FEB
3
2008

Why Kubuntu is Good for KDE

Tsk to marketing types who bring negatives tones to otherwise peaceful Planets. I like to walk cheerfully over the world so here's some top reasons why Kubuntu is good for KDE.

  • We'll be the first (out of the release schedules I can find) to ship KDE 4 on a distro by default. Of course 4.0 is only for a select audience, so there will be another CD with KDE 3.
  • We are a pure KDE distro, it's the original and best free desktop and we want to promote it. With some other distros when you install KDE you find yourself using, say, a non-KDE browser. That has advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately I think we can create the best user experience by sticking to one desktop. Ark Linux is the only other distro I know to do this for KDE. Ubuntu Desktop takes the same attitude towards Gnome for the same reasons, it's why they didn't have displayconfig for years after we did and why they don't ship those nifty HP printing tools.
  • We use configuration tools from within KDE. Some other distros make configuration tools such that they can only work with that one distro. I think KDE wins if we use tools from within KDE, which is why we use Guidance. Yet other distros use GTK configuration tools and seem to be none too enthusiastic for cooperation when I port them to Qt, oh well at least I can maintain it within KDE.
  • Sometimes we get criticised for not passing patches upstream, I'm not sure where this comes from, I'd really like to see examples of where that hasn't happened but should have. Usually when I notice something needs a fix in KDE, I fix it directly because I am a KDE developer. Some other distros have to be poked into actually interacting with KDE (as a Dot editor I've done some of this poking).
  • Kubuntu sponsors Akademy. It takes tens of thousands of pounds to put on KDE's most important summer get-together. We sponsored Akademy when even Trolltech didn't want to help make that happen, without that sponsorship it would be a lesser event.
  • We are marketed as our own product. It's not just an extra spin for those who like that sort of thing.
  • We develop for upstream. I got System Settings to replace KControl (a UI I've hated since KDE 1), worked with Amarok to get the first automatic codec installer working (why do people think Ubuntu Desktop got that first?). I'd like to see desktop-effects going into KDE SVN for those who want a compiz setup tool. Oh and I spent a long time updating the licence policy when nobody seemed to care (even some non-KDE Debian packagers!) that KDE could become illegal to distribute (big shout out to toma and dirk on the related issue of relicensing GPL 2 only code).
  • We invite KDE developers to our conferences to plan out how we can work better getting KDE to the masses. Want an all expenses paid trip next May to help us do this? Let me know.
  • We use PyKDE. The world's computer developer pool is expanding but that includes the VB programmers of this world who will never learn C++. We are the only distro to actively promote this easy and powerful way to get into KDE development.
  • We work to being in contributors. We were a more open project when other distros made it hard or impossible to contribute packages (still are more open in some respects, Kubuntu is one of the few large projects I know that doesn't have any hidden elitist IRC channels, yes Linus I'm talking to you baby). Now we run introductory sessions to help people get involved, watch out for more of these with Dev Day and at FOSDEM.
  • Finally and most importantly we get KDE used. In France (Assembly), Canary Islands (schools, universities), Venezuela (selling machines), Phillipines (schools again) and Georgia (every single school in the country baby!) we get your software into the hands of non-geeks. Then there's our derived distributions, Linspire, MEPIS (who went back to my other favourite distro Debian for no good reason anyone can see but guess who's KDE 4 packages get used without supplying the source code?) and selling embedded multimedia machines with Linux MCE (this project so rocks) all based on Kubuntu. Many more too.

There are other good things coming out of Canonical which can benefit KDE. Top of the list being commercial support for Kubuntu (and if you want there to be more paid Kubuntu developers, go and convince your company/uni/government etc to buy some of this). Bzr is the best distributed revision control system and I hope ever so much they can convince KDE to look at using it, because if we ever switch to Git we'll find ourselves in trouble when half our account holders can't work out how to use it. Oh and the 6 monthly release schedule we've switching to, great stuff but why are people embarrassed about where that idea came from?

Walk cheerfully Friends.

Comments

Well said, Jonathan. I hope that the Kubuntites start spreading the positives of Kubuntu, instead of focussing on minor details as major doom and gloom.

Also, kudos for all the work that you have done. The Kubuntu project is awesome, and I don't think it would have ever been what it is now if it wasn't for you.


By jonathancarter at Sun, 02/03/2008 - 19:04

But that other marketing dude had a point - you don't get half the support for Kubuntu than Ubuntu gets, right? Of course, writing something for Gnome takes more effort so the final diff isn't that big, but it feels unfair to Kubuntu users... Sure you had the first automatic codec installer, but that's about the only thing Kubuntu had first. 90% of the features you see being developed on the Ubuntu wiki aim for Gnome integration and rarely even mention KDE. Don't tell me that doesn't suck.

I don't think anyone disputes the good things done by Canonical/Kubuntu, it's about the balance. Anyway, we'll see what the future brings.


By superstoned at Sun, 02/03/2008 - 20:17

But see, this idea of fairness is a bit silly to begin with. Where does this sense of entitlement come from? There's a company that makes a product and they've decided that the version of that they want to push the hardest doesn't contain our stuff. Ok. Whatever. It'd be cool if it weren't that way. But they don't have some sort of moral obligation to use our stuff Because We're So Cool. Canonical's been good enough with working with the community that I think we at times forget that they're a company.


By Scott Wheeler at Sun, 02/03/2008 - 23:59

I think it came from the supposed outrage at Aaron Seigo for pointing out that Kubuntu and Ubuntu are not "seperate but equal" in terms of Canonical support. When of course everyone knows this and when pressed admits this. Everyone is saying the same thing and then disagreements come out from how things are spinned.


By eean at Mon, 02/04/2008 - 00:54

Where does this sense of entitlement come from?

This probably originates in the anger of being tricked into believing in a companies ability to deliver a product and services around it.

As Jonathan said there are huge installations of Kubuntu and the people responsible for the choice of distribution were tricked into believing that Canonical was actual capable of delivering enterprise level support.

I can fully understand that the message "sorry, we just wanted your money, good luck in the future" is not going to get them any positive reactions.

We can just assume that Canonical does no longer care about this enterprise level support stuff at all, their reputation in this sector has been severely damaged and people who care about reliability will move back to companies with a proven track record.


By krake at Mon, 02/04/2008 - 13:45

Those are fairly strong assertions. Do you know if any of them are based in fact? Like, are you certain that a single one of those has a support contract or does that just make the argument work better? What makes you think they're not capable of providing support for Kubuntu? Who was tricked, specifically?


By Scott Wheeler at Mon, 02/04/2008 - 16:37

First, I must say that I don't have anything against Kubuntu, and it is the most hassle-free distribution I've used. I therefore usually recommend it to people who are dipping their first toes in the linux world. But I still don't agree with all of your points.

  1. The first point is probably very wrong. KDEMOD has had their own "distribution" with kde 4.0.0 available since a bit before the release (kdemod4), and they are working on mashing and mixing together a full platform consisting of kde4 with kde3-based applications where needed, until 4.1 is released, and it isn't needed anymore.
  2. Your second bulletpoint, that you are a pure KDE distro, doesn't really say much. Both Fedora and OpenSUSE use kde applications where available if you select so. And KDEMOD consists exclusively of KDE (based) applications, except for the customized Tango icons they provide, but it is sadly not very mainstream yet.
  3. OpenSUSE have a DE-agnostic configuration interface, that can use Qt, GTK or ncurses (and probably more) frontends, depending on your need.
  4. About patches upstream, granted I'm not on very many mailing lists, and I'm not following Launchpad and kde's bugtracker closely, but from what I've seen, Kubuntu seldom provides fixes or improvements itself. But Launchpad provides excellent backtraces and other information helping in tracking down bugs. Too bad Launchpad is closed source.

  5. :D
  6. Isn't this what makes Kubuntu seem like more of a second-class citizen? Most (if not all) of the advertisement Kubuntu seem to receive, is from the community (where are the Canonical-sponsored Kubuntu billboards?). Though I must say that the free Kubuntu CD's shipped worldwide are very nice;)
    Also, on ubuntu.com's frontpage, it is listed under "Ubuntu Editions", which clearly seem to mark it as "an extra spin for those who like that sort of thing."
  7. IMHO, System Settings is bad. I have yet to see a new "convert" stay with System Settings, after having showed them KControl. Not only is a lot of KCModules missing from it, but it's imho cluttered, doesn't follow global single/double-click settings, doesn't size up properly (having to scroll down to hit "apply" is _bad_, especially when the window is almost empty), etc. It was okay for the first version of Kubuntu it was included in (and that I tried), but it seemed more of a quick hack than anything serious. And the fact that it seemingly hasn't been updated or fixed since it's first release, only makes it worse. Lastly the fact that the "settings:/"-kioslave is a much better implementation in my not so humble opinion (like, it respects my single-click settings), and existed long before System Settings, makes it rather insane.
    The Amarok automated codec installation is also nice, but imho it also seems more of a quick hack, and should have been solved otherwise (like installing it beforehand, or at least integrating it properly into Amarok, now it seems rather bolted on, with amarok oblivious to whether the installation succeeds, etc.).
  8. Good point;)
  9. Is this supposed to be a good point? Python has it's uses, and desktop tools is, imho, not one of them. I am usually quite the Python-supporter and fanatic, but I think that you'll agree that you don't want the desktop apps you rely on every day to be written by the so-called "VB"-programmers, that don't want to learn C++ (for whatever reasons).
  10. Well, who made the decision not to make the next Kubuntu version an LTS? Who decided that System Settings be default? Who decided that Dolphin (which I love, btw;) should be default over Konqueror? This an many other questions will probably remain unanswered. I also had some trouble when using Kubuntu, and wanting to see what patches was included in the kernel. The Kubuntu development process is imho still rather closed. Now I can only compare it to the distro I use on a day-to-day basis, namely Arch/KDEMOD, and the difference is striking. All the decisions are thoroughly explained on their website, and the developers/packagers are very active in the forums they have set up, and answer all kind of questions directly.
  11. How many of these were pushed through by Canonical?

The point being that Kubuntu has a lot of terrific people, working their a* off for Kubuntu, while Canonical seems rather one-sided, pushing Gnome whenever it can.
Don't get me wrong, Kubuntu is a great distribution (one of the best, imho), but Canonical shouldn't get too much of the honor.


By martin sandsmark at Sun, 02/03/2008 - 21:40

Do you have a Wiki page where all the schools, universities, organisations, etc. are listed which use Kubuntu. That would be quite intresting ;-)


By graesslin at Sun, 02/03/2008 - 22:01

> We'll be the first (out of the release schedules I can find)
> to ship KDE 4 on a distro by default. Of course 4.0 is only
> for a select audience, so there will be another CD with KDE 3.

Fedora, on the other hand, actually believes in KDE 4. We will release only days after you, which will make Fedora 9 the first big distribution to ship KDE 4 as the only version of KDE.

> We are a pure KDE distro

Yet you share many packages with Ubuntu and draw from the same repositories. Not that different from the Fedora KDE spin...

> With some other distros when you install KDE you find yourself
> using, say, a non-KDE browser.

If you install from the Fedora-KDE-Live spin, you get Konqueror (and KDE apps for practically all the other tasks, except system configuration) by default.

> Ark Linux is the only other distro I know to do this for KDE.

See above. ;-)

That said, I really respect Bernhard Rosenkränzer's work, his work on KDE on Red Hat Linux back when he was working for Red Hat is an important part of Fedora's history.

> Some other distros have to be poked into actually interacting
> with KDE (as a Dot editor I've done some of this poking).

Possible, but Fedora isn't one of these. I've committed my obvious patches straight upstream and submitted bugs.kde.org reports for the other ones, and I know our other 3 maintainers also try hard to get the patches upstreamed.

> Usually when I notice something needs a fix in KDE, I fix it
> directly because I am a KDE developer.

If I did this (for the non-obvious patches), I'd get yelled at for bypassing maintainership. For example, ossi would kill me if I committed the KDM ConsoleKit patch over his objections. ;-)

> We are marketed as our own product. It's not just an extra
> spin for those who like that sort of thing.

Yet, the latter is exactly what you are, the former is just marketing. Kubuntu is a set of packages out of the Ubuntu main repository just as Fedora-KDE-Live is a set of packages out of the Fedora repository. The fact that "apt-get install kubuntu-desktop" is all it takes to install Kubuntu on a Ubuntu machine (just as "yum groupinstall KDE" is enough to install Fedora's KDE desktop on Fedora) clearly shows this.

> We were a more open project when other distros made it hard or
> impossible to contribute packages

Fedora never made it "hard or impossible" to contribute packages to Fedora Extras, and since the Core-Extras Merge (Fedora 7), community (i.e. non-Red Hat) contributors can also maintain or comaintain packages having a core role in the distribution (which includes the core KDE packages, which are now maintained by 2 RH and 2 non-RH maintainers). While I'm not familiar with the Ubuntu processes, I believe the Core-Extras Merge actually gives us a lower barrier to entry than for Ubuntu main (which, as I explained before, is also Kubuntu main).

> Oh and the 6 monthly release schedule we've switching to,
> great stuff but why are people embarrassed about where that
> idea came from?

Fedora? We had already released Fedora Core 2 and were about to release Fedora Core 3, all on a 6 month cycle, when Warty Warthog (the first Ubuntu release) hit, and the first Kubuntu release came even 6 months later (between FC3 and FC4) with Hoary Hedgehog.


As for "KControl (a UI I've hated since KDE 1)", that's a matter of personal taste.


By Kevin Kofler at Sun, 02/03/2008 - 23:43

"Fedora 9 the first big distribution to ship KDE 4 as the only version of KDE."

I'm sorry, but that gives me the impression that Fedora-KDE is run by morons. KDE 4.0 is not mainstream-ready. It has no mail/PIM application, no CD/DVD recording application, and so on. Is Fedora 9 supposed to realize Fedora's stupid "online desktop" idea? Let its users force to use webmailers and online storage providers because nobody needs a desktop mail client and CD/DVD recording?

I do really believe that KDE 4.0 is actually a good dot-oh release but it's just a dot-oh release.


By kamikazow at Mon, 02/04/2008 - 02:30

Pages