A review gone wrong

May 4, 2010

I recently saw a review of Kubuntu 10.04 that was posted yesterday. In my opinion, this review is overly harsh of Kubuntu 10.04, and totally misses the mark by focusing by and large on things that the average user would not care about. Obviously, as a Kubuntu Core Developer I am to a degree biased. However, this doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion, nor that I cannot try to objectively respond to criticisms of Kubuntu. The review has some valid criticisms, I’ll admit, but by and large I feel that the reviewer’s subjectivity  compromised the quality of his review.

The Introduction

Ironically, the first portion of the review basically says that everything is generally solid,  polished and integrated,  stating in particular that  “[The Kubuntu installation process] should not present any problems for experienced or inexperienced users”. While this would be obvious coming from a Kubuntu developer, I agree with his sentiments. :P

Branding? Who cares?

It is then that the review goes south. Next up in his review, he says how the login screen looks “generic”. While the KDM theme could perhaps benefit from a prominent Kubuntu logo up top, we are the only that will be using this theme, at least until KDE 4.5. This is because this theme is a custom development from Kubuntu. It was created to help maintain a consistent look-and-feel with the rest of the KDE artwork for seamless integration, as well as to solve a few usability issues the previous theme had. What user would care if the login screen didn’t say “KUBUNTU™ © ® LLC,,. esq. SPONSORED BY CANONICAL LTD” in large letters across the login screen? It is a unique piece of artwork that melds in seamlessly with the rest of KDE while at the same time offering a more usable login experience. It’s also configurable. Just sayin’

Look-and-Feel

The subjectivity dial gets bumped up to eleven in the next portion of the review. The reviewer complains that the default Qt theme, Oxygen, is “bland and dull”. Hmm, guess he wouldn’t like most distributions, perhaps with the exception of Mandriva. This is totally a taste thing. Many people like Oxygen. Some don’t. You can’t justify giving a distribution a 2.5/5 for not liking the default theme, a central part of the KDE identity that 3/4 of the most used KDE distributions share. (In no particular order, Mandriva, openSUSE, Fedora and Kubuntu.) I myself don’t like Ia Ora as a Qt theme, but Mandriva is still a very solid KDE implementation that is doing some pretty neat things on the frontiers of the semantic desktop. Once again, all of this is highly configurable.

Next, the reviewer goes off on a rant about look-and-feel that I just don’t understand. In his opinion, Kubuntu, for the sake of being part of the Ubuntu family, should try its hardest to emulate Ubuntu. It is clear here that the reviewer has totally missed the purpose of Kubuntu, which is to provide an easy-to-use KDE implementation over the core of Ubuntu. A KDE implementation that mimics GNOME, while definitely possible, would totally be abandoning the design principles of KDE. A KDE implementation meant to mimic GNOME would be redundant.

While he’s at it, the reviewer goes on the “Canonical must be plastered on every bit of chrome” rant in regards to the desktop, despite the fact that there’s a nice Kubuntu logo right in the applications menu. I’d bet good money that most users of either Ubuntu or Kubuntu have never heard of Canonical, so why should they care if Canonical is not plastered everywhere? Placing a Kubuntu logo in the wallpaper would detract from the artwork, and placing a Kubuntu logo as the Kickoff button itself would cause brand pollution for the KDE brand. Average users would run the risk of confusing the KDE and Kubuntu brands, which isn’t beneficial for either party. It should be noted that we include a Kubuntu-KMenu icon in the default install for power users.

Yes, Package Mangement Sucks

For his rant about KPackageKit, I agree. In my opinion, the lack of having a dead-easy package management system is one of Kubuntu’s greatest detractions; a blemish on an otherwise very easy-to-use (but not necessary simplistic) product. Currently, we’re in a bit of a bind in regards to package management. KPackageKit is currently the only maintained KDE package manager that supports dpkg-based systems at the moment. While the PackageKit itself has become much more robust compared to a year ago, it still has several flaws by design. In addition, while the KPackageKit UI itself is not necessarily bad, it doesn’t quite compare to the ease-of-use that previous package managers such as Adept or new package managers such as the Ubuntu Software Center have. As it stands though, package management is going to be a major topic at the upcoming Ubuntu Developer’s Summit for the Maverick Meerkat cycle.  I have a bit of exciting stuff to share when that rolls around, to be sure. :)

Default Application Selection

Turning back to the review, the reviewer complains about the lack of inclusion of PiTiVi. While I admit that a video editor being installed by default would be very nice, the obvious problem with doing so is CD space. Being a GNOME app, PiTiVi would drag a bunch of GNOME dependencies on the Live CD that we don’t have room for. Language packs, for example, are a much better use of disk space than a video editor. Providing a localized desktop for as many people as possible without relying on the internet to download language support after the install is certainly a higher priority. But what really got a chuckle out of me was this quote: “If it’s available in Ubuntu 10.04 then why not have it available in Kubuntu 10.04?” The reviewer obviously failed to do his homework, as all the software available in Ubuntu is also available for Kubuntu. This is a gross inaccuracy, as PiTiVi is most definitely available for Kubuntu. Stating that PiTiVi and the Ubuntu Software Center are completely unavailable from Kubuntu (As he does on the last page) is highly ignorant and irresponsible on the part of the reviewer.

Next up, the user proclaims that there is no photo editor in Kubuntu. This is not necessarily true either, as Gwenview does offer simple photo editing features. Then, the reviewer makes a declaration that because Gwibber is not in the default install, that Kubuntu has no social networking capabilities whatsoever. This is the final nail in the coffin, showing how biased and out-of-touch the review is. Kubuntu does, and has since Kubuntu 9.10, included the KDE microblogging widget on the default desktop. The only thing I can think of, is that the widget doesn’t show on the default desktop if there is no room on the desktop for it, as can happen with small enough VirtualBox windows. A total failure in doing  the necessary homework.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this is an absolutely braindead, irresponsible, misleading and inaccurate portrayal of Kubuntu from an obviously biased reviewer who appears to be out of touch of what the average user wants. The review gives Kubuntu a 2.5 out of 5 for the reviewer not liking KDE. This is even though he barely had anything bad to say about Kubuntu other than package management, and even praised Kubuntu for integration in the areas of Firefox and restricted extras installation! I would not take this review seriously at all, as it is factually flawed and has been corrupted to the point where it is mostly unredeemable.

Perhaps I shouldn’t even validate reviews that lack any credibility such as this one with a response, but this is the first hit for “Kubuntu 10.04 review” on Google, and I had to get this off of my chest.

On that note, please enjoy Kubuntu 10.04 for what really matters: Being a solid, polished KDE implementation bringing out the best in KDE.


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