KDE in Ubuntu-Hardy
As a Debian/KDE user, I'd ordinarily review the KDE version (Kubuntu) of Ubuntu, but the increasingly well-known problems with stability and usability for KDE4 / 4.1-release are so severe that for productivity users, it's simply not ready for prime time and should not be released in a Linux distribution to anybody but developers. I recommend waiting until at least KDE 4.3 for anyone who actually has to use their computers for productivity applications. A desktop that is simply prettier where apps installed to the taskbar do not run after clicking on them and doesn't understand drag-and-drop is A Bad Idea.
4.0 UPDATE: The taskbar apps run properly if you start by fixing the permissions in the .kde4 directory:
$ cd /home/username $ sudo chown -R username:username .kde4
You can install applications to the desktop or taskbar from the menu; right-click the highlighted menu item, and you have a choice of installing to desktop or taskbar.
I found this out after a couple of accidents; I do not guarantee this will work for you. Note: if you want a text editor on your taskbar, install kwrite; the default kate simply will not launch from the taskbar.
Open the file manager, drag the Desktop icon onto the desktop, tell it to display Folder View, and you'll see a semi-transparent window with icons on it floating over the background. (Make the ones on the desktop disappear first.) The file and folder icons will behave normally. The fixes I found may work in other distros. Right-clicking an application in the File Manager and telling it to install to the desktop will put it on the Desktop... under the floating window. So right-click to the window and add application launcher icons as you would under KDE 3.5.
The workarounds may work in other distros, but I won't promise that they do, either.
Bottom line: KDE4/4.1 is too much work to get running for a desktop productivity user.
KDE 3.5.x Setup
KDE 3.5.x is the same old reliable workhorse it has been, with applications I've found more useful than Gnome's. (For example, Ksnapshot has many features Gnome's app lacks.) It also is considered the best desktop for people transitioning from Windows. Figure 5 shows what the desktop looks like after minor customization. The triangle in the taskbar corner is adept-update, the KDE alternative to the Gnome system updater. (If you want it, install using adept as a search term.)
Figure 5 KDE 3.5.x installed
To install KDE 3.5.x:
- Go to System > Synaptic Package Manager.
- Enter kubuntu-desktop as a search term.
- When it comes up in the application search, click Install.
- The last part of the installation will have a Debconf window asking you to choose between gdm and kdm as your default window manager. Select kdm.
- The package manager will install the rest of the KDE application. When it finishes installing, reboot.
- When you get to the new Kubuntu login screen, click the menu icon. When the menu comes up, choose Session, then select the KDE radio button.
- The next screen shows you a Make Default button. Click it and log in.
- You'll see a personalization wizard. Go through it. The printer settings that were set for you earlier will be unchanged. If you haven't installed the printer yet, plug it in. For more UI configuration, go to Start > Settings > Control Center.
The KDE screensavers appear to be a lot less resource-intensive than Gnome's. They also aren't as cool, and they almost all require OpenGL.