Posted by: reformedmusings | December 11, 2008

Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid reconsidered

I’ve been a dedicated KDE user since I first started with Linux. Although when leaving Windows I initially tried Ubuntu, I found it too limiting in how it could be configured. A good file managers is critical to me, and Krusader for KDE is the best for my purposes. KDE in Kubuntu proved to be a powerful system that has served me well.

KDE 3.5.9 Desktop under Compiz-Fusion

My Kubuntu with KDE 3.5.10 Desktop and Compiz-Fusion

(The background is a picture that I took of the awesome Moraine Lake in Banff National Park last year.)

Periodic looks at Gnome have not swayed me…perhaps until now.

I’ve written before about Kubuntu 8.10 with KDE 4.12. I’m not impressed with the current state of KDE 4. Even the KDE website suggests staying with 3.5.10 on production systems unless you like living on the bleeding edge. That’s exactly what I’ve done to date. I like KDE 3.5.10 very much, including the KDE applications. Most seem way ahead of their Gnome counterparts. But…

Although Hardy Heron is supposed to be a Long Term Support (LTS) release, it has some lingering bugs that haven’t been fixed after nearly 8 months. For example, USB devices which haven’t been seen by the system before still must be manually mounted. I had to mount my external USB hard drive by its label name to get it to load consistently on boot up. These aren’t deal breakers, but annoying nonetheless. The 2.6.24-22 kernel update has not fixed the USB system. Sigh.

When I installed Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid to another hard drive, I merely intended to explore the workings of Compiz Fusion and Sun VirtualBox in it that I could not test in a virtual machine. During that process, I came to respect this new Gnome 2.24 desktop. Although still limited in configurability compared to KDE 3.5.10, it seems to have improved. It’s certainly better in that respect than KDE 4.1. Better yet, the new 2.6.27-9 kernel seems to have fixed the USB and other issues. Although Intrepid initially had issues with the virtual mouse driver and udev – the latter opening and closing the CD tray before any human can retrieve the media from it, both have now been fixed.

Ubuntu 8.10 default desktop

Ubuntu 8.10 default desktop

Bottom line is that Ubuntu 8.10 worked perfectly upon install. Some tweaking with Compiz Fusion and the Emerald window decorator brought it up to the visual function of my production system. I replaced the orange Human color and icon scheme with the nicely blue Glossy. My custom Blue Satin theme under Emerald ported over without issue from Kubuntu. I worked the default panels a bit and move them both to the bottom of the screen. That required that I disable the shadowing on the top panel in the Compiz Fusion Decorator effects so as not to obscure the bottom one. Also made the panels mostly transparent and set them to show apps from all desktops. Then I added a picture I took of Lake Louise at sunset (cloudy day) in the Banff National Park (in the Canadian Rockies) as the background. Toss in Krusader and 3.01 in a full-function install, and the net result is a liveable system that mimics my KDE setup:

Bob's custom Ubuntu 8.10 layout with Gnome 2.24 desktop

Bob's custom Ubuntu 8.10 layout with Gnome 2.24 desktop

There is still the issue of Gnome vs. KDE applications. My favorites can be installed under Gnome with the added weight of the KDE support libraries. This is no different than having the Gnome support libraries on my production system to run apps like Gimp. There are still shortcomings that may or may not be endemic to Gnome. I’m still exploring.

Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid with transparencies and Emerald window treatments

Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid with transparent windows and custom Emerald window decorations

KDE seems to have hit a slump – a gully, if you will – between versions 3.5 and 4. I have no doubt that KDE 4 will eventually mature to be a fine and stable desktop…a worthy successor to 3.5.10. But I don’t see that happening for another year, at least, at the current development rate. In the meantime, I’m being sorely temped by Gnome 2.24 with Compiz Fusion and Emerald.

Did I mention the Compiz Fusion cube again?

Ubuntu 8.10 with transparent Compiz Fusion cube, 3D windows, gears, and reflection

Ubuntu 8.10 with transparent Compiz Fusion cube, 3D windows, gears, and reflection

BTW, all these Ubuntu 8.10 blog posts have been written from the Ubuntu 8.10 setup. Sweet…and tempting.

UPDATE (12/13/2008): If you are having problems with an Epson scanner in Intrepid, see this post.



  1. […] Epson scanners in Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Linux Well, after talking about all the USB fixes in the new 2.6.27-9 Linux kernel sported by Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid, I have to eat a little crow. As I […]

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