Spent the day with KaOS (version 2015.10), a rolling release distro that, according to their website, isn’t based on anything else. While KaOS borrows elements of other distros, this OS has been built from the ground up. With that said, if you’re familiar with Manjaro, Antergos or Netrunner, then you will be able to find your way around without much fuss.
KaOS uses KDE and KDE only. They’re not interested in trying to include every DE being made. While this may push some to seek for alternatives, I think the choice of using one DE is refreshing! In a era where almost every distribution has to manage five or more desktop environments and the issues that may run across those environments, the KaOS team focuses their energies on making their distro run smooth as possible.
I found KaOS to be fast and stable after installing it on my laptop (a Dell Inspiron 15 7548). I haven’t experienced any crashes with KDE 5.4 using my laptop normally. Applications open fast and are responsive throughout use. Granted, I have 12 GB RAM and a SSD, so I’m sure that helps. Upon initial boot, the distro doesn’t use any more memory than say Manjaro or any other KDE-based distro. I do notice a spike when I open several apps. I think this is due to the framework used to run the software. I don’t mind since there’s an overall smoothness with transitioning between apps. However, a user with less memory might not feel the same.
When it comes to esthetics, KaOS is nice to look at. While I’m partial to KDE’s Breeze theme, I can say that I won’t tire of using my desktop. Usually, when I finish installing a distro, I immediately start changing icons, themes and wallpapers. So far, I like the overall look of KaOS. They have a good selection of wallpapers and other goodies to trick out your desktop.
On the application front, KaOS doesn’t ship with a lot of bloat. And that’s a good thing. From my experience, some Linux distros throw the kitchen sink at you when it comes to app selection. When you fire up KaOS, you’re going to get everything you need to surf the web, create documents, send emails and even play a game or two. The app selection favors QT-based apps, which is not surprising since the distro uses KDE.
One note about Calligra Words. It seems like Words has an issue with UTF-8 encoding. When I tried to reopen the post in a text editor (Kate), I got the following error message, The file [file name] was opened with UTF-8 encoding but contained invalid characters. I don’t know if it is a Calligra or Kate issue, however, when I save the same text in LibreOffice Writer, as UTF-8, and open the text file in Kate, I don’t get the error message.
The KaOS team maintains their own packages. I read online that installing AUR may break the system, since KaOS isn’t built on Arch or any derivative. The software selection is good, but it’s kept purposely sparse, to offer users the best overall experience with getting the software they need. I wish they would include the AUR, as it’s probably on the the best sources to find software. My searches for CherryTree, Autokey-KDE and Conky Manager all turned up empty. However, I found Google Chrome without issue.
Software limitations aside, KaOS is a solid distro. I don’t know if I will use it as my daily driver, but it and OS that I can keep as a solid backup.