Kubuntu made me love linux on my surface again

I have been using Ubuntu Gnome for a long time. Then ubuntu decided to ditch unity for Gnome, at first I thought this was great news.

When Ubuntu 18.04 came along, I eagerly installed ubuntu in my surface pro 3. from the get-go things weren’t smooth. Something happened during the install that broke everything and had to re install everything from scratch.

Then there was the problem with audio, which I chronicled here https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/alsa-driver/+bug/1770429 . Even after getting that fixed then there was the annoying wifi problem that has plagued my surface since I can remember.

Every time I left my surface on for an extended period of time the wifi would drop and only a reboot would fix the problem. I tried countless “Fixes” that did little to remedy the problem.

Finally, last month I read about Plasma 4.13 and how awesome it was. I have to say, to me gnome is beautiful on the surface but plasma was not that far off. so since I had just recently updated my surface and was hating the experience, I decided to give kubuntu a try.

The install was pretty smooth ( I did a clean install to avoid any issues). So even thought the UI was hard to get used to I soldiered on. I started to miss many of the things that made gnome great ( CTRL_+ arrows to move workspaces, fullscreen search when pressing the windows key, etc ). On the second day a wonderful realization happened… I could configure Kubuntu to do the things I missed from gnome! and although they were not perfect matches, plasma offered many more features that more than made up for it.

I have to say, the learning curve was a bit steep. The rewards though were great.

So what did I live about kubuntu? here is a few of the things:

  • WiFi WORKS!!! I can’t emphasize any more how great this is. I haven’t had any issues since the install
  • The trackpad works as good as windows! this is another huge fix. Under gnome the trackpad was lacking and felt jittery. Under Plasma the trackpad feels precise, gestures work great and clicking errors are gone.
  • Touch Screen Gestures. They work great! and they are super customizable
  • Window rules. This is so genius! rules that force your windows to specific workspaces, position and size.
  • Sticky windows. being able to keep a window with you on any workspace is a game changer
  • Light weight. Plasma does not consume as much memory as gnome. On top of that the OS feels fast and responsive
  • A true task bar. I like seeing my minimized windows so this is a plus. Also you can hide active apps, so you only see minimized windows
  • Themes. Papirus icons are great!
  • The “System Tray”. This is one thing I missed from windows. Kubuntu does a great job of replicating most of the functionality. Under gnome this was so buggy, I hated it.
  • Super customizable. You can make Plasma do anything and behave in any way you can imagine. You just have to dig through all the settings.

things I wish were better:

  • The workspaces. you can make kubuntu works 99% like gnome even by displaying a worspace switcher indicator. but adding a new workspace is not as simple as in gnome and after adding one, you are stuck with the new workspace.
  • The start menu doesn’t have global search. you have to use Alt+Spacebar.
  • What’s the point of activities? seems like a waste of time and makes it confusing to figure things out. Since activities are the de-facto organizational method, it makes it hard to find workspaces when you are new to the OS.
  • Super customizable. Although this is a plus, it is also annoying to have to dig through soooo many settings

Final thoughts
Although it took me a while to get used to Plasma and even more to customize it to my needs, Kubuntu has re-ignited my love for linux on my surface pro 3. On top of better hardware support and stability, the experience from the OS is fantastic. There are some things I didn’t go over like the awesome android integration, but for the SP3 users I think I covered the most important things. I would recommend anyone with a SP3 to hurry and install Kubuntu. It will make the surface as usable as it is under windows while still being a linux machine.

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