Tim Hilliard, 4/22/2022
Background: Using Mint Cinnamon:
I’ve been using Linux Mint Cinnamon as my day-to-day operating system on my most-used computer system for years now. I was settled on it for my Linux computing by about 2010, and when I stopped using any Windows about 2015 it was my choice for my “daily driver” as they say. I also use it on my Intel-based laptop, though I use the Arch-based Manjaro distro (with a KDE-Plasma desktop environment) for my ARM-based PineBook and my RaspberryPi. I had started to really like the KDE Plasma desktop (I’ll say KDE from now on).
Why was I using Mint? Well, it’s stable, it has good online support, and it’s attractive in a conservative, old-version-of-Windows way. Almost all my software and services worked well. Also, it has regular updates for security and bug-fixes yet rarely changes much in look, feel, and usability. No surprises.
On the other hand it doesn’t allow easy customization and is slow to adopt cutting-edge services and standards. Also it tends to lag with the Linux kernel adoption, staying with older ones. I also lost my ability to do screenshots without a third-party add-in, which was irritating. One more thing was that I was having problems with my printer connection – to use my wireless printer I had to turn it off and on to refresh it.
However, as I said, I was using KDE on my PineBook and RaspberryPi. I had come to like the almost endless configurability of KDE, and have come to be less conservative in my Linux preferences, and more appreciative of cutting-edge updates and more current kernels.
Looking at KDE I considered the Manjaro version I was using on the ARM machines, but decided not to use that. First, I am used to the whole “Aptitude” world for software package management and find it more instinctive to use. Manjaro uses the Arch-based PACMAN. Second, I could not get my VPN software to run on the Manjaro.
Kubuntu is a “flavor” of Ubuntu. If you count standard Ubuntu, its various flavors, and the Distros based on it (including Mint), a lot of the Linux world is using some sort of Ubuntu. That makes for a huge base of users and developers for support. It has a very reliable update system for security and bugs and a regularly scheduled system for feature updates.
The feature updates are every April and October, with long term support (LTS) every even-numbered year in April. The versioning uses the year and month hence 22.04 for the current version – yes, the month I am writing this.
Long story short, or at least shorter, I decided to try Kubuntu on my desktop computer. First I tried it on an older desktop computer I was working on (actually a Mac) and found that the printer problem was gone, and the VPN software loaded with no issue. So, I used a live-boot USB thumb drive to test it on my desktop, with very good results. Finally, I decided to do some backup and make the plunge to install.
My desktop is an older but still powerful Dell Precision Xeon-based tower, with 36 GB RAM, a 120 GB SSD for /root, a 2 TB hard drive for /home, and a 4 TB hard drive for more storage. It has two 6-cored Xeon processors, NV50 nVidia graphics card, and is connected to two 27-inch 1080p monitors.
I have not previously used any Ubuntu except to load briefly and look at.
In the past, I have mostly used Mint with Cinnamon and Manjaro with KDE on various machines.
I chose the latest version, Kubuntu 22.04, released on the very day I installed it. I waited a few days when I realized the new version was about to be released. I selected support for proprietary drivers for NVIDIA and third-party graphics codecs. I downloaded it from Kubuntu’s site (3.4 GB). I used a USB thumb drive with Ventoy for installation (see https://www.ventoy.net for info on this great tool for “distro-hoppers”).
The installation was very smooth and went quickly. It first takes you to a live desktop and they you can run the install from there. As with most Linux distros you get a choice of installing full-disk or “other.” Even though I was “nuking” my old Mint install, I went with “other” so I could save the /home (all my data, settings, etc.) on the 2 TB hard drive.
I rebooted and did a bunch of coordinating my data and settings from the old user directory (from Mint) to my new Kubuntu user. I’d chosen a slightly different username so the old data wouldn’t be overwritten. Copying the setup from my browser (Firefox) and e-mail software (Thunderbird) to the new directory meant that both packages ran seamlessly. All my accounts, mail, addresses, add-ins, etc. in Thunderbird and all my bookmarks, add-ins, customization, etc. in Firefox worked the first time I ran them.
So, now I am really “there” and first, let me say the default wallpaper is UGLY! It is a retro abstract graphic. Quickly I went to change it to some of my own photos (see screenshot below).
A few first impressions:
- I was pleased that Kubuntu allowed different pictures on each monitor right out of the box. Mint needed a third-party add-in to allow that.
- My printer was automatically installed and seems to work every time now.
- My VPN software installed and ran with no problem.
- Almost all my other software installed without a hitch.
- Even some software that is native to non-KDE desktops, such as Gnome Boxes (virtual machine manager) worked.
- Screenshots worked again.
A few things needed more effort.
- My media server software ran fine but I had to jump through some hoops to get it to find my media directory which is too big to fit on the SSD I use for the /root drive which is where the software seems to like it. I eventually got it working.
- Google Earth (I know! Not open-source) isn’t in the repository of software packages so I downloaded the package from Google and double clicked on it. It did not want to install at first, saying I was missing dependencies. So I tried opening the downloaded package with Ubuntu’s software store, Discover, and amazingly it installed and works fine.
- While I am confessing to non-open-source software, I still can’t live without the Windows-only graphics utility IrfanView (https://www.irfanview.com/) Wine was not preloaded so I had to install it but it went easily and recognized IrfanView right away.
- I’m still playing with the configuration – remember that KDE lets you play to no end with look and feel.
With nothing explicitly running except the System Monitor, the machine was using 2.2 GB of RAM. Seems like a lot, but with this machine’s 36 GB RAM it’s not much of an issue.
- Easy to install.
- Runs well.
- Fairly snappy despite not being a lightweight operating system.
- Stability seems very good.
- Good-looking interface.
- Memory use may be a bit high.
I am happy with the switch (after just one day) but will update this blog after I have been living in this environment for a while.