If you’re happy with Kubuntu 14.04, I wouldn’t go jumping to 16.04 just yet

I’m running Kubuntu 14.04.4 on three very different systems. My main PC sports a 6-core AMD FX-6300 CPU at about 4.2 GHz, 16 GB RAM, a 2 GB FSX Radeon R7 360 graphics card and 6 TB of HD storage between multiple drives.

The second most-used computer in my arsenal is a Lenovo T510 laptop. It has an Intel Core i5 CPU at 2.5 GHz, 4 GB RAM, and a 1 TB HDD. It also runs Kubuntu 14.04.4.

The third, a much less powerful one works as a web server that occasionally serves up video to a monitor in the bedroom. This computer also runs Kubuntu 14.04.4. This one has a 2-core AMD Sempron 2650 CPU with 4 GB RAM and a small 320 GB HDD. No, this is not the server that hosts this blog. Its purpose is very specialized and is never connected to more than three clients at a time, usually only one.

Canonical, the company that oversees the core source code that goes into all of the Ubuntu derivatives such as Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Mint, named version 14.04 “Trusty Tahr”. And TRUSTY it has been. I’ve been using Linux on my personal machines since 2010 and Trusty has been the most useful, powerful, and stable OS I’ve had the pleasure to use. Everything is customizable and customize it I do. I’m thankful that it’s a long-term-stable version of Ubuntu and is supported until April of 2019.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about 16.04, code-named Xenial Xerus. This, too, is an LTS (long-term support) version. I tried it on the main machine and laptop both and found it to be rather buggy. Video would flicker, sometimes quite badly, when moving windows around the screen. I tried to change the video drivers but Update Manager hangs searching for updates. I installed an Nvidia driver via the command line but when the computer rebooted, I got a blank screen, which I was able to fix from the command line by uninstalling the proprietary driver (the new Nvidia card died shortly thereafter and was replaced with an AMD card – I should have known better). The DavMail icon doesn’t fit in with the taskbar notification area. Dropbox finally got around to fixing their missing notification area icon (too bad they won’t fix this in 14.04). Every now and then, some process or another would crash for some unknown reason and I dutifully allowed KDE to send the error report. When Private Internet Access could not establish a connection to the VPN, my tolerance for bugs hit its limit and I went back to 14.04.

The process reminded me of some previous *buntu updates. Canonical forces the release twice a year, ready or not. And that’s the sad part. I wouldn’t christen a new ship that still has leaks to fix. Why in hell would I release software with glaring bugs galore? I should have known better. A lot of people won’t upgrade from one version to another until the new version has been out for several months. This usually gives the maintainers enough time to fix most of the obvious bugs. I don’t recall having this many problems with 14.02, but if I remember correctly, I didn’t upgrade until 14.04.2. Lesson learned. When 16.04.2 comes out, I’ll test it in a virtual machine first. At least with Linux, I can reinstall my OS and all of the software I use in about an hour; a chore that would take all evening with Windows.