News of the changing default desktop environment in Ubuntu Studio was announced with the release of Ubuntu 20.04 and its flavors. But it took almost a week to get the Linux community’s attention over the fact that Ubuntu Studio will replace default the Xfce desktop with KDE plasma.
Ubuntu Studio 20.04 is the latest LTS release with a pre-installed Xfce, and now starting with the upcoming 20.10, it will include KDE plasma. When the news was made public, it resulted in a mix of reactions from the community — some welcomed the decision, while others disliked it.
If some of you don’t know, Ubuntu Studio is a multimedia-focussed official flavor of Ubuntu Linux. It packs tons of tools and software for artists and creators of audio, video, graphics, and photography.
Moving forward, you may now be curious to know why the Ubuntu studio team thought to ditch the lightweight Xfce desktop. So let’s find out the answer to why.
RAM Usage Of Both Plasma And Xfce Are Nearly The Same
The first reason to choose KDE Plasma over Xfce is comparable resource usage. Xfce is known for its fast and lean desktop that can run on a system with low resources. But Ubuntu Studio says that it is not designed to run on low or older hardware; instead, it’s for a powerful computer that can run modern media applications.
While comparing the RAM usage, they found that on a fresh boot of 20.04 LTS live image, Ubuntu Studio uses approximately 620MB of RAM with Xfce and 670MB of RAM with Plasma. This means the RAM usage of the two desktops is nearly the same, with only a 50MB difference that’s quite negligible for high-powered computers.
For a more detailed view, you can also read Jason Evangelho’s article on Forbes here. He has practically tested and displayed the RAM usage on both desktops.
Plasma Has Better Tools For Creators
Another reason that Ubuntu Studio gives is the rich KDE Application bundle. The app bundle offers tons of apps for graphics artists and photographers such as Gwenview, Krita, and Dolphin.
Even to leverage such applications with a better desktop, most users combine the power of Kubuntu and Ubuntu Studio. This brings a package of KDE Plasma, KDE apps, and Ubuntu Studio applications via Ubuntu Studio Installer.
Is Ubuntu Studio Now Going To Be The Next Kubuntu?
Currently, Ubuntu already has several unique flavors with a dedicated desktop environment such as Kubuntu with KDE Plasma, Xubuntu with Xfce, and Lubuntu with LxQT. Hence, the shipment of KDE Plasma to Studio brings up some questions that the community wants to know.
What will be the difference between Ubuntu Studio and Kubuntu? Is it going to replace Kubuntu and make it redundant? Or, how is it going to be different?
Well, until now, there has been no official statement from Ubuntu Studio regarding such a question. But they’ve already clarified in a release notes that they’ll work closely with the Kubuntu team.
My take on this is that Studio is not a desktop-oriented distro; it’s a use case-focussed. That’s the reason why both Ubuntu Studio and Xubuntu with Xfce have a different influence in the community.
Besides the pre-installed applications, Studio will be better optimized along with KDE applications, interfaces, and themes. However, it will not include everything that Kubuntu has. The focus will only be limited to creative packages useful to Studio users.
Ubuntu Studio 20.10 ‘Groovy Gorilla’: The Way Ahead
Since the Ubuntu 20.04 release, the development cycle of the next 20.10 has already started with the codename ‘Groovy Gorilla.’ To avoid any breaks or errors while upgrading to a new version, Studio is also in touch with the Lubuntu team that has already worked with changing desktop environments.
As of now, as per the latest news shared by them on Reddit, Ubuntu Studio’s transition to KDE is nearly complete. They also showed a screenshot with the same theme (Materia) and icons (Papirus).
Moreover, as stated, we can also expect the duplication of applications like the current default three video editors Pitivi, OpenShot, and Kdenlive.
But until further news, we can hope for the new and revised Ubuntu Studio version with a much better experience.