Updated: May 23, 2016
It is time to give Kubuntu its due attention. LTS, ah, the magic word. Or at least you would think so. Five years of stability and support, not. I innocently hoped and thought this latest gen of Ubuntu would be the bee's knees, and that Xerus would surpass Trusty in terms of quality and hardware compatibility. Oh how naive I was.
Regressions, regressions everywhere. Neither Ubuntu nor Xubuntu delivered as they should, giving me a more than mediocre experience. Very troubling, and with far reaching consequences. This means I'm not really expecting much from Kubuntu today. But test I must. So let's.
No hardware issues with UEFI and Secure Boot on this be Lenovo G50 box. But then, to compensate, the running live system decided to misbehave almost immediately. There was a weird, unresizable widget in the left top corner, overlapping with the widget button, which I simply had to move to the far right side.
Notice the top and left margins. Fail.
Once I got rid of both, I had a tiny bit of sanity back. Yeah.
Next, Wireless. I provided the password in the relevant field in the Wireless menu, after springing it up from the system area, but then, there was another popup, on the desktop itself, asking me for the password, again. Clearly, a bug. To capture this moment, I used Spectacle, the new KDE tool for screenshots, and boy is it bad. It is configured by default to grab the mouse cursor but not the window decorations, and you must drop-down the save button to get to the Save As option. Also, it does not prompt on file overwrites. Purely pointless, as they say. Why. How about some consistency, chaps?
No decorations, because they are too mainstream.
Bluetooth shall follow after the install. Wireless, you've seen it above. Samba, well, it kind of worked. At first, I was not able to reach my Samba shares, but then I was, with the password challenge. I'm waiting for this shit to be finally fixed. Recent Ubuntu updates seem to have ever so slightly addressed some aspects of this bug, but not quite yet.
Samba sharing worked, but file timestamps were not preserved. Samba printing does not work, because there's no such option in the printer wizard. The legacy of suck continues with renewed gusto, because only 90% of this planet uses Windows, and that's not good enough to enable printing to Samba devices, right.
Pretty bad, I have to say. I tried three devices. To wit, iPhone was detected as a camera, but it couldn't really be opened or accessed or whatever, and it did not show in the file manager. See my tutorial on this for more details. Windows Phone, in the form of a Lumia 640, was detected, but then Dolphin could not open it. We've seen this before, and it seems that Kubuntu is keen on carrying on some crap bugs boldly forward. The only one that worked without any problems was the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Phone. Does that not bring a big, shellshocked grin to your face?
At this point, only HD video was an option. To a point, right. The rest, later.
This was a relatively simple and quiet ordeal, without any nasty surprises. Select your partitions, which is a bit tricky as they are not labeled, and then breeze through the timezone and language and user setup. The slideshow is a bit restrained, not really a slideshow, but it gets the job done, sort of. Anyhow, 20 minutes later, the system was installed.
Anyhow, Kubuntu Xerus had no trouble settling down on a GPT disk with 16 partitions, currently occupied by one Windows 10 and about 6-7 Linux distros. So far so good. Now the actual hands on wossname.
I had my system, but it wouldn't give me love, only pale shelter. When configuring Wireless, I had a completely new experience, totally different from the live session. The password thingie worked, and then I had the KDE Wallet popup. Why the hell is the flow so different? And why do you need to sour my mood?
Boy, oh boy. It all started wrongly when the system complained about not being able to configure Flash for some reason. Is this because the network was down for the first twenty seconds or what? If so, how about you make your script only run if there's network, or better, just make it work. As always, inconsistent behavior across different distributions. And no, the Wireless access point is not retained after the installation.
The new software managing your stuff is called Discover - yes, another one, and it looked decent when handling the updates. But it's absolutely terrible for searching and installing software. The GUI is just a mess. Look at all that overflowing text. Someone messed up really bad.
Text, text everywhere! WTF?
But that's not all. You have two different places where you can manage software sources, less than 200 px apart. and if that's not good enough, then your GUI will also be useless in searching for partner software, just like Ubuntu 16.04 is with its new Software. Steam and Skype are both available if you use apt-get from the command line, but they will not feature in the graphical component. Pointless. Plus, the mis-alignment of the star rating system, the reviews, the thumbnails supposed to preview and highlight applications. Why release a shoddy, badly tested product? Why? What good does it do?
Sources and Software Sources no less!
Dem ugly thumbnails - what's with all the mess behind VLC? What?
Utterly buggy and confusing. The initial discovery and pairing worked fine, but then my laptop dropped off the grid. I was not able to send any files back and forth, probably because the Ubuntu Phone does not yet support that, or for other arcane reasons. I was not able to control the playback on the smartphone either using the Bluetooth menu in Kubuntu.
Unrelated to Bluetooth, but surely related to everything else, trying to copy music onto the phone for the sake of the playback experiment resulted in timeouts, bogus errors on not being able to copy files and the MTP dying suddenly. All these despite the fact the music files were actually copied, and I could play them with glee.
Youtube was fine, with and without Flash. No problems there. I had MP3 playback, both in Amarok and Dragon, including some fancy tricks in the system area. Neat. Well, at least everything played.
The default collection is colorful and slightly erratic. You get a lot of KDE stuff, and some extras, including Firefox, KMail, GwenView, Amarok, Dragon, LibreOffice, and a whole bunch more. Tons of little tools and utilities, too. Not bad, really.
Then, I noticed that the volume button is the most confusing thing ever. Rather than give me a simple slider to control my crap, it has no less than four levers. HDMI, Ubuntu Phone, stereo, digital, analogue, I don't care. I just want to fiddle with my volume! And why is the popup non-resizable. And why is the vertical slider so wrong in terms of its size and position and all that. The proportions are just all weird.
Worked fine, without any network-related issues. Just compare to Ubuntu. In fact, I did not have any problems with the Realtek card in this distro, which only makes me all the more worried due to the inconsistency of this whole experience.
Memory utilization is at all time high, like the James Bond song - we're an all time high, doing so much more than falling in RAM. But the CPU is vewy vewy quiet. This is good, and the system is relatively fast and responsive and stable enough, apart from all the errors and bugs we've seen earlier. Memory bad, CPU, good. 1.3 GB to be exact.
At first, the battery tricked me into thinking there was enough juice for 4.5 hours, but then a few minutes later, the percentage ticked down to 98% and I only had about 2.5 hours, which is kind of disappointing. The brightness control is not aggressive enough, among other things.
There are a lot of other little issues and niggles. My eyes really got tired, because the contrast and DPI and anti-aliasing are all horrible. Then, the battery icon is horizontal, and this really annoys me.
Discovery would not remember my password - at all, so any action, no matter how immediate after the previous one would ask me to authenticate. Bam! PAM! Spectacle would not remember the last save location. And there were no Realtek issues, so I can rest unassured knowing this is all random nonsense.
I really didn't bother. I wasn't pleased or hooked enough to start exploring at any great depth, and this means no icons, nor decorations, nor extra software. I wasn't even in the mood to drag & drop shortcuts onto the panel, because I knew I was not going to be using this system. As simple as that.
There's one thing that is consistent with the Xenial family of spring disappointments. The disappointment. When one goes bad, you know they all do, and in this regard, Ubuntu LTS delivers badly across its entire range. 16.04 was meant to be sweet hope, salvation and joy, it is just a string of rushed, badly QA-ed images.
Kubuntu Xerus does not have any redeeming factors. It's pretty all right, but it's buggy, Samba support is weak, smartphone support is sub-par, package management is atrocious, battery life is just average but still much worse than the spectacularly useless Werewolf release, and there are lots of other small problems everywhere. Nothing about this particular edition oozes confidence, quality or long-term vision. Really sad. 2/10. My weekend has been ruined again, thank you. Don't bother. Bye.