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How many of you use the KDE Desktop Environment on Linux? Is it bearable these days?

prahladyeri profile image Prahlad Yeri ・1 min read

KDE is a highly configurable desktop but always had problems of performance and/or over-engineering or complex design. Are those issues resolved now?

I'd like to hear from those who regularly use a KDE distro like Kubuntu or openSUSE, are you happy with performance, user-friendliness, stability, etc.?


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I guess this is really mostly a matter of taste. To me most non-KDE desktop systems are actually "under-engineered", too simple, do not give me the options I'm looking for. KDE can be configured to such an extent that it's unrecognizable as KDE. I set up my installation to look and feel like Mac OS X. It's not perfect, but I feel at home.

After many years of a break from desktop Linux I decided to go back again a couple months ago. Over the course of a week I evaluated and installed pretty much all top ten DistroWatch Linux distributions out there and gave them a proper try.

I have a GeForce RTX in my workstation which causes major stability problems in several distros despite (and because of) using NVidia's proprietary driver. I also use a pretty large 4K monitor, which is bizarrely not well supported, yet in the world of Linux, without doing a lot of manual adjustments. In case of Ubuntu's Unity I had to change CSS files for styling UI components by hand. Everything rendered too big on that screen. Even after scaling down the font size via a 3rd party settings application (which in itself is pretty ridiculous), the buttons remained comically large. I could have lived with that to be honest. The deal breaker were the frequent freezes and crashes which rendered Ubuntu + Unity completely useless for me. I admit it was most likely caused by the NVidia driver. However, only Unity froze in my tests. So I moved on and tested more distros and their desktop environments.

KDE happened to be easiest to customize in regards of display scaling, still not perfect though for the following reason. It provides a UI scaling option just like Windows 10 and Mac OS X. But it's new and broken. It causes many applications to render thin horizontal lines across their windows. The solution is to go to the font settings and set the font DPI higher. That happens to change also the size of UI components, not just fonts, and gives perfect results without rendering artifacts.

I chose KDE Neon in the end because it's a bleeding edge distro right from the KDE development team. It's based on Ubuntu 18.04, so I have a bit of the best from both worlds.

The things I do not like about KDE are largely the same issues that drove me away from Linux years ago. There are still so many little quirks that are in the way every day. They all can be dealt with, and I decided to be patient for now. First of all during those few months I've been using KDE, the stable channel contained package combinations that were incompatible with each other and they broke some applications. I couldn't use the calendar application anymore, and I had to temporarily switch to their "testing" branch to get their fix in.

UI animations are not smooth, despite having a pretty powerful workstation and graphics card. Coming back to Linux from Mac OS X (and heck even Windows 10 does it better), it feels like KDE is about to fall apart when it tries to animate something.

Another problem is signing out, shutting down or restarting. I have absolutely no clue how on earth KDE developers put up with that crap, but it rarely ever works. So here is what happens to me almost every single day. I click "sign out" and a notification shows up that says something along the lines of "application 'whatever' prevented KDE from signing out". Then nothing. I'm still on the desktop but KDE stuff doesn't respond anymore. I cannot get to the sign out button anymore. The only thing I can do is opening a terminal via <Ctrl>+<Alt>+<T> and typing in a command that kills X-Server to get out of that mess. Why on earth is KDE unable to force-close applications? Why on earth is KDE out of whack when an application refuses to close? We will never know.

Also KDE applications are mostly terrible. I look at you KOrganizer, KMail, Kontact etc. "Kalendar" had a bug for about a week where it wouldn't sync anything to my Google Calendar without me noticing. So I created events which didn't carry over to my other devices and I almost missed an important appointment because of that.

KDE applications crash a couple of times a week. And the error reporting feature doesn't let you submit the report to the KDE dev team. The "report" button is always disabled. Well done KDE. And no, I cannot be bothered with reporting bugs by hand. Too many steps involved and in the end it's a matter of waiting for a couple of days until it gets fixed.

The easiest workaround: try not to use KDE applications. There are some alternatives out there for calendar and email. Most of them are trash. I was surprised to see that the Linux landscape of ordinary productivity and office software is still looking so extremely bad.

And nevertheless... I decided to stay on KDE Neon for now. It's good enough as a daily driver for my work. After all Linux desktop environments are a never-ending beta test and it's mostly a matter of just picking your poison


Thanks for the detailed review!

For calendar and mail, I wonder if you've tried mozilla thunderbird with the lightning plugin? The lightning plugin has a feature to sync with your google calendar.

kde neon's having a base of ubuntu lts and yet keeping the kde part in a rolling release sounds cool. I might try it on my laptop.


Yes, I did try Thunderbird. It used to be my main email client many years ago, so it was my first choice back again on Linux. The problem with it was a complete lack of integration with KDE's system tray. No icon, no way to background Thunderbird, no integration with the native notification system. I'm currently using Mailspring which looks great and has many interesting features


After all, KDE is the most 'Kustomisable' Desktop Environment, and KDE Neon is the 'King'! If there's any new Linux user that needs customisation, KDE is the Desktop Environment and KDE Neon is 'the Distro', to start with.


In every release/new distro, I try it but it's always SO overbearing and slow, I always switch back to something else, usually xfce