2015-05-25

Review: Kubuntu 15.04 "Vivid Vervet"

This month has been quite busy for me with classes. Now that the semester is finally over, I have a little more time, and that means I have enough time to do a review. It has been a few years since I've reviewed Kubuntu, the officially-supported variant of Ubuntu that uses KDE. Moreover, Kubuntu now features KDE 5 (I know the KDE naming and numbering system has become a lot more complicated, so this is, as a physicist might say, an intentional abuse of notation) as stable for the first time, so I figured I should try this version. I tried it as a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like. (It should become progressively clearer through this review why there are no pictures.)

After getting past the boot menu, I was greeted by the Kubuntu logo featuring a periodically pulsating blue glow. That quickly gave way to the desktop. The desktop is stock KDE 5, but that does look a fair bit different from KDE 4. The panel and desktop are all functionally pretty much the same, but the icons and KDE Plasma themes are all a bit more flat-looking. Overall, the desktop looks quite nice.

Unfortunately, while it looks nice, it doesn't work so nicely. Like a lot of (but not all) other distributions I have tested in the last year or so, Kubuntu believes that my laptop has two monitors, so it acts as if there is much more space to the right of my screen than there actually is. While most other distributions don't give too many issues from this other than making screenshots stretched, Kubuntu believes that it is a good idea to open new windows on the right side of the screen rather than the left, so all of the windows that I tried to open would open on a portion of the screen not actually accessible to me. This included the terminal Konsole, which precluded me from using something like WMCTRL to manually move windows. Luckily, KDE is fully-featured enough that by right-clicking on the panel window button and selecting the appropriate option, I could move windows from portions of the screen that I wouldn't otherwise be able to access to portions of the screen that are actually accessible.

That seemed to work fine by itself, so then I opened and moved KDE System Settings, and used it to remove the "second display". This seemed to put things to normal. Just when I was about to do other stuff, though, KDE started to show some bad glitches, with window bars and the panel duplicating themselves on the top of the screen and the screen starting to show other weird bugs. Soon enough, the screen turned off (it didn't just show a black background — I could tell because there wasn't any light coming from the screen at all). I had to use 'CTRL'+'ALT'+'F1' to change to a different TTY and restart. This whole sequence of events was quite reproducible. Restarting and booting Linux Mint from my hard drive, I unsuccessfully tried finding answers to my issue online (though there do seem to be other well-established display-related issues with the latest version of Kubuntu). At that point, I decided it wasn't pursuing this issue any further.

That's where my time with Kubuntu 15.04 "Vivid Vervet" ended. Kubuntu claims that KDE 5 is stable, and while I don't doubt that other people would be able to agree, I personally cannot agree at all. I really hope that these issues get sorted out before the LTS release comes next year. Until then, I simply cannot recommmend this version to anyone.
You can get it here, though I don't know why you'd want to do that at this point.

4 comments:

  1. I agree with you, kubuntu is still not stable and cannot be recommended for production.

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  2. It might not be stable. I like it though on my vivobook. And it looks great! And it is much faster than kde4. So promosing at least.

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  3. I had similar issues on a notebook with nVidia graphics when using the nouveau driver. Installing the proprietary nvidia driver fixed it.

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  4. @Anonymous 1: It's unfortunate that you've had the same experience as well.

    @jongleren: It certainly looks great, but to me, that doesn't mean much if it won't work at all.

    @Anonymous 2: That didn't seem to be the issue for me, because Linux distributions (Kubuntu 15.04 "Vivid Vervet" included) tend to default to the integrated Intel graphics card for my laptop, rather than the secondary dedicated NVidia card.

    Thanks for the comments!

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