Review: Kubuntu 8.10 'Intrepid Ibex' Alpha 4 - 24/08/2008 by Andrew
Distro Review

Gaming on the Cutting Edge – Part 4

I've previously looked at Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 2, Mandriva 2009 Beta 1 (KDE4.1) and Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4. I was planning on reviewing OpenSuse 11.1 Alpha 2 next, though reading through their release notes it seems that it's too early to consider OpenSuse 11.1 Alpha 2 as a cutting edge gaming distro – the alpha issues heavily out way the benefits of accessing the new repositories. So instead, I'm going to look at Kubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4, an often overlooked distribution due to Ubuntu stealing most of the limelight (and don't forget Xubuntu, which stands in the shadow of both Ubuntu and Kubuntu).

Kubuntu 8.10 'Intrepid Ibex' Alpha 4

You're probably wondering why I'm reviewing Kubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4, when I've already reviewed Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4 – both of these distributions are looking at the same 'Intrepid Ibex' repositories and therefore have access to exactly the same kernels, proprietary drivers and games. The answer is simple; it's using KDE and not Gnome, and I don't believe Kubuntu gets the attention that they deserve. Truth be told, Kubuntu was the first of the “buntu's” that I tried and it remained my primary distribution for nearly a year (a very long time for me). Apart from the window manager and the programs that they're bundled with, the differences between the “buntu's” is extremely minimal (pretty much limited to different user groups, CDs, artwork, fanbois).

I downloaded the 700-odd megabyte download (Live CD, 64bit) and proceeded to burn a CD and fire up the good old test rig:

AMD Athlon 3200+ (2.0Ghz)
Gigabyte 939 Motherboard (GA-K8NSC-939)
2x512MB Geil DDR400 Dual Channel
Gigabyte 6600GT 256MB AGP 8x
LG DVD Burner (GSA-4163B)
Seagate 40GB 2MB cache ATA100
Onboard AC97
Logitech G15 keyboard + G5 mouse


Using the Live CD you're able to try Kubuntu out first before deciding to take the plunge and install it permanently. This gives you a good (though not exact) indication as to whether or not your hardware is up to scratch. Reviewing a distro without actually going to the effort of installation is bad form (though I've seen it regularly), so I've clicked the installation icon and proceeded through the various screens asking all the usual questions (where to install, location, keyboard, username and password). After this is completed, it's a simple matter of removing the CD and rebooting.

Desktop, Graphics and Games

As the artwork deadlines have not yet been hit, the artwork and graphics that you'll see will change quite considerably by the 31st of October, 2008. What (probably) won't change is KDE version 4.1. This new version of KDE brings about huge changes to the look and feel compared to version 3.5.x. It's also had it's fair share of criticisms and complaints since it's still not completely finished and when it was first released (version 4.0) it was looking more like an alpha snapshot than a final version. Regardless of these past issues, it's time to look forward and see what Kubuntu 8.10 will bring to the table. Well, even though this is only Alpha 4 and we've still got Alpha 5, 6, Beta and a Release Candidate to go, Kubuntu with KDE 4.1 looks great. While it might not be to everyone's tastes, it does look very cutting edge and has plenty of (sometimes unfinished) eye candy to keep you happy between games or web surfing sessions. It takes a bit of time to get used to the default arrangement though it's not badly designed, just different.

There's a few annoyances, Konqueror is the default browser and not Firefox (though 3.0.1 is available) and the deeper you dig the more style miss-matches you'll come across. Everything considered, I understand why we're needing to take a deep breath and go with KDE 4.x – you can just tell it's going to be great, it just needs a little bit more time and everyone (well, everyone who's into KDE) to get onboard. With just over two months to go before the final version, I've got great confidence that Kubuntu 8.10 will have filled in most, if not all, of the miss-matches that currently exists.

Game wise, you're looking at Nexuiz 2.4.2, OpenArena 0.7.7, Warsow 0.42, Glest 3.1.2, SuperTuxKart 0.5, Alien-arena 7.0, warzone2100 2.1.0~1.beta2 and Freedroidrpg 0.10.3, as well as a host of other games. On the application front, you have OpenOffice 2.4.1, Firefox 3.0.1, Gimp 2.4.6 and version of the kernel (well, the Ubuntu version of that kernel). Just to repeat myself, Kubuntu is looking at exactly the same repositories as Ubuntu, so if it's available in Ubuntu, it's available in Kubuntu.

Bottom Line

The big question, since Kubuntu 8.10 has the same repositories as Ubuntu 8.10, is which one to choose if you're thinking about setting up a 'buntu' Linux gaming rig. The answer is obvious; It's up to you. Do you prefer KDE over Gnome? Is KDE 4.x to your liking? Do you prefer the stability of Gnome over KDE 4.1? Or do you prefer Ubuntu as it is arguably the 'number 1' distro being used? - These are questions that only you can answer. I can say that you will, at least at this early stage, encounter more issues in Kubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4 than in Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4. I'm sure these issues will be ironed out over the next two months, though if you're wanting to have access to the Intrepid Ibex repos right now, I'd personally choose Ubuntu.

Which ever you choose, you can't really go wrong – Kubuntu is a solid distribution that is using a very cutting edge KDE. Wow your friends with the eye candy then tea bag the crap out of them in ET:QW, just turn a blind eye when an application crashes.



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30/01/2009 2:53:31 AM

Kubuntu looks nice and works well. In comparison with other distros like Mandriva and PCLOS, it's backward and fiddly to get connected to the web. I got bored after an hour of trying to get my ethernet connnection to work and went back to Mandriva. If you want to try Linux, there are much better distros out there than Ubuntu and its derivatives. I don't get why they won't even include ndiswrapper and its dependencies on the frickin' install CD. If you want wireless you have to get on the web to get the wrapper you need. Handy if you have a phone socket next to your desktop, which I don't. I forgot how irritating Ubuntu can be.

24/11/2008 9:34:35 PM

Kubuntu 8.10 in its present state is just about unusable. Freezes at every turn and setting up even the taskbar to suit ones tastes is just impossible. What a mess! When I first ran the Kubuntu 8.10 live disc I thought 'Holy Shit!' - this is the future! And I wanted a piece of it. I still do - but sadly I can't have it... I don't know how Canonical could release it in its present form.

7/11/2008 4:41:28 AM

Initially, I did not like KDE 4.1 compared to KDE 3.5 (when I upgraded from Hardy heron to Intrepid Ibex). But having tinkered with the desktop to make it look nice, I now appreciate the Favorites startup applications, the idea of widgets for the desktop (although not all of them them work perfectly, yet), and the improved Network Manager in Ibex. Intrepid Ibex also runs faster than Hardy Heron. I installed Kubuntu on several Windows XP machines disabled by rootkit malware (which Microsoft requires a hefty fee to repair), and replaced the unusable Windows Vista on others. On two laptops that have both Windows and Kubuntu installed as dual-boot options, I find myself using Kubuntu Ibex preferentially. I don't like Gnome because it is quite rigid in its presentation, hard to get used to for Windows users, and just plain ugly. Also, it doesn't have as many of programs available for it. KDE 4.1 is still developing, and there are not a wide range of widgets yet available, but the widget framework will allow an extremely flexible customization pathway. It took me a while to get used to the KDE 4.1 ideas, but it definitely is the desktop of the future.

9/09/2008 4:10:18 PM

The question of GNOME vs KDE is up to each individual user. I switched to Kubuntu because I found myself using more KDE apps, and Kubuntu looked better on my low end laptop...

2/09/2008 5:40:22 PM

Very well reviewed. I have tried out almost all Linux Distros in the past 3-4 years, Kubuntu is the one for me. I'm not a fan of Gnome, and tbh Kde4.1 is pretty stable. I know people who have used Kde4.04 in Suse 11 maybe scared of using Kde4.x anymore but trust me Kde4.1 is something new and pretty stable. The annoyances issues you have mentioned can be resolved pretty easily. As for style missmatches I have experienced it with Kde4.1 default but there's one-click install themes options in the desktop settings options, so that can be fixed too. I have high hopes for 8.10, looking forward to it. Here's my Kubuntu Hardy with Kde4.1:

Johnny Utah
31/08/2008 4:14:17 PM

Thanks for the review. I believe that after 8.10 is released, a lot of Gnome/Ubuntu users will switch over to KDE4/Kubuntu.

Dr. Asfak Motiwala
26/08/2008 12:43:07 AM

I installed lancelot menu in Kubuntu Intrepid and now my desktop looks and feels sexy. Opensuse backported some plasma features from 4.1 branch to kde 4.0 in Opensuse 11. Can't we do that in Kubuntu intrepid backporting some 4.2 implemented features of plasma. ? Anyway i am starting to love this distro and hope it becomes the best distro when Intrepid + 1 kubuntu is released with kde 4.2, digikam 10, amaraok 2, k3b 2, koffice2, konversation2 and many other native qt4 apps

25/08/2008 9:09:49 PM

Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I've continued to use Kubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4, and though the crashes have lessened (with mega updates), there are still a few crashes - noticeably more than when I gave Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 4 a run for a few days. There's still 2 months to go and I still have faith that Kubuntu 8.10 will be a top distro.

Dr. Asfak Motiwala
25/08/2008 7:01:18 PM

I am using Kubuntu intrepid alpha 4, and updated uptill today. I am using it full time. There were many alphaism in it. for e.g. adept 2.1.3 not working. Though adept 3 is probably planned for final release. Administrastion mode absent in system settings. Here you need to kdesudo systemsettings esp for login manager in system settings. I had talked to developers concerning that. This is feature lacking in kde 4.1 but planned for 4.2. I hope, developers find some way for this otherwise it might be very irritating for newbies. Alpha 4 has amarok 1.6 but with advent of beta1, the developers may opt for bleeding edge. I agree with Andrew, that though Konqueror is good, firefox must be a part of Kubuntu as Ubuntu. Historically firefox was never was, and i don't hope the dev would favour any non-qt apps in Kubuntu. Konqueror is missing many features esp search engine. This should be added by default. Kickoff menu is nice, but switching to classic menu misses shutdown button. If possible 4.1 backported version of Lancelot(though beta) added for alpha5. If buggy, remove it in RCs. Krita has been in good state in Koffice2. That too could be added. Some most wanted apps should be added to panel by the side of menu. this should include 'Show Desktop', Dolphin, Konq. There were few crashes here and there but overall it's going to be a distro i feel proud presenting to my windows crazy friends. And lastly kernel 2.6.27 and openoffice 3.0 planned in final release will make this a superb release.

24/08/2008 9:57:03 PM

I'd just like to add that this is an Alpha release - you WILL encounter bugs and application crashes. To good news is that you'll also get access to new repositories, so you'll get the latest and greatest apps and games (so who cares if things are a little rough!!).

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