Top 10 Linux Distributions for KDE Plasma [Compared]

8 min


Planning to adapt a stable KDE Plasma based desktop in Linux and thinking about as a daily driver? Well, here we present top 10 Linux distributions that are better integrated with KDE Plasma.

KDE Plasma desktop is used by millions today. The KDE technology evolved over the years to reach a point where it is now running in desktops, laptops, tabs, mobile phones and hand-held gaming devices. It’s amazing, isn’t it, for a desktop environment? And with an active set of developers and community, it is improving every day with new features aligning with technology trends.

Often I hear, read about bugs in KDE Desktop, or it is being termed as “too many options” when compared to GNOME. I am not disagreeing to that. But we can not ignore the fact that, despite all those arguments & opinions – KDE Plasma desktop is a “go to” solution for many individual or enterprise use cases. It has a well established road map, built on amazing Qt technology that can even run on automobile and other platforms; Plus a dedicated foundation with a huge set of developers working every day to polish this desktop.

That brings me to the purpose of writing this article. There are hundreds of Linux distributions featuring KDE Plasma desktop. But which one to choose? What are their advantages or disadvantages? Which is best for me? We try to cover all these questions in this article and help you decide on your own.

Top 10 Linux Distributions for KDE Plasma Desktop

I have compiled the following list in terms of use cases and not much in the technical terms – such as installation, terminal usage, etc.

1. Kubuntu

Kubuntu Desktop
Kubuntu Desktop

Kubuntu is an official KDE Plasma Desktop flavor of Ubuntu Linux operating system. It uses same set of underlying packages of Ubuntu and follow Ubuntu release schedule. That means, it releases a new version when Ubuntu does. As it is based on Ubuntu, you get a huge help and support community that comes with Kubuntu flavor. This official Ubuntu flavor is the most used KDE Plasma desktop today.

Pros

  • Very stable system in terms of bugs – both LTS and non-LTS versions
  • LTS versions have 5 years of support
  • Huge community based help system
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Delay of around 6 months to received latest from KDE Plasma desktop. The reason being stability that Ubuntu requires.

2. KDE Neon

KDE Neon is the official Linux distribution which features the latest KDE Plasma Desktop, KDE Framework and KDE Applications from KDE Community. This Linux distribution directly comes from the KDE Development team and based on Ubuntu. KDE Neon comes with two variants. A User edition and a Developer’s Edition. The User Edition for everyone who wants to experience latest from KDE Plasma desktop that is tested and ready to use. But it may have some little bugs – but not a dealbreaker, if you ask me. The Developer edition for, as it says – for developers with cutting-edge packages. This is ideal for those who are a little experienced in Linux platform and have time to get around occasional problems. But this is also fairly stable.

KDE Neon Desktop
KDE Neon Desktop

Pros

  • Latest KDE Applications, Packages and Framework
  • Based on Ubuntu base
  • First to receive new KDE Plasma Versions

Cons

May contain occasional bugs

3. Fedora KDE Edition

Fedora Linux is an RPM package manager based Linux distribution that is community-supported and owned by Red Hat. This free and open-source Linux distribution features leading edge packages and technology and supports a KDE Plasma edition. Although its official edition features GNOME desktop, but an official KDE Plasma “spin” is available. You get the latest KDE Packages with each Fedora release, which happens twice a year. Ideally it’s similar to Kubuntu, the only difference is its underlying package management and a different sponsoring company.

KDE Plasma in Fedora Linux
KDE Plasma in Fedora Linux

Pros

  • Well-designed and stable Linux Distribution
  • New KDE Plasma releases twice a year
  • Suitable for new and advanced users
  • Versatile community support

Cons

  • Fedora Linux with KDE may feel a little complex for absolute new Linux users

4. OpenSUSE KDE Edition

The openSUSE is a complete Linux Distribution targeted for new and experienced users. This is sponsored by the SUSE Linux and other companies. It supports KDE Plasma desktop as their one of the desktop offerings among others. With OpenSUSE KDE Edition, you can get a rolling release version (aka Tumbleweed) with latest KDE technology and a long-term-support version with stable and well tested KDE Plasma (aka Leap). If you’re a non-Ubuntu, non-Fedora KDE Plasma flavor, then this is the one you should choose.

KDE Plasma in OpenSUSE
KDE Plasma in OpenSUSE

Pros

  • Well established Linux Distribution commercially, hence a quality Linux with KDE
  • Provides both rolling and long-term-support release
  • Support a wide variant of hardware out of the box (single board devices, thin clients terminals, desktops, laptops, PowerPC and more)

Cons

  • Probably a less popular Linux Distribution, hence free supports via forums might be less

5. Manjaro KDE Edition

Manjaro Linux is an Arch Linux based Linux distribution that follows a rolling release model. It is very fast, user-friendly desktop operating system which gives several benefits such as automatic hardware detection, multiple Linux Kernel support and well-designed configuration settings. Both Manjaro with KDE Plasma is perfect for a little knowledge persons in Linux who wants to experience Arch Linux with KDE.

Pros

Rolling release brings latest KDE Plasma Desktop packages with a week or two of the official Plasma release
Provides options to GUI installers for Arch
Good community support via forums

Cons

Arch Linux based distributions sometimes becomes buggy and unstable due to continuous package updates
May not suitable for absolute new users or those aiming for a stable system that run for multiple years without re-installations

6. EndeavourOS KDE Edition

EndeavourOS is a fairly new Arch-Linux based Linux distribution that supports KDE Plasma as of their offerings. It provides an easy-to-use installation and pre-configured desktop environment. The one of the best-selling point of this Linux is you get to choose what you install and GUI based desktop-tweak scripts that comes preloaded. A growling Linux distribution which looks promising.

Pros

  • Easy installation for Arch Linux based – KDE Plasma Desktop
  • One click ready-made scripts to perform various desktop actions (such as updates)
  • Supports multiple Linux Kernel versions for Arch
  • Perfect for new users wants to experience and learn Arch with KDE Plasma
SEE ALSO:   EndeavourOS Review: A Beginner's Arch Linux Based Distribution

Cons

  • Fairly new Linux Distribution and community supported
  • Difficult to commit to this distribution if you are an organization planning to adopt KDE Plasma with this flavor for multiple installation units.

7. MX Linux KDE Edition

MX Linux is a Linux distribution that is based on Debian’s Stable branch. Debian is a Universal Linux Operating System which is the father of Ubuntu and all derivatives. It’s the core of all those Linux distribution and very stable. It rarely breaks and give you an unstable system. With that power of Debian, MX Linux brings its own flavors by providing its in-house utilities and packages. It’s KDE edition is perfect for all users and specially if you want a stable KDE Desktop which runs for years. But you may not get the latest technology immediately, as Debian’s release cycle is slower in terms of years. That means, to get the latest KDE plasma technology, you may need to wait 1.5 to 2 years.

Pros

  • Stable Linux with well tested KDE Plasma packages
  • Can be suitable for systems where stability trumps the latest features
  • Suitable for new users and advanced ones
  • Provides good coverage for low-end and older hardware
  • One of the best In-house utilities that provided by MX Linux for various desktop tasks

Cons

  • Follows Debian stable releases, hence KDE Plasma desktop version upgrades takes years to reach you.

8. Garuda Linux

Garuda Linux is also an Arch based rolling release distribution that provides KDE Plasma desktop as it’s one of the flavors. It comes with easy to use Calamares installer and other graphical tools to manage your desktop. The major difference of Garuda with other Arch-based distribution is it provides some tools out of the box for managing your system performance. Some of them are zram, CPU Governor, custom tools for memory management.

Pros

  • Arch based Linux with custom tools for memory management
  • Official KDE Plasma flavor

Cons

  • Very new Linux distribution with fist release on March 2020
  • Requires fairly high-end hardware to work properly (Minimum 8GB RAM, 40 GB Storage)

9. Nitrux

This is a special Linux Distribution for KDE Plasma. I wanted to add this in this list because of only out-of-the-box looks it provides. Nitrux is a Linux distribution that is based on Debian unstable SID branch. This only provides a customized KDE Plasma desktop that is enhanced with “plasmoids”, Kvantum themes. Technically the desktop is called NX-Desktop which is a KDE Plasma variant with all those look and feel changes. This Linux distribution provides latest KDE Plasma tech as it’s based on Debian unstable branch and uses AppImage for application deployments.

Pros

  • One of the best customized version of KDE Plasma desktop that is available out of the box.
  • Aesthetically pleasing with Nitrix icons and themes with the power of Kvuntum
  • Support of AppImage

Cons

  • Sometimes it is unstable due to Debian SID branch
  • Complete dependency on AppImage sometimes creates problem
  • Not a suitable distribution for beginners users of KDE Plasma

10. KaOS

The final distribution I would like to mention here is KaOS because of its uniqueness. KaOS is a specially designed Linux distribution that provides bleeding-edge KDE Plasma desktop with special focus on Qt and KDE. It is a rolling release Linux distribution and not based on Ubuntu/Fedora. It is an independent Linux distribution. Furthermore, it provides packages via in-house repositories that provides an extra quality over direct packages from Arch Linux. It is only available for 64-bit systems.

Pros

  • Well-designed KDE Plasma ready to use for new users
  • Rolling release with in-house repository gives latest KDE Plasma with extra quality in terms of stability

Cons

  • Not so popular and hence you may get less support in terms of forums, Google search
  • May not ready for absolute new users, as printing, errors may require a little more Linux knowledge

Honorary Mentions of other KDE Plasma based Linux distributions

Apart from the above list, you may want to check out vanilla Debian stable with KDE Desktop installed from scratch. That would give you stability of Debian with customized KDE packages you want. You can follow our Debian installation guide to get it going.

Also, one of the Linux Distribution I think needed a mention here – that is Q4OS. The reason is it provides Trinity desktop environment which is a KDE 3 fork. Not the latest KDE Plasma 5+ series. The earlier KDE 3 version was seriously nice, with its own set of aesthetics. Those who like earlier KDE Desktop and widgets, may want to check out Q4OS.

How to find out which is the best KDE Plasma Linux distribution for you?

There are several factors involved when you take a decision on a Linux distribution and Desktop environment. For example, you might always need bleeding-edge latest KDE tech, and it’s okay if it’s a little unstable. On the other hand, you might need rock-solid stability and may not require the latest KDE tech. So, holding on to that thought, here’s a quick comparison table we prepared for you to help you decide.

KDE Plasma with Linux Distributions - Comparison
KDE Plasma with Linux Distributions – Comparison

Conclusion

We have covered a list of the best Linux distributions that feature KDE Plasma desktop. We also listed some pros and cons with comparisons. Now, which is the best for you or your team/school/organization – is up to you to choose. But honestly, that is depends on the use case or the situations you are in or the problem you are trying to solve by adopting KDE Plasma desktop.

Choice is subjective and everyone has a different taste. With that in mind, I hope this gives you some guidance to adopt KDE Plasma desktop with a perfect Linux distribution. Let me know in the comment box below what is your opinion on the above list and comparison.


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Arindam

Creator of debugpoint.com. All time Linux user and open-source supporter. Connect with me via Telegram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or send us an email.
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