Kubuntu 23.10 strikes a perfect balance of form and function

The defaul Kubuntu 23.10 desktop.

The KDE Plasma desktop should make you feel right at home.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

I’ve been exploring KDE Plasma since back in the day when KDE stood for K Desktop Environment and it never ceased to feel like it would crash any minute. Fortunately, those days have long since passed and KDE Plasma is one of the more stable, efficient, elegant, and user-friendly desktops on the market.

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Don’t believe me? Well, if Ubuntu 23.10 has any say in the matter, you will believe it because the latest release of the official Ubuntu Spin makes a very strong case for that very thing. Kubuntu 23.10 offers a beautiful desktop that makes using Linux as easy as possible.

At the heart of Kubuntu 23.10 is KDE Plasma 5.27.8, which might not include any brilliant new features (since version 5.27.0 was released) but it does offer plenty of polish, the usual bug fixes, and even a 23-year-old feature request to hide application temp files within the Dolphin file manager.

Besides KDE Plasma 5.27.8 (and the included KDE App updates), there are software updates, including LibreOffice 7.6, Firefox 117, Thunderbird 115, Python 3.11.5, PHP 8.2, GCC 13.2, GlibC 2.38, Ruby 3.2, Golang 1.2, Qt 5.15.10, and Kate 23.08.1. As far as the kernel goes, Kubuntu 23.10 ships with version 6.5 (after an update, my version read 6.5.0-9).

The UI is where it’s at 

Most users aren’t really going to care about what lies underneath to make Kubuntu 23.10 run. Instead, they want to know what it looks like and how it behaves. One of the great things about KDE Plasma is that, the second you look at the desktop, you know exactly how it works. There’s zero guessing. You click the “K” menu and open applications. You interact with various services from the system tray, and you add quick launchers to the panel for quick access to applications. It’s all so familiar.

The KDE Plasma menu.

The KDE Plasma default menu makes it easy to find the apps and files you’re looking for.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

At the same time (because it’s KDE Plasma), it’s also very elegant. There’s just enough eye candy to make this desktop stand out among the plethora of Linux desktops, such that it’s equal parts form and function. I seriously cannot imagine anyone logging into this desktop and staring blankly, with a confused look across their face.

Also: Want an elegant, user-friendly Windows alternative? Try Manjaro 23.0 with KDE…