KDE’s had great development over the years. The community is getting larger and more involved, and it’s getting more attention (with GSoC and Akademy). Unfortunately, it isn’t close enough to being perfect, like Ubuntu is.
For one, KDE just isn’t as stable. It doesn’t “just work”, as Ubuntu nearly does. It creates small problems now and then, and kind of loses consistency while changing themes. Installing plasmoids and widgets isn’t the most comfortable thing, and there are tons of dependencies. While installing software, it requires loads of other libraries to be installed, and while uninstalling, it takes other pieces of software with it – though this seems to be improving already.
For two, KDE isn’t consistent with its theme. Applications like Firefox, Chromium, and Skype (ugh) are written for GTK, and look completely off. Installing the required engines will get it very close, but there are small problems. The dialog boxes will still be drawn in GTK, rather than Qt, for instance. This, too, can be fixed, but trying to get everything to look the same and seamless is a huge amount of work.
For three, KDE has some unnecessary features that are actually a hindrance. The cashew, for instance (which enough people have complained about). Or the new lock screen, which is really neat, but also has a cashew that makes access kind of hard (for instance, the cashew has options that will prevent you from just moving your mouse and then typing the password). When you show the desktop grid, there’s a black background that doesn’t look very nice, and there are two big ugly buttons to add/remove virtual desktops. I’m guessing most people spend more time switching between desktops rather than adding or removing them, so that should be restricted to System Settings.
Ubuntu’s Unity, on the other hand, nearly “just works”. Using it out of the box is not a problem at all, and very rarely do you have crashes, even in non-LTS releases. Because nearly everything third-party companies write for Linux is written with GTK, it integrates well and blends in perfectly with the theme. I’m not a fan of the Launcher or the Dash or the HUD, so I keep them hidden and disable all related shortcuts (I use Alt-Tab to switch and I use Synapse, which not only combines the Dash and the HUD, but has several other features as well and is quicker).
The HUD can becoming annoying when using Alt for other reasons – for example, after pressing Alt-Left twice to go back in your browser, the HUD shows up. Alt just seems like a key used way too often to be used as a shortcut. Though, of course, this can be changed. In displaying the desktop grid, it doesn’t do a Spread Windows, which is rather important. Also, it allows windows to overlap workspaces, which is a stunningly horrible feature, and ruins productivity while switching desktops or arranging windows. The Grid (snapping windows to the sides or maximizing) is neat, but with multiple desktops, snapping to the sides is a few pixels off – there is a few pixels (maybe 2 or 3) gap between windows snapped on opposite faces, and the right-side windows goes over to the next desktop by those few pixels.
KDE is just brilliant when you need to customize. It has enough options to last a life time. It has great new software coming up and improving rapidly (Calligra Suite, Krita) and the bugs are reducing. But it just isn’t there yet, and has a long way to go – I’m sure my KDE 5 it would definitely be in my consideration again.
The customization can also be brought in Ubuntu by installing CCSM (compizcnfig-settings-manager), which is even more extensive. I still discover new plugins and options today, after using it for more than a month. It has developed mature software that is stable (Libreoffice, GIMP) which look perfect in Ubuntu, but not quite in KDE.
Some of Ubuntu’s greatest new features is being strict with system tray indicators, ensuring that they have a common interface and behavior so that clicking on something doesn’t do something you don’t expect it to. It makes it more uniform and beautiful. Also, now that I use the global menubar (like in Mac), I can never, ever, go back to having a useless taskbar with the windows. KDE, on the other hand, has a rather uniform panel. The system tray icons all behave differently, an since you can’t make it very thin, some icons get blurred because some applications don’t provide large enough icons (since they’re designed for Ubuntu).
On Kubuntu, I had very few system tray icons since I needed the space. But I realize how much I’ve been missing:
The icons are uniformly colored, have transparent backgrounds and almost all of them are spaced evenly. The ones that aren’t are from software that isn’t written by Ubuntu or Ayatana, but they’re close enough. All just a few pixels off, which will hopefully be fixed (or can be fixed using GIMP, which I’m too lazy to do).
Also, KDE’s Oxygen theme, which I used to love, doesn’t compare with Ambiance.
So I have nearly no incentive to switch back to KDE, though who knows? I never thought I’d leave KDE and use Unity. In KDE, I rejoiced because I could customize nearly anything. In Ubuntu, I realize I really don’t need to. I’m seeing a ridiculous amount of development going on in Akademy, so I’m going to make sure to check out KDE 4.11 and Kubuntu 13.10 when they release.
The biggest problem with KDE is the kerning. Ubuntu’s font rendering is simply beeeeeautiful. It’s perfect. The kerning is perfect (except in Libreoffice, but that’s their problem which they say they’re fixing soon), and weight is perfect, it’s smooth, and the font itself is so … comfortable. Sometimes I just close everything, type some random letters and just stare at them. They’re hypnotizingly wonderful. I find it hard to believe that I used Lucida Grande (Mac OS X’s default font) while I was in KDE since it didn’t render Ubuntu (Ubuntu’s default font) perfectly.
And Libreoffice improving drastically. What used to be clunky, memory hungry, and slow is now neat, judicious, and lightning quick (compared to other Office suites, anyway (including MSO))
And that’s today’s haphazardly written article with an abrupt ending.