Monday, December 30, 2013

In search of the Best KDE Linux distro of 2013: A comparison of 19 leading KDE operating systems

KDE is possibly the most versatile desktop environment that I've used. It ships with a host of cross-platform applications designed to run on Linux, BSD, Windows, and even Mac OS X. I don't know of any other desktop environment with that capability. Today almost all major Linux distros have a KDE version and distros like OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS, Kubuntu, SolydK, PCBSD, etc. have KDE spins as their flagship distros. Also, KDE is quite similar to Windows 7 (at least superficially) and hence, finds easy acceptance among new Linux users migrating from MS Windows.

From Best KDE Distros
Like 2012, I round up the year with a comparison of the latest KDE distros and check who fared better than the others. For this analysis, I pick up 19 KDE distros, 5 from Ubuntu & it's derivatives, 4 from Debian spins, 3 from Arch spins, 3 from RedHat spins, 3 from Mandriva and 1 from Gentoo. Somehow I could not include Slackware & Slackware based distros (I didn't try them out) and Sabayon, a Gentoo derivative (didn't boot from live USB due to Nvidia driver issue, 32 bit works well but this review is limited to 64-bit distros only), in my review.

Operating System (64 bit) Size of ISO (GB) Base Desktop Linux kernel
Bridge Linux 2013.06 1 Arch KDE 4.10.4 3.12.5
Calculate Linux 13.11 KDE 2.3 Gentoo KDE 4.11.3 3.10.19
Chakra Fritz 2013.09 1.8 Arch KDE 4.11.1 3.10.10
Debian KDE 7.3.0 0.651 Debian Wheezy KDE 4.8.4 3.2.0
Fedora 20 KDE 0.928 Fedora KDE 4.11.3 3.12.5
Korora 19.1 2.4 Fedora KDE 4.11.1 3.11.2
Kubuntu 13.04 0.9371 Ubuntu Raring KDE 4.10.5 3.8.0
Kubuntu 13.10 1 Ubuntu Saucy KDE 4.11.2 3.11.0
Kwheezy 1.4 4 Debian Wheezy KDE 4.8.4 3.2.0
Mageia 3 1.4 Mandriva KDE 4.10.2 3.8.0
Manjaro 0.8.8 KDE 2 Arch KDE 4.11.3 3.10.24
Mint 15 KDE 1.4 Ubuntu Raring KDE 4.10.5 3.8.0
Mint 16 KDE 1.4 Ubuntu Saucy KDE 4.11.3 3.11.0
Neptune 3.3 1.9 Debian Wheezy KDE 4.11.2 3.10.12
Netrunner 13.06 1.4 Ubuntu Raring KDE 4.10.5 3.8.0
OpenSUSE 13.1 4.4 OpenSUSE KDE 4.11.2 3.11.6
PCLinuxOS 2013.12 1.6 Mandriva KDE 4.11.3 3.4.70
ROSA Fresh KDE R2 1.6 Mandriva KDE 4.11.3 3.10.19
Solydk 2013.11 1.6 Debian Testing KDE 4.11.3 3.10.3

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Linux Mint 16 KDE Review: With KDE 4.11.3 and offers superb performance!

It is not easy for a distro to stay number 1 in Distrowatch ranking for last 2-3 years displacing operating systems like Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, etc. And Linux Mint is doing the same release after release, each release beating previous releases in terms of functionality and performance. The latest release from Mint stable is Linux Mint 16, code named "Petra". First the Cinnamon and Mate spins got released followed by KDE and XFCE spins. I have already reviewed Cinnamon and Mate releases. In this review, I am taking up the KDE spin. I plan to write a comparison of the best XFCE releases of 2013 and plan to cover the Mint 16 XFCE there.
For this review, I downloaded the 64-bit 1.3 GB Mint 16 KDE ISO. It ships with KDE 4.11.3 and Linux kernel 3.11.0. I created a live USB using Mint Image Writer (I am currently using Mint 16 Cinnamon on my production laptop). I first did a live boot on my Asus K55VM laptop (2.3 Ghz Core i7 3610QM processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 630M) and once satisfied, installed on a 70 GB partition.

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fedora 20 "Heisenbug" KDE Review: With KDE 4.11.4 & kernel 3.12 now, bleeding edge but stable!

Honestly when I started using Linux back in 2009, I didn't like Fedora much. Ubuntu was my choice for being easy, fast and efficient. However, as I matured as a Linux user, my fondness of Fedora increased. I reviewed Fedora 19 in July 2013 and was very impressed with the performance it offered. Fedora's latest release Fedora 20 "Heisenbug", named after a bug, was released on 17-Dec-2013. This year witnessed 3 Fedora releases and having used all of them, I had built my expectations - I didn't expect anything radically different but functional incremental innovation over tried and tested desktops. I guess Fedora 20 lived up to my expectation in some aspect and not fulfill in certain others. I'll take you step by step through my experience of using Fedora 20 KDE over the last one week or so.
Fedora 20 comes in all popular flavors: KDE, GNOME 3, XFCE, LXDE and Mate. I start my review with the KDE spin, I liked it most while reviewing Fedora 19. I downloaded the 928 MB 64-bit ISO and used Mint Imagewriter to create a live USB. I did a live boot and then installed on my Asus powerhouse (K55VM, Core i7 2.3 Ghz quad core processor 3610QM, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and NVIDIA 630M GeForce hybrid graphics). 

When I installed Fedora 20 shipped with KDE 4.11.3 and kernel 3.11.10. However, 3 days ago I received update for KDE 4.11.4 and kernel got updated to 3.12.5. Think about it - Fedora users have already started using the 3.12 kernel and Ubuntu users will receive it in April 2014 once 14.04 LTS release comes out! Fedora is definitely bleeding edge!

Fedora 20 still ships with X window system and I guess we need to wait a bit for Wayland. I guess in 2014 we get to see Wayland in Fedora and Mir in Ubuntu. Anyway, being a casual user, I feel I won't even notice much difference between the two!

In this review, I start with aesthetics, hardware recognition, applications, bugs that I noted, good points that I noted and finally, performance compared to other relevant KDE distros that I've used on this machine.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Linux Deepin 2013 Review: Refreshing and Elegant but with some minor quirks!

Linux Deepin has always been a special distro to me - an Asian distro with a distinct theme and an elegant attractive interface. This Chinese distro ships with it's own home-grown desktop environment: Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE), based on GNOME 3 along with a host of goodies that makes it very usable for common Linux users. I was very impressed with the previous release 12.12.1 and once the release notes for 2013 final came out, I was more than interested to try out to check if there is any significant improvement in the appearance and/or performance of the distro.

From Linux Deepin 2013
I downloaded the 64-bit Linux Deepin 2013 ISO, about 1.3 GB in size for this test and installed on my Asus K55VM laptop with 2.3 GB Core i7 3610QM processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphics. As mentioned, Linux Deepin 2013 ships with a home-grown DDE desktop, tweaked from GNOME 3 and Linux kernel 3.8.0 and Files 3.8.1 as file manager. This version is based on Ubuntu Raring and supported till January 2014.

From Linux Deepin 2013

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Calculate Linux 13.11 Review: Gentoo Simplified and works well with Nvidia hybrid graphics!

After more than 2 years of trying out more than 200 different distros, I noticed that I haven't really cut my teeth onto a couple of Linux branches, Gentoo and Slackware, that much. I don't directly jump to Gentoo in this article but take up a Gentoo spin, Calculate Linux. It is a Russian distro based on Gentoo Linux and has a rolling release, which means that once you install you need not to re-install it again till it breaks. Calculate Linux comes in a variety of flavors (KDE, GNOME and XFCE) and ships Desktop, Server and Media Center editions. It is available in both 32 and 64-bit builds and I chose the Calculate Linux 2013.11 64-bit build KDE edition for this review.

From Calculate Linux 13.11
I created a live USB of the 2.3 GB 64-bit Calculate Linux ISO using Mint Image Writer. I used my Asus K55VM laptop (2.3 Ghz Core i7 3610QM processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphics) to try out Calculate Linux. It supports live boot and options are there to boot the full desktop, text only and load it on RAM before booting the desktop. I chose to boot the full desktop. Post live boot, I chose to install it on a 20 GB partition.

Calculate Linux 2013.11 ships with KDE 4.11.3 and Linux kernel 3.10.19. It is a rolling release distro and keeps getting updated every time. Hence, KDE version or Linux kernel version may be more advanced if you download and install after reading my review.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Linux Mint 16 "Petra" Cinnamon and Mate Review: Mint has done it again!

We have all seen Ubuntu 13.10 and the incremental improvements that it brought. Though the distro in itself was really good but it wasn't something tempting enough to actually leave Ubuntu Precise, the LTS one with support till April 2017, and adopt Ubuntu Saucy Salamander, with 6 months of support. At that point in time, I thought Mint would make it's release pretty soon. So, ultimately, on the last day of November 2013, the Linux Mint 16, named Petra, is out with it's home grown desktops, Cinnamon and Mate. I thought still 4+ months support is remaining for Saucy and hence, possibly worth trying.

Cinnamon Desktop From Linux Mint 16 Petra
I downloaded the 32-bit ISOs (with pae kernel and hence, works very well with 64 bit machines), each about 1.2 GB in size and installed them on separate partitions on my two machines:
  • Asus K55VM laptop with 2.3 Ghz Core i7 processor with 8 GB DDR3 RAM and 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M hybrid graphics
  • Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor with 2 GB DDR3 RAM and Intel HD 3000 graphics

Like Ubuntu Saucy, Linux Mint 16 ships with Linux Kernel 3.11.0 with Cinnamon 2.0 and Mate 1.6 desktop environments. Except for the difference in DE, there is little to differentiate between the two distros. First I take up the incremental improvements that are in the release notes and additional improvements that I experienced during my usage.

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