Kubuntu Chronicles: Why Kubuntu?

2:38 pm PHT

As I blogged many weeks back, I got a new laptop and installed Kubuntu on it. I wrote then why I ditched Windows 7 in favor of Linux and it was basically because I looked at how I used my computer and decided that I don’t really need Windows, and that development and programming would be easier on Linux. Markku commented on that post asking why I didn’t go for a MacBook. The reason is simply because a Mac is out of my budget (given the circumstances) and I don’t think the perks of having a Mac outweighed the increased cost. So Linux it was.

Now the follow-up question is, out of all the Linux distributions out there, why did I go with an Ubuntu distro? While I think I’m capable enough in administering a Linux machine, I bought into the hype that surrounds Canonical’s Ubuntu. First of all, I don’t want to deal too much with system administration so Slackware is out even though that is what I use at work (where we have MIS to take care of things). Secondly, I also kinda like Debian’s way of software management compared to the RPM-based thinking of Red Hat and others so I would go with a Debian-based system. Finally, I’m not a free software idealist but simply pragmatic, so I don’t really care for Debian’s militant stance against proprietary software. So a down-to-earth Debian-based distribution like Ubuntu is the way to go, especially given the huge following of this distribution which definitely is a plus when you want to get support.

The third question is, which Ubuntu-based distribution should I choose? Well, there’s Ubuntu itself. Then there are also the two officially supported desktop variants Kubuntu and Xubuntu, which use the KDE and Xfce desktop environment instead of GNOME in Ubuntu. There are also several other unofficial Ubuntu-based distros of which the most popular seems to be Linux Mint, but I decided to go with an official Ubuntu system since I figured that the community support would be better. So the choice is basically down to which window manager I prefer, with the choice effectively between GNOME and KDE. (Incidentally, GNOME vs. KDE is a major tech holy war, just like PC vs. Mac, Emacs vs. vi, etc.)

Well, obviously, I chose the KDE-flavored Ubuntu or Kubuntu. I’ve been quite familiar with KDE ever since I started using Linux and it is what I’m using at work. I very much like how it is similar to Windows in behavior compared to GNOME and I also love how customizable it is. Furthermore, I really like the stock KDE apps compared to GNOME’s. For example, the default text editor in KDE is Kate (and KWrite and KEdit) and I find it more useful than GNOME’s gedit, something that I noticed when I installed Eeebuntu on my netbook (gedit didn’t even have regex search and replace!).

That said, I discovered that the Kubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx already uses KDE 4, which I had no experience with since I use KDE 3 in the office. It turns out that KDE 4 is a vast overhaul of the core KDE system such that the difference from KDE 3 (perceived after weeks of using it) is making me reconsider whether I should’ve gone for Ubuntu itself, which is definitely much more supported by the community than Kubuntu. Well, I haven’t taken the plunge yet since KDE 4 is not bad at all, but if ever I do so, it’s as simple as installing the ubuntu-desktop meta-package so there’s no real rush.

So, that’s my lengthy account on why I went with Kubuntu as my primary desktop operating system at home. In the next episode of the Kubuntu Chronicles, I’ll talk about my experiences so far with Kubuntu as a desktop OS vis-a-vis Windows 7.

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