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KDE vs Unity: Is KDE Better Than Unity?

I have been using KDE under openSUSE for a while now, and for the first time in my life started to love KDE. Last night I went on a test driver and installed couple of KDE centric distributions including Mageia and Mandriva just for the sake of comparison.

These two distributions showed what wonders can be done with KDE, if integrated well. The moment I booted into Kubuntu, I realised why Kubuntu is so low in Distrowatch (at 27). This is ironic because the 26 spots are dominated by KDE centric distros such as Mageia, PCLinuxOS, Chakra, Mandriva, etc.

I have started to love KDE and there are practical reasons behind it. The reason why moved away from Unity is well expressed in various articles. So, when I was playing with different distributions last night I thought of giving Unity a try and see how useful it is for me when it is only a month away from an LTS release. Here is what I found. I reached out to Nekhelesh Ramananthan, our Ubuntu editor, to counter some of my points. His comments are included in this articles.

After playing with Unity for a while I can clearly see that Unity is shaping up as a great shell. It is one of the most polished shell. The integration with the rest of the OS is amazing. The team has done a great job in sanding the rough edges and turning it into an appealing product. Now I know what Mark Shuttleworth meant when he told me, “We have seen people who did not like Unity initially are coming back and saying how fantastic it is. We have polished a lot of rough edges that held people back.” I really like Unity for what it is.

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That said, Unity has some inherent problem which are not going to go away due to Canonical’s grand scheme of taking Ubuntu beyond desktops. How much changed since I last used Unity? Will 12.04 with Unity cut it for me? Here is what I found when I compared Unity with KDE. Note to be made: These are my findings based on my preference and my use case. It has a lot to do with my muscle memories. None of this may apply to you so don’t take it as a benchmark of a perfect UI. It’s perfect ‘only’ for me. It’s not a Unity vs KDE death-match. It’s a simple comparison of what may work for ‘me.’

Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.


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