Kubuntu is a Linux distro with KDE that works. It actually works well enough for a Linux noob like me to install and use. So what is so special? It was easier to install then XP, that what is so special. Not that you have to install it, they offer a ‘livecd‘ that lets you try it without installing it. Just download the ISO , burn to a CD (just one CD) and boot your computer from the CD. Kubuntu will boot up an run. It was a bit slow for some tasks on my 2 year old Sony Vaio, but that might have had something to do with it running off the CD.
After booting from the CD, I was able to use the browser (Konqueror) to browse the web (my network was automatically found and configured). This was my first experience with Konqueror and I am impressed. Very nice looking tabbed browser with very nice image handling. Though it could only work with the ‘simple HTML’ version of Gmail. Not really much of a problem as I am a Firefox guy and would likely use that. And, being a noob, I wonder if there is not some way to configure Konqueror (or the system) to be able to access Gmail fully. OpenOffice is also on the live CD and worked just fine.
The desktop is beautiful and pretty easy to get around. KDE (graphical desktop environment) strikes me as somewhere between Windows and OSX. To me, it was immediately familiar and only a little foreign, but in a good way. It is certainly easier on the eyes then XP, but not as pretentious as OSX.
I also installed Kubunto on an old ThinkPad (PII 400). It is pretty slow, but still usable (if you are patient). It seems like it is about as fast as XP would be on that old of a machine. So Kubunto does not get any lite weight awards, except for the install disc which is a single CD.
I feel like I could really move over to Kubuntu, I already use a free, open source browser, email client, ftp client, and html editor. But then, I would have to leave my Adobe products behind. I am too married to that to switch. That and even though it looks nice, I have no real beef with Windows. My XP Sony works well enough, it only has the occasional issue of coming out of sleep mode. I intend to add Kubunto to my mix and play with it for a while. I already switch between Mac and PC for some apps, maybe I will find a good use for Linux too.
Two thumbs up for Kubuntu.