PCLinuxOS Quick Review and Screenshots – Kubuntu Alternative

Continuing in my quest for a replacement to Kubuntu as discussed here in my previous post. We are looking at KDE distros that can replace the Kubuntu 9.x release, which to me still seems like it’s in beta.

PCLinuxOS 2009 KDE
It’s running on KDE 3.5, which is a good start in my opinion. It took nearly 4 minutes to load the opening screen from the live CD, which seemed like forever. During the whole time I played with the live desktop, the CD was churning and I was afraid it was going to bust a gut.

Radically Simple

The PCLinuxOS tagline and philosophy is to make the Linux distro desktop simple and easy to use.

Some notables – They are still using Synaptic for package management, which is better and easier to use than the new Kubuntu package manager. The package selection was quite rich, with a heavy accent on graphics programs and sound and music devices. All told, I think there was a couple dozen programs in those two sub menus. Which brings me to the next point, the menu selection is based on hierarchies. Sometimes, you’ll have to wade through several submenus to get to an application.
Generally speaking, it was a pleasant distro.

Here’s some screenshots of PCLinuxOS 2009 on KDE 3.5

PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE
PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE

PCLinuxOS Snapshot Configuration Manager
PCLinuxOS Snapshot Configuration Manager

PCLinuxOS Snapshot Control Center
PCLinuxOS Snapshot Control Center

PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE
PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE

PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE
PCLinuxOS Snapshot on KDE

PCLinuxOS Snapshot - Help Screen
PCLinuxOS Snapshot - Help Screen

Knoppix 6.01 Quick Review – KDE Alternative to Kubuntu

I’m reviewing KDE distros of Linux as part of my ongoing series, searching for a replacement to Kubuntu, which I have been running for three years but decided to leave after their upgrade to KDE 4.x

Knoppix 6.01 Live CD

Knoppix 6.01 is running LXDE, that’s a good start in my opinion.  I remember using a much earlier version of Knoppix about 8 years ago as a Live CD version of Linux.  It was one of the first (correct me if I’m wrong) to push the outer limit of Linux distros and show that you can run an OS from a CD.

Having not used Knoppix in so many years, it was quite nostalgic to hear the nice lady say “initiating startup sequence”, like a 1950s sci-fi TV show.  The OS loaded rather quickly and once the KDE main window was up, the CD stopped churning and it didn’t churn again through the entire review.  They probably have the best memory-load of the live-cd distros.

Annoying Animation Effect

Someone made a design decision to make the windows and menus have animation.  It was cute for about one second.  No more.  Obviously, this is a configuration option that one could change, but why would you include that as a default?  How many people, regardless of age, really want their Firefox browser exploding into blocks when they close the window?  I set a capture screen on delay so you can see what I’m writing about.

Knoppix 6.01 Screen Shots

snap1
Knoppix Main Screen

Knoppix 6.01 Animated Window Close
Knoppix 6.01 Animated Window Close

The desktop itself came with no other major surprises. The software selection was a bit different than I’ve seen in other distros.  They had Gnome mplayer as the default music tool.  Gimp was included, as well as Open Office, and Korganizer.

When I shut down the CD, the nice lady said “Initiating Shutdown Sequence”.

Well, I’ve already left Kubuntu.  So far, Mandrive has shown promise.  Knoppix is not for me.  Onward the search for a replacement continues …

Mandriva KDE Quick Review & Screenshots (vs. Kubuntu)

As you may have read from my previous posts on leaving Kubuntu after 3 years, I am looking for a better KDE solution. To that aim, I am installing well-respected KDE distros and comparing them to the Kubuntu that I have known and loved, but that has gone to a beta feel in the recent 9.x release.

Mandriva KDE
Installing Mandriva KDE, similar to Kubuntu, is installed from a live CD. You get to taste the OS before actually installing. That’s where the similarities end.
Mandriva is using 4.x KDE and looks simply gorgeous. The developers took care to make a very pleasant looking and highly functional distribution. All the expected apps are installed in the live CD including, Open Office, Kmail, Firefox 3, and Gimp (which is not included standard on Kubuntu).

Mandriva Screenshots

Mandriva Snapshot - Software Configuration
Mandriva Snapshot - Software Management

Mandriva Software
Mandriva Software

Mandriva TV Time
Mandriva TV Time

Mandriva Main Menu
Mandriva Main Menu

Mandriva Backup Tool
Mandriva Backup Tool

Mandriva includes a host of neat tools that really add to its utility. The software configuration tool is straightforward and uncluttered. Mandriva comes with a Backup tool that automatically pops up when you insert a USB disk on key. The menu structure is also clearer and easier to navigate than it’s KDE cousin.  For example, the recently used apps sits atop the main menu (as you’d expect) and ready for easy access, as opposed to having to fumble through tabs and an array of mouse clicks on arrows on Kubuntu.

I was impressed also with the ease of installation and configuration which rivaled Kubuntu’s legendary ease.

Although this is a preliminary look, Mandriva looks like a real winner and has restored my faith in KDE even in the post v.3.5 era.

Goodbye Kubuntu, I’m Staying With Ubuntu. Here’s why.

Saying Goodbye to Kubuntu
I said goodbye to Kubuntu two weeks ago when I replaced my KDE desktop with Gnome and I haven’t looked back. It feels at the same time invigorating and betraying. Like I’ve left a former love for my new fling.
I had been using Kubuntu as my main OS for over three years, having started with v 5.x and migrated along all the way to 9.x. When the Kubuntu folks decided to abandon KDE 3.5 and jump to the new experimental KDE 4.x, I felt as though I was using a beta product, as opposed to the solid well-built OS that I had come to love.

Very Happy with Ubuntu Instead
But make no mistake, Ubuntu is a better distro. The Gnome environment is very straightforward. Yes, there are less gadgets. But how many flying windows and 3-D animations do you really need on your desktop?
As a developer, and entrepreneur, most of my day is spent either on Evolution (email), Firefox or in Terminal windows, developing and monitoring my servers. I’ll check some spreadsheets on Office and occasionally play some music in the background.

Kmail vs. Evolution  (Side by Side)

Kmail on KDE
Kmail on KDE
Evolution on Gnome
Evolution on Gnome

Sure, Kmail is nice, but I like Evolution better. Why? I can’t explain, it’s just a feeling that the software is more-baked. Evolution had a more elegant interface.   Evolution doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as Kmail, but their handling of Signatures, HTML formatting, and general ease of use beats out the more extensible Kmail.  Both include calendar, memos, tasks, and contact management.
Continue reading “Goodbye Kubuntu, I’m Staying With Ubuntu. Here’s why.”

Ubuntu vs. Kubuntu – A Linux Lover’s Challenge

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s assume that you’ve already decided on or are using the Ubuntu distribution of Linux.  e.g. There are plenty of linux flavors out there, and this article will only discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Ubuntu and Kubuntu.

First of all, both Ubuntu and Kubuntu are based on the same cannonical distribution and core.  The only (and important) difference between them is the desktop environment offered with either option.  Ubuntu comes with the Gnome desktop environment, whereas Kubuntu offers the KDE desktop.

KDE vs. Gnome
Many will say that the value of Gnome vs KDE is in their graphical presentation.  KDE is a 3D highly graphical environment with much eye-candy objects.  Gnome is a more basic, pleasant IMO, graphical implementation.  It more resembles Windows XP in form and function.

In addition, KDE and Gnome each have different software packages that are specific to them. For example, KATE is a KDE text editor.  Amarok is a KDE music player.  Gnome has a whole set of tools specific to it as well.  Most of these tools will work fine on either desktop.  I have used Amarok on KDE and Gnome with no problems in either case.

Review
I have used Kubuntu as my desktop operating system for the last three years.   I use my desktop PC for development, email, media, file management, SSH connections with servers, and just about everything else. I need my OS to be a workhorse.
After three years of strong Kubuntu performance on KDE 3.x, I upgraded first to Kubuntu 8.x which upgraded the KDE to 4.0. I found the desktop interface changes to be clumsy, and although well-meaning, were essentially a dud. After reading the much-hyped reviews of Kubuntu 9.x which shipped in May and included the update to KDE 4.1, I thought maybe we could go back to the ‘good ole days’. My wishes were not delivered. Kubuntu had been slow and causing many crashes – primarily with the media players. I found myself on a regular basis having to kill the mplayer or npviewer.bin (the 32 bit wrapper for the Adobe flash player on 64 bit OS). Granted, there are other factors, possibly hardware and/or configuration changes due to added software, but the same machine performed well in the past and after the upgrade to 9.x and until my switch to Gnome (Ubuntu) last week, had become nearly unbearable.

RiseSmart Inc.

Verdict
After much consideration, I have changed the desktop environment on my copy of linux Kubuntu to Gnome. Essentially, I am running Ubuntu, but the logon splash screen says Kubuntu. Since both desktops rely on the same core operating system, i was able to upgrade (or simply to switch) to Gnome / Ubuntu by going to the upgrade manager and requesting the Gnome desktop. The upgrade/switch took about 20 minutes, and not only was it seamless, even the bookmarks in Firefox and all the configurations are still in place.  Here’s a tutorial for Kubuntu users to switch to Gnome.

Therefore, my experience has been that if you are looking for a dependable Linux OS and without the bells and whistles of a developmental phase of KDE (at least until it’s fully baked in this new 4.x generation), stick with Ubuntu.
What have been your experiences with Kubuntu and Ubuntu? Please share with us.

Kubuntu Download
Kubuntu Download

Ubuntu Download
Ubuntu Download