Review of LinuxMint 14 KDE

I finally upgraded my main personal machine to Linux Mint KDE 14. That machine was running Mint 11, for around two years, but when I began working with Scala, I discovered that Emacs 24 is much better for Scala support. Not finding Emacs 24 in the Mint 11 repositories, I finally took the time and effort to upgrade.

Now I wonder why I’d waited so long.

The first immediate improvement, albeit superficial, was that KDE uses blue as its primary color. It makes sense that that Mint would of course choose, well, a minty green as its color, but that is one of my least favorite colors, reminding me of a 1970s refrigerator. I didn’t care for the brown of Ubuntu, and missed the blue of Fedora, so now I’m back, in a way.

I switched to the Oxygen theme, which is nicely dark, mostly dark greys. The other themes I looked at seemed to be excessively noisy, and I like a minimal desktop experience, with no peripheral distractions.

As I complained before, when I temporarily switched from Gnome to KDE (and back again) in KDE the fonts look, in a word, horrible. Absolutely horrible, if you will permit me two words.

This time I googled around a bit, and found this thread.

The summary of that is to go to the Fonts settings and set them all to Ubuntu 10 Regular, except for Fixed Width (Ubuntu Mono 12), Small (Ubuntu 9), and Windows title (Ubuntu 10 bold).

Set the following:

  • Anti-aliasing: enabled
  • Exclude range: unchecked
  • Sub-pixel rendering: RGB
  • Hinting style: slight

Install Windows fonts via: “sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer”. The command line app is necessary because you’ll need to accept the license agreement, which has no equivalent for the GUI-based package managers.

That has made a huge difference in the appearance. I do not understand why these would not be the default settings in KDE, so mark that as one advantage in the favor of Gnome. One advantage. I haven’t found a second one.

I also installed the Inconsolata font (the package “ttf-inconsolata”), which I tried out with Emacs after reading about it as being highly recommended. After a while I went with (back to, actually) DejaVu Sans Mono, font size 9, since I found Inconsolata characters to be too wide.

The KDE UI takes a little while to get used to, especially seeing all apps in the panel, not just the ones for the current workspace. I also set the shortcut for the start menu to alt-F1, after trying to re-map the Windows key, with a modicum of success.

This upgrade makes me feel like I’m back in my early Red Hat / Fedora days, with the UI clean and responsive. I haven’t yet tried out activities under KDE, but I am planning to.

On that note, being a KDE neophyte, I’m looking for a KDE book, and would appreciate any recommendations.

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