Kubuntu is a Linux distro (version) of Ubuntu with the KDE graphical user interface.
Since June 2007, 1154 of the French parliament’s desktops have been running Kubuntu. An official government report stated that the switch was expected to provide a substantial savings to tax-payers.
A modified version of Kubuntu is used in over 29,000 computer labs in Brazilian primary schools, serving over 32 million students. By the end of 2009, it will be used in 53,000 labs, serving roughly 52 million students.
Kubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)
Kubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 was released in May 2010. It is available as a “version upgrade” within the KpackageKit software package installer. The upgrade process worked smoothly on my MSI Wind U100 netbook but the new version of Kubuntu has some annoying problems. It appears that a clean install may be a better option, but this means you loose any customisations and additional programs you may have. Make sure you backup your user data before installing the new version.
Improvements in Lucid Lynx include:
- Faster bootup time
- Gwibber, a streamlined social network aggregator application
- Changes to the KDE graphical user interface
- Better syncing with the Ubuntu One free 2GB cloud storage, including music and contact sync.
Wifi connection problem after upgrade
However, the wifi connection was no longer working correctly after the upgrade. It found my wireless network but after “Connecting”, asking for the Wifi password, then it would just hang while “configuring interface”. Problems like this are both annoying and avoidable and are difficult for many people to resolve.
This problem is caused by a defective kernel driver for the Ralink RT2860 Wifi chipsets. This affects MSI Wind U100 Netbooks and any other computer with the same wifi adapter. There is no problem connecting using 9.10.
A fix to the Ralink RT2860 adapter bug is described here. It involves recompiling the Ralink kernel device and reinstalling it. The procedure is fairly tedious but works.
Random KDE crash
KDE started randonmly crashing as I used Kubuntu 10.04. KDE disappears and you are dumped to a command prompt shell with a “Login:” prompt. I could login but not start KDE again. The frequency of this increased to the point where the computer was not useable. This has been lodged as a bug but no fix for it is yet available.
I have installed Linux Mint version 8.0 as an alternative to Kubuntu as it works and is quite stable. Version 8.0 connects successfully via wifi, whereas version 9.0 seems to have inherited the defective Ralink wifi driver that Kubutu 10.04 has.
Kubunti Karmic Koala 9.10 on a Netbook
The Kubunti Karmic Koala 9.10 version was released in October 2009. There are major improvements in the KDE desktop and the installation process and options with this release. My overall impressions are that Karmic Koala 9.10 is polished, easy to use, stable and quite slick. For those thinking of moving from Windows XP or Vista, this is a compelling option.
You can test Kubunti Karmic Koala from a live CD to determine how well it runs on your hardware.
If you have a netbook without a CD drive, you can test it by creating a bootable USB drive. Once installed on the USB drive, you can save settings, install software updates and new applications and give it a thorough road test.
I was able to get the Bluetooth mouse and Wifi connection working without any problems.
You can then use the same bootable USB drive to install Kubunti Karmic Koala onto your netbook. No CD drive or Internet connection is required to do this.
The first applications I installed were Firefox (3.5.6), Picasa and the Google Chromium browser.
Creating a live CD
- Download the live CD image (.iso file) from here: http://www.kubuntu.org/getkubuntu
- Burn the image file to a CD with a CD burner
- Put the CD into your CD or DVD drive, enable “boot for CD” in your bios settings, reboot your machine and Kubuntu will load
Creating a bootable USB drive
This article contains information on how to create a bootable live USB drive with Kubuntu 9.10. Follow the instructions and select the Kubuntu image instead of the Ubuntu one.
You can then boot from the USB drive to confirm that Kubuntu is for you, and runs on your hardware.
Alternatively, you can use Unetbootin to create a bootable USB drive (for many other Linux distros in addition to Kubuntu)
Backup your existing operating system and data
Before you install a new operating system it is wise to backup all your existing content (documents, images etc) and your operating system partition.
Another bootable USB drive with the appropriate applications can be used for this. Two options for this are:
- Paragon Backup & Recovery 10 Free Edition, good interface and easy to use but can only create a bootable USB after you install and run the program under Windows
- Parted Magic, Linux based
Installing Kubuntu from USB drive
When you are ready to take the plunge, you can install Kubuntu from the same USB drive – it is an option on the boot menu. Note that this option will install a “vanilla” version of Kubuntu; any changes or configuration you made to your bootable USB version will not be replicated.
The installation process is simple and easy. The process includes automatic creation of two Linux partitions – you just select how much disk space you wish to allocated. I chose 30MB – half of the available DATA partition I had.
I left my Windows XP partition intact so I can boot it if I need to.
The GRUB boot loader is part of the install, which allows you to select Kubuntu or Windows when your machine boots from its hard disk.
You can access Windows NTFS drives from Kubuntu – they appear in the Dolphin file manager. However, you cannot access the Linux drives from Windows XP.
Installing applications on Kubuntu
Kubuntu comes with a good range of applications installed, including the OpenOffice suite and a good text editor (Kate). Many more applications are available that are easy to install.
Setting up repositories
Kubuntu is initially configured to only use repositories that conform with open source licences. You can easily add additional repositories so that software from other sources that may not be fully open source – such as some media codecs and some Google applications for example.
To install Google applications that are not in the standard Ubuntu/Kubuntu repositories:
- go to KPackageKit settings
- click Edit software sources
- enter your admin password
- click Other software tab
- enter the software sources illustrated below by clicking on the Add button
deb http://dl.google.com/linux/deb/ stable non-free deb http://dl.google.com/linux/deb/ testing non-free deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/chromium-daily/ppa/ubuntu karmic main deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/chromium-daily/ppa/ubuntu karmic main (Source Code) deb http://packages.medibuntu karmic free non-free
Start the KPackageKit package manager, then search for the application name (e.g. Picasa), select it and click Apply to install it
I added the following applications using KPackageKit:
- Picasa, image handling and viewing, from Google
- Chromium browswer from Google – I like the speed and the bookmark sync
- Google Desktop – for searching content on PC
- GIMP – graphic editing. Install via KPackageKit add/remove applications.
- Firefox 3.5.6 browser. Installation program included with Kubuntu.
- Grsync – for syncing folders. Install via KPackageKit add/remove applications.
- Kdenlive – video editor. Install via KPackageKit add/remove applications.
- Audacity – sound recorder. Install via KPackageKit add/remove applications.
- VLC – media player. Install via KPackageKit add/remove applications.
- Google Gadgets GTK – eye candy, not using this
Installing applications manually
Applications I installed manually include:
- Skype – Download skype-ubuntu-intrepid_22.214.171.124-1_i386.deb then click on the file to install it. NOTE: Version 126.96.36.199 uses the PulseAudio sound system – I have not been able to get the microphone working. I installed the previous version 188.8.131.52 to get the mic working, but the volume is very low so it is not really usable.
- Krusader file manager. Install from a teminal (Console) command line using this command: sudo apt-get install krusader.
Installing Windows applications
It is best to find native Linux applications for the tasks you want to complete. If you cannot find a suitable native Linux app, there are two main options for running legacy Windows applications under Kubuntu Linux:
1. Install a virtualisation environment such as Virtualbox then install your copy on native Windows under it.
- Requires physical allocation of memory to the virtual machine
2. Install WINE packages that implement the Windows API in Linux and allow you to run Windows applications directly under Linux
- Uses less system resources
- Not all applications run well under WINE – check the WINE application database to determine this.
Accessing external USB drive from Picasa
Picasa runs as a WINE application with the WINE components included by Google. This means that Picasa cannot “see” external USB drives. To overcome this you can “mount” the USB drive as drive under Kubuntu.
The easiest way to do this is to use a utility called Smb4k which you can install using the package manager. This provides a GUI interface for managing Samba file shares.. For more information see http://smb4k.berlios.de/
Getting fire sharing working
Suprisingly, file sharing across a network is not functional in the standard Kubutu configuration. If you attempt to configure file sharing by clicking on the Configure File Sharing button nothing happens.
You can get network file sharing working by using the Package Manager to install:
Accessing Ubuntu One from Kubuntu
Ubuntu One is a new feature and service provided free with Ubuntu 9.10 that allocates you 2GB of free storage on the Internet (“in the cloud”). After you have setup an account, you can access this storage either:
- via a Web browser from https://one.ubuntu.com/
- by dropping files into the Ubuntu One folder under your Home folder
However, this feature is not enabled as part of the standard Kubuntu build. To install it follow the instructions in this article: Installing Ubuntu One on Kubuntu 9.10
Dropbox is provides an alternative 2GB free cloud storage that you an access via a folder.
You can download a linux version here https://www.dropbox.com/downloading?os=lnx then click on the install package to load it.
Then select Dropbox from the program menu to complete the installation.
Dropbox has the advantage (over Ubuntu One) that a Windows version can be installed under Windows to provide access via a folder, rather than using a browser.
Features of the KDE desktop
Kubuntu’s KDE Kwin window handler can provide some interesting and useful special effects. Here are a few to try:
- Ctrl+F12 hides windows and puts widgets in front.
- Alt-F2 displays KRunner application in which you can type a command or word and it will locate a matching program to run
- Ctrl-F8 displays all desktops as tiles
If you have the Desktop Effects enabled, CTRL+F8 shows a full-screen overview of your workspaces.
KWin lets you easily move windows by pressing the ALT button. You can then just click on a window’s content. While you hold the left mouse button pressed, windows will move. Hold ALT pressed and click on the right mouse button to easily resize a window. No need to aim precisely, just keep ALT pressed and manipulate your windows easily!
Present Windows gives you an overview of your open windows. Push the mouse cursor to the top-left corner of the screen and press to arrange your windows side-by-side. You can click on a window to get it focused in front of you. Start typing a word from the label on a window and matching applicatons will be filtered. Hit Enter to switch to the chosen application. You can activate the Present Windows effect also with the keyboard through Ctrl+F9 or Ctrl+F10 to show windows from all virtual desktops.
See KDE 4.0 Visual Guide: Desktop for more information.
Installing Gnome on Kubuntu
Kubuntu share the same Debian Linux core with Ubuntu, but Ubuntu uses the Gnome desktop instead of KDE. You can install and use the Gnome desktop in Kubuntu then choose which desktop you want to use when you login. This allows you to try out Ubuntu without doing a full separate installation. Some other Linux distros such as Fedora, provide both KDE and Gnome desktops as part of their standard packages. That is one of the great advantages of Linux – choice. On the flipside, choice can introduce complexity or unwanted options too.
Note: Installing the Gnome desktop can clutter application menus with both Gnome and KDE applications, which may be a little confusing to some.
For more information see:
- Kubuntu Hardy Heron – minimal install of older version of Kubuntu
- Kubuntu – official Kubuntu site
- Kubuntu community and support
- Kubutu guide for Karmic 9.10 – very handy online manual.
- Install an RPM Package on Ubuntu Linux
- Kubuntu 9.10: Stable, Social and Beautiful
- Mapping network driver for Picasa Linux via GUI