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.


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.


Booting and Login

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


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 Integration

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



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.


Amarok and Codecs


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.


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.


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.

Tavis J. Hampton

Tavis J. Hampton is a freelance writer from Indianapolis. He is an avid user of free and open source software and strongly believes that software and knowledge should be free and accessible to all people. He enjoys reading, writing, teaching, spending time with his family, and playing with gadgets.


  1. What you’ve talked about is more a review of KDE 4 than Kubuntu. What does Kubuntu offer that would make someone (who uses KDE-centric distros like openSUSE, Mandriva etc) to switch?

    The last few versions of Kubuntu all have had an almost vanilla KDE – I might as well use Slackware.

    1. Not that much but there are some things exclusive to Kubuntu like:
      – New Kubuntu installer
      – Firefox easy installer
      – integration with KDE4

  2. I can see two things that Kubuntu has integrated into KDE4 that I don’t see in any other distro ..
    1. Indicator Display: This integrates email and chat programs and shows their status in one common place. In Kmail, there is an extra option to use the message indicator to display new emails etc. I use pidgin and it is integrated into the same icon too.

    2. Ayatana notifications: Just like the default Ubuntu, KDE4 has similar notifications but nicely integrated into native theme (Air etc). You can still choose the KDE4 notifications if you want to.

    So far, these are the two unique additions of Kubuntu to KDE4.

  3. @MadGenius, the whole point of Kubuntu (or even Ubuntu for that matter) is to create a distribution that is not disruptive to the desktop environment. Why change what already works? But when something does need improving, the Kubuntu developers send their code back upstream.

    While some other distributions have their own unique control panels and additions, Kubuntu changes often go right back into KDE. A perfect example is the System Settings feature in KDE, and the Amarok codec installer I mentioned also came from Kubuntu and has now been sent upstream into the KDE code. Therefore, asking why Kubuntu does not have non-KDE features is simply not the right question. The right question to ask is, “What has Kubuntu contributed to KDE?” and the answer is: plenty. Isn’t free software supposed to be about contributions to the community?

  4. Kubuntu has been seriously broken in past releases (see for examples), so I have doubts that Kubuntu becomes actually a polished distro.
    If Kubuntu becomes a polished distro, I applaud that. Every distro that gives KDE a good reputation is good.

  5. As a distro I find Kubuntu jaunty to be solid (and karmic too when I tried it briefly) as a member of the ubuntu family I find kubuntu to be often left out of some of the cool juice of ubuntu which enhance the user experience. Cool stuffs like xsplash, ubuntuone, software center, guest session, are all ubuntu specific and are not ported to kubuntu. Also why its cool to ship default and all its also good for a distro to have a sort of uniqueness ubuntu is not by any means a vanilla gnome. Its been given extra polish (By the ubuntu art theme) and also comes with tons of community artwork. No doubt the kde 4.3 art work is top notch still Kubuntu could also do to help polish it even further (back porting the polish upstream too) I tried the latest dev release of open suse and was blown away by the way kde was given extra polish, from walpaper to the sexy custom air theme everything looks really cool I was left wondering why we could not have such on kubuntu.

  6. Don’t beat around the Bush… face it… Kubuntu Dev’s are Noobs! They are incapable of coming up with anything new or worthy…. And people keep on blaming it on how the kubuntu team how limited resources etc etc.. b.s! I mean cmon! If a small developer community that work on Linux Mint can create and improve on things and have original ideas..(bear in mind its 1 guy on the gnome version, and 1 guy on the kde version)
    Then why can’t the KUBUNTU team do anything right?

    All they do is grab ubuntu, chuck the latest kde on there, choose what packages to chuck on it… alot of the time bad choices by putting alpha software on a new release….. and then call it Kubuntu….. Wow… 6 months wasted to make the distro their Own and give it some polish!

    1. wow furburger,that’s an angry comment.
      My Kubuntu karmic’s running great,i’m really happy with it and have a multitude of software I use along with my dual-boot Mint7.
      perhaps I’m easily pleased in comparison but I ask why don’t you use a distro you’re happy with or better yet,develop one yourself?

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