Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 4

Updated: January 11, 2019

Still more miles under the proverbial webbed feet of me Plasmatic penguin. In other words, it's time for another combat report of my Slimbuntu journey, where hardware AKA Slimbook Pro2 meets operating system AKA Kubuntu Bionic. A nice, decent combo, if you ask me.

But there are problems, too. For 'tis a perilous journey, and there be dragons. And bugs. So we're continuing mission, to seek out new use cases and new applications, to boldly chart the productivity path. Anyway, forgive my tripping, take a look at reports one, two and three, and join me for another dash though the open-source savannah. Ahem.

Teaser

How do you feel?

Good. The experience remains strong, even though it's frayed around the edges here and there. Not big things, but small things, the devil in the detail, the really important and often neglected, possibly even unnoticeable little issues.

The system remains fast, elegant and stable sans the odd quirk. Battery life is impressive, even under heavy load. Kubuntu behaves, and I'm almost done taming it into submission. The application repertoire is reasonable, and about as good as it gets, because I'm not sure I'll be able to make any massive progress or breakthrough on the problems I've mentioned in the first three reports. Office and gaming remain the Achilles' Heel of the Linux desktop.

Nice desktop

Online Accounts

So here, I decided to try something rather audacious. Actually use the online accounts functionality all proper like and whatnot. The necessary packages (kaccounts-integration and kaccounts-providers) were installed, so that's good.

Now, the list of online accounts read much shorter than I remember six months ago. Back then, there was a whole bunch of stuff. The window is also not resizable, so when you do add an account, the left pane is all narrow, and you have a horizontal scrollbar. Not nice.

Create online account

Permissions

Authentication done

So, the Google account integration worked. Sort of. The account was integrated, but no information was presented in a way that would reflect this. No system area icon. No contacts. No calendar sync. I opened KMail, and the first thing that happened was - boom, Akonadi crash. I opened KOrganizer and had to redo the whole integration part again, via Settings > General > Calendars. After some questions and answers, it did show the online calendar, but even with the system tray icon, it never once prompted or notified me, and some items were missing from the daily schedule. Kontacts had nothing.

Akonadi crash

Eventually, I manually added Google Drive to Dolphin. At the very least, the file manager supports the gdrive:// handler, so you can type in gdrive://<email address>, and this will open your online account storage, and then you can bookmark it, if you like. However, there's nothing automatic and streamlined about this.

Gdrive

Bugses & annoyances

There was a whole bunch of new issues. Little thing, but y'know. I complained about shortcuts the last time, but I think I need to do a bit more now. First, managing shortcuts is tricky, because there are three or four different menus to do this, and some need simple key combos, while others requires that you set actions, and this isn't trivial.

There is a line for Show desktop - but not one for Minimize All Windows, which is what I prefer over the show desktop action, which merely scatters the windows into corners. I couldn't find how to configure that through the shortcuts menus, but luckily, the pinned icon itself lets you do that. Right-click, settings, and you can set the keyboard combo.

Show desktop option

Edit pinned app

Shortcuts

I still suffer from the Wireless found/not found thing, and it comes on and off. Seems resolved in KDE neon, but it is still lingering here. I am not happy about this, as I'm wasting ten odd seconds on fresh boot waiting for the network connection to fail only to succeed.

Wireless error

There's also an error in the messages about lvm whatnot. I'm not sure if this causes any boot slowdown, but I'm definitely not happy about this. I still not to debug this in detail and figure out if there's anything worth poking and fiddling.

WARNING: Failed to connect to lvmetad. Falling back to device scanning.

Tabs get occasionally re-arranged in Kate. I am tempted to go Notepad++ all the way, despite my Linux productivity journey promise. Because having to mentally reorder my tabs is a pure waste of time.

I also lost power management at some point - the screen would no longer dim, even on battery, and the system would not auto-suspend. I probably could have fixed it by restarting a service, but I rebooted instead, which is another waste of time.

The pinned Chrome icon keeps doing weird things. It gets unpinned - we're seen this. When there's a browser upgrade, the pinned app reverts to the unscaled look, which looks bad on a small HD screen. But if I launch from the menu, it starts correctly with my override flag. Re-pinning the app fixes it, but this is quite weird and inconsistent. Speaking of pinned apps, the minimize all windows one sometimes ends up with a blue line highlight, as though it's the active program in the task manager. It shouldn't do that.

I found NO way to create tab sessions in Dolphin.

Conclusion

I've said this a hundred times before. Plasma has the basics right. But the second and third and ninth order of coolness and integration is where things go wrong. Everything has to click, and it's the convoluted paths of need and necessity that bring out the worst in software. Like keyboard shortcuts or online accounts. Imagine if you could really have a seamless, transparent desktop-cloud Plasma experience? You may never want it, but the technical possibility should be there. Or a consistent stack of programs that really look and behave the same?

If I compare this experience with a typical Windows 7 box, Plasma is far less transparent. I do have to invest more time fiddling and tweaking. But then, it's also easy to forget the initial setup time and configs that I invested in every Windows machine I have ever set up. And it wasn't trivial, at all.

I am pretty sure that the intrusive interactiveness of the configuration will slowly ebb, not that I do not enjoy these reports - and hopefully they will ultimate make the Linux desktop experience better for everyone, should anyone happen to read them and take heed. So our work isn't done here. All in all, Plasma is about 93% there, but summa cum laude happens at the 100% mark. To be continued.

Cheers.

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