Preview of Kubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

The release of the newest version of Ubuntu is only 10 days away. Many sites, including MakeTechEasier have covered its pending arrival and given you a glimpse of the Beta version. Today we are going to take a look at Kubuntu, the KDE-based version of Ubuntu.

Installation

As with previous Kubuntu versions, you can install it from the desktop of the running live CD. The interface for the installation now follows KDE 4′s Oxygen Air theme and has new graphical representations of several options.

installation

Booting and Login

Booting is faster than ever, and the new KDE Air theme login window is the default.

login-screen

KDE 4.3

If you have been following my weekly posts, you already know about many of the features new in KDE 4.3. While it has been available in the 9.04 Jaunty backport repositories for some time, it will now be the default KDE version with 9.10.  Just to recap, here are some of the features new with KDE 4.3:

New Krunner features and layout

  • New desktop effects, including the slide back feature
  • New KDE games, including an Egyptian mummy theme
  • New system tray that includes an improved notification system
  • Several new plasma widgets, including one for Google Calendar

OpenOffice.org Integration

In previous versions, OpenOffice integrated with KDE 3 themes or not at all. Now, with OpenOffice.org 3.1, it is well-integrated with KDE 4 widgets and themes.

openoffice

K3b

One of KDE’s most universally loved applications was one of the last to be ported to KDE 4. Kubuntu includes an early version of K3b that is fully KDE4-based. K3b is a CD and DVD burning program. It is not clear how stable this version is, and I did not have any CDs to test it.

k3b

Amarok and Codecs

multimedia-notification

Kubuntu has long suffered from the codec discrimination that nearly all Linux distributions have endured.  Proprietary codecs that cannot be packaged with a free operating system have often left users disgruntled, sometimes even blaming the distribution developers. It has always been relatively easy to install codecs with Kubuntu, but now, starting Amarok will give you a notice that you may want to install certain additional software packages. Check the ones you want and then click “Install Selected“. This is all processed through the new update notifier, which is integrated with Kpackagekit.

Kpackagekit

This is the application installation and management software for Kubuntu. Like its predecessor Adept and the GTK version Synaptic, Kpackagekit relies on apt-get as a backend and uses the repositories listed in Apt’s sources. In Karmic, installation is even easier, and it is fully integrated with the update system and KDE’s notification system.

USB Startup Disk

Kubuntu provides an easy-to-us KDE-based program to create a Kubuntu startup disk.

Web Browser

Kubuntu has always been about options. In fact, the very existence of Kubuntu could be considered an Ubuntu option for a KDE-based distribution. Konqueror is still the default web browser for the latest Kubuntu, but the developers have added some options. For those that want a slim, lightweight, Webkit-based browser, Arora is now in the official repositories. For those die-hard Firefox fans, Kubuntu now includes a handy installation program.  When you click “Firefox installation” in the “Internet” menu, you are presented with an installation screen.

firefox-installer

Overall, Karmic Koala looks more polished than any previous Kubuntu version and probably any other KDE-based distribution to date. Nevertheless, it is still in Beta at least for another week, and an honest review will have to wait.  With this preview, however, you have a glimpse of what is on the horizon.