Muon Discover

The last time I reviewed a Kubuntu release was back in November 2011 and that was Kubuntu 11.10 (see Kubuntu 11.10 review).

For a Linux distribution that I track, that’s a long time without a review. But I remember losing interest in this distribution because I didn’t think the developers were bringing anything new to the table. Not that I could see anyway. I wasn’t especially thrilled with the design idea that influenced Muon, the graphical package manager.

But maybe the developers have had some bright ideas that they have implemented since I last played with the distribution. So I guess now’s the right time to do a quick review of the latest release, which is Kubuntu 14.10, to see if anything has changed – for better or worse.

If you’re reading this and you have no idea what Kubuntu is, it’s a Linux desktop distribution that’s based on Ubuntu Desktop. And KDE is the preferred desktop environment. Think of it as Ubuntu but with KDE and a different graphical package manager.

Like virtually all Linux distributions, Kubuntu is made available via installation images suitable for burning on a DVD or transferring to a USB stick. Don’t worry, the images tend to be just about 200 MB north of 1 GB, so they should fit on any blank DVD or USB stick that you can buy today. And because they are Live DVD/USB images, available for both 32- and 64-bit architectures, you can test-drive them before installation on your computer.

Features of Kubuntu’s graphical installation program are on par with those of its parent distribution. That means it has support for disk and home directory encryption, and LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager.

Kubuntu 14.10 graphical installer
Figure 1: Graphical installer of Kubuntu 14.10. Comes with support for LVM and disk encryption.

I’ve never attempted to set up a RAID system on any Ubuntu-based distribution, so I’m not quire sure if RAID is supported. However, it does have support for formatting partitions with the btrfs file system, a new copy on write (CoW) file system that has built-in support for multiple device and subvolumes. Even with a file system with features like those, users should still be able to configure them via the installer, so Kubuntu’s graphical installer still needs a lot of work before it can be on par, feature-wise, with that of PC-BSD, a FreeBSD distribution that uses ZFS as the default file system. ZFS has the same features of Btrfs plus a whole lot more. Unfortunately, it is distributed under a license that’s not compatible with the Linux kernel’s license.

Kubuntu 14.10 file systems
Figure 2: File systems supported by the graphical installer of Kubuntu 14.10.

The installer is UEFI-aware, though I haven’t tried to install it on any computer with UEFI firmware. I do plan on doing that soon, so stay tuned on that subject. If you have a recent Dell Inspiron desktop with Windows 8 pre-installed and you have succeeded in installing Kubuntu 14.10 alongside it, please leave a comment and tell me what specific model of Dell Inspiron you have. A recent visitor couldn’t do it with Linux Mint. (See this forum post.)

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I know the distribution is based on Ubuntu, but I didn’t expected the GRUB menu to still be displaying entries for Ubuntu.

Kubuntu 14.10 GRUB menu
Figure 3: The GRUB menu of Kubuntu 14.10. All those entries should be reading Kubuntu, not Ubuntu.

The distribution’s KDE desktop is powered by KDE 4.14.1. There’s a separate release of Kubuntu featuring a preview edition of KDE Plasma 5, the version of KDE that will replace the 4.x series. I’ve played with Plasma 5 on another distribution and it looks great. It’s definitely a huge improvement over Plasma 4. Unfortunately, it won’t be ready for prime time until sometime next year. For now, Kubuntu users will still have to make do with KDE 4.14.1 or whatever version update of the KDE 4 series becomes available. Figure 4 shows the default Kubuntu 14.10 desktop. That wallpaper is the default and the only one installed on the system.

Kubuntu 14.10 Desktop
Figure 4: Default Kubuntu 14.10 desktop. Features KDE 4.14.1.

I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the default desktop, so I downloaded several from the Internet. At least for the few hours that I had to play with the distribution, I get to use a wallpaper with some visual appeal. Not that it has any impact on the functionality of the system, but I like cool graphics. I do expect a modern operating system to have more than one wallpaper installed by default.

Kubuntu 14.10
Figure 5: Kubuntu 14.10 desktop with a different wallpaper.

Figure 6 shows the desktop with the Kickoff menu, which is the default. For a full screen menu, Homerun is an option, though the homerun package is not installed. The full name of the package is plasma-widget-homerun. That’s what needs to be installed before the Homerun widget becomes available.

Kubuntu 14.10 kickoff menu
Figure 6: The Kickoff menu on Kubuntu 14.10.

Another screenshot of the desktop with the menu showing installed Office applications.

Kubuntu 14.10 LibreOffice
Figure 7: Using the search feature of the Kickoff menu on Kubuntu 14.10.

One of the first things I do with any distribution I’m reviewing is to find out if a firewall is installed and whether the firewall comes with a graphical interface. Yes, I subscribe to the idea that every modern operating system should have a firewall enabled by default. A firewall will not solve all your security worries, but it is a basic security tool that should be made available to users out of the box. And to ease configuration, a graphical interface is a good thing to have.

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Kubuntu 14.10 comes with a firewall application, but, unfortunately, it is inactive by default. And as the search result in Figure 8 shows, a graphical interface for managing a firewall is not installed. That’s the first service I’d activate if I were going to use it on my main computer. Actually for Kubuntu, the default firewall application – ufw, is not even the best available. FirewallD, a firewall application from the Fedora project, is much better and is in the default repository. All you need to do is install it and uninstall ufw. See Replace Ufw firewall with FirewallD on Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon for help on how to get it done safely.

Kubuntu 14.10 menu search
Figure 8: Searching for installed applications from Kickoff menu on Kubuntu 14.10.

Out of the box, Kubuntu 14.10 comes with a complete suite of applications that most users will need. That includes, Firefox and LibreOffice. And for a graphical interface for managing those applications, the distribution uses Muon Discover. Figure 9 shows the application’s main interface.

Kubuntu 14.10 Muon Discover
Figure 9: Kubuntu 14.10 Muon Discover graphical package manager.

Installing and removing applications on the system using Muon Discover is pretty slick.

Kubuntu 14.10 Muon Discover remove app
Figure 10: Partial list of installed applications on Kubuntu 14.10 as seen from Muon Discover.

Most (or maybe all) of the software that can be installed from Muon Discover appear to be those with a graphical interface. I seldom using a graphical package manager for installing/removing applications, but I think if you provide a graphical package manager, it should be designed for all managing all applications, including those without a graphical interface.

Muon Discover
Figure 11: Search for installable software using Muon Discover.

That aside, Muon Discover does provide a simple interface for managing repositories, including PPA’s (Personal Package Archives).

Kubuntu 14.10 package source manager
Figure 13: Kubuntu 14.10 Muon Discover package source manager.

And for those times when updated packages are available, the updates manager does as good a job as any other in notifying you about the updates and installing them.

Kubuntu 14.10 updates manager
Figure 14: Searching on Muon Discover on Kubuntu 14.10.

KDE has improved in may respects since my last review of Kubuntu, so it’s fair to say that Kubuntu itself has improved. Muon Discover has improved too, so kudos to the developer. However, Kubuntu is not the best KDE-using distribution around. ROSA Desktop, for example, offers many more features than most KDE-using desktops. That said, Kubuntu 14.10 should be good enough for most users. If you would like to take it for a spin on your computer, installation images are available for download from here.


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16 Responses

  1. I installed this in a VM and found it very unstable. Root terminal often crashed, edeb worked about 50% of the time. I could not find a GUI to create a new user. Midori crashes when I try to rename a bookmark. When I minimize any application I can not find a way to bring it up again (I read to use the middle mouse button but I have a touchpad only). IAN is right E17 is a gimic, I am sticking with Uubuntu 12.04 LTS

  2. Sorry but bodhi-linux is not a well made distro. Nothing about it seems to be finished. E17 is really a waste of time. Nothing about it looks to be finished and then the developers move on to making another unfinished environment. No it is not smooth nor is it minimal in any way. There is just nothing there to see, or use.

  3. Thanks for the nice review. I can share my experience with some of the lightweight (Openbox & e17 based) that I have used in 2012-2013. If I just go by the numbers:
    Parameters CPU Usage RAM (MB)
    Puppy/AntiX 12 1-5% 75
    Archbang 1-5% 75
    Bodhi 2.2.0 1-5% 80
    Bridge LXDE 1-5% 80
    Snowlinux 4 XFCE 1-5% 90
    Sparkylinux 2.1 Openbox 1-5% 90
    Manjaro 0.8.3 Openbox 1-5% 100
    Snowlinux 4 Glacier e17 1-5% 110
    Lubuntu 12.04 1-5% 120
    All these usage results are from the same system that I use for Linux distro testing and they reflect the resource usage to boot the desktop environment.

    Definitely Bodhi 2.2.0 is one of the better lightweight distros I have seen, buttery smooth to use and gives a full DE feeling with some cool subtle effects (with compositing running). Aesthetically e17 is much better than Openbox or IceWM/JWM.

    Further I compared the newly released Snowlinux 4 e17 and Bodhi 2.2.0 and undoubtedly Bodhi is way ahead of the Snowlinux spin in aesthetics as well as performance.

    I am using Bodhi in my Asus EeePC 1101HA with 1 GB RAM. I downloaded the Nikhil package and installed Skype 4.1 from external sources. It is superfast and gives amazing performance even on very modest specs.


  4. Interesting to see a number of Bodhi reviews lately. The thing for me, though, is that as an Ubuntu Unity user, the whole idea of menu-driven selection is simply now an outdated paradigm, no matter how artistic the implementation. I just don’t use menus to select or launch programs anymore, and to go back to that seems slow and painful now.

    1. Use super+space and the everything launcher pops up, and you can search the web, files and apps. Pretty much the same as the unity lenses.

  5. ***”A minimalist distribution does not present a very good candidate for the type of reviews I normally write,”***

    You should have stopped right there and skipped it. Since your opinion on minimalist distros is clearly expressed, why even bother. I like your stuff and I’m not trying troll,but stick to what you like. You like the kitchen sink style distros, then let that be your niche. You don’t have to be all things to all people. Been reading your stuff for a while now, I think I can tell a throw away article when I see it.

    1. But just because it’s not my thing does not mean I can’t ell others what it offers. I made that very clear.

      And saying that I don’t like it for the type of computing I do is not the same as saying it’s bad.

  6. In response to ian’s comment:

    Would you please give us a reason why you think E17 is dead? “E17 is dead dude” sounds like an opinion and not a statement of fact.

    Like with much in the Open Source/Free Software world, there are many options. If you don’t like E17, don’t use it. I love E17 and have used it for years. I have a friend that swears by Gnome. Personally, I can’t stand it. Doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means that I don’t like it.

  7. Yeah, it’s fun to play with for a few minutes but I can’t really see any point in it. E17 is a really tough one for me to make an opinion on. It’s great that you can easily change between lots and lots of themes. Nice. It’s fast and seems fairly stable although I haven’t spent much time using it. Some people think it looks outdated but to me I think it looks pretty awesome. There’s just something that doesn’t feel right about E17 but I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly.

  8. A nice review. As Bodhi is a minimalist distribution you might have provided more information on what kind of performance a user might expect. On my laptop it only uses 85-90 MB of memory at idle, with compositing enabled. That indicates real speed. That would be a counterpart to the perceived hassle of not having everything included out of the box.

    1. I didn’t give hard numbers, but I did write that “Enlightenment is a desktop environment designed to run on high-end and low-resource computers.”

      For the record, on a test system, at idle, memory usage registers at 405 MB, with 295 MB cached.

      But that’s at idle. Those numbers go up when you start you start opening applications.

      1. Something must be wrong with your configuration then… right now with firefox (multiple tabs) open, xchat, gajim, and the bluetooth daemon running it’s sitting at about the same numbers you have. 377 cached instead, but total memory usage is not significantly different, on a system with 2GB of RAM.

        Anyway… what I wanted to comment on was that you should check the appcenter, at, or by clicking on the desktop, going to Bodhi Linux, and then “Add Software”. You only need 1 package if you want a kitchen sink distro:

        Or if you prefer the same basic functionality but with lighter system requirements,

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