Kubuntu is not Ubuntu

This post is supposed to make it clear why Kubuntu is what it is. Writing this down is necessary because people constantly get the wrong picture.


Let me start to explain the relationships of entities around Ubuntu.

First and foremost there is the Ubuntu project, it is this large monster that includes Ubuntu Desktop, Ubuntu Server, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu and some other stuff. One could think of the Ubuntu project as an umbrella spanning across most (semi-)official activities surrounding Ubuntu. Packaging KDE software would be such an activity, so even as Kubuntu developer you are contributor to Ubuntu at large.

This relation is even publicly visible.

At Kubuntu we have a special membership status for people who have proved themselves valuable contributors to Kubuntu. With such a membership you get an @kubuntu.org email address and some other cool things. It might not be all that apparent, but this membership reflects the relationship between Kubuntu and Ubuntu. Once someone becomes Kubuntu member they also become Ubuntu member (technically speaking are Kubuntu members a subset of Ubuntu members). This is because a Kubuntu contributor is in the end also a contributor to Ubuntu (the project, not the distribution necessarily).

Now we know that Ubuntu is one big entity that consists of other entities (like Kubuntu), but at the same time Ubuntu is also the name of the GNOME featuring desktop distribution produced by Ubuntu the project.

Up until now I was talking about Ubuntu as a project, and simply put, this project is community driven. Sure, Kubuntu and Ubuntu have people working on them full time, but there are hundreds or possibly thousands of others, spending their spare time on contributing to Ubuntu. And here the whole thing gets a bit tricky to understand.

Kubuntu is by 5/1 controlled by the community, Ubuntu (the desktop distribution) is not. You might wonder how I ended up with 5/1. Well, the Kubuntu Council (pretty much in all cases the highest authority within Kubuntu) consists of 6 members, of which 5 are not working for Canonical.

Canonical, yet another entity. Canonical is a company trying to make money with Ubuntu products. Canonical is also the company that makes Ubuntu, the project, possible. Of course we easily forget about this, but without Canonical there were no *buntu websites, no launchpad, in consequence of that there would be no build daemon, no daily CD builds of consistent manner… in general there probably would not even be the computational infrastructure to run all those things. So just the infrastructural expenses (including maintenance etc.) must be of a quite considerable amount. Now I was not completely honest with you. Canonical is not only trying to make money with Ubuntu products, in fact Canonical is driving development of most of these products (to a certain degree at the very least).

So the Ubuntu project is driven by the community AND Canonical. Some parts more by the community, and others more by Canonical. As it usually works, this means that the community can focus on the fun parts while Canonical fills the gaps of the other work that needs to be done in a distribution creating project. And this is a good thing for the better part. Most of these free contributors are doing it because it is fun or because they want to achieve a personal target (say, make a system that boots within 2 seconds), but usually not all work of the distribution creation process is fun. I suppose it goes without saying that less people would contribute if they had to spend a substantial amount of their time on rather complex and boring stuff. Yet someone needs to do it, why not someone who gets paid for it? ;-)

Of course that is a much simplified picture, but the point I am trying to make is that there is a symbiosis of the activities within the Ubuntu project.

Power and responsibility

"With great power must also come great responsibility!" is it written in the first Spider-Man story. Very true words those are, in the context of Ubuntu too. Those who have the power to stir development, must also be responsible if the direction was wrong. And I would even go as far as saying that those that are responsible must deserve the power to stir development.

What does this mean for the Ubuntu project?

Canonical chose GNOME as their preferred desktop and Debian as their preferred distribution, so they made a new distribution based on those 2 existing software stacks. Canonical sells support contracts, in fact Canonical tries to only live off those and some associated activities within or around the Ubuntu universe. So to their customers and partners they are ultimately responsible for when something goes wrong in the product. So lets assume the product is Ubuntu, the distribution, and the wrongness is that GNOME is completely broken. The customer will not go complain to the community, even though they are to a certain degree contributing to the product. The customer will go complain to the one they got a contract with, which would then be Canonical. So Canonical is responsible and thus must at least have as much power to avoid situations where they would loose substantial amount of money due to problems in the product. What I am trying to say is not that Canonical does or must have absolute control over Ubuntu, the distribution or the project, but the amount of control that is necessary to secure their business and in consequence secure the future of Ubuntu as a whole.

The picture for Kubuntu is different. Kubuntu originated in a community effort to bring the KDE desktop on the Ubuntu base stack. Canonical decided to use GNOME for their desktop and some community members decided to create another version with KDE as the desktop. Canonical apparently thought of this as a good idea and incorporated Kubuntu into the Ubuntu project, thus providing infrastructure for package building and hosting and website hosting and CD building… But they only had little interest of exploiting the business potential that comes with a KDE featuring desktop based on Ubuntu, though there certainly was some potential and so they decided to take on a bit of responsibility. Namely employing one of Kubuntu’s founding fathers full time. The community however continued to be driving in just about any aspect, and so the community also had most power over the course of development, simply because they were responsible for the product and the development of the product.

Kubuntu is not Ubuntu

This statement might seem incredibly obvious, and yet once in a while someone does not exactly understand on how many levels this applies.
Sure, on a technical level Kubuntu is not Ubuntu because it uses KDE, then again it uses the Ubuntu base stack… But more important than that are some other applications of the above statement. Kubuntu is not a large project like the Ubuntu project, it is part of the Ubuntu project and thus must obey its rules and regulations to some degree. This for example means that we cannot just stick some random non-free software on our CDs. It also means that Kubuntu is not the brand Canonical chose, but Ubuntu is, that is why the project is called Ubuntu and the distribution is called Ubuntu and associated products are somehow related to Ubuntu, possibly even reusing the brand (e.g. Ubuntu One).
Another important difference is that most changes in Kubuntu do not come from Canonical. They either originate in KDE or within the Kubuntu development community (and of that also only 2 people work for Canonical … go figure). One of the most interesting examples of wrong assumptions in this category, affecting me, was that apparently the Mozilla Firefox installer, that is available in Kubuntu 9.10 and later, was created by Canonical. At least various reviews claimed so, well, indeed it was me who created it, and I am not employee of Canonical, nor does Canonical own the code.
In general one might say that stuff going on in Kubuntu mostly does not have anything to do with Canonical, and if it does, then it is still approved or tolerated by the community.

Taking up on my above statement that those that have power must be responsible and those responsible must have power I’d like to make the following clear: the Kubuntu community has the most power and the most responsibility. Holding Canonical responsible for issues in Kubuntu, of which there are many, as within any software project, is just wrong. Because even if there was wrong doing on their part, the community still did not do anything about it.


Aforementioned statement also implies some things. First and foremost is that Kubuntu doesn’t need to receive the same attention from Canonical as Ubuntu, the distribution, gets. There is no particular point to it either. Not from Kubuntu’s perspective and neither from Canonical’s.

From a business point of view, Canonical would have to invest enough resources to make Kubuntu a viable business opportunity, that then directly competes with their other system, Ubuntu, which is the main brand carrier though. So that would be a bit of a problem, since from a perception point of view, Kubuntu is a different brand than Ubuntu (even though it might be associated, one way or another). Of course this is not exactly good for either brand because they then end up sharing volume of public attention instead of specifically trying to direct it at one particular brand.
At the same time this would mean that Canonical becomes more responsible (and thus needs more power, see above). So ultimately this would make Kubuntu less of a community effort and more of a Canonical one (to about the same degree as it is now with Ubuntu one can suppose). This then would lead to Kubuntu becoming much more derived from upstream KDE, because obviously a company would want to distinguish their product by all means from its competitors, and that involves heavy branding, special features etc.


So since Canonical does currently not exploit all business potential coming from Kubuntu, the community will probably be responsible for quite some time to come.

This ultimately means that the community will apply the rules and judgment of which they think it is the best available. Since the community is mostly consisting of people contributing in their spare time human time resource is rather limited and thus one must choose the battles carefully. In consequence this means that some things simply cannot be done. Like say Ubuntu One integration, of course it would be nice to have, but currently there are much more important things to work on. Same goes for porting Software Center. Finally it also means that the community gets to decide how much branding gets committed, and currently the opinion is to stick with KDE’s. Not only is their artwork of incredibly high quality, but also are they the biggest contributors to the Kubuntu desktop, so they deserve most credit.

On that last note I would also like to note that Kubuntu’s target was to make the best KDE distribution, not the best Ubuntu flavor, thus deriving from KDE’s artwork and color scheme would not only be in conflict with the fact that Kubuntu’s color palette is almost identical, but also with what Kubuntu is trying to achieve.

In short: Kubuntu is not Ubuntu. Occasionally blogs and news stories and bug reports assume Canonical is responsible for things they are not. In general, me and the other Kubuntu developers are responsible for Kubuntu, please keep this in mind when moaning or praising us.

Thank you.

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55 thoughts on “Kubuntu is not Ubuntu”

  1. “Of course this is not exactly good for either brand because they then end up sharing volume of public attention instead of specifically trying to direct it at one particular brand.”

    OK, I mostly agree, but if you want to be really clear about this then Kubuntu should change its name. I know that would be a major major thing, website, email etc. But it would be the best solution in the long run, because otherwise you will have to point people to this blog post for all eternity.

    1. What I don’t understand is this. If Kubuntu isn’t Ubuntu (and it obviously isn’t), what’s the point? Why not contribute to one of the KDE-centric distros (or KDE itself) rather than attempting to make a KDE-centric version of Ubuntu in which Canonical’s desktop contributions get lost. What’s left of Ubuntu that makes it uniquely better than, say, Mandriva, SUSE or PCLinuxOS (PCLOS even uses synaptic, for those that will chime in with the APT vs RPM ‘issue’).

      Don’t answer that – I think I know. There is one problem with Mandriva, SUSE, etc. Because they’re commercial distros, you’ve got to jump through more hoops to get your codecs, etc. I use Mandriva, so I can only comment about them. The extra stuff’s fully available (and not hard to get once you know where to look – easyurpmi.zarb.org), but either because Mandriva fears lawsuits, or they think they can make money selling you a version with the ‘legal’ extras, there’s no simple super package to install all this stuff yourself. Ubuntu does make that part easier (or it’s fans do). Canonical’s not trying to make money selling their desktop system, and that’s largely why they can avoid these issues (though you might not be as happy now that they’re making deals with Microsoft for searchl, etc). Anyway, once you’ve got a Mandriva system loaded up with all the goodies, it is an excellent KDE system.

      PCLOS has all the benefits of Mandriva (great admin tools, great hardware support) without the disadvantages. Also, PCLOS operates in a ‘running update’ mode. No need to reinstall from scratch every 6 months (and reload all the non-base apps you like). The only problem with PCLOS is that they were a little too slow on the uptake for KDE4. I think they’re only now switching over. Of course your opinion of the KDE4 controversy can go either way. I’ve been happy since 4.1 with Mandriva’s implementation.

      Anyway, if Canonical wanted to support KDE, they’d do it. So what is it about Ubuntu that makes the Kubuntu folks think we need it?

      1. Canonical’s Kubuntu devs also partly contribute to KDE directly. Also Mark Shuttleworth is supporting KDE on a financal level. Seriously. What more can you ask for?

      2. The deal’s with Yahoo, not Microsoft. If Yahoo having a deal with Microsoft makes Canonical dealing with Microsoft…well, I’ve got news for you. Canonical must’ve been dealing with Microsoft years ago since Canonical deals with Dell who deals with Microsoft.

  2. Hi, I’m using kubuntu for 2 weeks now (i came from gentoo), and I’ve to admit that it’s very easy to use. But it has a lot of bugs too. After i’ve upgraded (with all the repos + backports ppa) the system a lot of stuff doesn’t work anymore (internal mic, akonadi, networkmanager, kpackagekit, and probably some other stuff). So I think you should work a little more on stability of the packages, because now it’s half broken and with a lot of packages installed which i don’t know what are (i still haven’t find a file like /var/lib/portage/world under gentoo, with a list of the packages i choose to install) :(
    I though appreciate your work
    thank you

    1. Yes, I have to agree with that. This is why I, using kubuntu since Breezy, had to stop dist-upgrading since Edgy and installing everything from scratch (sure, having /home in a separate partition). Last tried again with Karmic and failed.

      That’s where I see it’s bad for Canonical and for community: sadly, it ends up not being a well finished product (bad for both) and Canonical’s name is there (nobody knows their share of participation, only that their name is there, so bad for Canonical again).

      Community would lose some control for Canonical if they have the same attention? Would. But would they, more than that, benefit from it? Sure!

    2. You arn’t going to find a file exactly, but if you have a look at the APT and dpkg tools, you can find all the info you want. a few commands to get you started:
      search for a package: apt-cache search
      list installed packages: dpkg -L (note that this also includes packages that used to be installed)
      find out what package a file came from: dpkg -S

      1. “dpkg -l” (not -L) is for listing all packages ever installed.
        “dpkg -L” lists all packages in a file
        “dpkg -S” tells you what package contains the file you give it

        And “dpkg –get-selections” will list what’s been installed & deinstalled as well.

  3. I personally think that the greatest part of the issue is due to the name itself, why don’t you guys rename the distro? You also came up with a uber-cool name “Timelord” if necessary it could be added something like “KDE SC on ubuntu basesystem”..

  4. And remember, if I break something in Kubuntu, it is Harald’s fault! No more “it is nixternal’s fault” which has been the case for almost 5 years now :)

  5. Very interesting post. I tend to agree with most of it. As it currently stands, people shouldn’t be bitching at Canonical for not giving Kubuntu a perceived amount of support. The fact of the matter is that currently, Kubuntu won’t pay the bills, and that community is mainly in charge of the distro. This is one of the things that makes Kubuntu beautiful.

    That being said, I believe that Canonical is missing out on a huge opportunity in not giving Kubuntu a bit more Canonical-sponsored grunts to help out with development. This is not to say that Kubuntu is entitled to this support, but I do believe that it would be a viable business opportunity.

    I don’t think that giving Kubuntu further development support would even hurt Canonical via branding competition. Canonical makes most of their money via support contracts. Be it for Kubuntu or Ubuntu, support contracts are support contracts. Even if they throw more devs at Kubuntu, and Kubuntu becomes popular enough to cut in to Ubuntu’s marketshare, that will be OK since Kubuntu support contracts are just as valuable.

    What would really hurt Canonical would be to risk the Kubuntu brand to us morons, (I am one of those morons ;P) and risk us letting the Kubuntu brand stagnate. Not that we the community would let this happen, of course, but if you throw people who are paid to work on Kubuntu at the project, the likelihood of this happening goes way down.

    More likely than not, users are using Kubuntu because they like KDE, and if people leave Kubuntu, they’re not likely to go to Ubuntu, but rather elsewhere. That all does hinge on the quality of the job the community does, but again, why risk it when you can assist the community and have a guaranteed win-win situation otherwise?

    So in conclusion, no, Canonical has no obligation to throw more resources than it wants to at Kubuntu, and nobody should whine that they are only supporting us as much as they are. (When you think about it, 2 full-time developers is quite generous as it is) But I think they should, as it would in no way be detrimental to do so, and in fact could even help by attracting more customers to the *buntu fold. Sure, the community and Canonical would both have to be able to adjust to be able to tolerate each other, but given our interactions in the past I’m sure that everything will be able to be worked out.

  6. I have a feeling that Kubuntu will never be a “great” distribution like Ubuntu is, as long as Canonical doesn’t start investing more interest in it, which highly is unlikely.

    Kubuntu which totally relies on few community developers plus the KDE project (as awesome as it is), can’t compete with joined forces of Canonical and Gnome project plus the Ubuntu community.

    I truly hope that, by being a part of Ubuntu project, we will gain more users, and more developers, which could compensate for the lack of Canonicals interest.

    …Kubutnu user and small (KDE) contributor since 7.10

  7. I sometimes feel that Kubuntu gets a bad rap. I’m running 10.04, which isn’t even in beta yet and it has been nearly rock-solid. When Kubuntu first switched to 4.0, there were problems. KDE wasn’t really ready yet and distros like Kubuntu that work on a fast turn-around schedule got caught between releasing the latest/greatest and something that still worked. Bad situation.

    But to continue pretending that Jaunty is representative of Kubuntu today is silly.

    @rugal — Installing a bunch of software from PPA and then complaining about a lack of system stability is similar to installing any other half-baked alpha release and then complaining about the stability. If you want stability – go with the current release. If you want the newest compile available — install from PPA. Most experienced Ubuntu users will agree – if stability is important, keep PPA usage to a minimum.

    1. @Andy Installing ppa or using the “stable” version is the same. There are bugs not present anymore upstream and the stability is just awful in kubuntu. To take two example: nepomuk and akonadi are not usable at all in any version of kubuntu (memory hungry or just crash). It’s a little bit a shame because this two technos are one of the best argument for KDE… The situation is a little bit improving but comparing to opensuse or pardus, kubuntu is really awfull!

  8. This is something most people will never get. They download and install Ubuntu, then maybe install Konqueror. How are they supposed to recognize they leave canonical’s Ubuntu land (its even in main)? If something goes wrong, they will adress canonical. This is the downside of not splitting community and enterprise versions like Fedora and RHEL.

    The best KDE distribution has to follow KDE’s release cycle (which includes minor version bumps without ppa backporting). This is impossible for Kubuntu tied so closely to Ubuntu and it’s goals which may collide with what you want to achieve. (they actualy do in this particular case)

    Decoupling Kubuntu a bit more wouldnt be a great loss for Kubuntu, most of the features generating buzz, say Ubuntu One, are not equally implemented if at all.

    Ubuntu does nice as a plattform for development and using these resources to build “the best KDE distribution” is obvious a good idea. But under the current circumstances i doubt you can achieve this. A more independent Ubuntu KDE Remix could do better.

  9. Very nice enlightening article on the different problem you face each day being a brand of associated with Ubuntu and with very little extra support from them. On the other hand I see them wondering if you’ll be able to ever catch up with the main brand (Ubuntu). That being said, If you were a nonperforming brand in the auto industry, they would do to you what Ford did with Edsel, just close it down and move forward. The difference here is you have put your K in front Ubuntu to create Kubuntu and outside the community people think your all one big happy family. Your looking at them and they’re definitely looking at you, because you both know its a unhealthy situation as it stands now. PS which I’m sure you already know.

    That also being said, what is the number one problem you both face going forward, that you both face in putting together great distributions. My opinion is that sooner or later this six month release cycles is going to explode in both your faces. Each distributions code base increases and increases and the complexities it brings to the table increases ten fold. If you don’t have the man power your only going to fall farther and farther behind in building a quality product. Wise up its your industry, get off this six month cycle and put out a real finished product. Or be like Linux Mint, use the code base and do you own thing on your own terms.

    I wish you well.

  10. Excellent write-up! … and need of the hour too! I was an openSUSE user earlier. I find kubuntu usable and no much difference between both (while using desktop). Great work developers … Keep it up!

  11. Thanks for the thoughtful post. And thanks to you and nixternal and all the other contributors for producing such a great KDE distribution.

    Also, my 8 year old HP TC1100 tablet running Kubuntu 8.10 beats the pants off an IPad any way you want to compare features. And that’s thanks to you guys and gals too.

  12. All well and good but this ignores what I’ve always seen as the major problem that I see for the idea that Ubuntu and Kubuntu are related distibutions. This is the fact that the tools for basic configuration and use are wildly different. Maybe I got spoiled in the years I used Mandrake, where the choice of environment – Gnome vs KDE vs et al – did not affect the methods used to configure and update the system.

    I actually prefer to use KDE but after shifting from Mandrake to *buntu I have no wish to learn two ways to configure every system that I set up – the Ubuntu way and the Kubuntu way. I can see that it’s good that KDE has the strength and flexiblility to handle of a lot of system configuration in its own way but the fact that the standard Ubuntu methods are just not there on a CD install means I have no choice but to only ever use Ubuntu to install and then add Kubuntu-Desktop for those users/setups who want it – i.e. so I can know that those setups can enter a Gnome session to use the Ubuntu standard tools.

    I keep being surprised that Kubuntu isn’t just Ubuntu with KDE – instead it’s something so different as to require a wholly separate amount of support knowledge. From that point of view I’m inclined to agree with the comment about changing the name – a la Mint – to clarify that knowing how to manage and use Ubuntu is no help when using Kubuntu.

    p.s. There used to be some instructions about how to add KDE to Ubuntu without arriving at Kubuntu. If that’s still possible then I’d adopt it immediately.

    1. @Odof:
      Actually, Kubuntu is using KDE’s tools, and Ubuntu is using (more or less) Gnome’s tools, while Mandriva have created a third set of tools….

      You can get KDE added to Ubuntu using the packages kde-full, kde-minimal, or kde-standard.

  13. Ubuntu desktop and Kubuntu are two separate distribution, but Kubuntu follows the rules of Ubuntu project. So Kubuntu would have to do the same amount of work of the GNOME part of Ubuntu desktop with less resources. I don’t know who decides this common rules, I guess Canonical is quite important even if Ubuntu is comunity driven.
    I don’t get why a separate distribution: if they want to be close to Ubuntu desktop, the KDE team should release only kde packages installable on Ubuntu; if they want a different distribution than they could fork ubuntu and set a release cycle appropriate to their manpower.
    Anyway Kubuntu now is good, just not as good as the commercially supported Ubuntu desktop, for obvious reason.

  14. >More likely than not, users are using Kubuntu because they like KDE, and if people leave >Kubuntu, they’re not likely to go to Ubuntu, but rather elsewhere.

    This brings back to the fact that most top distros are very, very similiar and the choice of desktops is more important than the difference of fonts, wallpapers and icons between distros.

    Do the Ubuntu taste test and you will see.
    Put the latest Ubuntu and Kubuntu on a side to side laptops and ask people to tell you what they prefer. What the people like or dont like is the desktop.
    Ive done this at LUGs, home parties and at work.

    When people/family ask me about Linux (Help, I have viruses!!!), I always offer the two desktops (XCFE is the default old hardware desktop) and dont worry about the distros.
    Show newbies two different distros using the same DE and they wont tell the difference.

    As for Kubuntu being awful, I have it installed on one of my laptops and cant say ive had bad experiences. There is a lack of polish here and there but I have no problems recommending it. My retired parents use it (dad read about Shuttleworth and that Bubuntu thing. Tried it, hated it with a passion calling it drab and depressing and changed his tune with Kubuntu.)

    I actually recommend Kubuntu to my newbie friends who have some computer knowledge (can install their own Windows and such things) and who want to be more hands on and learn about Linux as opposed to those that just want to be end users because they can use Google to find answers to most of their problems. (dont fear sudo.)

  15. There is a scene from “Andromeda Strain” when they see the organism grow. First the hemisphere shudders, inflates, deflates, and then there are multiple hemispheres. The image repeats with the colony of hemispheres. Linux in general is the growth medium. The various distributions are organisms that will feed and reproduce and grow in their own various ways. I think that we are starting to wander in a forest of our own success.

    Gnome, KDE, xfce, the raw console each are “presentation layers” that offer benefits and liabilities to those who choose to use them. We put a “work space” in our homes. For some, that is a fully equipped, very business like room and furnishings. For others, it is an easy chair and lap desk. There are hundreds of variations and combinations. It is time that we really look at our penchant for silo building whether in application suites or window managers for what they are. Each of us is differently productive within differing levels of neatness and organization for our physical world. We each want different ambiance as well. So, too, for the eye candy and other trappings we wish to wrap around the gears and motors and running rodents that are our linux workstations.

    Some of us start with the iron (or silicon &c) and work toward the end-user. Others of us start with the end-user and work to the iron. Like the hemisphers the line where these efforts meet will rise and fall. What matters most is that the organism keeps growing as a whole.

    During my 30+ year career with computers I have survived numerous user interface fads. For me, two things win the day. First, the original Unix(tm) guideline “one program. one purpose” coupled with “everything is a file.” That was easy when small RAM and expensive cycles meant that programs were necessarily small. Today, it is easy to add and layer and add until we have programs with hundreds of “moving parts.” … connected to other similar programs. Second, is the value of consistency within the user interface. During the early days of X-Windows, every application was different. We quickly added widget sets and tool-kits so that we could accomplish similar things in similar ways.

    If we simply count coup — make an X for each thing we like — about each of the available distros and user interfaces, my score sheet shows the world of KDE leading. The number of apps, the number of features, the amount of eye candy, the performance, the ease of use — all are things worth having. There is a price to be paid in terms of disk space and run time RAM. While these are not the expensive resources like the PDP-11 of early Unix, for some even that expense is excessive. They seek alternatives. Vivre la difference!

  16. This was very informative and well written. You managed to make something I had never cared to look into for fear of boredom interesting.

  17. Distributions such as Mandriva, Opensuse and Sabayon seem to be able to build both KDE and Gnome versions of their desktop with the community supporting both desktops at the same time. There is no reason Ubuntu cannot do this as they would have more resources at their disposal.

    Not sure how gnome/gtk developers they, but would be interesting to see how many upstream gnome developers are actually employed and control the direction of gnome based ubuntu. This would explain the lack of desire to see ubuntu support both desktop environments on the same level.

    Oh well my thoughts.

  18. Thanks, didn’t know that before. Thought Kubuntu is also under control by Canonical and therefore Canonical could be a responsible distributor for Ubuntu+KDE.

    Did I get it right: Kubuntu is a community effort based on Ubuntu, like e.g. Fedora is for RedHat?

    And the difference to pure Debian GNU/Linux is, that Kubuntu uses newer KDE versions to achieve a current and state-of-the-art desktop environment?



    1. Well, Ubuntu and Kubuntu both are to Canonical what Fedora is to Redhat, just that in the Ubuntu situation Canonical does not produce an enterprise version but Ubuntu already is already the enterprise version. Come to think of it, maybe this illustrates it better: Since Ubuntu is not only the community distribution but ALSO Canonical’s “enterprise version” it does not make sense to expect from Canonical that they support Kubuntu the same way they support Ubuntu. It would be like asking Redhat to support Fedora-KDE the same way they support RHEL.

      The difference to Debian is also that we use Ubuntu for the base system (Kernel, X etc.), but we try to stick as close to the Debian KDE packags as possible, and so does Uubuntu, so I suppose that equation works one way or another.

  19. Like many others, I was under the impression that Kubuntu was under Canonical umbrella. Thank you for the clarification.

    After using Suse for many years, I switched to PCLinuxOS when Novell made their agreement with MS. I switched to Kubuntu for KDE being its DE and PCLinuxOS didn’t support KDE 4.x. I understand why and would switch to PCLinuxOS now they are about to release KDE 4.x version.

    I like KDE because I believe it is and will continue to be the best DE overall. It is very active and well integrated and furnishes good support for other applications, unlike Gnome, which seems to be loosely connected together.

    I do appreciate the support Canonical offers to Kubuntu, but I like the idea that Kubuntu is not obligated or influenced by decisions made by Canonical. Deploying Mono is a big issue for me and the reason I would move to other distro (PCLinuxOS) if Kubuntu follows Ubuntu’s lead.

    Shuttleworth made good decisions when he decided to base Ubuntu on Debian. I believe dpkg/Aptitude are excellent package managers. But I really don’t think he made the right decision going with Gnome. May be he has some reasons, political or otherwise, like being able to influence the development of the DE. I believe he realized that would be pretty hard to do with KDE team.

    In my opinion, I don’t see a good reason for Kubuntu to break away at this time. But, I do think it is a good idea to change the name to something like KDELinux or simply Klinux.

    Like other companies, Canonical needs to generate revenue to survive. That is understandable and a good thing for FOSS to be able to flourish and proliferate. Without financial resources, Linux will remain a niche and wouldn’t be able to compete against a monopoly. But to fully rely on a company is not safe or good for Kubuntu. If and when Canonical grows and becomes dominant, there is no assurance that it would continue to support and furnish resources the same way it does now. Shuttleworth had a company before, which he sold it to Verizon when the right offer was made. There is no guarantee he won’t do it again. And what would happen to Kubuntu if he did?

    For that reason and to increase Kubuntu’s popularity, which might require going in directions that might not be the same as Ubuntu’s, Kubuntu developers might prefer to break away. It would be a good idea for the Kubuntu developers to strengthen their cooperation and coordination with the KDE team or even become part of it.

  20. Unfortunately, Kubuntu can’t seem to handle my HP laptop’s Intel video very well…the menu system in Karmic is broken. It worked in Jaunty, but doesn’t in Karmic–the text in the menu is impossibly huge and unusable. Thus, I went to an Ubuntu Karmic-based variant.

    Now, my laptop is about four years old (HP DV5000 series) and will be replaced later this year–but it seems curious to me that various flavors of integrated Intel video are still a problem after all this time–and that going from Jaunty to Karmic re-broke the video support. (It also didn’t work several releases ago. Apparently, fixes don’t persist from release to release.)

    It’s a pity, too–I really prefer the KDE desktop.

    I just tried the Elive (Enlightenment) version from a USB stick yesterday–and everything was detected properly and worked fine. If others can do it, surely KDE/Kubuntu should be able to?

    1. I am running Kubuntu Karmic with KDE 4.4.1 on multiple HP computers. HP/Compaq 6910p & Evo d500 and don’t have the problems you have. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall having any problems other than the performance issue with Intel graphics when they released their major changes in their driver(s). I also have a system with Nvidia Ion and works great.

      The Intel Graphics issue is well known. The latest Intel updates didn’t fix it and that is why Ubuntu 10.04 will be using a previous version of the driver that doesn’t have this problem.

      The huge text in the menu can be due to a KDE update instead of install. You can fix that by deleting .kde file in home, logout then login to let KDE create a new one.

      Kubuntu is not perfect, it has been in flux for a while due to KDE 4.x issues, which are now mostly resolved in KDE 4.4.1 and Kubuntu 10.4 will be released with. On my hardware, it has worked almost flawlessly.

  21. First, I *never* do a version upgrade. Instead, I always do a clean install of the new version, keeping my /home partition separate.

    Your laptops seem newer than this one, which could be one issue.

    I have not tried the Lucid beta as yet. Let us hope some of the issues are fixed (I also had problems with mutliple Kubuntu versions with the Intel networking adapter with WEP encryption. It seems WPA works better, however.)

    If Lucid doesn’t work, I’ll probably just go to another KDE-based distro entirely as I am very tired of fooling with the Kubuntu weirdness.

    1. keeping my /home partition separate.

      You can fix that by deleting .kde file in home,

      Sorry I didn’t explain that well. Even if you have a separate /home partition, KDE upgrade/install doesn’t update the ~/.kde file correctly. Best thing to do is to rename existing .kde to something like .kde-save and log out then log in and kde will create a new one with all defaults.

  22. I wonder what Xubuntu’s relation with Canonical is. It seems quite independent of its two siblings. Independent enough for Canonical to offer only Ubuntu and Kubuntu CDs through it’s ShipIt service, while the folks at Xubuntu had to make separate arrangements with another vendor (On-Disk.com). Am I mistakenly assuming too much, or is there some other explanation for it? Not that it bothers me much, nor that I think there’s anything necessarily wrong with it, just wondering.

  23. I just discovered kubuntu and wrote this to ubuntuforums in a topic related with the support of kubuntu by the canonical:http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=9573880

    “Till now, I was using gnome and I loved it!
    Then I tested kde 4.5rc and wow!
    This is awesome!

    What can I say?
    I could not imagine that kde is so much better than gnome.

    I will mention just 3 reasons:

    1)Tabbed AND tabbing applications!So convenient to tab an app inside another app.Simple marvelous!

    2)Different wallpapers AND different widgets in each desktop.
    I was dreaming for this to be done in gnome.It is done in KDE!

    3)Activities that give another dimension to “different wallpapers and widgets in each desktop” You have to see it to believe it!
    I have 4 different desktops in 6 different activities.

    Thus, I have 24(!) different wallpapers (and some wallpapers can be the whole earth rotating!) and 40 different widgets at the same time in one computer!
    And yes all these don’t eat my resources(at least as much as I was expecting)!
    I can run 10 different apps without lagging and my computer is a cheap acer notebook dual core with 4 giga RAM.

    Yes! kde was buggy and still has its bugs.
    Yes! kde demands relatively powerful computers and not old ones to reveal its beauty!
    Yes! it can be better!

    BUT,it is clearly the future in a manner that gnome is not…
    I still love gnome, but I adore kde!

    Ubuntu should consider to give more resources to kubuntu!
    It deserves it!

    PS Till kde 4.3, i could not run this gui in my computer…
    It failed…Unbelievable how much thing changed and kde runs so smoothly now!”

    And then I discovered this site…
    The statement is right.
    All I can say is that we as community have to help and contribute more for the kubuntu and I am willing to do so!

  24. Thanks for clarifying, apachelogger. I’ve had a few people asking me about these issues in the past week, and I was a bit foggy on some of the details. You’ve made it simple and understandable.

    I also think that Canonical/Shuttleworth are short-sighted in not supporting Kubuntu and KDE more, but by providing infrastucture and freedom, perhaps we have the best of both worlds.


  25. KDE rocks, and sadly kubuntu cant show that to the world…
    This was true one year ago, but now im starting to see a diferent, more bright future.
    Testing 10.10 and it is just AWESOME
    kudos for the kubuntu devs! keep it up!
    BTW i thought CANONICAL had 2 people working on kubuntu not one… who knows…
    offtopic: nVidia fix ur drivers!

    1. Well, Canonical has 2 people working on KDE stuff (namely Jonathan Riddell and Aurelien Gateau) , but only Jonathan is actually working on Kubuntu. Aurelien is part of the desktop experience team and is working on things like Colibiri (the alternative notifications system), the message indicator and the global app menu bar (as part of the latter he also did a lot of the work in KDE towards supporting the dbusmenu specification proposal, in case you have heared of that).

      So I would indeed say that Canonical is paying two people to contribute to the greatness of KDE software, but only Jonathan is part of the Kubuntu Council, which is what I was referring to :)

  26. “On that last note I would also like to note that Kubuntu’s target was to make the best KDE distribution, not the best Ubuntu flavor, thus deriving from KDE’s artwork and color scheme would not only be in conflict with the fact that Kubuntu’s color palette is almost identical, but also with what Kubuntu is trying to achieve.”

    Mmmh… am I missing some “not” here?
    Is really deriving from KDE artwork in conflict with what Kubuntu is trying to achieve?

    1. Well, to a certain degree it is. I mean, currently we are deriving with regards to the KDM theme since we wanted to provide a more coherent login experience. But since Kubuntu tries to be the best KDE distribution it only makes sense to ship with KDE artwork unless there is compelling reason to do otherwise, which as for KDM would be to make things better. Of course since KDE comes with superb artwork out of the box, there is little that can or needs to be improved.

      I must say the sentence is a bit fishy though.
      Let me put it that way:
      It would not make sense to change KDE’s artwork to fit in with Kubuntu’s branding because you would want to have decent branding in the form of say changing the colors, but since KDE’s and Kubuntu’s primary colors are blue there is little to gain from that. At the same time exchanging in-your-face KDE branding such as the KickOff icon to a certain degree contradicts the mission of being the best KDE distribution.

  27. Hi Apachelogger!

    I recently found this interesting post! Very good! I would translate it in italian, and publish it on my blog. By the way, I’ll link this original post. Can I do it?

    Thanks, Dario

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