View of KDE Neon

First a little background information on myself. I’ve been a CompTIA A+ certified technician since 2003. My love for Linux started even before then. By 2006, I was running Linux on my computer systems without dual booting Windows of any variant. So I’ve been running Linux for approximately ten years as my sole operating system of choice.

Through those ten years, I’ve worked with two basic distributions of Linux. Redhat’s Fedora was my start but after a few years of tinkering with the system almost constantly I started shopping around for a new distribution. It was then that I happened upon Ubuntu in their early days. Many know that Ubuntu is based on Debian which is one of the oldest distributions in existence, much like Redhat.

Over the years I’ve found Ubuntu/Debian to be much faster at many things than the rpm based distributions. Updating is easier either via command line or graphical tools as well as faster. Granted packaging software is different, but the vast amount of software for Debian based distributions is much broader.

Lately I’d been shopping around for a new distribution of Linux yet again. I wanted it to be Debian based but with the options of removing existing software that I didn’t want and installing those applications that I found over the years that I liked and felt comfortable with. Over several months I’ve searched for a distribution of my liking and with my favorite desktop (KDE). Most were experimented with via a virtual machine like Oracle’s VirtualBox software.

As always, Linux is in a state of flux and updates with developers throwing out stuff that either doesn’t work or doesn’t fit their intended purpose. Gnome desktop has gone through this as recently as five years ago. They all but changed the entire look of their desktop. KDE is going through this now so finding a decent working desktop is not easy. There are other desktops out there and many have their preferences. I’ve even tried a few of the others (namely XFCE and Cinnamon). However, I almost always return to KDE.

I think I’ve finally found something of a rolling release of Linux. Or perhaps it’s just a rolling release desktop. For those keeping up on the latest Linux offerings, I’m currently writing this in LibreOffice running on KDE Neon. It’s a project started by Jonathan Riddell to run advancements out on the KDE desktop almost as they happen. The base of this is Ubuntu LTS (long term support).

Neon is an interesting project and should be praised. It’s a lean and stable operating system if you chose the user edition. It has a developer edition as well, but it’s much more prone to breakage. However, neither version isn’t without it’s faults. Of course the same can be said about any Windows system.

For the desktop, Neon runs the latest KDE. At the time of this writing it’s KDE Frameworks 5.7 with Plasma 5.7.3 in the user edition. In most cases, I’m impressed with the work of the KDE developers. The new Plasma is much snappier than the KDE 4 days. My only quibble here is the all out flatness of the desktop. It can be beautified. I’ll get to that later.

Most of your normal KDE applications are here via the Ubuntu/Kubuntu repositories. Current applications layer is KDE 16.04.3. They all seem to play nice with the system and appear to load quicker than their older versions. I’m not certain as to the reason behind this but like most Ubuntu/Debian systems it seems to just work. For all appearances Neon, is nothing more than Kubuntu 16.04 with the latest KDE applications and frameworks. The memory footprint is loads better than KDE 4. I just checked the bare desktop as I have it configured and it takes up not even five hundred megabyte of ram (I think it was like 450 or just a little more). I makes it more competitive with other lightweight desktops out there now. Otherwise it’s very stable.

Now for the minimal issues I’ve found thus far. The biggest issue I’ve found with Neon is that though KDE is still in fast development, some of the applications I use (especially those that minimize to the system tray) just don’t have full functionality with the current Plasma. One of my favorites is Qbittorrent. It’s one that I generally use to download distributions of Linux to test in virtual machine. When minimizing this and other applications to the system tray, their icons just disappear from the taskbar, the system tray, and the desktop. This may be Plasma and then again it may mean that there is a communication issue with the KDE developers and other application developers.

My second beef is more with Canonical than it is with Neon. Though I’m all for preventing “root” access to certain applications (file managers and such), there’s been an inherent or it could be intentional bug in using various applications (Dolphin and Kate to name two) with “root” access. Now there IS a workaround (it can be found at bugs.kde.org) and it’s fairly easy to implement for those who are experienced with the command line. The biggest beef here is those that want to “tweak” Neon and for that matter Kubuntu’s performance need to have “root” access to these graphical applications to do so without going back to the command line. After “tweaking” system administrators can LOCK done “root” privileges.

I only truly have one other fault for Neon as well as other distributions that are moving to KDE Frameworks 5. This is the tacky or to be more blunt ugly login screen on SDDM. Yes, I understand they want to “advertise” their desktop but PLEASE! I’ve found much better login screens on Linux Mint’s Cinnamon desktop with MDM that are far more unobtrusive than the greeter for SDDM on any distribution. The “lock screen” and the “splash screen” are just as bad. Granted you can put up your own picture behind the greeter and the lock screen, but it would be nice if you could do the same with the “splash screen.” Here is where KDE could take a page from other desktops. Now there are options but they are not quit as fully developed as the shipping packages. I hope to work on this issue myself as I know a bit of XML and am willing to learn more.

In the past, I’ve submitted bugs, made entries into various forums, as well as sought help and assisted those with questions on Internet Relay Chat (freenode). I still do these things when necessary and will continue to do so. I’m a firm believer in open source software as well as open source operating systems. Anyone who would take the time to read Microsoft’s Privacy statement thoroughly that is now out there and thought about what they were stating there would consider open source even more. I’m not a fan of the current policy from Microsoft though I have to support their operating systems. But for me it will continue to be Linux and open source software. I think more and more corporations should consider it in the future. I know governments are.

Advertisements

Tags: , , ,


%d bloggers like this: