Kubuntu 24.04 review - Back in 2007

Updated: July 1, 2024

A couple of years ago, I stopped doing Linux reviews. I realized my efforts were pointless. Most distros do not want to succeed. They don't want to be big. They don't want to be in the spotlight. They prefer to be the underdog, so they can always duck into the shadows when the maturity pixies come a-callin'. Sounds harsh, but it's the cruel, sad reality. The simple fact is, today, the vast majority of distributions isn't any better than what we had 10 years back, and in many cases, they are actually worse, for a variety of reasons.

Today, I will break my own rule. I am going to write a review - sort of - of Kubuntu 24.04. I'm not doing this with a happy face. In fact, I'm seething with anger. If you've read my article on how I made an old laptop youthful again with the replacement of a mechanical disk with a solid state one, then you already know the gist of it. Yes, it should have been a happy article, but it turned into an old-school command-line and GRUB troubleshooting of totally pointless, useless, dejecting stuff. Why? Because Linux. Follow me.

Teaser

The installation

I don't like the "modern" trends of wastefulness. Lazy coding. Instead of making software small and nimble, developers create these abstract monsters that take endless GB of data. About a decade back, Ubuntu prided itself on fitting onto a CD. Ubuntu and flavors. Today, it's a whole DVD or more. Question, students, do you get 7x more functionality? Nope. Quite the opposite. You get less! Do you get better, faster boot times, despite and because of SSD? Nope. At best, you match the old HDD + init results. Amateurism galore.

Grab Kubuntu 24.04, etch it, run it. The live desktop comes with a bland wallpaper that hails back to mid-2000s. Sad really. What's the point? It's almost like someone said, I don't care, but here it is. Where's the pride? Alas.

Desktop

The default desktop - I increased the scaling to 225%, otherwise things are too tiny.

Logo

The distro logo (no less) has no transparency - and it renders badly on the Plasma gray background. I mean seriously?

The mouse cursor did not scale. It was also sluggish. I notched up the pointer speed to the max, and still, the mouse was awfully slow. I've never encountered this before, on this particular laptop. Pointless? A random regression of the day resulting from zero QA across the distro space? Yes.

Mouse pointer speed

Calamares. I don't like it. Again, today, there is no good installer in Linux. Not one. They all suck. And they are also worse than we had back in the day. For example. Ubuntu would allow you to import user profiles. SUSE had an excellent partitioner. PCLinuxOS really made sure you don't ruin your data. Now, you get these boring things that only nerds can (barely) use. Nerds building tools for nerds. The normies don't exist. The normies don't count.

Disk encryption

Notice the visual artifacts on the icon next to the text that says GPT.

I struggled figuring out how to do full-disk encryption with Calamares. I've done that before, but never with an uninitialized disk that didn't have a partition table. I actually closed the installer, partitioned the device, and tried again. Still, it wasn't easy. I'm a veteran of 20 years of using Linux, having tested hundreds upon hundreds of distros and flavors. And here we have ourselves one Cryptic-as-a-Service workflow.

Slide 1

Slide 3

The slides are blurry, probably as the images don't scale correctly into the installer wizard frame, or whatever.

The installation took four minutes. Good. The distro remembered the Wireless password from the live session. Good. Progress! The boot sequence was slow, waaaaaay slower than I expected it to be. Systemd! Progress! Modernity, at all costs!

Nvidia drivers

The desktop session was sluggish with Nouveau. I mean, it's usable but barely. Why not install proprietary drivers during the installation setup? Ah, the user should manually sweat their glands thereafter for a reduced user experience? Got it!

The biggest, the biggest offense Kubuntu 24.04 delivers is that it does NOT offer a graphical tool for the installation of proprietary drivers. It used to be called kubuntu-drivers-common or similar, and it would let you choose which graphics driver you want, wait, reboot, enjoy. Always worked flawlessly. But why include a tool that helps the end user? Nope. Let them suffer!

Instead, the 2024 distro, as opposed to the friendly versions from a decade back, comes only with a command-line tool called ubuntu-drivers-common. I used it with KDE neon before, and it's not fun. It's nerdy, it's awful, it's a solid regression every step of the way. Well, I tried it, the "recommended" autoinstall option, right.

sudo ubuntu-drivers autoinstall
udevadm hwdb is deprecated. Use systemd-hwdb instead.
udevadm hwdb is deprecated. Use systemd-hwdb instead.
udevadm hwdb is deprecated. Use systemd-hwdb instead.
udevadm hwdb is deprecated. Use systemd-hwdb instead.
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree... Done
Reading state information... Done
The following additional packages will be installed:
binutils binutils-common binutils-x86-64-linux-gnu gcc-14-base:i386...
...nvidia-compute-utils-535 nvidia-firmware-535-535.171.04 nvidia-kernel-common-535 nvidia-kernel-source-535
nvidia-prime nvidia-settings nvidia-utils-535 screen-resolution-extra xserver-xorg-video-nvidia-535

A very long list, but it seems some Nvidia drivers were included, alongside a lot of other things. Notice the warnings or errors - the deprecation message. I don't care, I'm not here to play with Python. I'm here to be an end user.

Reboot. And then what happens? I have no network, it seems the network module isn't even loaded. Thus, no easy way to go online and troubleshoot. Wunderbar. But then, notice the truncated display. Yup. For some reason, about 30-40px on the vertical axis simply dipped below this black line, as if the display dimensions and the system resolution don't quite match. Or some nonsense. The last time I encountered was when setting up Nvidia drivers in CentOS 6/7 roughly a decade back. Are you feeling nostalgic? Regression nostalgic? I bet you do.

Display, truncated

Amazing stuff. I've gone back in time, and now I'm a young grumpy dinosaur.

I wanted to blame Nvidia, so I purged the drivers, rebooted. Nouveau, same story. Amazing. A bricked experience? Nearly. I entered the GRUB boot menu, and tried a previous kernel. Luckily, this worked, and I had a normal session, graphics and network. I updated everything, and then installed only the Nvidia drivers package:

sudo apt install nvidia-driver-535

And after a reboot, things were working correctly. Now, you could say, Dedo, why did you try to install drivers before a full system update? The answer is, why not? Build a robust system, and don't expect your users to have a PhD in nerdology. How about some sanity checks? Perhaps the drivers utility should not run if the system is not up to date, hm? Or better yet, including the graphical tool - or best, install the drivers as part of the installation process! There's a revolutionary thought. Wait, we've seen this before. A decade back.

Nvidia drivers now work

The desktop experience

Average. I encountered a bunch of silly bugs. The Spectacle icon, pinned to the taskbar, became unresponsive. Wouldn't launch the program. I had to unpin it, then re-pin it. After changing the system theme, I wanted to change the menu logo. It turns out, the system could not find the Kubuntu logo anywhere. I had to manually download one myself. The battery indicator disappeared, and it only showed again after a reboot. The menu can be resized, but not always. Oh, oh, oh! The mouse pointer speed is good here, unlike the live session. Madness.

Logo

No batter indicator

Donde esta la biblioteca, I mean the battery percentage bar?

Battery indicator is back

Back after a reboot. Not nice.

The Plasma System Monitor is a useless program. Really. It's the quintessential example of everything that is wrong with so-called modern software development. First, it's a (supposed) like-for-like replacement for KSysGuard, therefore unnecessary. Second, I could understand if there's a new thing, and it offers superior experience. I would be even okay with an equivalent experience. But no. It's the whole agile-break-things 85% ready thing. The reduced OOTB functionality, extra mouse clicks you need, lower performance, believe it or not, within the program itself, and some obviously buggy things. Ergonomically, functionally, it offers nothing over the old, reliable tool. NOTHING. NOTHING!

The stacked CPU graphs piss me off. Worse, the program makes everything slow. Run it, the mouse cursor lags, the keyboard lags. I already noted this in my KDE neon Plasma 6 review on this very box, but the problem, it seems, also exists in Kubuntu, in Plasma 5.27 as well.

System monitor

You probably won't believe me, but Spectacle lagged when I tried to save a screenshot of the monitor tool. Typing the name of the image, e.g.: kubuntu-24-04-plasma-monitor, whatever, took time. I'd write a bunch of characters, and then, a good 2-3 seconds later, they would show in Spectacle's save dialog box. No such issue with any other program on the system. Believe it or not, your choice. Reported a while back. Resolved? Maybe. We shall see in my Plasma 6.1 review soon.

I decided to stop the compositor, and this yielded a nice little boost of responsiveness. On idle, the system does not consume much, only 1-2% CPU. If you do some work on the desktop, the Plasma shell task may show up in a process monitor (like top), taking 5-7% CPU. Nothing grandiose. The performance is pretty reasonable, but there's some occasional lagging here and there. Then again, you should always wait for the .1 release with any LTS distro, so the general availability bugs can be resolved, i.e., not enough testing beforehand, of course.

I would say the SSD adds a lot of oomph to the system, and cut its physical age in half. That said, the results aren't as good as I expected them. I was hoping for more speed, more vitality. But does anyone in the Linux world actually care about old hardware? Only when they need to bash Windows 11.

The default app selection is average. I added Steam, GIMP and VLC. Samba speed, average. Suspend & resume works flawlessly and quickly. My Nvidia-powered laptop can go to sleep and wake without any troubles or artifacts in Kubuntu 24.04. Great. There's no point talking about the battery. It never yielded good results on this machine, and it only has 80% of the original capacity left. We're talking 1.5-2 hours of light work, if I'm being generous. Not a distro fault in any way.

Final result

Reasonable, in the end. The journey yonder was simply unnecessary.

WIP 1

WIP 2

Steam, running with proper desktop scaling, so it's usable on the 4K display.

Conclusion

Here we are, the unhappy end. The best way to describe Kubuntu 24.04 is ... not good enough for LTS. This always happens with GA releases, because QA is boring, and everyone wants to be a hot star coder. The installer is meh, the default visuals are meh, the graphics setup was atrocious, there are way too many bugs. The worst, the worst thing is, you don't know what you'll get. If a system has 100 attributes, any one Linux will only ever satisfy 83 of those. Now, here's the clincher! For any which distro and any which release of that distro, you get a RANDOM selection of 83. Never the same set. So some things could be better than version -1, some could be worse. You never know. And this uncertainty kills me.

Imagine how I feel. I'm doing my multi-year mission of transitioning away from Windows, I want to use Linux full time so I don't need to play with Windows 11 garbage and alike, and for a while, things have been going beautifully. Then, Kubuntu 24.04 comes out and destroys my confidence. Craps on my parade. Is it worse than 22.04? So it would seem. Perhaps. Who knows? Three months from now, things will be different. How different? No one knows. Randomness abides. If only the distros were consistent - consistently good or consistently bad, I could live with that. You decide, OK, distro A offers XYZ, so you know where you stand, what you have and what you don't have. But then, there's an update, and you lose Y or Z. That's amateurish, unprofessional, silly, sad, and pointless.

Kubuntu 24.04 is my scapegoat here today, but it's EVERY distro. EVERY single one. Big, small, medium rare. Whatever. Release after release, the developers play in their sandboxes, writing code for the sake of it, enjoying their nerdy games, while the world slowly marches into the maws of corporate gulags. The perfect combo of arrogance of creating important operating systems that could change the world and the childish disdain for stability and responsibility. In a nutshell, Linux needs 100x more testing, not 100x more distros. For every developer, there should be 20 testers. Not the other around. In fact, since there are NO testers, and in the best case, the developers do the testing themselves, the actual number is zero, so the mathematics don't apply.

Yes, I know, I suck big hairy monkey balls, I don't understand open source, I'm a Microsoft shill, I'm a five-star idiot, you need to report a bug, volunteers don't have time to test, whatever, choose your preferred narrative to justify your own bubble of ignorance. The simple fact is, I want to build a reliable, mature productive future for myself with Linux, and the ecosystem prevents me from doing that. Because reliable and mature seem to be alien words. The depth of my frustration, after TWENTY years of trying to nudge Linux in the right direction, is unfathomable. The Linux desktop refuses to be nudged. The messy underdog is what it ever wants and aspires to be. Just ok, never great.

Finally, everything I wrote above may or will change. Completely. In four months, I will test, a lot of problems will be resolved, and then I will feel both happy and stupid. Like some bipolar tantrumist, who can't decide whether to love or hate Linux. But I know one thing. I'm a consistent dinosaur. I know what it takes to create a product for normal people, and I have simple expectations. After twenty years, Linux still can't meet my short list of requirements. Stability, repeatability of results. That's it. That's all. So simple, right? Kubuntu 24.04 is my latest foray into the sea of disappointment, and true to my expectations, it didn't deliver. For now, I'll keep using 22.04, and hope that something meaningful changes in the coming years. But I know it won't.

Cheers.