How to fix Kubuntu 16.04

I’m a bit strange in the head in that I quite like KDE. Yeah, some will claim it’s bloated (it’s not actually that bad, it just caches a lot and free RAM is wasted RAM), slow (it does have a lot of effects, which you can turn off) and fiddly (there are a lot of options and it’s perfectly possible to disappear down a rabbit hole of settings). All that said, I still like it. It’s the closest thing to GNOME 2 (the best DE ever!) that seems to work well for me. I’m also a big fan of KDE Connect and I can’t wait for v1.0 to hit the repos.

There is a problem though, Kubuntu. Probably still the flagship KDE distro on many people’s minds, even though that’s really Neon these days, their 16.04 release really isn’t fit for purposes. You can expect massive delays on login (circa 1 minute), frequent crashes, screen tearing and missing features. Luckily that is all fixable with one PPA: Kubuntu Backports.

Installation is a simple matter of:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports && sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade

Reboot for everything to take effect and voilà! Almost all the aforementioned problems will be solved. KDE Connect will still be at 0.85 (at the time of writing, v1.0 is only out for the 16.10 beta) and you’ll still suffer serious screen-tearing, but the desktop will now be stable.

Screen Tearing

This can depend on a number of factors (mostly on whether or not you are using an AMD, nvidia or Intel GPU). There is something you can try though. Open Konsole and:

mkdir -p ~/.config/plasma-workspace/env
vi ~/.config/plasma-workspace/env/

Add this into the file (“i” to enter insert) mode:

export __GL_YIELD="USLEEP"

Esc” and then “:wq” to exit.

chmod +x ~/.config/plasma-workspace/env/

Now, reboot. To be honest, a login/logout is probably good enough but I wanted to be 100% sure things were getting reloaded.

You’ll notice that I have one line commented out, that’s because I am testing the settings and at the moment “__GL_YIELD” appears to be enough on this nvidia GT240. I will try the other settings as well, then both together; all with compositing on and off. I also need to check the laptop which has an Intel and a nvidia GPU, then put in some logic so the correct setting is chosen. Once that’s done, I’ll update this post.

Others will suggest putting these into /etc/profile or /etc/profile.d/ and that’s probably all fine and dandy, but I’m using the location the KDE Documentation recommends and I know I can only bork the specific user, not the system as a whole.

The fact that this kind of malarky is even needed in 2016 is saddening. If there is ever to be a “year of the Linux desktop” before the desktop dies, this is a glaringly obvious issue that needs to get resolved (as does functional second/external monitor support, something I have yet to see any GNU/Linux DE deal with in a sane manner).

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