Blog Post

Myth of the blue-headed step children

I have been reading quite a few blog post comments these days just to get a feel for what people think about Kubuntu, KDE, and the other KDE distros. The comment I see the most is something along the lines of “Kubuntu’s KDE is garbage while distro x’s KDE rocks!” And then there is my favorite comment, which I made as a joke one day and was forever placed in the grasps of hell for it, “Kubuntu is the blue-headed step child of Ubuntu.” Today, while reading the comments and the post of Fabio A. Locati (flocati), he brought up a valid point about the lack of publicity for Kubuntu. Instantly the fanbois of the various distros come out of the shadows on the attack. Fabio thinks it could possibly be bad for the image of Kubuntu regarding the lack of publicity, and I have to agree a bit with him. I don’t so much think it hurts the image as much as it doesn’t help create or build an image for Kubuntu.

Kubuntu’s KDE is garbage while distro x’s KDE rocks! One thing I would like the users to know is that there is a good chance that Kubuntu and distro x share patches. Quite a few of the KDE based distros have a small developer community, which makes it tough to create and operate a full-fledged flagship like Ubuntu. Because of this we tend to share patches, we tend to communicate a little with each other (this could be better of course). Typically when people make this argument, they never list examples of why we suck compared to them. And when they do list examples most have nothing to do with KDE or Kubuntu.

Kubuntu is the blue-headed step child of Ubuntu. If you look at most of the KDE distros around here, the same thing could be said about them. With the release of KDE 4.0, we scared quite a few distros, and a few of us distros immediately jumped on that KDE 4.0 bandwagon. Whether or not it was good or bad, it is the past and there is nothing we can do about it, except continue making KDE rock harder with every release. Many people complain that Canonical doesn’t support Kubuntu like they do with Ubuntu. If you are just saying Ubuntu, then you are right, because Canonical is sponsoring all kinds of crazy projects for Ubuntu, which by the way isn’t GNOME for you users. Canonical is doing some amazing server work, mobile devices, services, and more. In terms of ‘paid developers’ I think the GNOME and KDE side is close to being even. To be honest, I can’t even think of one person who is a GNOME only developer. I know at least 2 KDE only developers (right now?). A majority of the work that goes into making Kubuntu is actually completed by Canonical employees, or people many of you consider paid Ubuntu developers. One thing Kubuntu doesn’t have that Ubuntu does, or the GNOME side of Ubuntu that is, is a large developer or contributor community. If I think about it, I think the same goes with other distros as well. If you look at their developers on the KDE side, there aren’t a lot when compared to the GNOME side. This is what makes the legend of the blue-headed step child nothing more than a myth at best.

With all of that garbled mess said, the point I would love to try to make is this. Why don’t we, the KDE community and downstream or distro developers, try to work together a bit. We have pretty much the same goals. Make our distro rock and make KDE number one! Wouldn’t be easier if we worked together a bit to at least make KDE number one, and while we are at it, we can share ideas to make our distro rock. Now I know we also want to make our distros stand out from one another, and we can continue doing that, but lets do it without hurting one another. We chose to use KDE as our environment because we love it and we want others to love it as well. By some of us saying you suck and we rock, you aren’t doing your distro any justice and you aren’t doing the other distro any justice either. There are people that will take what you said at face value and laugh it off and not use your distro because they see the elitism in your comment, and then there are others that will believe it and use your distro, only to find out it isn’t for them, and the next thing you know they are blogging about Linux sucks or KDE sucks.

And on a side note, concerning Kubuntu, another comment I see is “Kubuntu is so far behind Ubuntu.” How is this so? What can you do in Ubuntu that you can’t do in Kubuntu? Seeing as I use both Ubuntu and Kubuntu, there is nothing I can’t do on one that I can do on the other. I know bluetooth sucks, so you don’t have to bring that one up, it is being worked on somewhere, and of course if you would like to work on it you are free to do so 🙂

This entry was posted in Linux and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
  • The last time I tried Kubuntu (which was with KDE 3.5), I just hated it because of all its patches. I found Debian’s KDE desktop much better, just because it was normal.

  • bob j.

    while I’ve been a KDE-fan since version 1, I have to say that it is not easy to find a good KDE-based distribution. I switched to Kubuntu 1 or 2 years ago and thought it was actually “not bad”. I tried Ubuntu a few months after that, just to see what it was like, and I did see a big difference. Maybe there is nothing you can do in Ubuntu which you can’t in Kubuntu, but Ubuntu just feels worlds ahead in all kind of small details.
    Maybe somethings are not “fault” of the distributions but of KDE/Gnome, but anyways. For example NetworkManager/Wireless: the gnome-applet has always worked beautifuly in Ubuntu, but the knetworkmanager or whatever the replacement is called was a pain to use. Yes, it could connect, but just seemed (and still does) very unpolished.
    Another example is the package manager. While synaptic makes a very good impression, the Kubuntu equivalent is only starting to get “nice”..just a few years late.

    In my opinion, Kubuntu should concentrate in making a good and overall polished KDE-experience. Time spent in the KDE-based-package manager was a waste of time (IMHO) if Synaptic was already that good. If the KDE-network manager sucked that bad, Kubuntu should have included nm-applet by default instead. In summary: provide the KDE enviroment and KDE-applications where they are good, but make a good-integration for gnome-apps where they are much better (nm-applet), and have 1-version of distribution-administration-tools (installer, synaptic, drivers-management, etc). Yes, they use different libs. so what?

  • Typically when people make this argument, they never list examples of why we suck compared to them.

    I am an admin of KDE Italia. I must admit that a lot of times that a user reports a problem in our forum it is Kubuntu specific. Most of the times it is related to broken packaging or translations, here you are an example (in italian):
    But most of these problems have already mentioned by apachelogger in his blog.

    This is what makes the legend of the blue-headed step child nothing more than a myth at best.

    Fact: Ubuntu 4.10 never had a Kubuntu version. So the focus started on Gnome since the beginning.
    Fact: Kubuntu 8.04 didn’t had LTS support because KDE 4.0 was already out so it would have been difficult to support the dying KDE 3.5 for 3 years. Ubuntu 10.04 will have the latest Gnome 2.x, probably 2.28, even if Gnome 3.0 will already be out. I’d bet that Ubuntu 10.04 will have LTS support even if Gnome 2.x is dying.

    BTW some distro still ship with KDE 3.x by default nowadays, and none has eliminated KDE 3 support in the repos. I think supporting KDE 3.x for 3 years was actually feasibile if Canonical was really interested in doing so.

  • Jack

    I’ve been using a good few KDE 4 distros and it boils down to other areas than KDE implementation. If someone prefer Ubuntu – by all means – there is no reason for moving to another disto because of it’s KDE 4 implementation. In fact it’s quite good.

    In short:
    Kubuntu is just as good as Ubuntu.

    Would make two recommendation though (9.04):
    – If PackageKit is not up to user’s expectations – install Synaptic.
    – Get KDE 4.3.1 from ppa

    Wouldn’t mind recommending neither Kubuntu nor Mandriva, and that’s what I tend to do.

    I’m a Arch-only user by the way.

  • Genorax

    What about the release last April where you couldn’t connect to wireless access points. You had an old one that worked, but decided to go with the NM plasmoid which did not. That and that it stopped seeing the dvd burner as a writeable drive and made it read only. That’s the kind of stuff that got kubuntu kicked off of my wife’s laptop. After a couple of years of working fine – tons of breakage, and on an official, non-beta release.

  • I used kubuntu for short time. Really, I like it but I face a big problem. The Arabic translation is far behind the upstream. Please fix the translation system.

  • look at Pardus 2009 in order to discover how to make a great KDE 4 distro.

  • Roshan

    Ubuntu 9.04’s bluetooth programs are nothing to write home about either. Nothing works any more.

  • Well said.

  • anon

    Let’s establish this first point clearly: in regards to the distribution of Canonical’s resources, vanilla Ubuntu with GNOME is tier one. Nothing else is tier one. Ubuntu was created by a GNOME developer (Shuttleworth), it is tied to the GNOME release schedule, and it originally included GNOME and no other DEs. These are facts, and they are pretty strong evidence of the second point (“blue headed step-child”) which can lead to the first point (Kubuntu is garbage, other distros rock). In a lot of places, the GNOME preference was obvious–most notably how management tools (especially the smaller ones) used the GNOME libraries. When alternatives were made, they were inferior (Kynaptic or Adept, for example).

    Now, you may say that’s old news, and it might be. Even when I jumped the Kubuntu ship a while ago for other distros, I could tell things were slowly improving. But I think we’re all smart enough to know that one good release cannot fix a damaged reputation. That’s not how reputations work. According to some of the comments in the other blog post you linked, it looks like you at least have the ‘one good release’ thing going for you.

    I think you correctly identify lack of publicity as a big part of the problem. Maybe you should do some screenshot tours of Kubuntu; help show how it has improved over the last four or five releases. A lot of people won’t see that, so you’ve got to do it more than once. You seem to be doing pretty good PR work, lurking other blogs and responding to commenters, so try to keep your resolve. This blog post has convinced me (someone who feels obviously burned by Kubuntu in the past) to give the new release a try; if the release is good, I’m likely to defend it where I hang out on the internet. Kubuntu has advantages over other distros (apt, for example), so you do have something to work with.

    Keep up the hard work; best of luck to you.

  • Emil Sedgh

    First of all, thanks for your work on Kubuntu. Not just you, all the people, no matter if they are paid or not, just thanks.

    But, i have a few things to mention.

    1) In kde3 times, kubuntu was just fine. It was really close to Ubuntu (except default look and feel and setings which used to suck in kde3 😉 )

    2) After 4.0 release, Kubuntu’s name was hurt. It was 8.04 i guess which was released with 4.0 (yeah i know the LTS release was still 3.5 but who uses THAT?
    At that time, both brands of KDE and Kubuntu were hurt due to all that early adoptions and ‘kde sucks’ that spread. I think KDE 4.0 was done right but distro’s, including Kubuntu and Fedora shouldnt’ve adopted it as default so fast.

    3) KDE’s brand is now ‘healed’ due to very fast development. The progress made in post 4.0 releases were so astonishing that almost everyone is now convinced KDE is on right track. However, kubuntu has not progressed that fast. It is still not as polished as Ubuntu. Kubuntu’s brand has not healed yet.

    4) I dont know why, but Kubuntu is trying so hard to catch ubuntu in terms of features. features features features. Guys, please, spend a single release or two on polishing things. Very very small details. Damn bugs. There are many features that Kubuntu has, and Gnome doesnt have. They dont really have to be equal in terms of features.

    5) I think kubuntu is on the right track, though. Keep up the awesome job.

  • ScottK

    There has been a lot of work put into translations in the current development cycle. As a result, Kubuntu 9.10 should have mostly not broken translations. This will be a first since 8.04. I’d wait and see how the final result looks before taking final judgement, but they are definitely improved.

    It also seems to me that in the last year there has been a lot more effort put into Kubuntu related issues by other Ubuntu developers (a recent example was asac putting a big effort into patching solid and the KDE network-manager front end to restore compatibility after an upstream network manager change).

    I wouldn’t go so far as to declare things even between Ubuntu and Kubuntu, but they seem much more so than in the past to me.

  • Prateek

    Oh there are many examples. Ubuntu(Gnome) got restricted drivers manager a release before Kubuntu did. Why does “system” stuff which isn’t really related to the desktop environment (like restricted drivers manager) have to work differently in Ubuntu and Kubuntu? I keep reading about stuff like PolicyKit and PulseAudio in the context of Ubuntu written in a DE-independent way and never see it – is that Gnome-only?

    I agree with bob.j about nm-applet vs knetworkmanager. It always annoyed me why Ubuntu and Kubuntu couldn’t have the same functionality when it came to connecting to wireless networks. The look-and-feel could be KDEish or Gnomeish, sure, but why should one be much more buggy than the other?

    Ubuntu had Compiz by default before Kubuntu even recognised the existence of Compiz anywhere in the default UI. There was a release or two where to use Compiz in Ubuntu one just had to do the needful in the “Appearance” dialog, while in Kubuntu one had to install compiz and set some environment variable in a file somewhere to make compiz the default window manager. No help from the user interface. And all this while there was talk all over the place “Ubuntu to include Compiz by default in the next release!” without any mention that KDE users will be excluded.

    The very nature of the naming – Ubuntu and Kubuntu – indicates a stepchild treatment to Kubuntu. We have 3 entities here:

    1. The overall project
    2. The distribution which has Gnome by default
    3. The distribution which has KDE by default

    Why is it that 1 and 2 get the same name and 3 has a different name? Why not use Ubuntu, Gubuntu, Kubuntu? This naming indicates that 2 is the main product of 1, important enough to have the same name as 1, while 3 is a derivative.

  • Mike

    As a kubuntu user (I switched from gentoo a few years ago), I have to say KDE 4+ is doing great. I use both Kubuntu and Ubuntu and yes they are effectively the same except for the window manager. In fact, I would greatly prefer kubuntu to be named “Ubuntu-KDE” – this would describe the distribution much better and improve the branding as ubuntu gets some great press these days.

  • some guy

    Well, the answer is pretty obvious as stated above.Almost always when you see someone with a problem they blame on KDE, problems not reproducible on other distros, it turns out that they are running Kubuntu. My experience in the past has been that you ship a lot of more or less broken functionality and with little to none integration between the various parts, combined with sometimes questionable dependencies. Maybe that’s a thing of the past, I wouldn’t know, since the past experiences have soured the Kubuntu name for me, and quite a few people around me, whom I have converted away from it. Anyway, I still think Kubuntu is important because it piggybacks on the reputation of Ubuntu, and thus to many people IS KDE. Too bad it’s often leaves such a bad taste, it would be great if it was the other way around.

    I realize this comes off as very negative, like Kubuntu should hide in some corner and die, but that’s not the intention. I wish Kubuntu all the best, and keep hoping you’ll eventually get your stuff together.

    I’ll get my coat now, mine is the one with the lizard in the pocket.

  • Pingback: Richard Johnson: Myth of the blue-headed step children | TuxWire : The Linux Blog()

  • Matt Smith

    Kubuntu does certainly seem to be improving, but there’s a lot that still needs to be done before I would consider actually using it. The early KDE4 implementations on Kubuntu have really just killed its reputation, and it will have to do a lot to earn that back from most users.

    I think right now there are 2 main problems I still see:

    1. An overemphasis on being “pure” KDE. Making all the default apps KDE based sounds nice in principal, but when the included versions suck compared to their non-KDE counterparts, Kubuntu is just shooting itself in the foot. Examples of apps that should be defaults in Kubuntu – Firefox and Synaptic. If Kubuntu wants to create KDE replacements for these, fine, but don’t use them as defaults until they actually work.

    2. Just random bugs. Like another commenter said, go to any list of bug reports online, and it seems like the vast majority of bugs that aren’t reproducible upstream or in other distros just happen to be in Kubuntu. I don’t think that’s because their userbase is so much larger than everyone elses. I’ve noticed this has been improving, though, and a lot of this may be gone with the next release. We can all hope, anyway.

    As far as your point that Kubuntu is treated seriously by Ubuntu, I don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes. But I do know that all the major new announcements Ubuntu makes always apply to Ubuntu and not Kubuntu, with the latter using later releases to catch up with what Ubuntu got in previous releases. The current example is the 100 papercuts project – the ones that are part of the base system apply equally to both projects, of course, but most of the types of bugs this will catch are UI related and Ubuntu made it VERY clear that only GNOME bugs counted since they were part of the default Ubuntu installation and that KDE users were out in the cold.

  • Thorsten Schnebeck

    As a Kubuntu user since Gutsy its a love-hate relationship. I like the Ubuntu community. You got often fast help when you found a bug or get some strange behavier.
    Kubuntus main problem in the last few release was that is works out of sync to KDE releases. The switch from KDE3 to KDE4 was a desaster, of course in a good intention to give the distro users the latest stuff.
    Since then KDE project is in pace mode and Kubuntu has problems to follow. You have to use ppa and need some knowledge to keeps things running stable. Usually I try to disable Kubuntu specific developed KDE programs, as these programs often make problems. Its still a little bit anoying that you can disable stuff like crappy pulseaudio.
    So, solutions to improve Kubuntu… drop strange Kubuntu things like translation. When Kubuntus developer want to improve KDE they should work upstream. Sync distro release and KDE release. If this leads to Ubuntu 10.4 (April) but a Kubuntu 10.1 (January) I do not see problems, but I really do not care about standard Ubuntu 😉

    Oh, I write this from Karmic Alpha 6 on an EEE 1000h in plasma-netbook, well done. There is this strange effect that on Kubuntu prereleases and ppa-package have upstream quality.

    Bye and thanks for all your hard work.


  • Morty

    If you look at both statements, they have very simple and rather easily identified reasons. The solution to remedy the problem are in fact quite simple, but I think making the Kubuntu developers realize it may be harder. It will require a change of both mindset and priority.

    “Kubuntu is the blue-headed step child of Ubuntu.”

    One of the key parts of distributions are the system tools and applications. It’s one of the distributions unique selling points. With these it seems like Kubuntu always are one release after, and the tools always seem to function poorer and have more bugs than the Ubuntu version of the tools. This is mostly manpower and time related problems.

    The manpower issue are the easiest to solve, relocate from the resources used to create the problem causing the second comment. More on that below.

    The timing issue are caused by having the Ubuntu tools being developed primarily for Gnome and linked to the Ubuntu release plan. Making the Kubuntu developers play catch-up, with too little time until releases. The correct solution is for Canonical to require both the Gnome and KDE versions of the tools to be developed in parallel, and holding the release until both are finished with the same quality. But at this point it does not seem likely it will happen. An alternate solution are dirt simple, but controversial. Release Kubuntu some time after Ubuntu, giving the developers time to bring the tools up to par.

    “Kubuntu’s KDE is garbage while distro x’s KDE rocks!”

    This one is simpler to fix, stop having the developers creating bad and mindless patches to KDE. It seems Kubuntu does not have the manpower to pull it of successfully and the resources is wasted and would be better spent fixing the “step child” issues above.

    Besides the choices for improvements made by the Kubuntu developers have not been particularly good, compared to other distributions where lots of the improvements sees it’s way into upstream. Wasting even more developer resources keeping the patches in sync with upstream for every release, as opposed to finishing it off and move to the next issue.

    One result of this, it seems like even unpatched upstream have better quality then the Kubuntu patched versions. So the solution would be to keep much closer to the upstream version. This will also fix most of the translation problems, removing most of the Kubuntu specific KDE strings. And it will enable Kubuntu to use upstream translations and avoid using the Canonical as tools, as they only create brokenness and require more manpower to get decent results than Kubuntu has.

    Keep the branding to changing graphics and RC files, and limit the patches to things tested by other distributions and picking of simple stuff from later upstream releases. Keep the focus on making good packages and testing, rather than creating problems for yourselves.

  • Bugsbane

    Personally I’ve loved Kubuntu all the way since Dapper. There was a few rocky bits along the way (ie slow Kwin performance on Nvidia) and some major wins (The speedup when searching for packages from Adept Manager -> Adept Manager 3 ->Kpackagekit). Personally I find Kpackagekit beautiful to use and much clearer than the garbled and confusing Synaptic.

    A couple of *specific* challenges that I have had that seem to be unique though:

    1. Support of non Wacom tablets (eg Aiptek / Medion). These often seem to work in Ubuntu but not Kubuntu. As I (mis)understand it this is largely down to challenges in QT, but still.

    2. Updates stripping out needed KDE packages, most commonly kdebase-workspace-bin. Other vital packages have gone on occasion, too. They just about always seem to be fixed with an apt-get install kubuntu-desktop, which is easy enough. When you’re new though… well, the first time I got this (I’ve had it on 4 different occasions) it took me about 10 hours to track down the problem. Not cool.

    Anyway, I continue to love Kubuntu and especially, the very beautiful KDE4. I’ll just love it even more when I can use the tablet I bought in 2006 with working Pulse audio and reliable system updates. Thankyou all KDE / Kubuntu devs. I really admire your work, and offer all of this only as feedback. It’s still 1000 times easier than when I ran windows! 🙂

  • lexxonnet

    I tend to agree with most of your article Richard. However, I think the one thing that sets kubuntu apart from ubuntu tends to be polish.

    I have been using Kubuntu since 5.10. I always prefered KDE to Gnome for several personal reasons (configurability and apps such as Amarok and Kile). I remember the upgrade path being nice and simple until the introduction of Network Manager. While it was intended to solve problems, it created several. For some reason, the gnome version didn’t seem to face a large majority of those problems while the KDE version did. It couldn’t connect to any WPA access points at one stage.

    There were a lot of times when users dist-upgrade, expecting to get a fully working system, but there’s always a regression somewhere which annoys them and hence they end up blaming Kubuntu for it and saying it doesn’t get the attention that ubuntu does.

    It feels like Kubuntu devs always focus on giving the best, and most modern system to the user without worrying about the existing user base and how they would upgrade to this new system. The only major pitfall I’ve seen to this system so far was the upgrade from kde3 to 4. It really put a lot of people off simply because it was as good as a fresh install and it wasn’t documented as such. The kubuntu website always maintained that kde3-4 transition was possible, but nothing short of deleting the user’s .kde folder got the system working, and even then, things were broken.

    A lot of it has to do with the naming IMO. Suse, for example is just Suse. You get an option to install Gnome or KDE at setup time. However, Ubuntu has Kubuntu and Xubuntu which have separate web-sites, names, and generally a completely independent feel to them. This leads to the perception that kubuntu and xubuntu are off-shoots of ubuntu and that’s where the differences start for most users.

  • KenP

    First of all, I agree with your points about Kubuntu inching closer to the default Ubunut in terms of end-user experience out-of-the-box.
    However, as my personal experience at a recent get-together shows (), its time to offer choice to new users if they really want a UI on Linux that mimics Apple’s or the one from Microsoft. This is where Kubuntu is, IMO, left behind as a stepchild.
    Canonical’s “face” to the world is GNOME+Ubuntu, which provides a Mac-like interface. This is hindering Windows users from moving to Linux because to them, the Mac interface is as alien as Unbuntu’s!
    What we need is a way to offer choice to the new user to choose between the look and feel he/she would like.
    In all fairness, KDE (Kubuntu) offers a far more Windows-like look and feel than GNOME. For migrating new users to Linux, this can only be a good thing, seeing current market share of various desktops.

  • Danni Coy

    I think that this has been nailed by other commenters but just to reiterate… As it stands Ubuntu is a hell of a lot more polished than Kubuntu The main differences are a lot of the default applications seem to be configured with non approachability by non expert users in mind.

    The quality extra administration tools which are not currently part of kde has always been below par at best.

    There is a problem with packaging however this is not restricted to Kubuntu, Ubuntu is getting a bad name for itself in professional audio land as well – packages like Ardour are shipped with things broken that are not broken in the upstream release. Jack Control (qjackctl) is shipped with a broken config. Most parts of the system that should have jackd support have to be recompiled (eg libxine) if you want to use it with jack…

  • KenP

    Sorry, there should be a link between the empty parentheses in my post above:

  • Tim

    Every Kubuntu release has had a broken german translation. Very broken ..

    OK, it mainly is LP fault, but users don’t care. Kubuntus reputation in Germany is horrific.

  • Man – I love Spring and Fall – it’s the big busy time of year for all of the major distro’s with all the shiny new releases and alpha builds, and milestone builds and finally betas and release candidates. Gives geeks like me something to do 🙂

    Anyway – I all but gave up on KDE when 4.0 hit- I tried to stick it out, but it was just so unstable I couldn’t use it for day-to-day stuff. Instead of struggling with ways to run an up-to-date distro w/ KDE 3.5, I decided to test out the GNOME waters, and I’m glad I did – I learned a lot, and met a lot of cool people!

    Long story short (if that is possible for me) – recently I’ve been watching Ubuntu 9.10 and Kubuntu 9.10 progress…slowly but surely and for quite a while now, it’s appeared that Kubuntu is in the lead in the look and feel dept., and best of all, I feel comfortable in KDE again finally as of 4.3 and will probably switch back! I do wish there were just “Ubuntu” with the choice of DE rather than Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu – I think that just fuels the “step-child” fire, but that is one man’s opinion.

    Also, as a side note, I *was* impressed that openSUSE finally listened to their userbase and switched their default desktop to KDE. I’m installing openSUSE 11.2 Milestone 5 now to check out what they’ve been up to and comparing it to Kubuntu’s latest build of 9.10 – if I’m gonna give KDE another shot, I might as well taste the grass on both sides of the fence before getting too comfortable anywhere.

  • Serge

    I think a few things to enhance quality of Kubuntu.

    * Use the upstream versions and don’t use the Ubuntu translations system, but enhance the KDE translations (where possible) and use that. Work together with other distro’s to enhance the KDE translations. I use English version by default but I read about a lot of problems of other languages, but I cannot tell how good or bad the Dutch translation is.

    * Don’t follow the improvements of Ubuntu but make a idea and ballotbox for Kubuntu’s own improvements and let the users vote. And finally Ubuntu is also lacking stuff like a decent photomanager, Plasmoids, systemmanager, ….

    * Don’t add too Beta quality software. When a key program is released shortly after releasing Kubuntu add this in the backport repository. I think here about some programs. Amarok 2.2, K3B 2.0 and Kaffeine V1.0 and eventually Basket 2.0 and Firefox 3.6.

    * Use a decent package manager. Better a working GTK one than a not working one like KPackagekit. I use command-line tools like aptitude for doing package management stuff. I have Yakuake installed so I got a prompt very easy.

    * beside the the Firefox quick installer in 9.10 add a button somewhere for installing e.g. Kubuntu-restricted-extras.

    More difficult parts of changing working systems can be implemented Kubuntu 10.10 Mature Mole, when a new cycle starts.

    I use Kubuntu myself but I don’t give it to people who wants upgrade from Windows to Linux, because it is suitable enough for novice users, because of problems in the distro. I give them all Ubuntu.

  • David C.

    I am sorry, I read these blogs with great interest but being a 2 distro user – 1 being Mint, all this chat about Ubuntu and Kubuntu is just going to be totally off-putting to those we wish to bring into the Linux camp. I have to admit the idea of calling something Ubuntu-Gnome and Ubuntu-KDE would at least suggest an equal footing.

    Mint maybe gnome but it feels and looks polished and is quick to attract those converts while Ubuntu just looks odd. As for KDE for the beginner (and that’s who I deal with all the time then it is PCLoS all the way and use their Synaptic to upgrade to whatI consider the most polished KDE4.3 out there.

    In the Linux community we must stop contemplating our own back yards but discover what other people want in theirs. Jo Public will soon tell us what they want.

  • morgan

    Kubuntu’s implementation of kde4 has been awful, in terms of look/style and stability.

    I keep checking out the every new version in hope they have released a working version but keep being disappointed.
    I use as my main system Arch Linux and their KDE4 packages are really good, fast and stable (and you get the packages the day that KDE release them), All KDE4 packages I have used with ubuntu/kubuntu always crash…

    If Archlinux can create stable working KDE packages why cannot Kubuntu ?

    Basically Ubuntu’s mistake was originally basing itself around gnome, if they had used KDE as their main desktop I am sure desktop Linux would be more popular…

  • gp

    Richard, I agre with you but…
    …but is true that in Kubuntu there is a basic problem, Canonical is Gnome-centric.

    Every innovation, every opinion, every main project, every desktop idea, every application’s idea, every graphic idea are for 90% thinked at the Gnome Way.
    Kubuntu must chase and accomodate ever.

    The Kubuntu developers do a great and heroic job but if Canonical not believes and considers really Kubuntu, the work will never be at the top as Ubuntu.

    I love and use Kubuntu always but is the reality.

    But I’m positive and hope in the future.


  • LXj

    Yes, Kubuntu’s KDE is garbage. Distro x’s KDE is garbage too. I usually have good KDE experience with distros which ship vanilla KDE and don’t backport features and “share patches”. Many people say that openSUSE has a good KDE experience — well, for openSUSE it usually takes too long to ship new KDE versions as stable, and their Factory releases have weird problems for months (the problems which don’t occur with other distributions, of course).

    Anyway, back to Kubuntu’s KDE. I can compare it with Gentoo’s KDE (which is as close to upstream as possible) and I find that Gentoo’s KDE is more stable. Also when I look at Russian localization I don’t understand what the hell Kubuntu is doing with it. Russian KDE team of KDE doesn’t understand it either

  • LXj

    Also, how a non-experienced user is supposed to configure a static ip connection in Kubuntu 9.04?

  • Markus

    Dude, I tell you why Kubuntu sucks and pretty much every other KDE distro doesn’t:

    1.) Broken translations. The translations are broken to various degrees from release to release, but they are never flawless. See my Flickr set:

    2.) Kubuntu always ships with broken package managers. Adept sucked (unstable, bad usability) and now KPackageKit has pretty much the same problems.

    3.) Focusing so much on Konqueror as web browser, while SUSE is currently developing pretty neat KDE integration features for Firefox.

    Arguments that Kubuntu is indeed a step child:

    A.) Again, the package manager: Canonical has no problems developing yet another front-end for GNOME, while the company refuses to do any development on the KDE side, even though since Qt 4.5 it’s perfectly possible to write GNOME apps with it. Why didn’t Canonical just use Qt for AppCenter? All then needed would be a few GUI tweaks to make AppCenter match each DE’s HIG.

    B.) Refusal of LTS support for KDE 8.04, even though that in reality KDE 3 is still being bugfixed.

    C.) All new Canonical-specific features (e.g. notifications) only come to Kubuntu after a delay of at least one release cycle.

  • Andrew Mason

    What can you do in Ubuntu you can’t do in Kubuntu?

    1) Connect to a VPN using VPNC and a cisco provided profile. You need to know everything in order to connect with kubunu, including the domain password which isn’t always provided. Yes you can crack the pcf file but it shouldn’t be necessary when ubuntu can do it.

    2) Connect to 3g networks. The second I put my dongle in, in ubuntu it prompts me for which network i am with and guides me through the setup with a wizard with mostly pre-filled values. This is not the case with Kubuntu.

    3) I had to use Karmic to connect to WPA2 / WPA access points even then it took a while. Never had an issue with Ubuntu

  • gp

    I agree with (33)Markus and (34)Andrew Mason…and repeat, I use every day Kubuntu.

    Kubuntu 9.10 (Alpha/Beta) is a bit better of Kubuntu 9.04 but Ubuntu is ten steps up for desktop user experience and Canonical works only for Gnome\Ubuntu, this is the reality.

    A lot of small, stupid but significant examples:

    1)Has Kubuntu a real Artwork Team (community and none)?

    2)Has Kubuntu a brand in the desktop?

    3)Has Kubuntu a wallpaper?

    4)Is there a study about a desktop theme?

    5)Has Kubuntu a new installing system as Ubuntu?

    The answers are, NOT.

    I hope in Kubuntu but we must be realistic.

  • Rambo Tribble

    I think both Kubuntu and Ubuntu suffer from a phenomenon I might call “pseudo-geek cred”. This is where those without real “geek” credentials seek to enhance their on-line credibility by piling abuse on *buntu. It’s sort of, “I’m an uber-geek and my hating *buntu proves it.”

    Most couldn’t tell you the difference between an interpreter and a compiler, much less assembler and machine code, yet they know more about programming than you do. While this is hardly a phenomenon unique to the computer world, (“Chevy sucks, Ford rules”), it is one of the detrimental aspects of the Internet’s allowing everyone to post their “two-cents worth”. The distraction it causes is an expense free software could do without.

  • Californian in motion

    Only ignorance could suggest that Kubuntu is on par with Ubuntu in terms of stability or usefulness.

    Nothing else must or should be said about this issue ehen the package manager has been broken for the past two releases.

    Seriously, how can you even write what you wrote and pretend that Kubuntu´s reputation is undeserved?

    The real tragedy is that KDE would have made such a good platform for Ubuntu proper. I think this will eventually bite Ubuntu in the future as KDE is very much ahead of Gnome as a desktop environment, but Kubuntu would not show this.

  • Rambo Tribble

    Californian in motion,

    While there is some validity to your points, there is also merit to the argument that if you’re looking for stability anywhere but the LTS, you’re doing it wrong.

  • Diederik van der Boor

    One thing it starts with is the site.

    It currently says “Kubuntu is a free, user-friendly operating system based on the K Desktop Environment and on the award winning Ubuntu operating system.”.

    Does that make 1) Kubuntu stand out, or 2) briefly say it’s a step child of Ubuntu? Not really sure whether it’s option 2, but surely isn’t option 1. I’d rather state something like “Kubuntu is a modern KDE 4 desktop for Ubuntu? (so Kubuntu >= Ubuntu).”.

    Secondly, the feels more hobbyist compared to
    A homepage which is basically a newspage isn’t helping.
    The second question in the FAQ also doesn’t help either.

    I’d love to see that site stand out.
    It would let Kubuntu shine and feel more professional.

    (some of this I’ve also stated at

  • Thomas Zander

    Many posts already with excellent content, many pointing to real pain points for real users.

    I think it would be good to write a follow up blog saying you were wrong in arguing the problem doesn’t exist. Its real for the users and it would be great if kubuntu listened and understood those issues. Not tell people their issues are a myth. Thats a Microsoft tactic that doesn’t work on a blog with open comments 😉

    Regarding the “lets work together to make KDE rock”; does kubuntu ship the translations made by KDE-translators yet?

  • Kubuntu has always been good to me, and works pretty much 100% out of the box. Nothing I have seen in Mandriva or Fedora makes me consider switching. Kubuntu may not have the larger community that Ubuntu has, but what is there is lively and helpful.

  • Diego:
    The teeny tiny Kubuntu development community was likely more of an issue in terms of LTS, I think. As Rich said, the non-Canonical developer base for Kubuntu is *really* small. There just aren’t enough people to support KDE 3 and KDE 4 simultaneously for 3 years.

  • Thomas:

    The broken translations were, IIRC, due to Launchpad’s Rosetta being not-very-done at the time. I believe it’s been beefed up to be able to handle KDE-style translations now, so Karmic should rock.

  • Rahux

    I used to always have a lot of graphics, installation and general errors and crashes with Kubuntu. Right now though I’ve been running the Karmic Kubuntu alphas and have been very impressed by the speed and stability, it’s improved a lot.

    PackageKit is underpowered, yes, but the sheer speed is very welcome – nicer than the fuzzy memories I have of Adept

    I’m also glad to see that Firefox integrates better with KDE now but I think by the time the next release rolls around, Arora will be ready for default. For most things I already prefer Arora and am eagerly watching its progress. They just added AdBlocking even. On Ubuntu I’ve almost completely switched to Chrome anyway.

    Love your work.

  • gp

    The teeny tiny Kubuntu development community was likely more of an issue in terms of LTS, I think. As Rich said, the non-Canonical developer base for Kubuntu is *really* small. There just aren’t enough people to support KDE 3 and KDE 4 simultaneously for 3 years.

    It’s true but why this? Because Canonical is for 90% focalized on Ubuntu and the marketing is 99,9% Ubuntu…Ubuntu works in Gnome-way and it grab only Gnome\Ubuntu developers. I don’t know if Canonical believes 100% on Kubuntu as on Ubuntu.

    The broken translations were, IIRC, due to Launchpad’s Rosetta being not-very-done at the time. I believe it’s been beefed up to be able to handle KDE-style translations now, so Karmic should rock.

    This confirm all. Only after a tott release cicles we have a KDE-Style translation now. The priority is GNOME-Style and Kubuntu must always chasing and adapt.

    All this is the problem, Kubuntu is always a step after in the Canonical planes, from marketing to web site, from brand to artwork, from innovation to develope, etc…


  • S.

    I think Mark Shuttleworth was quoted as saying that Ubuntu is a product while Kubuntu is a project.

    And that’s what it all boils down to, I think.

    There is a lot more to a successful product than only its code, and Canonical spends generous amounts of money to ensure that Ubuntu is a very polished product. Kubuntu can only attempt to keep pace as well as it can on the basis of a few paid developers and whatever a bunch of other guys can heroically put together in their free time. Unbalance in means, unbalance in results.

    I don’t find it fair. I like the Ubuntu philosophy and I like the KDE suite of applications, but if they overlap anywhere I’m not sure that’s where Kubuntu is. Bummer. 🙁

  • gp

    @(46)S. :
    I agree totally with you…


  • nasrullah

    Being a Kubuntu user I am satisfied with this great OS…..and I am sure it will progress more in the near future stable and robust.
    Thanks a lot for all Kubuntu supporters and lovers.

  • booyah! I got exactly what I wanted. Yes, I purposely stated stuff the way I did to spark a bit of argument and with everyone saying +1 to this person and what not helped. Myself and another member of the community are putting together a document of “what’s broke and how do we fix it.” You know, when I first started this post, I had absolutely forgotten about the translation issues. Those tend to stick in the back of my head since I don’t use them, though you would think they wouldn’t considering that I do a lot of documentation work for both the Ubuntu/Kubuntu and the KDE projects.

    This post even sparked some really great conversation on IRC as well, and all of this conversation occurred between users and developers of many different distros out there. It was great!

    A lot of you hit on one big thing too, the patching. I am aware, as well as others, that patching has gotten a bit out of control and that is something that has been documented to review. Once myself and others have the document ready to release we will do so and hopefully get a broad group of people to help contribute to it and polish it up.

    There is no doubt that Kubuntu tends to play second fiddle to the Ubuntu project and in Karmic we have started working to make it better. In the past, something would get developed in Ubuntu, and a release or two later Kubuntu was trying to implement their own version. Since then Canonical has hired 2 KDE hackers to work on projects, as well as contracted KDAB to work on some Akonadi and CouchDB love. Of course right we got the “Ubuntu Software Store” slap because there was no single word starting with the letter K not only in their news posts, but in the specification itself.

    Anyways, thanks to all who commented, and keep commenting, as the more I have the better. In the mean time, I am going to finish up my Arch x86_64 install as Sandsmark has told me that it is ready for me 🙂

  • gp

    Keep on work. I’m sure you will do a great job.


    ps: If I want to contribute to the Kubuntu community cause where should I go.

  • LinuxLover

    I will say that Ubuntu feels more complete and polished than Kubuntu. Not that brown is all that attractive, but the look and feel of the KDE implementation in Kubuntu just is unimaginative and feels generic. Compare this to the default KDE implementation in Mandriva. It’s worlds apart. Sure, you can customize it to your liking, but the out-of-the-box experience is essential. Kubuntu feels like an academic project vs. Ubuntu’s polished feel.

  • “Whether or not it was good or bad, it is the past and there is nothing we can do about it, except continue making KDE rock harder with every release.”

    What would have been better than having KDE rock would have been making KDE work _at all_ before introducing it into any distros. i’ve tried and re-tried KDE4 since Kubuntu switched to it, and even now i find my switch to Ubuntu/Gnome 100% justified. KDE 3.x was Desktop Nirvana, but KDE4 is still 18-24 months away from being useful enough to be my desktop of choice. It’s dog slow and lacks 95% of the features which made KDE 3.x such a wonderful desktop environment. i used KDE as my only desktop since before the 1.0 release, but with KDE4 i was literally forced (due to COMPLETE lack of functionality) to abandon ship.

  • Prateek
  • Pingback: Project Timelord, or How Not To Build A Project | zwilnik()

  • It seems to me that the real “blue-headed stepchild” may be Xubuntu rather than Kubuntu. Am I right in guessing that it is an independent project? Evidence of this theory: Canonical’s ShipIt service, which offers free CDs of Ubuntu and Kubuntu, but not Xubuntu. They had to make their own separate arrangements with another vendor (, and users must pay for shipping.

    The question is sincere, and asked out of pure curiosity rather than with any thought of “what canonical ought to do.”


  • greg batmarx

    I just discovered kubuntu and wrote this to ubuntuforums in a topic related with the support of kubuntu by the canonical:

    “Till now, I was using gnome and I loved it!
    Then I tested kde 4.5rc and wow!
    This is awesome!
    What can I say?
    I could not imagine that kde is so much better than gnome.
    I will mention just 3 reasons:
    1)Tabbed AND tabbing applications!So convenient to tab an app inside another app.Simple marvelous!
    2)Different wallpapers AND different widgets in each desktop.
    I was dreaming for this to be done in gnome.It is done in KDE!
    3)Activities that give another dimension to “different wallpapers and widgets in each desktop” You have to see it to believe it!
    I have 4 different desktops in 6 different activities.
    Thus, I have 24(!) different wallpapers (and some wallpapers can be the whole earth rotating!) and 40 different widgets at the same time in one computer!
    And yes all these don’t eat my resources(at least as much as I was expecting)!
    I can run 10 different apps without lagging and my computer is a cheap acer notebook dual core with 4 giga RAM.
    Yes! kde was buggy and still has its bugs.
    Yes! kde demands relatively powerful computers and not old ones to reveal its beauty!
    Yes! it can be better!
    BUT,it is clearly the future in a manner that gnome is not…
    I still love gnome, but I adore kde!
    Ubuntu should consider to give more resources to kubuntu!
    It deserves it!
    PS Till kde 4.3, i could not run this gui in my computer…
    It failed…Unbelievable how much thing changed and kde runs so smoothly now!”

    And then I discovered this site alongside another one similar…
    The statement is right.
    All I can say is that we as community have to help and contribute more for the kubuntu and I am willing to do so!

  • Subscribe to

     Subscribe in a reader

    Or, subscribe via email:
    Enter your email address:

  • Archives

%d bloggers like this: