Kubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distros, especially among those running the KDE desktop environment (DE), and for good reason.
Kubuntu is often described as the “just works” distro, earning a solid reputation for reliability and stability.
The Stable KDE Distro
Kubuntu is one of the official Ubuntu flavors but with KDE Plasma as its DE instead of Ubuntu’s default Gnome. As such, it benefits not only from the work of Ubuntu’s developers but also uses its repositories, as well as relying on Ubuntu Launchpad for bug tracking.
Since it is an official flavor, Kubuntu has the same release schedule as Ubuntu, with a Long-Term Support (LTS) release every two years and interim releases every six months.
Because it follows a definite release schedule, Kubuntu doesn’t always have the latest KDE release by default. However, the Kubuntu developers make it easy to download the latest release via PPA, so Kubuntu users can usually update to the latest KDE software shortly after a new release.
One area where Kubuntu shines is the sane defaults it ships with. Unlike some other distros with KDE Plasma, Kubuntu ships commonly used apps and doesn’t make questionable choices.
For example, unlike Fedora and openSUSE Tumbleweed, Kubuntu ships with Thunderbird instead of the truly awful KDE PIM suite. To be clear, the KDE PIM suite is a powerful email and PIM option, but it’s plagued by too much complexity and a reliance on Akonadi and a full-fledged, commercial-grade RDMS for its backend. We covered the issues this causes in our KDE Plasma review:
Another case in point is the KDE PIM Suite. In order to run the various applications comprising the suite, such as KMail, Kalendar, or Kontact, Plasma uses the Akonadi storage service with a Maria DB backend. To be clear, running something as simple as the default email client for KDE Plasma requires running a commercial-grade, multi-user database backend paired with Akonadi, a solution that is notorious for having showstopping issues that often require nuking one’s email accounts and starting over. Even if you don’t experience problems with Akonadi, it still adds significant overhead to what is otherwise a resource-efficient DE.
Given the issues with KDE PIM, it’s refreshing to see Kubuntu choose an option that is more consumer-friendly, even if it’s not a KDE app.
Vanilla Ubuntu At the Core…For Better or Worse
As an official flavor, aside from the DE, Kubuntu is vanilla Ubuntu. That means it has all the pros and cons of its parent distro. It’s nearly impossible to discuss Ubuntu’s pros or cons without discussing snaps.
Snaps are a universal packaging format that Ubuntu created, competing with Flatpak. Unlike Flatpak, however, snaps have not gained widespread adoption beyond Ubuntu-based distros, with snap apps often criticized for poor performance. Nonetheless, the format still has its fans.
Because it is an official distro, Kubuntu includes snaps by default. Whether this is good or bad will depend on your personal view of snaps. For the vast majority of users, it won’t really matter.
Should You Use Kubuntu?
Kubuntu is an excellent distro that moves at the same pace as Ubuntu and largely has the same benefits and disadvantages but with KDE Plasma. Much like Ubuntu, it is steady, stable, and almost boring in its reliability.
Kubuntu is a great choice for newcomers to Linux or for KDE fans that want a stable and reliable option.
If you want to try Kubuntu, you can check it out here.
4.5 out of 5 stars