I love KDE. I want an article introducing GNU/Linux distros dedicated to latest KDE so I write this one after my list of XFCE distros. By latest here I mean a distro which the ISO image is produced often (say, daily) to contain latest KDE release in the all three components of the Plasma, the Applications, and the Frameworks. I selected 5 distros: KDE Neon, openSUSE Krypton, Chakra, KaOS, and Fedora KDE. I hope you find your favorite one here. Read on and enjoy!

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Latest KDE


Before proceeding, we need to know what is currently latest KDE versions and their respective release date:
To see list of components and/or detailed information of each, follow their respective links above.

1. KDE Neon


https://neon.kde.org
Neon is an official operating system of KDE Slimbook laptops, it's a stable but always with latest KDE as it's a distro from KDE itself. No wonder it's the first distro to release any new KDE changes directly to the users. If you're accustomed to Kubuntu and Mint KDE, you will find Neon to be similar and familiar. ISO image of latest neon is always produced once there is a new KDE release. So if you download neon after an announcement from KDE, you can be sure it has the latest KDE packages announced.

  • Download: https://neon.kde.org/download (choose the User-Stable Edition instead)
  • Architecture: 64-bit only
  • Package search: https://packaging.neon.kde.org
  • Documentation: https://docs.kde.org
  • System installer: Calamares
  • Comment: I tried neon 5.14 (from 20-Dec-2018 05:53 ) and basically I got Plasma 5.14.4. The base system is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. The repository special for KDE is located at archive.neon.kde.org and it provides truly latest KDE Plasma, Applications, and Frameworks.
(KDE neon 5.14 which brings Plasma 5.14.4 as well (well, of course))

2. openSUSE Krypton


https://en.opensuse.org/SDB:Argon_and_Krypton

openSUSE officially has two versions, Leap (fixed) and Tumbleweed (rolling).  Being a long-time KDE distro, apparently, openSUSE has two edition of always-latest KDE versions which are Argon (based on Leap) and Krypton (based on Tumbleweed). I selected Krypton as it's the one still supporting 32-bit aside of 64-bit. So it's a good alternative if you cannot use neon and a good choice if you are already familiar with openSUSE family.


(openSUSE Krypton with KDE 5.14.4)

3. Chakra


https://chakralinux.org

Chakra is originally a derivative of Arch GNU/Linux but soon after it became a stand-alone rolling-release distro. Chakra very explicitly states itself as dedicated distro for KDE and Qt on the main webpage. If you know Hyperbola OS, it's a mix between stable release (ala Debian) with rolling release (ala Arch): it's similar to half-rolling release model of Chakra. Chakra has considerably stable core system (for now, the only installer available is dated 2017 "Goedel") while you can update applications infinitely everyday to get the latest KDE. Not like any other system here, newest ISO image of Chakra is not produced often. Similar to Arch with AUR, Chakra also has a centralized Chakra Community Repository (CCR). However, Chakra is not compatible to Arch, repo and packages from Arch are not recommended to install on Chakra. If you want to try both rolling and KDE-centric distro for your first time ever, Chakra is a good start.

  • Download: https://www.chakralinux.org
  • Architecture: 64-bit only 
  • System installer: Calamares
  • Package search: -
  • Documentation: https://community.chakralinux.org/t/welcome/8
  • Comment: I only run Chakra from LiveCD and it has Plasma version 5.10.5. But once installed, and properly upgraded, latest Chakra (as per 23 December 2018) would have Plasma version 5.14.4 dated at 2018-Nov-29 10:39 from official repo. This is the only difference to all other systems here: Chakra needs to be installed (not LiveCD) and upgraded for you to enjoy the latest KDE.
(Chakra Goedel with KDE 5.10.5)

4. KaOS


https://kaosx.us

KaOS, in similarity with Chakra, is an explicitly dedicated distro for KDE and Qt, with rolling release model. KaOS was the only one GNU/Linux distro ever had a goal to switch the kernel into illumos kernel (illumos is a non-GNU free operating system derived from source code of OpenSolaris and has a derivative named OpenIndiana). KaOS is a unique distro which deliberately "select" its users: those who have tried many distros and already found out the best choice is with KDE ones. Just similar to Arch with AUR and Chakra with CCP, Kaos also has centralized KaOS Community Packages repository (KCP). If you are tired in distro-hopping and in fact a long-time KDE fan, then I belive KaOS will be more suitable for you than Chakra.


(KaOS 2018.10 with KDE 5.14.0)

5. Fedora KDE


https://spins.fedoraproject.org/kde

Fedora, a GNOME distro, has many Spins ("Flavors" in Ubuntu terminology) including Fedora KDE. Fedora is widely known as a cutting-edge (latest technology platform) operating system where many free software solutions introduced on it earlier compared to any other distros. So, no wonder Fedora KDE gives you very latest version of KDE packages (and for power users: you will get more latest if you change the repository into Rawhide). Fedora itself is a fixed release distro, but if you use Rawhide repo it will be rolling release. If you missed KDE on Red Hat Enterprise, or found out too old KDE versions on CentOS, then Fedora is the best RPM distro to test latest KDE for you.


(Fedora KDE 29 with Plasma 5.13.5)


End Words


That's all. I think some of you may wonder why I don't include Mageia and Netrunner here. Also, I don't include Q4OS even though it re-continuing the development of KDE 3. The reason is because I want an always-latest KDE distro like neon either it's modeled after Ubuntu (fixed-schedule release) or after Arch (rolling) and they have something new or unique. Netrunner is rolling enough, but there are already Chakra and KaOS for that. Manjaro KDE is same. Mageia is like Kubuntu for not being latest-version pursuer. Perhaps you would say Dragora or GuixSD? No, they even don't have ISO image with KDE built-in. And yes, I don't list Kubuntu here as it's not always-latest, or you must use third-party repository to obtain them. So I hope this is clear.

With five distros here, I can test a latest software from KDE only with LiveCD without altering my working operating system. You can take advantage of what I'm saying, plus, new experience in the rolling ones. And yes, if you cannot use KDE neon as your computer is 32-bit, there are still Fedora KDE and Krypton for you. (And for what I said in the beginning, you can see PureOS Plasma being very promising dedicated KDE distro which is fully free software but unfortunately it's not officially released yet.) Finally, I hope you'll like this list and enjoy them all!

References





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