Preview: Debian 6 "Squeeze" (Part 2: KDE)

Main Screen
This is the second part in my series of previews of Debian 6 "Squeeze". The ISO image I used this time was again the daily build from 2010 October 3. I tested this in VirtualBox with 1 GB of RAM allocated to the guest OS and a 25 GB virtual hard drive available (the same one on which I installed the GNOME version).
Why am I covering KDE separately from GNOME? It may seem strange at first, considering that Debian doesn't make too many huge modifications to the DEs it uses. However, the fact that KDE 4 (at version 4.4) is included means that KDE 4 has finally reached a level of stability that is acceptable to the developers of stable versions of Debian. Previously, the only distribution based on stable Debian that used KDE 4 was SimplyMEPIS 8.5, based on Debian 5 "Lenny". Now it looks like that may have some competition (though I have heard some rumblings on the Internet that a new version of MEPIS is coming soon — I can't wait to get my hands on that!). Follow the jump to see what it's like.
The boot and startup time is (again) quite fast. The desktop is a plain-Jane KDE 4.4 desktop. I realized it was KDE 4.4 due to the old system tray icons combined with tabbed windows.
Mozilla Firefox is not included; Konqueror is the only web browser present. Although Gnash is included, it kept crashing whenever I tried to use YouTube or similar sites; this is not an especially good sign, though of course the proprietary codecs themselves can be downloaded and installed after adding the appropriate repositories. I'm pretty sure, however, that the codecs crashing is the fault of the codecs, not of KDE.
OpenOffice.org is included, though it sticks out like a sore thumb against the KDE 4 Oxygen theme. This, of course, can be remedied again by downloading and installing the appropriate packages. Speaking of which, there is no package manager present at all. I'm not sure why the GNOME version gets both Synaptic Package Manager and the Software Center, while KDE only gets the command line Aptitude and apt-get tools. In any case, I used apt-get to install Synaptic.
OpenOffice.org + Tabbed Windows
The default menu is the Kickoff menu, and boy is it a mess. Although the "Favorites" page looks fairly uncluttered, the "Applications" page has a "Debian" folder, which basically tries to include the GNOME menu hierarchy in the KDE menu, resulting in many menu item duplications. Dolphin, the GIMP, and a few other programs are listed in both the "Debian" folder in the menu as well as in their respective categories in the Kickoff menu. Also, I was disappointed to see no games included, considering the KDE Games package has a wider selection of games than the GNOME Games package. Anyway, that's just a small nitpick.
The big news is that KDE did not crash on me once. It worked just as smoothly as GNOME did, and I'm glad to see that Debian is paying as much attention to the stability of the KDE edition as the GNOME edition.
The installation is exactly the same as the GNOME edition, so there isn't really anything to say here. I will say that unlike the GNOME version, the KDE version did correctly recognize my timezone, and when I selected the appropriate timezone in the installation procedure, it responded correctly. Yay!
Kickoff (+ Redundant Menu Items) + Dolphin
Post-installation, I ran into the issue of GRUB not being present (as I installed the KDE version on the same hard drive as the GNOME version), so I rebooted into the live DVD and tried to reinstall GRUB. Unfortunately, the solution I found online didn't work, as the terminal kept telling me that the "grub-install" command doesn't exist. That's strange. I hope this is just an issue with two installations of the same Debian version not playing nicely with each other; I hope this doesn't happen when Debian is dual-booted with Microsoft Windows and/or with another Linux distribution (that may or may not use GRUB 2, which is what Debian 6 "Squeeze" uses). Anyway, I hope to sort this issue out soon.
Aside from the semi-major hiccup with GRUB, I think Debian 6 "Squeeze" KDE is a good alternative to GNOME. Really, it boils down to one's preference of one over the other; there's nothing show-stopping in either version for me to definitely recommend one over the other. Stay tuned for Part 3: LXDE!


  1. Did you manage to get grub-install working (aptitude install'ed it within the live CD)? If so, how is the RAM usage after the first boot? How quickly does this boot from grub to kdm login screen? any comparisons with the Gnome desktop for these questions?

    And did you file bugs about any of this, specifically the grub-install?

    It seems surprising that KPackage isn't installed by default, but AFAIK there isn't (yet??) an update-installer thing for KDE. While I love KDE, its too bad that distro people seem to figure we won't want Firefox (with Oxygen theme!) or won't want the OpenOffice.org to be themed to KDE.

    Debian with KDE is currently my favorite setup. It is fast and slick and KDE is rather default. However, for new users, yes I agree that Mepis is great and the next release will be even better.

  2. @lefty.crupps: Unfortunately, I was too busy to fiddle around with grub-install any further. That's not likely to change any time soon. I haven't filed any bug reports yet, but I'm hesitant to do so because I don't know if it's a problem with grub-install, with my particular installation, or with my procedure. Thanks for the comment!

  3. A small request: please make the screenshots into links so I can click through and see them full size. That's what I do when I review Linux distros as it's easier to see than a small thumbnail.


  4. @Eric Mesa: Sorry about that. Another commenter asked for the same thing as well. I still haven't figured out how to make them links (they used to be like that before by default (if you look through some of my past reviews)!) but I hope to make it happen for the next review. Thanks for the comment!