For the past several months, I’ve been switching distros on a fairly regular basis, trying to find one that appeals to me and satisfies all the requirements that I place on a Linux distro.
I don’t think I ask for much… As I blogged here, I look for 5 things specifically.
- offer the vaunted security and stability that Linux is known for
- work right out of the install without needing to be tweaked
- but also allows the user the most options to design and tweak their desktop, should they desire to do so.
- have excellent documentation
- provide help and support in multiple ways (real-time chat support, help desk forum, bug reporting, etc.)
It’s points #2 and #3 that I’ve been ripping Unity and GNOME over the past several months. Very few options are included, users and developers are leaving because of a decided push to remove options. And according to some sources I have within the GNOME community, more options are primed to be removed soon.
Linux distros have always been about providing options. Linux users, by nature, are tweakers. This is not because they download Linux distros that need tweaking, but because they like exerting a level of control.
If the user is not fundamentally in control of the software, then the user has no control.
I recently downloaded and tried out Kubuntu, testing it against my list of requirements above.
Kubuntu is based on KDE, which makes this claim: “We have a strong focus on finding innovative solutions to old and new problems, creating a vibrant, open atmosphere for experimentation.” Experimentation? Sounds this is a distro that is friendly for tweaking! And indeed it is.
Kubuntu satisfies all 5 requirements I established for Linux distros. It is stable and secure. It works without needing to be tweaked… but, tweaking on Kubuntu is SO MUCH FUN!! The desktop comes with widgets that can be used on either the taskbar or desktop.
Here are few things that I’ve earmarked as amazing on Kubuntu. You might recognize the list of things I’m excited about is the same list I criticized GNOME and Unity for in my Antidevelopment article.
Mouse cursors - Want a different cursor? No problem! Check out System Settings, > Workspace Appearance > Cursor Theme. The cursor theme manager has options to change cursors, and a download manager included in the window aids you to preview and download hundreds of other cursor themes. There is no need to be a Terminal junkie to switch your cursor (like is needed on Unity or GNOME). Once you select a theme and click Apply… it just works!
Screensavers! - While GNOME removed all the screensaver options available from gnome-screensaver, KDE preserves the wild screen of idle. Go to System Settings > Display and Monitor > Screensaver. The first time you go there, the screensaver list is empty. But immediately a message pops up telling you that there are optional packages which can be installed to add more screensavers! This package adds the kscreensavers, but if you want a truly amazing list of screensavers to choose from, you can also add the xscreensaver packages to the list as well.
Themes! - Everything can be themed in KDE. The theme window where you set your system themes at also provides a download manager so you can add more themes to the system, downloading and installing them automatically.
Extensions! - While Unity may not support extensions, and GNOME breaks extensions constantly… KDE has a plethora of extensions installed automatically. To access them, just click on the Tool Box on the desktop and start customizing.
If you need something that’s not included by default on KDE, try clicking on “Get New Widgets…” and the download manager will help you find what you want and install it for you so you can immediately use it.
Other Goodies - Here’s a few things I used to wish were options on GNOME or Unity, but I assumed at the time that they were just too hard to program or no one else had desires like me…
Konsole - For example, check out Konsole (the KDE Terminal program). I used to like gnome-terminal because it supported more color themes than other Term programs. But then I met Konsole, which had the one feature I wished gnome-terminal had: The ability to make your own color theme!
And if that’s not enough, you can also share your color theme with other people! Just go to /home/.kde/share/apps/konsole and your color theme is there. Send the file to anyone you want, and they can load that theme into that directory and immediately use your color theme!
Klipper - GNOME3 has an extension which is similar to Klipper called GPaste. I found GPaste to be so very useful, but it broke frequently on GNOME3.
Klipper is by far the best clipboard manager I’ve ever seen! It does all the things you expect of a clipboard manager; saves clipboard history, captures text you select, pastes clipboard contents.
But it also has a feature I never dreamed of in a clipboard manager. Actions! On Klipper you can define actions that can be executed against a selected clipping. As an example, look at the image below.
I have 4 actions preset in my Klipper. The first and second actions are designed specifically downloading things I find online. With the third action I can look up the clipping on IMDB. And the fourth action looks up and defines the word using Merriam Webster Online.
All of these actions are executed by Klipper, making this more useful than just simply for copy and paste.
Hot Corners! - Everyone who has used GNOME3 knows about the top-left hot corner that is used to access the menu and spread open applications on the screen.
It was the hot corner on GNOME3 that kept me coming back to GNOME3 even when everything else about GNOME3 frustrated me! I really like the hot corner!
Since I had never seen hot corners on any other distro I assumed that this was a GNOME3 invention. Turns out this was a feature that KDE had already designed and perfected. Just go to System Settings > Workspace Behavior > Screen Edges and you can customize the screen edges and hot corners. Yes, corners… plural. KDE doesn’t have a single hot-corner, it has 8 customizable hot spots!
Another cool feature about the hot spots… GNOME3 needs an extension called “Native Window Placement” to arrange spread windows in a more compact way. Without this extension it arranges the windows in a grid pattern. But, KDE doesn’t need this extension… it already spreads the windows in the most compact way
Every day I use KDE, I discover some new feature that rocks my world and makes me wonder why. I am in love with KDE, which preserves the way Linux was meant to be.