Kubuntu: One Month On…

A month down the road with the System76 computer and Kubuntu. We’ve learned some lessons. I have a stable, usable system but there were some adjustments in getting there. I am still very much looking forward to purchasing a System76 laptop.

The biggest issue was dealing with the instability of Kubuntu 13.04. On a clean install Krita is unstable and unusable. At the time we thought Krita was the focal point of the graphic design system for my wife. I filed KDE bug #320094 which is being worked on. As a software QA professional it was satisfying to be able to file a bug for the issue and contribute to getting the problem fixed. However, the crashing bug made the system usable. So, I had to find something that worked.

My first thought was to install Kubuntu 12.04 LTS which is the long term support release. A more stable release that has had a year of testing and bug fixes. I installed 12.04 and discovered that there was no support for Logitech’s wireless technology. After a brief attempt at finding the software needed to make Logitech work on 12.04, I upgraded to 12.10. I was surprised to find that everything worked. Cool! So now we live on Kubuntu 12.10 which works really quite well.

We added GIMP and Inkscape to the graphics software collection. My wife is finding that GIMP is more capable and robust than Krita with the exception of actual painting type graphics work. She hasn’t yet worked much with Inkscape and there are a few other graphic applications that are probably worth a look.

I have imported about a tenth of the family photos into digiKam. I still find digiKam to be much better than iPhoto. Each account on the system has two repositories, libraries in iPhoto terms, one is user specific and the other is shared among all users. Importing photos into one or the other is easy. Meta-data is written to the image file so it is shared across all users. The images are stored in a standard Linux directory structure and are therefore accessible without digiKam, including all of the meta-data. Now that I have a working infrastructure set up, I will import the rest of the photos.

Still have not quite worked out the music software. I have been trying to make Amarok work. It has a lot of features that I like but the basic playback UI is really clumsy and confusing. You cannot just click on a song and have it play. There is this awkward playlist concept that is not really very intuitive. Clicking on song titles does not do what you expect and oftern you are not really sure what it did at all. So, still looking on that front.

I have found Amazon to be a very viable and capable replacement for iTunes. First, Amazon has a concept they call Auto-RIP. I prefer to own the physical CD. It gives me some security knowing that I have my music on physical media. However, I always rip the CDs as soon as they arrive. With Amazon’s Auto-RIP, once I have purchased the CD I can download the mp3 tracks immediately. The CD arrives later. Very nice, I like it.

Amazon also provides a cloud player service that allows users to upload their own music and then play it through the Amazon Cloud Player (available on most mobile devices and Roku). You can upload 250 songs on the free account. For the same price as iTunes Match, $25 a year, you can upload 250,000 of your own songs. According to my understanding, digital music purchased from Amazon does not count toward that 250,000.

It hasn’t been without its frustration but I am still very pleased with the transition away from Apple and Mac OS X and onto Linux. Ubuntu’s efforts in making a simple, user friendly install and update experience coupled with KDE’s elegant desktop environment really makes a very viable option.

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