Kubuntu (/kʊˈbʊntuː/ kuu-BUUN-too) is an official flavor of the Ubuntu operating system that uses the KDE Plasma Desktop instead of the GNOME desktop environment. As part of the Ubuntu project, Kubuntu uses the same underlying systems. Every package in Kubuntu shares the same repositories as Ubuntu, and it is released regularly on the same schedule as Ubuntu.
Kubuntu was sponsored by Canonical Ltd. until 2012 and then directly by Blue Systems. Now, employees of Blue Systems contribute upstream, to KDE and Debian, and Kubuntu development is led by community contributors. During the changeover, Kubuntu retained the use of Ubuntu project servers and existing developers.
Kubuntu is an operating system built by a worldwide community of developers, testers, supporters, and translators. Kubuntu is a free, complete, and open-source alternative to Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X which contains everything you need to work, play, or share. Check out the Feature Tour if you would like to learn more! Kubuntu unites Ubuntu with KDE and the fabulous Plasma desktop, bringing you a full set of applications. The installation includes productivity, office, email, graphics, photography, and music applications ready to use at startup. Firefox, Kmail, LibreOffice, Gwenview are just a few installed and ready to use, with thousands more, available in just a click, from the Discover software center.
Built using the Qt toolkit, Kubuntu is fast, slick and beautiful. Kubuntu is mobile-ready, enabling easy integration between your PC desktop and phone or tablet. Simply use the Google Play store to install KDE Connect on your Android device and you can integrate your device with your desktop.
Kubuntu was born on 10 December 2004 at the Ubuntu Mataro Conference in Mataró, Spain. Canonical employee Andreas Mueller, from Gnoppix, had the idea to make an Ubuntu KDE variant and got the approval from Mark Shuttleworth to start the first Ubuntu variant, called Kubuntu. On the same evening Chris Halls from the Openoffice project and Jonathan Riddell from KDE started volunteering on the newborn project.
Mark Shuttleworth, in an interview shortly after Ubuntu (which now uses GNOME, previously having used the Unity desktop environment, before then GNOME) was started, stated:
I believe that the KDE community does phenomenal work, and having a community-driven distribution to showcase that work will help attract users and developers to the project. Our overall goal in the Ubuntu project is to further the adoption of free software on the desktop and the server, and we recognise that KDE is an essential part of the mix of desktop environments that allows people to find the best environment for their needs.
The Kubuntu team released the first edition, Hoary Hedgehog, on 8 April 2005.
K Desktop Environment 3 was used as default interface until Kubuntu 8.04. That version included KDE Plasma Desktop as unsupported option which became default in the subsequent release, 8.10.
On 6 February 2012, Canonical employee Jonathan Riddell announced the end of Canonical’s Kubuntu sponsorship. On 10 April 2012, Blue Systems was announced on the Kubuntu website as the new sponsor. As a result, both developers employed by Canonical to work on Kubuntu – Jonathan Riddell and Aurélien Gâteau – transferred to Blue Systems.
Kubuntu follows the same release schedule as Ubuntu, with a new release every six months. Kubuntu also uses the same naming convention as Ubuntu.
There are currently four supported releases:
Kubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossil is the most recent LTS, released on April 26, 2020. It will receive updates for five years until April 2025.
Some of the advantages of Kubuntu comes from integration with KDE Plasma desktop. Plasma desktop is the most flexible and customizable of all Linux desktops. Plasma is:
- The most advanced and powerful Desktop Environment
- Highly customizable
- Looks modern and sleek
- Compatible with Slower/old hardware
The KDE Plasma desktop behaves like plasma, as in it molds into whatever shape you like. The default layout feels familiar if you’re coming from Windows, but the resemblance is only skin deep. You can move or delete every component on the bottom panel. You can create more panels, place them on any side of the screen, or do without them entirely.
There is an abundance of widgets that serve as your building blocks. Turn the default task manager into a dock. Swap out the digital clock for an analog one. And even then, you’re just getting started.
Want big window borders? Want no window borders? Want to roll windows up into the title bar as you did in the pre-Mac OS X days? Want to alt-tab through windows like cards? Want your close button on the left instead of the right? More than any other desktop, Plasma is what you want it to be.
KDE Plasma feels like a powerful desktop. The Dolphin file manager isn’t lacking in speed, features, or options. The Gwenview image viewer displays thumbnails in a hurry and can perform edits. The system as a whole doesn’t feel bogged down by simple tasks. While many GNOME apps are burning resources trying to re-do the basics, Plasma feels ready to take on the harder tasks.
digiKam is arguably the best photo manager the Linux desktop has to offer. The same can be said for Kdenlive and video editors. Want to create digital artwork? You might want to consider Krita. KDE has one of the few open-source office suites attempting to rival LibreOffice: Calligra. KDE Connect is the best way to sync your smartphone with your Linux PC.
If you like what you have read about Kubuntu and you are ready to try it for yourself then head to our install guide and get started.