's cream of the crop.
    Thank you so much for your comment!

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  15. No Mandriva?

    >As such, there are a few features I expect to see >included out-of-the-box.

    Firefox is NOT installed in Ubuntu as far as I remember.
    They have a Firefox installer icon but NOT the program.

    >Along with this, I expect to see proprietary codecs >included out-of-the-box.

    Cmon... you write a Linux column so you MUST know why these arent included by distros ...like Ubuntu.
    First time you use audio, it pops up a little screen and asks you if you want the codecs. It takes a few secs and it works.
    We have to tread the patent landmines carefully and the 3 extra seconds to install the codes is trivial.

    Im actually writing this from a friends computer that uses Kubuntu and honestly, Linux power users are drama queens. The difference is MINIMAL.

    Im not a big Buntu fan but my buddy has both his inlaws AND parents using Kubuntu as well as some other family members and no one has died from using it yet.

    Choice of distro is honestly meaningless, the choice is which desktop environment to use.

    No Linux newbie is going to try one KDE distro and say they prefer another KDE distro.
    However, Ive seen many newbies put off by GNOME's Mac clone and it looks too weird to them (the GTK look and feel is one of the thigns). When they see KDE, they feel more confortable.
    Were giving people a test drive at our LUG meeting-installfests and Windows users prefer KDE 4 to 1.

    I could tell you that I use PCLinuxOS exclusively for newbies these past 3 years but that is meaningless.
    Back then it was the only distro that did wifi well each time I tried it on a new computer.
    Now, its a question of habit. (I use Mandriva and Mepis at home)


    > I also wouldn't show Kubuntu to a newbie to display >KDE

    Whatever.
    You dont explain why which falls back to the personal tastes vanilla/chocolate thing.
    ive used Kubuntu here for the past 2 days and the 3 yr old seem pretty confortable as do my friends wife and other kids. They must be exceptional... or you are exxagerating.
    Kubuntu is a plain vanilla KDE distro. So what?


    Drama queens abound in the Linux world.

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  16. @Anonymous: Thanks for your comment! Let me clarify a few things:
    First, I have review Mandriva separately (in response to the multiple calls for me to do so). You can read it in this blog itself.
    Firefox is installed in Ubuntu, but only exists as an installer icon in Kubuntu, so you are partially correct.
    I have never claimed to be a Linux power user; I am still relatively new to the whole thing, which is why I wanted to write from the perspective of the new user. If you (by any chance) read Ken Starks's Blog of Helios, you will see that for newbies, installation of proprietary codecs isn't quite as trivial as you make it out to be - many of them refuse to go further with Linux because many distributions label such codecs as "Restricted Extras/Software" as opposed to the more neutral "Proprietary Software". For newbies to Linux, the inclusion of proprietary codecs or lack thereof (and if it's not included, how installation of said codecs is presented) can make all the difference.
    Here's a reason why a newbie would actually prefer one KDE distribution over another: as Dedoimedo's comparisons of distributions show, some distributions like Kubuntu do things like forcing KWallet down users' throats, while others like openSUSE actually take the time to explain what KWallet is. That also makes a big difference usability-wise. Furthermore, distributions like Pardus have configuration tools that cater to the newbie, whereas distributions like Sabayon do not.
    With regard to not showing Kubuntu to a newbie, it may not have been clear enough before, but the reasons for this include a lack of proper documentation and support for Kubuntu (especially when compared to other KDE-centric distributions) as well as a lack of effort taken to better integrate KDE with the Ubuntu system overall.
    I will concede that it may not be a huge issue considering your friend's wife uses it, but children do adapt very quickly to new environments (computing included).
    I hope this helps clear up any doubts you had!

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  17. If you download the international Pardus 2009.2 DVD it boot at English as the first option:

    http://www.pardus.org.tr/eng/download/

    I think Pardus is a good choicee for beginners to.

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  18. @Anonymous: Hmmm, I didn't think of that. Thanks for the tip! (Also, I've just reviewed Pardus 2011 Beta, so please do check that out!)

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  19. You forgot to test ZevenOS-Neptune. The upcoming star of the KDE distros.
    http://www.zevenos.com/neptune

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  20. You should have also reviewed Fedora, its KDE spin is very good.

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  21. @Anonymous 1: Unfortunately at the time of this review, ZevenOS was still an Xfce-based distribution. That said, I'll try to test it in the future.
    @Anonymous 2: I've been hearing good things about the latest version of Fedora 14 "Laughlin" KDE. That said, at the time of this review, that wasn't out yet, and reviews of Fedora 13 "Goddard" KDE weren't especially positive. Plus, it's clear that Fedora focuses more on the GNOME releases (though that appears to have changed slightly with the latest release), and I wanted to just test distributions that either exclusively or primarily use KDE.
    Thanks for the comments!

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  22. Good review, however I think next time you look to doing a distro comparison and choose to leave out major contenders (kubuntu, Mandriva), you would better serve your readers by stating why in your closing paragraphs.

    I started using Linux in '95 with Slackware. Shortly after that, I worked with Redhat for several years at work, and Mandrake/Mandriva at home. I am now mostly switched over to Kubuntu, mainly for work related reasons, but will agree that Mandriva has a better KDE show. My firewall is currently the only holdout, still running Mandriva 9.0 with something like 5 years of uptime.

    Ok, heading over to your Mandriva review to see what's new. Thanks for the write up.

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  23. I didn't read all the comments, so forgive me if I touch on something that's already been covered. You should check out SimplyMepis. It's absolutely the only noob-oriented distro I'll recommend or install for anyone, because it's the only one that's even remotely stable (years of using Slackware, Debian, and recently Arch have left me with a philosophy of "if I can crash it it's crap"). Mepis, by avoiding idiocies like carved-in-stone release cycles, manages to be just as easy to use as Ubuntu without every release coming out hopelessly broken.

    I think your criteria are a little stringent; expecting all of that software to be pre-installed means a LOT of choices being made for you... that's bad! You want to make the choices! Me, I hate OO.o. Don't like Firefox, either. If a distro comes with them installed, I'm just going to have to remove them. BTW, your assertions aout Firefox are outdated. Try it with QT 4.7.0 or above, and change the default rendering engine from KHTML to Kwebkitpart. Runs great.

    A few weeks ago I read your apology for the Slackware review, and didn't get a chance to comment on it. Friendly advice from one internet pundit to another: don't review anything that you're not willing to really dig into. That's why I rarely write reviews! Also remember that Linux is not Windows, which means that the OS is not defined by the desktop environment. Not all of think the fact that certain distros are trying to turn Linux into a pseudo-Windows experience is a good thing. I also thought your remarks about the Liunx community outside of Ubuntu/Mint were a little unfair. Go check out the Slackware or Arch forums sometimes. There are a lot of very nice people there who are very willing to help you with almost any problem, it's just that there's an expectation that you'll have tried to help yourself first. If you obviously have not done so, you're probably going to get told to go RTFM (Read the F#$%ing Manual). And rightly so. Part of the Linux experience is learning to do for yourself.

    My website and attached blog are linked with my name if you want to check them out.

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  24. Urgh... is there any way to edit comments? I meant to say that your assertions about Konqueror, not FF, were outdated.

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  25. I find it amusing that people are bringing new life to the comments five months after the last set of comments. :) Hehheh. (Please note that the age of this article may answer a few of your comments/questions.)
    @Anonymous: That's certainly something I forgot to do in the article but which I think I corrected in the comments (as well as on Linux Today). In any case, I'll say it again. I didn't include Mandriva due to my mistaken belief that PCLinuxOS was closely related to Mandriva and would therefore be a good stand-in. Of course, this plainly isn't true, so I reviewed Mandriva 2010.1 One shortly thereafter. Please do take a look at that. I also didn't review Kubuntu because Canonical focuses a lot more on the GNOME release and uses a vanilla KDE implementation and doesn't give Kubuntu any unique/outstanding features to distinguish it either from Ubuntu (aside from being Ubuntu + KDE) or from other KDE distributions. While this isn't as true now with Kubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" (as I've heard lots of good things about it), it was certainly true with version 10.04 LTS "Lucid Lynx", which was what was out at the time of this review. The same reasoning applies to why I didn't test Fedora 13 "Goddard" KDE as part of this collection.
    @gene: I feel like I've seen your site sometime before. I haven't had a chance to look at it too much, but I like what I've seen so far! I have reviewed SimplyMEPIS 8.5 here before, so please do check that out. Also, with regard to preinstalled applications, my intent was to do this from the perspective of a newbie. I'm still relatively new to Linux, but I think I have enough experience to install a new package either from a GUI or CLI tool (knowing the appropriate command). However, newbies to Linux probably won't, so they'll more likely appreciate seeing the familiar Mozilla Firefox and the widely-used OpenOffice.org as opposed to the strange and alien Konqueror and KOffice. Speaking of Konqueror, I realize that a lot of the rendering issues go away when using a WebKit rendering engine. That said, when I wrote this article, I don't believe that WebKit-based Konqueror/Rekonq was really ready for prime-time. Hence, (I'm trying not to sound stuck-up or arrogant here but) I stand by the assertions I made about Konqueror with reference to when I made them. Finally, with regard to Slackware, I do now know better than to try something that I'm almost sure won't work out/that I'm not willing to learn more about (when I know I will need to in order to properly use it). Also, I have no doubts that most people on the Slackware and Arch forums are friendly, helpful, and generally nice people. However, many of the people commenting on my original review acted as if I somehow disgraced Slackware/the Linux community by even daring to try Slackware; they acted as if a newbie trying out Slackware was a sacrilege in itself, and that's what I was referring to in talking about the nasty side of the Linux community.
    Thanks for the comments!

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