KDE Apps on Ubuntu – The Best of Both Worlds

So you’ve decided to leave Kubuntu and headed over to the world of Gnome on Ubuntu

Who ever said you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

From the linux forums these days it seems that many former hard-core kubuntu users are fleeing to ubuntu after the failed-start of KDE 4.x They, and other Ubuntu users who have only known from the Gnome world, are devoid of all the rich application tools available to the KDE community.

Compusa (Systemax, Inc.)

I am not willing to leave the Ubuntu distro, as others have suggested, to try KDE on Mandriva or on other KDE driven distros. I am very familiar with Kubuntu, the command line, the tools, the whole ‘way of doing things’.

I switched to Ubuntu last week and haven’t looked back yet. What’s the key to my success? I kept most of the familiar KDE tools. Even though I’m on Gnome, I am using Amarok for music playing, Kstreamripper to save audio from my favorite streams (shh…, the best kept secret on the internet), and other KDE specific tools that I’ve been using for years and don’t want to depart from so quickly.

Adding KDE apps on Ubuntu is simple. From the command line, you can add an app by typing:

sudo apt-get install program_name

If you can’t find the KDE app you want to install, then you’ll probably need to add the app source lists for KDE tools, which can be found by search on Google and at the Kubuntu website.

On the other hand, for all us KDE users who switch to Gnome, you will be pleasantly surprised. There is a rich world of many apps that work great and are well stitched to the linux distro. I kind of wonder what it would have been like had I started on Ubuntu in the first place. I’ll discuss in a later article more in depth the greatness of the Gnome deployment on Ubuntu – especially for developers.

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.

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