I have tried my hand at Kubuntu 5.04 Live, and now I’ll try my hand at a review. Warning, this gets fairly technical!
My laptop is a tough cookie to play with:
Intel Centrino 1600Mhz CPU / Intel BG2200 Wireless Card
ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 / 1280×800 LCD / 64MB VRAM
Extra stuff to make things harder: USB floppy, USB mouse, Blackberry handheld (via USB)
Pretty desktop, slow start
I booted the Live CD without a network cable plugged in. I wanted to see if I could get wireless working easily. I also didn’t have the floppy drive plugged in. The system booted into a nice looking KDE 3.4 desktop. It was a little slow starting, compared to Knoppix or Slax. But that’s a trait of Live CDs, and I don’t really care. I like KDE 3.4! It has nice new popup tooltips on the kicker. They animate into view, but it is tasteful, not too flashy. The Trash icon has been moved from the desktop to the kicker, and good riddance. The KMenu has a nice default configuration, especially when compared to Slackware’s. It is clean and void of useless GNOME configuration utilities. It also only has one PDF viewer, instead of 7. I like.
Linux hates wireless
Next, I opened Konqueror, just to try my luck at the Internet. Remember that my network cable wasn’t plugged in, but I had a working Access Point about 2 feet away. And… nothing. Dang. I opened of KWifimanager, went into Administration mode, and put in the proper settings. Okay, that’s fair, I have WEP set, and I need to put in the WEP key. My bad. Once it was all in, I hit apply and closed KWifimanager. Ack, the KDE crash handler! What the heck was that? After testing, I discovered that whenever I open a KControl part, and go into Administrator mode, once I close it I’ll get a crash of some kind. I saved a crash log here. Okay, the wireless network settings are in. Open Konqueror, and nothing. Let’s plug in the network cable, because I’m getting bored. I went to the Konsole, brought up the eth0 interface, and noticed that it wouldn’t give me an IP address. Oh, for Pete’s sake! Restart…
After rebooting, with the network cable plugged in, the eth0 device did just fine and I could get on the Internet. I still can’t get eth1, my wireless device, to work. I never tried it without WEP, because I can’t easily change settings on my Orinoco AP. The device driver ipw2200 and all related device modules were loaded, they just didn’t like me. I don’t like them, either. Once on the web in Konqueror, I browsed to 3hive to listen to some music. I clicked on the first mp3 download I saw, and instantly I heard music. (?) The song loaded in Konqueror using some plugin, I guess. It sounded great. It was even showing me a visualization, albeit not comparable to those in iTunes. Next, I went to Macromedia to see if Flash or Shockwave were installed and working. They weren’t installed.
Fun with mounting
Actually, this section should be called “No fun, because nothing mounted.” I was very happy to see that when I plugged in my external USB floppy drive, an icon appeared in “media:/”. But lo and behold, it didn’t have an entry in fstab, so it wouldn’t mount. I added an entry into fstab (which a normal person should NEVER have to do), but I guess I did something wrong with the UID, because I couldn’t mount as anyone but root. I went ahead and mounted it as root (I had to make a /mnt/floppy directory). Also in “media:/” was my 60GB internal hard disk, but it wouldn’t let me mount it either (no entry in fstab). Methinks the Ubuntu Live folks need to go study Knoppix. I expect at least read-only access to my NTFS drive, as soon as I boot the live cd. But again, missing fstab entries are another quirk of Live CDs and this doesn’t apply to the real Kubuntu.
After a few minutes of configuration, I had Kontact connecting to my Exchange email via IMAP, and the calendar component connecting to my Exchange calendar resource. Kool! Hey KDE guys, KMail still looks ridiculously funny compared to Evolution, Thunderbird and Outlook/Outlook Express. Just to try (I knew it wouldn’t work), I plugged in my Blackberry. I was surprised to see that it even started charging. Windows 98 won’t charge a Blackberry without a device driver. But KDE-PIM and KPilot, to my disappointment, had no means of communicating with the Blackberry. I should’ve gotten a Palm.
Kubuntu Live doesn’t quite meet my needs, but mostly because of Live CD quirks. Tonight I will wipe out my Slackware installation and try actual Kubuntu on my desktop.
- Solid, sensible default configuration
- Kynaptic is awesome!
- KDE 3.4 is prettier and faster
- Trash icon is on the kicker instead cluttering the desktop
- mp3 playback works grrreeat!
- Media won’t mount without the help of root
- No Rdesktop?!?!?! They have Krdc, but not Rdesktop? Krdc doesn’t connect to Windows desktops without Rdesktop
- No Macromedia Flash or Shockwave installed by default
- No Firefox (I know, there is Konqueror, but Firefox is better and you know it!)
- Kopete had trouble receiving messages
- Slow boot time
- Broken WEP support?
- KControl parts are crashing, eek! (This is a KDE issue, not Kubuntu)
- No Blackberry support (This is a Linux problem, not Kubuntu)
Well, Kubuntu Live survived my scrutiny, but now I’m off to do the real thing. I’ll post a diff to this review for Kubuntu-installed. Until then, Adios!