2010-09-03

Review: Kubuntu 10.04 Trinity "Lucid Lynx" (Idea by Candid of Linux Today)

Main Screen: Ethais Wallpaper + Kicker
First off, I want to give a huge thanks and a shout-out to Linux Today reader Candid for suggesting that I take a look at Trinity. Your suggestion piqued my curiosity enough to make me want to do a full review and write-up. This one is for you. Thanks!
Reviewing this Linux distribution has reminded me of automotive news site Edmunds Inside Line's final review of the 2010 Mercury Grand Marquis in honor of Mercury's impending demise. It was a great nostalgic piece, as the car itself had turned into a weird mishmash of throwback controls and modern safety technology. For example, antilock brakes are present (as is traction control), yet the frame itself is a ladder-frame (like a truck, rather than a car's unibody frame) and the turn signals are operated by actual switches (as opposed to computerized systems). This is how I felt when testing Kubuntu 10.04 Trinity. It's a weird mishmash of old-school and new-school KDE.
So what is Trinity? For one, it's not the codename of this distribution — this version of Kubuntu 10.04 is still called "Lucid Lynx". Trinity is actually the name of a project that aims to revive, maintain, and further develop KDE 3.5 as a fork from the main KDE project. Yes, folks, KDE 3.5 has risen from the dead! [Insert dramatic sound effects here.] The project itself has had to overcome a lot of obstacles, chief among them the facts that Qt 3 has not been officially supported for 3 years (and rewriting the Qt code is just what the developers did for KDE 4) and that KDE 3.5 itself has not been actively developed or maintained for over 3 years. (Trinity is only a few months old.) That said, the Trinity packages are available for Ubuntu systems and can be installed alongside existing GNOME or KDE installations as a separate desktop environment. Trinity labels this newest release of KDE as KDE 3.5.11 (as the last official release was 3.5.10). Follow the jump to accompany me on a trip back to the future. (I had to say it. Sorry.)
New Boot Menu followed by Old Boot Splash Logo + New Boot Splash Progress Bar
The interesting mishmash of old and new starts with the boot process itself. The boot menu is a standard Kubuntu 10.04 menu, replete with the new logo and all. However, that is immediately followed by a boot splash that is itself a combination of the old Kubuntu logo and the new progress meter (used in the Plymouth boot splash loader in Ubuntu 10.04 and its derivatives). The boot itself is fast. I mentioned in my Mandriva review that the boot process seemed fast, but this may be due to the additional video memory I allocated for Mandriva. Here, I only allocated the standard 12 MB of video memory (with 1024 MB of RAM), and it was really quick. There was no KDE splash to be seen — instead, I was immediately greeted by the desktop. I was not surprised to see the Ethais wallpaper (the default since KDE 4.4) used, but as my eyes progressed down the screen...is that a classic Kicker panel? Yes, it really is true! The KMenu (and it is not the Kickoff menu) is done in true KDE 3.5 style. I really like it because all the menu items have descriptions right beside the application names (as opposed to having to hover over the menu item to bring up alt-text which may or may not be especially descriptive).
Konqueror 3.5.10 (old) and OpenOffice.org 3.2 (new)
I know I've said this before, but KDE 3.5 is really speedy. KDE 4.5 has parity (or better) with KDE 3.5 with regard to features and stability, but speed is one area where KDE 4.X just can't touch KDE 3.5 (due to stuff like Akonadi, Nepomuk, and Strigi running in the background in KDE 4.X). Loading applications and files is super quick compared to modern DEs.
Amarok 1.4 and KMenu
The web browser (and only file manager, as Dolphin didn't exist prior to the release of KDE 4.0) present is Konqueror, replete with the old cartoonish KDE 3.5 icon set. Here, Konqueror, along with many other KDE components, is at version 3.5.10 (which, again, is the last officially supported KDE 3.5 release). Traditionally, Ubuntu and Kubuntu have not shipped with proprietary codecs included, and this is no exception. However, I was surprised to see OpenOffice.org included instead of KOffice. More surprising still are the facts that OpenOffice.org is integrated well with KDE 3.5 (OpenOffice.org integration with KDE has only been solved recently (i.e. after the release of KDE 4.0), as far as I know) and that OpenOffice.org itself is at version 3.2 (replete with the Oracle branding). Kopete is also present, and the webcam did not work, leading me to conclude (fairly confidently) that the lack of webcam recognition is a VirtualBox problem, not a problem with any particular distribution as tested in VirtualBox.
System Settings: New Layout, Old Theme
Some classic KDE applications like digiKam are also present. That said, GwenView, a KDE image viewer that didn't really become popular until it was made a default application in KDE 4.0, is present in its old (KDE 3.5) incarnation. Amarok is also present at version 1.4 (as opposed to the newest version 2.3). Finally, the System Settings control center is taken from KDE 4.X and adapted to KDE 3.5 both in terms of looks and in terms of functionality; the basic layout is the same, but things related to Plasma are replaced by their predecessors from KDE 3.5. This, to me, seemed rather strange.
So what's the verdict? I rather enjoyed (in a weird way) these odd couples of old and new features. For a first try (at getting KDE 3.5 back on Kubuntu), this is a really great release. I think Trinity will be able to find a home on many old computers as a viable alternative to LXDE and Xfce; it's fast, and it's customizable enough to be quite a looker (as I don't particularly care for the default look). I wish the developers the best of luck regarding the project's progress; more choice is always better. I would certainly recommend this to anyone who wants some way to stick with KDE 3.5 or some way to bring KDE onto an older computer.

16 comments:

  1. I love Trinity.
    That made for me possible to upgrade from 8.04 to 10.04, since I did not want to leave KDE3.
    Now, I am using Trinity on one desktop (at work, home is still 8.04) and laptop.
    It is not a matter of "old computer" - my work PC hat 4 cores and 4 GB RAM, laptop 2 cores and 4 GB RAM, but I love the easy to use.
    My daughter's PC got Ubuntu 10.04 with Gnome, so I am not a KDE-fanatic, but KDE3 works best for me.
    (sorry for broken english, is not my native language)

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  2. @Anonymous: Thanks for the information!

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  3. Prashanth.......I am trying to contact you with respect to the Trinity project....Candid.
    hygrocybatbigponddotnetdotau

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  4. @Candid: Is it something private? Otherwise, I would prefer that you just posted a comment here. (Note that I am in no way affiliated with the Trinity project.)

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  5. It runs on all my Ubuntu boxes...
    I like KDE3 and don't need all the gui enhancements on my boxes which are all P4 or P4-Xeons with server class video cards.

    The mix of long-life Ubuntu 10.04 with a solid KDE3 is just what I wanted and didn't know about until a review crossed my web browser.

    It's solid and reliable and works on everything from Netbook to multi-core box.

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  6. @Bill: Thanks for the comment, and I hope this review helped in that regard!

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  7. I have used KDE3 and KDE4. I agree that KDE4 was not upto the mark till 4.3 or 4.4 release but now it is turning out much better. Not sure why one would like to remain with KDE3 unless there are specific apps which are yet to be ported (not sure if that is the case as KDE3 app do run on KDE4).

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  8. @Mehel: I am also of the opinion that for a modern system, one should stick to KDE 4.5. However, for a Unixoid DE, its hardware requirements are still somewhat high, which is why KDE 3.5 is a credible alternative for installation on lower-end hardware. (Also, most distributions that use KDE 4.4 or 4.5 have removed the Qt 3 libraries entirely, meaning that there probably aren't any more KDE 3.X applications that will work on KDE 4.5.)

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  9. I was never able to get myself into KDE4. It has always felt rather unstable and sluggish. It also has too many new features (such as Plasma and an apparent requirement for the still broken Nepomuk at compile time). They also have not added in some of the features and customizability to KDE4. It even has that "dark feeling" about it with it's interface (I honestly don't know why they turned it black as opposed to letting people do that themselves -- the greyish silver was a lot better for most users I've talked to). It is nice to see that someone is willing to work on something worthwhile -- something that has always worked, has the customizability that I desire, and is fast and stable as compared to it's "more modern" version.

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  10. @Kris "Piki": Let me start by saying KDE 4.5 is not KDE 4.0. It's a lot faster and I haven't experienced a single Plasma crash with it. KDE 4.5 also has all of the features that KDE 3.5 had, along with many more that KDE 3.5 can't have because that would require a rewrite of Qt itself. It's also just as customizable, if not more so, than KDE 3.5. On the one hand, I think it's great that the KDE developers are trying to broaden the meaning of a desktop environment beyond the traditional confines of the desktop metaphor. (I also happen to prefer a darker KDE 4.X environment, but in any case, with version 4.3 they switched to the light/translucent theme). On the other hand, I still haven't found a good use for this extension of the meaning of the desktop, which means that technically, KDE 3.5 could still suit my needs. That said, I think another big reason to switch is that a lot of KDE applications tied to KDE (e.g. Konqueror, Gwenview, Dolphin, Okular as well as KOffice, etc.) have improved in terms of features a lot since KDE 3.5. Anyway, thanks for the comment!

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  11. I am using Trinity 10.10 and am so HAPPY with it!!!
    It's FAST and reliable, I got the comfort of the ol' trusted KDE 3.5 with modern features and software up to par the regular canonical release...Woks like a charm...the PERFECT OS for me...

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  12. @Renegadrian: I'm glad to hear it. Check out my review of Debian 6 "Standard" - I installed Trinity on that. Thanks for the comment!

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  13. Trinity 3.5.12 installs perfectly on Linux Mint 10 Gnome 32-bit, Julia. Works a treat!

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  14. @Anonymous. Thanks for the information. I'm not surprised considering that I have installed KDE (4) on top of GNOME on Linux Mint several times before. Plus, Trinity is supposed to work like a charm on Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat", so given that Linux Mint is based on that, I'm even less surprised. In any case, thanks again for the comment!

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  15. Thanks to Trinity I can run my PVR that is written in the "Kommander Editor" scripting language fro KDE3.x while being able to upgrade to Ubuntu 10.04. Also I missed haveing different wallpapers on each virtual desktop.

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  16. @Charles: That's great that you can do that now. Then again, for the wallpaper issue, I didn't think KDE 3 could do that; I thought it was just KDE 4. Thanks for the comment!

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