KaOS 2016.01 & Ubuntu 14.04 on UEFI


My earlier adventure with Deepin remained largely disappointing. Now that I have a free 20GB partition to install another OS, I chose KaOS. It’s not a bad idea to have KDE as an alternative desktop environment. I grabbed the latest KaOS version available (2016.01).

KaOS has a simple strategy: one desktop (KDE), one toolkit (Qt), one architecture (x86_64). KaOS follows a rolling release model so you don’t have to install it twice; updating packages is enough. The following steps detail how I reached the KaOS desktop.

Install KaOS

Live USB creation was as easy as:

$ sudo dd bs=4M if=KaOS-2016.01-x86_64.iso of=/dev/sdb

Installation completed in a few simple steps. However, there was an error while installing the bootloader. I rebooted the system.

Fixing UEFI boot

Once again, I hit issues with UEFI boot. This time, GRUB entry for Ubuntu was lost and I landed in the GRUB prompt on boot. My latest disk partition details:

$ sudo blkid /dev/sda*|column -t
/dev/sda:   PTUUID="e87d3bae-0fa0-4c9d-863f-67f0a4b9b826"  PTTYPE="gpt"
/dev/sda1:  UUID="1784-4A83"                               TYPE="vfat"
/dev/sda2:  UUID="39f3cfaf-52d1-4462-b33f-bbc58827f70f"    TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sda3:  UUID="bfc04e4c-5196-4f46-9377-4a497380fcf1"    TYPE="ext4"

The Ubuntu Xenial live USB proved handy and  booted the system using it.

chrooted into the Ubuntu installation on the disk:

$ sudo mount /dev/sda2
$ sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot/efi
$ for i in /dev /dev/pts /proc /sys; do sudo mount -B $i /mnt$i; done
$ sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/etc/
$ sudo modprobe efivars
$ sudo chroot /mnt

Re-installed the grub-efi package:

$ apt-get install --reinstall grub-efi-amd64

If the above command fails, run:

$ apt-get install --reinstall grub-efi
$ update-grub

Exited chroot:

$ exit #pressing <Ctrl-D> works too

Unmounted everything:

$ for i in /sys /proc /dev/pts /dev; do sudo umount /mnt$i; done
$ sudo umount /mnt/boot/efi
$ sudo umount /mnt

Rebooted the system. Both the GRUB entries (for Ubuntu and KaOS) were available now.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

  1. Awesome look and feel. Cool themes and wallpapers (and tons available).
  2. Highly stable. Memory usage less than 400MB on login. You can also reduce animation from Settings > Desktop Behaviour if you want.
  3. Brightness, audio keys work right out the box for my Sony VAIO.
  4. KaOS ships with mpv and SMPlayer, so you can start enjoying your favourite music or play a BRRip right away. I am enjoying Evanescence right now.
  5. Handy Yakuake drop-down terminal.
  6. The Octopi package manager is cool. Reminded me of SuSE’s software manager.

Qupzilla crashed when I started writing this article. Not a KaOS problem though. Installed Google Chrome from Octopi and moved on without any further issues.

There’s nothing bad or ugly about KaOS ;). Try it today!

After trying a few days, I found the following on KaOS:

  1. Chrome used a lot of memory when I open image-heavy pages. I started hearing my processor. In addition there were some graphical glitches while scrolling through toes pages. On Ubuntu, I use SRWare Iron and I never faced these. Unfortunately the Iron bundled archive didn’t run on KaOS (Iron problem). I am on an high-end i5 and not a old computer.
  2. I used Midna, the downloaded Diamond theme for “Look and Feel” and borderless windows. I lost window decoration often. That used to get fixed with a logout and login.
  3. In general I felt I am short of choices. No ctags and cscope in the repos!
  4. mplayer and mpv come installed together by default!
  5. Yakuake profile settings don’t reflect in next session. You need to change the settings from Konsole.
  6. Blurry fonts. I force installed Infinality and it improved but never looked any close to Infinality on Ubuntu.

Superficially KaOS looks bold and beautiful. But the lack of packages and graphical instability suck. It’s OK for a few days but not the right regular OS for a power user.

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