The fear of the unknown impacts our decisions every day, and while that may sound a bit dramatic, believe it or not it impacts how we use our computers as well. For most of us, we want something to just work and not give us trouble. That way we can do what we want with it, when we want it. It’s this reason that I believe prevents many people from trying Linux as their operating system of choice.
So, I thought it may be helpful to many of you if I described what my first week with Kubuntu Linux was like. I believe, that once you see what it was like for me, you may be convinced that it is worth giving Linux a try.
What is Kubuntu?
You’ve probably already guessed that Kubuntu is some type of Linux. More specifically, it is a version of Ubuntu Linux produced by Canonical. This version, however, isn’t powered by the Unity graphical user interface. This version instead uses KDE. KDE is a very mature graphical user interface that has been around for quite some time now. It’s mature, easy to use, and simply gorgeous. Linux, as you may or may not know, is a completely free and open source operating system that has been developed for years by people just like you and me.
A Little Background
If you have read any of my prior articles, you already know that I’m a fan of Linux, and have used it in some capacity before. However, I have never loaded it onto a computer as the only operating system. In the past, I have always run Linux in a virtual machine or I dual booted the computer between it and Microsoft Windows.
But for the first time, I took one of my laptops and completely replaced it with Linux. This time there will be no dual booting or running a virtual machine. Well, I am considering running Windows in a virtual machine, but we will talk about that some other time, as that is the subject better left to another article all its own.
That’s why I chose Kubuntu. It’s based on the rock-solid Ubuntu Linux distribution only it runs a graphical interface that is, in my opinion, much more robust and powerful that Unity. I’m sure some Linux fans will disagree with me on this point, but I still believe KDE is much more functional and much easier to convert to if you have been using Windows exclusively.
I guess I should begin by describing the machine I decided to use as my primary Linux laptop. I have a Sony Vaio laptop that was sitting around collecting dust. It runs a second generation i5 processor along with an aging NVIDIA graphics processor. In its day, it was a beast of a machine, but it is beginning to show its age. I decided that Linux would be a way to get a little more out of it as Linux is much more lightweight when compared to Windows.
Now, some of you may agree with my last point, but not agree with the distribution I chose, as Kubuntu is more resource heavy than other distributions out there. Still, I chose Kubuntu for several reasons. I decided that I wanted the extra eye candy and features that the more advanced and resource heavy KDE brings to the table. It was a gamble, for sure, as it could have ended up being too slow. But, the gamble paid off.
First, let’s talk about the installation. Now at first I was going to start with a guide on how to install it, but I decided I should first write about my overall experience with the entire process. So, we will glance over the details of the installation for now to just discuss how it went. Don’t worry, expect a guide on how to install it coming to a new article near you very soon.
Downloading the ISO file of Kubuntu was painless and didn’t take all that long, even given how large it is. In order to install it, you must create either a DVD of the ISO or create a bootable USB to do the job. I chose the latter. Creating the USB could be considering complicated to some, but it didn’t take all that long. In fact, with just a few clicks, it was done and I was ready to install Kubuntu. Still, creating the USB was probably the most difficult part of the process.
The installation process itself was simple. You answer a few simple questions, create your new user that you will use, and then the installer does the rest of the work for you. One quick note, I recommend clicking the boxes to install third party drivers as well as download the updates during the installation. This will add to the time of the installation, but you won’t have as many updates to run when you are finished. By installing third party drivers, you could gain access to pieces of your hardware that you wouldn’t with the default installation and you will spend less time searching for drivers later.
Applications are one of the big reasons many people stick with Windows. In fact, it is these apps that keep many people from ever giving Linux a chance. But here’s the real deal with applications. First, you are correct some of the biggest applications such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite do not have Linux versions. I wish they did. However, for almost every Windows only app out there, there are three or four Linux options that you can try. For example, for Office, you can instead try OpenOffice or LibreOffice. LibreOffice comes bundled with Kubuntu and, in my opinion, is more advanced and powerful compared to OpenOffice, making it a great choice without you having to install anything.
When it comes to Photoshop and the other apps for Creative Suite, there are different apps you can try. However, in my opinion it’s tough to beat these applications from Adobe. I miss having them. Now, there are ways you can get them to run. The application known as WINE can help you do just that. Personally, I haven’t given it a try yet, but I may. That way I can use my favorite graphics programs once again.
Still, outside of that software, I was able to find suitable replacements within just a few short minutes and many of them came preinstalled with Kubuntu. Now your experience may vary, as your software requirements may differ from mine, but I think you will find everything you need if you just spend a few minutes looking for it.
Software updates are important. Not only do they give you access to the latest versions and features of the software, but they also fix bugs you may run into as well as boost the security of your laptop. Now, Linux is known to be much more secure when compared to Windows, and these updates are what keep it that way.
One thing I did notice is that there was a large round of updates after the installation. This isn’t all that surprising. There were hundreds, but I didn’t download updates during the installation. Once the final round of updates was done after the installation, I ran into updates a couple of times during the week. I didn’t have to run them right away, but I did. I figure anything I can do to beef up security and eliminate any potential bugs I may encounter is worth it.
These updates only took a few minutes to run, so you don’t have to worry about having to wait for hours for updates to finish if you do find yourself having to run them on your system. In fact, I recommend you run them on your machine any time you get the warning, unless you must access your computer right that second. Even if you do, you could always run them in the background and postpone your restart to a time that you don’t need it. Most of the updates are pretty small in the grand scheme of things so I wouldn’t worry about them taking too long or slowing your system down too much.
Will I Stick With It?
Anyone who knows me knows I like to tinker with different operating systems. Those people may be wondering if I will actually stick with Kubuntu day in and day out. The answer, at least for now, is yes. That doesn’t mean I won’t come across something better or fun to try. If I do, maybe I will replace it. Maybe not. For now I can say this: I am enjoying using Kubuntu Linux and it will do everything I need it to do. Sure, it may not be a gaming powerhouse, but that’s not what I need in a machine right now. I need a machine that will help me get things done and be fun while doing it, and Kubuntu does just that. I believe, you will have the same experience if you just give it a chance.
As you can see, my transition wasn’t too bad. The setup was flawless and finding all the software only took a few minutes after I finished the installation. All the basic software I need is there, by default. But I did have to go find a few things, like Chromium, for example. Still, it only took a few minutes and was very easy to do. Overall, I found the software that comes with the system powerful and easy to use. I do miss Photoshop on it, and I’m not as big a fan of the open-source alternatives out there. But that was really the only software I found lacking.
Overall, I have enjoyed my experience with Kubuntu and don’t mind using it as one of my primary workhorse machines. Much like Windows, everything just worked on it. I must caution you, however. While the installation was perfect on my machine and I was up and running in no time, I cannot guarantee it will be that way for you. In some cases, you may have to track down drivers for your system. It’s really hard to tell, though. You just have to jump in while being prepared to do a little work after the initial installation. In the end, it all depends on the laptop you have.
Have you given Linux a try as your main operating system of choice? If so, what was your experience like? Tell me all about it in the comments below. If you have any questions about Linux, I will do my best to answer them.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.