Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Monday, September 24, 2018 at 16:44

As many of you know, KDE neon is a special distro to bring the really latest KDE version from The KDE Project itself. KDE neon is a stable operating system as it's the official OS of Slimbook Laptop and actually I used it daily. But, KDE neon is available in User and Developer, Git-Stable and Git-Unstable editions. Previously, it even has a User LTS Edition. This may hinder us to download as we're not sure the version of packages inside it. How to know the differences between them before downloading? This short tutorial shows you the examples.

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The Basic

See .manifest file. It's available in each download page of available editions. A .manifest is a text file containing list of packages within the ISO image file. Sounds interesting, no?

A .manifest file on an ISO download page

Content of a .manifest file is simply lines of package names and their respective version numbers. For example, below is .manifest file of KDE neon User Edition 24 September 2018. You can clearly see left=package name and right=its version number.

Showing first 30 lines of a .manifest file

1. Check User Edition

What to check are number, name, and version of packages. In particular, this means you check whether or not this ISO image contains Plasma Desktop 5.13 or such. You will use some fun but truly useful command lines: wc -l, diff -y, grep, column --table, and head.

How many packages are inside?

$ wc -l neon-useredition.manifest

What packages are available? What's their versions?

See package names and versions of Plasma Desktop, Plasma Network Manager, Discover, Vault, etc.:
$ cat neon-useredition.manifest | grep plasma

See versions of KDE Applications you normally use:
$ cat neon-useredition.manifest | grep -e gwenview -e ark -e dolphin -e okular -e spectacle -e kinfocenter -e systemsettings -e kdeconnect -e kwrite -e ksysguard

See whether Xorg or Wayland is available or not:
$ cat neon-useredition.manifest | grep xorg
$ cat neon-useredition.manifest | grep wayland

See xorg and kwin-wayland? Those means neon brings both X and Wayland supports

Information gathered:

Conclusing from this comparison, you know:

  • Installing this ISO Image will give you Plasma Desktop 5.13
  • It will have 1578 packages installed
  • It has built-in Vault 5.13, Plasma Network Manager 5.13, Plasma Framework 5.50
  • It includes KDE Applications 18.18: Dolphin,Gwenview, Ark, KWrite, Okular, Spectacle, and so on
  • In includes KDE Connect 3.0.1

2. Compare User and Developer Editions

This one is really useful to satisfy your curiosity about what's different between both.

Take useredition.manifest and devedition-gitstable.manifest as example. Compare them.

See total package number between them both:
$ wc -l useredition.manifest devedition-gitstable.manifest

So, User Edition has more or less same packages as Git-Stable Edition

See different packages and versions between them both:
$ diff -y --suppress-common-lines neon-useredition.manifest neon-devedition-gitstable.manifest

See version differences? See where is kate belong?

You can save as the result into TXT file like this:

$ diff -y --suppress-common-lines neon-useredition.manifest neon-devedition-gitstable.manifest > user-vs-devstable.txt

Further, you can even save this as PDF if you like it

3. Compare Dev-Stable and Dev-Unstable Editions

You may wonder why there is a one more distinction under Developer Edition to be Git-Stable and Git-Unstable. The reality is, KDE publishes its whole source code also under two path, Stable and Unstable so KDE neon follows. Checking between them is really useful in case you really want the latest version of something that is not available in another Edition. Okay, compare them:

How many packages in them?

Hmm, so, stable includes more packages than unstable

What built-in packages are different?

Packages in Unstable are generally newer than in Stable

Whats the biggest difference between them both?
$ diff -y --suppress-common-lines neon-devedition-gitstable.manifest neon-devedition-gitunstable.manifest | grep -e calamares  -e ubiquity
See? Git-Unstable already uses Calamares, while Git-Stable still use Ubiquity

Information gathered: 

  • User Edition has KWrite while Dev Edition has Kate
  • Only Dev-Unstable uses Calamares, Stabla and User use Ubiquity
  • Both dev editions are basically very similar in package versions

That's All! 

Anyway, this simple tutorial is just the basic. At least, now you can analyze whether an ISO image matches the latest KDE Release Notes or not, whether it matches program version you want to test nor not, and so on. Go ahead. Try KDE neon and enjoy!

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.