Updated: July 10, 2017
Some articles serve no higher purpose. Normally, when I write, I try to achieve a goal, usually an educational one. I try to teach people or help them work around their problems, and there's usually an issue at hand, which needs a solution, or a product that mandates a review. Either way, I follow a relatively familiar and predictable pattern.
Today, I have no such agenda. I'm merely sharing how I feel about Kubuntu 17.04, which I've been using with extreme delight for the past few months. True, it still graces a test box, but the more I'm running it, the more I'm pleased with the results. Hence this article, which is nothing more than a deluge of fanboyism. Enjoy if you will.
How it all started
As you recall my original review, Kubuntu Zesty gave us a mighty, almost pro performance, with a beautiful presentation layer, a very solid base, cutting edge technology, and finally, a practical set of tools and services layered with smart ergonomics that you don't normally get in Linux distributions. A first whiff of a what could be a heavy hitter in the desktop market.
Still, there were some issues. Smartphone support was less than ideal. Package management was wonky. I've encountered some problems with the power management utility, and similar niggles. Nothing too serious, but then, I'm a picky user. All in all, a great start, but it needed some polish.
And where we are now
The kernel is now at version 4.10, and it's behaving better than ever. The network issues with the Realtek card are history. I have a blazing fast and stable Wireless connectivity, and a fully workable Bluetooth connectivity, which no other distro offers.
The aesthetic side of things remains stellar. And tiny improvements are creeping in, almost invisibly. For instance, when I first tested Zesty, the power management wizard was too high for the laptop's 1366x768px equity, and the Apply button was out of reach. This is no longer the case, however it was done and fixed. I'm asking no questions, and I let the system handle it. Indeed, it is handling it, pulling in updates silently in the background, running smooth and clean upgrades.
The new packages come with fresh solutions to old problems - and no regressions. This is a great thing. For instance, I had some small issues with my Lumia 950 phone, especially around how Kubuntu handled read and write permissions. No more. Mounting Windows Phone devices is a hassle-free experience. I am even able to copy photos directly off of the phone and onto remote machines, including Samba shares. Likewise, I can delete files from the phone's internal storage. No errors, no complaints.
Suspend & resume works fine. There are no crashes. No hiccups. The performance is excellent. The operating system is fast, breezy, refreshingly sprightly. Plasma offers an enviable level of responsiveness that you would not expect, especially not after using Gnome distros for a while, on this very same box. The one thing that is a bit slow is the boot sequence. This really takes a long time, but that's probably the only thing that I can think of as being detrimental to the overall desktop experience.
It's simple. The next serious system I'm going to build or buy will be running Kubuntu as its main asset. There might be other operating systems, but it will be powered by a Plasma flagship, preferably the next LTS. I believe this makes senses given all the changes in the distrosphere in the past 12-18 months and the expected ones over the next 9-12 months. I do have a request, though.
I must ask the KDE team not to screw this up. The worst thing that can happen is if, sometime in the near future, they release a half-arsed, semi-tested monstrosity that's gonna kill all hope and enthusiasm. There must be no regressions. And I dread the day when Qt6 waltzes in and replaces Plasma 5. Now that we've finally reached stability and quality, the vicious cycle of development could, and most likely, will disrupt things again. Hopefully, that can be avoided, or at least executed in a way that is fully transparent to the user.
Well, that was my fanboyism speech. I find Plasma to have reached a level of goodness that mirrors the glory days of Linux some 2-3 years ago. It's a shame that we had to experience the dip, but that's life. With some luck and wisdom, the next dip will be prevented. For what it's worth, Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty is a darn good release. My name is Cam Brady, and I happily approve this message. Dedoimedo, over and out.