I have been a Gnome user for years (8 years), and I'm looking for recommendations and comparisons of Linux distributions that offers good KDE integration/experience. Some details to mention:

  • the environments speed,
  • selection of default apps
  • whether it's a modified KDE
  • what makes the distro special regarding KDE and KDE/QT apps?
  • Employed or active KDE developers who are also distro developers
  • integration with gtk apps
  • how friendly is it for a novice user (e.g. all cli, do it yourself, or pretty much set up to just work)


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    This seems completely subjective, unless I'm missing something. There should've even been a warning on the ask question page Commented Dec 6, 2010 at 16:24
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    @Mic This Question, best distro for KDE, isn't a good Question at all. It's vague. It should have been more specifc, as in what is the OP actually interested in (EG: speed, large support base, minimal package selection) for it to be better, such that it's no longer a poll. That's what I strive to do (give specifics) when I ask these software-rec kind of questions.
    – tshepang
    Commented Dec 6, 2010 at 18:20
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    @Wassim I'm going to close this if it isn't cleaned up by the time I get back to work, because I count this as 2 mods saying it should be closed. I suggest, using the following qualifiers and remove wording like "best". Custom KDE/QT apps, backports, KDE devs employed or involved, skinning of gtk apps, you can have others.. but these are suggestions. Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 2:23
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    @Wass Don't be so saddened. You might not be in total agreement, but at least the guys are explaining the reasons (it isn't always the case). Have a look at a related issue. It's a quality post on this sort of issue.
    – tshepang
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 11:50
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    @wassim I've modified it to be better, so at least you'll be on target for what to look for, because there is no best. You have to know what you want. 2 kde's of exactly the same version should perform exactly the same regardless of distro, and thus their shouldn't be a difference. I tried to get more details out of people than just "uh this distro has kde... and performs alright." to things that can be quantified and evaluated. consider adding more if you have other things you care about, like networking, or web browser etc. Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 12:37

7 Answers 7


If your into rolling distros there's the new OpenSuSE-Tumbleweed -- OpenSuSE but rolling :-). Other good KDE4 rolling disros include: Aptosid, PCLinuxOS, Yoper, Chakra, Sabayon. Toorox is not 100% rolling but is based on Gentoo. I think all of these are quite newbie friendly and have a big focus on KDE (GUI-centric, "just work", etc).

BTW Mageia (community fork of Mandriva) are in talks on whether to go rolling or not.

If you want DEB, a friend of mine has only good things to say about Aptosid (fka Sidux).

Chakra (based on Arch) is currently still in alpha but has a modular & modifiable KDE allowing you to customize it, optimize it, and remove unwanted bloat.

PCLinuxOS can need a reinstall when they re-fork the Mandriva base every year or so; though with Mandriva's troubles they may switch to Mageia or Unity Linux as their base. They might even go independent but I don't know if they have the devs for that.

I've used Linux Mint-Gnome for the last year (and previously Ubuntu) and I'm about to switch to a rolling KDE4 distro with E17 as my 2nd DE, so I'm in pretty much the same boat as you and would definitely still call my self a "newbie".

BTW I really recommend going rolling: latest software and no reinstalls! I've generally only heard/read good things by those who've tried rolling (though there are always exceptions) and most seem unwilling to switch to any distro that isn't once they've got a taste.


I'm liking OpenSUSE 11.3. It seems to have quite a good selection of software available in the repositories, and it seems plenty fast to me (but then, I'm running it on fast hardware, so YMMV).

  • Good hw == good speed :)
    – Johan
    Commented Dec 6, 2010 at 18:13
  • Never had a problem with OpenSuse other than the fact it wasn't a rolling distro, so it didn't fit my style... but any other performance issues should seemingly affect any kde. Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 1:55
  • +1 for openSUSE. Have used it for years and KDE has always been a first-class citizen in this distro, not an afterthought like some others. 64-bit support is also rock solid. @xenoterracide You might get your wish for rolling updates. See the openSUSE Tumbleweed announcement. lists.opensuse.org/opensuse-project/2010-11/msg00206.html
    – Evan
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 7:49

No one's suggested Kubuntu? Kubuntu is by far the best KDE distro. Gnome apps use the correct themes out of the box. I use Kubuntu and have nothing but good things to say.

  • Johan already did mention kUbuntu.
    – tshepang
    Commented Dec 6, 2010 at 19:28

The two mainstream ones with a lot of software would be

  • fedora
  • kUbuntu

I've primarily used OpenSuSE, Gentoo, and Arch, and all of them have worked quite well with KDE. However, aside from the fact that Gentoo and Arch are rather more hardcore than OpenSuSE, I believe that both of them use a vanilla version of KDE whereas OpenSuSE adds more of their own stuff, including a really nice KPart for viewing system information (which probably should be added to KDE proper) and increased integration for some non-KDE programs such as Firefox. So, whether OpenSuSE is better than the others is probably a combination of how newbie-friendly a distro you want and whether or not you want a vanilla version of KDE.

The one thing that I can say beyond that is that I frequently hear people say not to use Kubuntu and that it's a poor KDE distro with relatively poor stability. I played around with it a little a while back but not long enough to really be able to comment on that (I really didn't like its package management and found multilib to be much more of a pain than with OpenSuSE, though others may disagree). It is about the main consistent thing that I've heard about KDE distros though: many folks say not to use Kubuntu.

Every distro that I've really used though has been fine for KDE. For the most part, I would think that it's more of a general issue of how a distro works than what it does with KDE - unless you're talking about a gnome-centric distro instead of a more DE-agnostic one, in which case it probably matters more, since KDE wouldn't get as much attention and might be treated as a second-class citizen.

  • Am curious what you mean by I really didn't like its package management.
    – tshepang
    Commented Dec 6, 2010 at 19:38
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    It's been a while, so I don't remember all of the details, but dealing with deb files was definitely worse than rpm files as far as multilib stuff went, and the GUI programs that they had for managing packages were quite poor. At that point, I was used to YAST, which is pretty much the king of GUI package managers, so it was a definite downgrade. All around, it was just harder to deal with than what I was used to. Having messed with Gentoo and Arch since then, it might not be so bad now, but at the time, I really didn't like it. But I don't remember much in the way of details now. Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 1:30
  • Thanks for the response. I also agree that YaST was far more advanced (in terms of features) than anything the Debian world had to offer. You are likely not so inclined to go take another look, but I think you'll find Software Center quite good. I don't know about the multilib stuff.
    – tshepang
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 7:05

I've used a lot of distributions and here's what I know.

  1. OpenSuse

    • Suse was primarily KDE before it bought novell a long term
    • used some KDE 4 code before KDE was released - kickoff and games
    • has been known to modify kde
    • installs and configures things for gtk for you
    • might contribute upstream / have actual kde devs - not 100%
    • qt driven apps
  2. Mandriva

    • I've never used it (not since it was mandrake)
    • I know they assigned 2 devs to work on k3b 2 - lots of bonus points
  3. Chakra

    • A distribution based on Arch Linux which is KDE specific
    • some custom kde/qt apps
    • shaman - qt package manager
  4. Everyone else - Kubuntu, Fedora, Arch, Gentoo (note: kubuntu, fedora might not be accurate)

    • AFAIK vanilla KDE installs
    • User Friendly's will do the gtk theming for you, the others you do it yourself
    • they are unlikely to have any kde/qt (adept excluded) apps that aren't available everywhere

To be honest I might be giving everyone else an unfair accounting... I haven't used kubuntu, or fedora much at all. I use Arch Linux KDE myself, which follows upstream.

  • Kubuntu is far from a vanilla KDE install. It is the reason why I switched to Arch: it was crippled with bad customized code (open office and firefox were horrible, although now it's fixed... until firefox 4 is released...). There are small bugs everywhere (e.g., Kate would never remember the files that were recently opened).
    – Barthelemy
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 1:57
  • @Barthelemy I might be a little off on kubuntu and fedora as I haven't really used them. just trying to tell what I know Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 2:05

Pardus 2011, Kde is primary desktop environment. it is fast, elegant, doesn't spend too much memory, stable, fully integrated with gtk apps(thanks to the new gtk theme). It is really user-friendly( Since it's primary customers are government institutes.)

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