Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 11

Updated: December 9, 2019

It's been a while since I've done one of my Slimbook CRs. Well, I've sort of run out of things to complain, but also new features that I can meaningfully test. Not to worry! New experiences, new opportunities, and once again, a new article is upon us, with fresh real-life challenges. They are out there, it just takes a bit of time finding the extra use cases.

For those of you wondering what gives, about a year back I bought a Slimbook Pro2, installed Kubuntu on it, and since started writing about my real-life, no-nonsense production-environment experiences using Linux in a way most people consume Windows, which have culminated in some ten reports so far. Well, to get up to speed, grab the last one, and then work your way back. Now, let's continue.

Teaser

Stability? In my laptop?

After a few rounds of early updates, my Kubuntu 18.04 has kind of reached a steady state. Namely, we have things that had been fixed, and then, those that will probably never be fixed, until the next Plasma LTS is released, which is rather annoying. Case in point, systray crashes, an occasional Okular crash and such.

The latest round of culprits? Krunner. And this time, I got two separate prompts, one from the Ubuntu error reporting facility and one from the KDE framework. At the same time. This feels like clutter, and there's really no reason for any duplicate functionality.

Krunner crash report

Duplicate crash prompt

Let's not forget Okular, though. I also decided to give up on using the zoom functionality.

Okular, zoom crash

What's your Moto?

Overall, the smartphone support (mount, write, etc) has improved in Plasma over the years, but you can still get an odd, inexplicable error now and then. As it happens, I needed to copy some files off a Moto G4 device, a predecessor to my recently acquired Moto G6 device, and Dolphin complained about an unspecified error. The only way to resolve this was to unplug the phone and start again. Annoying.

Moto G4 error

Some other things

I've not noticed the power management thingie in a while. Then, for some odd reason, while running Gmail in Firefox, a couple of times the browser suddenly minimized itself and switched focus to a different application, almost like an invisible Alt-Tab. This only happened a few short times, and my fingers weren't itchy or anywhere near the necessary keyboard shortcuts for this kind of action. Odd to say the least.

Not everything is bad ... far from it

One of the things that have drastically improved in Plasma - session restore. I had to do a handful of reboots recently, and I must say, each and every time, the KDE desktop came up just as it was before. The limitations are unsaved windows in Kate - which you must discard before the reboot, but if you're using Notepad++ for instance, then you get these unsaved buffers carried over sessions, too. It's a bit funny and ironic that a WINE-ed Windows app does it better than a native program.

Best of all, I had a chance to proper-test the Slimbook. Another conference, another project, another challenge. To make things even more interesting, another person with a Linux laptop was not able to connect and display their screen just moments earlier. But then I plugged the HDMI cable into the Slimbook, and without a hitch, I had two displays, or rather three view ports, two of which were showing the nice default Plasma wallpaper. I was then able to shuffle application windows around, and it worked smoothly.

Multiple displays

Then, I added a presentation clicker, which comes with its own dongle, set up Wireless and Ethernet network in parallel, I did some funky SSH stuff with a Raspberry Pi device, all of this at the same time, and again, there was no need to fiddle with system settings. Plasma did a great job of keeping to the background and providing the necessary functionality. Whatever snags came up, they were not part of the desktop environment. Very cool, and really, it redeemed the laptop from its latest slew of bugs and crashes.

The performance remains stellar, the laptop rarely heats up, and you don't get to hear the fans whirring often. The battery maintains its change - and on standby, it will sleep for two days before you must replenish the juice. Curiously, my much older Asus Vivook, which also deserves its own combat test, comes with similar battery life, but due to how it conserves power in the suspend mode, you can idle the machine for four, almost five days before it runs out. More on that separately.

Conclusion

The Slimbook remains a smart, useful choice. I am amazing that a whole year's gone by. The laptop is holding amazing well. I'm using it outside quite some, and yet, there are no scratches or dents or anything, and neither the heat nor the cold phase it, and the battery change remains full and fresh, as good as new. People are also drawn to its sleek, understated look, and often comment and ask me about the name.

Kubuntu 18.04 is also top-notch. I do have some small struggles, and I'd like to see several outstanding issues polished. But then, all in all, you get a slick, aesthetic product, it looks like something you could pay money for and feel it's the right thing to do, and overall, it's highly consistent and robust. That would be all for this episode. No great drama or fuss, which is exactly how I like my productivity. Take care.

Cheers.

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