KDE neon – Final Impressions

KDE Plasma Version: 5.16.5

I’ve refrained from using KDE neon on any daily-use vital PC for the most part, and this has been due to what I felt was a slippery start of experience with it. I’ve never installed it as a virtual machine, and have instead always used it on an old laptop that I could do without if I ran into issues that made it temporarily unusable.

This was a good thing, because my initial experiences when performing big system updates went bad a couple of times. The worst situation? The update literally removed the entire desktop environment and left the system at nothing but a wallpaper. All Plasma essential desktop environment packages were removed completely. Sure, I could have been more attentive to what was being done by the update process, but I didn’t really want to be. After all, neon is marketed more toward Ubuntu users, and Ubuntu markets itself as more of a user-friendly distribution that users who are unfamiliar with Linux (such as Windows users) can come to and comfortably expect things to just work. I have also been running neon more to test how well it works than as a distribution that I rely on for essential functions.

However, after the bad update experience and starting from a fresh install earlier this year, I’ve now performed several big updates with no issues whatsoever. There are always updates being pushed out for it, so going even a day or two without using it tends to have me greeted by available updates – and lots of them. But, all of those updates have caused no hiccups since. The system even seems to run a bit smoother, and quicker, even on the older hardware that I’m using. At this point, I’m willing to say that the bad update experience could have been a roadblock on the way to getting things to a solid state. I would even recommend it to anyone who prefers the K/Plasma desktop and the Debian/Ubuntu Linux base, especially since it tends to lean more toward bleeding edge than an alternative such as Kubuntu.

Of course, the next big thing to be seen is how well the system will carry out the update from the Ubuntu 18.04 base to the 20.04 base once it’s here – and once they actually update the distribution to it (it took a while for them to go from 16.04 to 18.04). If that’s a concern, perhaps you should wait. But, if you’re like me and you perform those kinds of upgrades with fresh installs and data migrations anyway, then what does it matter?

Community Support
I did not seek out a remedy to my issue following the updates before, but KDE neon does have a community forum dedicated to it on the KDE website. To say that this amounts to anywhere near the kind of community you’ll find for Ubuntu, Mint, Debian or Arch would be ridiculous, but it does at least leave somewhere you can ask for help with a problem specific to neon and potentially get a valuable response. In addition, we can only hope this community will grow over time, given how much the K/Plasma desktop environment is liked and that neon is one of, if not the, most likely places to have access to the latest updates/features for the Plasma DE.