Posted by: reformedmusings | April 20, 2009

Kubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope Release Candidate

Yesterday I looked at Ubunty 9.04 and touched on Kubuntu briefly. The KDE 4.2.2 desktop based on the Qt 4.5 engine intrigued me. I’m a KDE 3.5.10 fan and miss some of the great utilities and functionality. So, I decided to take the new Kubuntu Jaunty RC for a spin in a virtual machine.

I started by cranking up the Live CD (virtually, of course):

kubunturc-jaunty-livecd

Double-clicking on Install starts the process. Everything proceeded smoothly until the end. The installation seemed successful, but rather than requesting a reboot, Kubuntu simply returned to the Live CD desktop. Hmmm. So, I told Kubuntu to restart. It punched through some glitches in the restart with no problem. Those glitches may have been related to interaction with the virtual machine.

The login screen offers the usual KDE options:

kubunturc-jaunty-login

The loading screen proved as attractive as ever. I love this animation and icon quality. The icons appear individually, starting dim and blurred but sharpen as that segment of loading completes. The last icon is a bit blurred as loading is not quite finished:

kubunturc-jaunty-loading

When the desktop came up, I immediately resized it to a larger screen for experimentation. The wallpaper is called “Air”, and looks pretty good:

kubunturc-jaunty-desktop

While KDE 4.2.2 doesn’t look all that different than its immediate predecessors, there has been marginally more functionality added. Like Ubuntu Jaunty, Kubuntu is built on kernel 2.6.28.11 and X.Org server 1.6. The Kubuntu Jaunty Jackalope RC installation took up 2.8 MB and the freshly booted system ate up 230 MB of RAM. That’s significantly more than the 175 MB of RAM of Ubuntu Jaunty, but about 1/2 of Windows 7’s 452 MB RAM. I should note that I couldn’t find a way in the bare Kubuntu to check hard disk usage. I had to load a small utility, but later found a gadget to do the same. KDE 4 still seems to lack many of the basics.

One of the new additions to Kubuntu Jaunty is the new package manager, KPackageKit:

kubunturc-jaunty-kpackagekit

This package manager has minimal functionality compared with Synaptic for Gnome or even the old KPackage from KDE 3.5.x. This minimal functionality remains a characteristic of KDE 4.2.x. I could almost accept the major loss of function from KDE 3.5.10 to KDE 4.0, but 4.2 should be much more than it is in my opinion.

One aspect that has grown considerably in Kubuntu Jaunty is the widget collection. There are quite a few more widgets available, they do more useful tasks, and they work better than before. Here are a few that I tossed on the desktop:

kubunturc-jaunty-widgets

Very cool, eh? I tossed the LCD weather, moon phase, and free disk space in the upper right, a dictionary pane in the lower left, and Dilbert in the lower right. Installation and placement were simple. Kudos to the development team on that.

Life with Kubuntu Jaunty RC proved far from trouble-free, though. I already noted the anomaly during installation. KPackageKit crashed after updating the installation. The screen didn’t remember its resizing after a restart. Compare that with Ubuntu Jaunty, in which I encountered no problems so far even though I’ve been testing it for a few weeks.

The rest of the significant changes were noted at the end of my Ubuntu Jaunty RC look, other changes in Kubuntu Jaunty are Amarok 2.02 and the updating of DigiKam 0.10.0 for KDE4.

In the end, I’m not ready to switch back to Kubuntu. Ubuntu Jaunty seems more stable and has more functionality than Kubuntu. I freely admit that the Oxygen theme in KDE 4.2.2 looks great and the widgets are very cool, but looks only get you so far. Sooner or later, the user wants to customize stuff in the system and requires fully-functional tools. At the moment, Gnome 2.26 dominates KDE 4.2.2 in that category.

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