Posted on Wednesday 16th of May 2007 at 14:40 in Linux

Review of Kubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn

Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn was released some time ago now and while I reviewed it almost immediately, once again I left Kubuntu out in the cold. I (like many others) prefer KDE over Gnome so I apologise for the delay and will give it the normal treatment.

Kubuntu is the KDE equivalent of Ubuntu (which uses the Gnome environment) but while they are directly related; comparison between the two is expected but probably foolish. I've come to understand that these siblings can be anything but identical.

Taking so much from the confident Ubuntu installation, Kubuntu handles almost everything exactly the same (if not exactly...) so there are no surprises here.

kubuntu desktop

One of Ubuntu's triumphs is how comfortably it handles networking and Kubuntu is no different. My ADSL was picked up in moments and Samba shares were instantly accessible - something I consider to be a crucial bit of functionality these days. I *do* have an FTP server running in the house but I shouldn't have to use it; and I'm happy to report that Kubuntu allowed me easy access to my files. It's a nice graphical interface, no worries, concerns or stumbling blocks.

kubuntu samba

Media playback
Networking was as comfortable as expected given how well Ubuntu excells so I'm expecting media playback to be comparable too. As usual I have a DVD-Rip of Family Guy sitting on my desktop ready to be played. Opting to play the video opens Kaffeine (again, an application I'm not confident with) which simply provides a black screen as it accelerates through the 25 minute video in 5 seconds.

Not a good start. Instead I opt to use the Adept package manager to obtain another application that I am more happy with: VLC. Further testament to the ease-of-use that Adept offers means that VLC can be sourced easily, downloaded and installed automatically.

kubuntu family guy

Opting to play the video in VLC results in flawless playback; sufficient to make me wonder why VLC isn't offered as a default application. It's the most capable and (arguably) popular video player in the open-source market so why must I be offered second-best things that don't do the job properly. I'll discuss this more in my conclusion.

Applications on offer
Despite my annoyance (above) over video playback applications, the rest of your needs are quite comfortably catered for without having to use Adept. Amarok is present for your MP3 needs - which is undoubtably one of the best mp3 players available in the world. OpenOffice is here as expected but GIMP is ominously missing; as is any image editing application which I think is a major faux pas.

The 'average' user would want the ability to edit images, even if that's only in an application as basic as Paint. I find it odd that GIMP is missing considering it's free, popular and comprehensive. Sure it's not hard to obtain (as I happily proved) using Adept but it's the principle that new users shouldn't have to.

More-over, it frustrates me when Firefox isn't preloaded too because Konqueror isn't as good a browser as Firefox. They're both free so it just feels like Kubuntu isn't loaded with the best tools for the job.

kubuntu menu

General use and aesthetics
It's a good looking release (as expected) and it is massively usable. It looks nice, it handles nicely and it shares the same thriving community that benefits Ubuntu so much. It's easily as good as it's Ubuntu counterpart in my opinion. I played with it for a few hours and I could probably live here.

Although Oli from might disagree considering he spent most of today battling with Ubuntu and his confusing RAID5 array. I think the lesson from the entire situation is that testing a release is fine; living with it may reveal entirely different things altogether.

Kubuntu 7.04 is an excellent release, powerful, customisable yet strangely lacking in obvious applications. Supplying me with Kaffeine that doesn't manage common codecs directly post-install when VLC is a better alternative doesn't make sense. GIMP's ominous absence is concerning too, making me question whether Kubuntu could try and stab for the "most usable" title I discuss so frequently. It's excellent though, usable and intuitive - just with some strange decisions in terms of the offered applications. If you can use Adept (which is almost certain) then you'd get on well with this release.


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