Netrunner 4.2: It's an Everything but the Kitchen Sink Kind of Distro (Review)

10:22 AM

Netrunner 4.2 has turned out to be the kind of distro I love and hate at the same time. While syncronization with services such as Google and Facebook is a welcome addition to KDE, I can't stand the fact that Netrunner chooses to include almost every piece of imaginable software. This makes it confusing for me; I can only imagine how confusing it would prove to be to a new Linux user, which this distro seems to be aimed at.

Netrunner 4.2 came out on the 21st of this month. Perhaps I just haven't been paying attention, but this is the first time I've seen Netrunner mentioned on Distrowatch.

According to Distrowatch:

Netrunner is an Kubuntu-based distribution with a focus on desktop computing. It boasts a carefully tuned KDE 4 desktop with many integrated GNOME applications to offer users a selected mix of popular and powerful programs.
 The Netrunner download is about 1.7 GB, so this is definitely a distro you want to steer clear of if all you got are CDs. It is based upon Kubuntu 12.04.

The default desktop isn't the most beautiful default desktop I've seen, but it is fully functional. There are a few links on the desktop that immediately caught my attention:

Runner-ID is Netrunner's personalized built in cloud storage service. You get 1 GB free with the creation of a Runner-ID account. I wish I knew why they only offer 1 GB free when most cloud services offer 2-5 GB free, but this is still a nice addition to the desktop, especially when you consider Kubuntu doesn't come with Ubuntu One. 

Another link that caught my attention on the desktop was Web Accounts. I have mentioned my frustration before with getting Google synchronization working in KDE. This application makes the synchronization process painless:

Another feature I noticed about Netrunner is the My Computer link. This takes on a very different look from the My Computer I'm accustomed to:

I really like Netrunner's implementation of this. It makes getting the list of devices and system information a lot more welcoming and easy to access.

Something I don't understand about Netrunner is it seems to have an application for everything. I know some power users may prefer this kind of approach, especially if they're the type that dabble in a little bit of everything. But Netrunner seems to be a distro geared towards new Linux users, and I don't understand how including so many applications can be called being select. 

Here are some screenshots of the applications in this distro:

This is actually a part of the distro I can agree with.It's all part of Netrunner's attempt to be a Google, cloud, and Facebook friendly OS. The only thing I would suggest adding is a link to Google Drive. 

Ok, so I understand this is an everything but the kitchen sink kind of distro but I don't understand the need for three music players. 

Look at that system menu.... ouch! Even worse you have to move your mouse pointer all over the screen to select items in the menu. I don't understand why Netrunner went with this kind of old school Windows XP approach with the application launcher. The regular KDE application launcher works so well on its own, with both a list of applications and a search box. Still, the regular KDE application launcher can be easily added on if you don't like the default. 

There are a few problems I noticed with Netrunner:
  • Bittorrent magnet links open up Qtransmission, but the torrent doesn't load. 
  • There was no sound on my install. I don't know whether I should blame the virtual machine for this or not, but I normally do get sound on my Linux installs. This was not part of the known issue with sound being turned all the way down. 
  • Netrunner experienced errors with various applications constantly while it was running. 
  • The default plugins, Lightning and Oxygenate, weren't compatible with the installed version of Thunderbird (no biggie, there were updated versions available).
  • Users can't benefit fully from the Google synchronization because Kmail has been removed. 
  • Kopete doesn't show the list of contacts.

Despite these problems, I look forward to seeing how Netrunner matures. With just a few fixes it could very easily be in one of my top ten distributions thanks to its inclusion of synchronization and cloud services in KDE. However, I feel that Netrunner needs to either improve on its efforts to reach out to new Linux users or it needs to redefine its audience. Currently the distribution ships with way too many applications to be considered a "newbie" distro. Netrunner could also use some improvements to its stability. Overall, I give Netrunner a 6/10

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  1. Hello Jonquil,
    thanks for reviewing Netrunner!

    Reviews like yours really help us make the distro better, like fixing bugs or deciding on features for the next release. Actually we like to throw in a few new apps from time to time to make people aware of them and get feedback to know which ones are preferred.
    So for example which audio player would you like to stay or see in version 5?

    The classic menu will be replaced by something completely new in version 5.

    With kopete, do you mean telepathy? It shows all contacts currently available for chat if I recall correctly.
    You should be able to see if all contacts loaded in Kontact (Kmail actually isnt completely reomved, you can actually find it still in Kontact Settings and activate it (though we've chosen Thunderbird for various reasons for Kmail being not totally bugfree yet, as quite some bugs still relate from upstream KDE or Kubuntu. That's no excuse though to not work on having everything fixed)).

    As for the bittorrent magnets, we have filed a bug:

    (Actually, it was very hard to popst this comment,as I couldn't see the captcha due to the older posts block in the way of the iframe, so i had to show this iframe with right click and then publish the comment (maybe you can fix that?)

  2. Hi Starbuck, thanks for reading my review!

    I think I would prefer to see KDE's default audio player in there, Amarok. It seems to fit the best with Netrunner's philosophy.

    Telepathy was one of the programs that kept crashing on me, so it may have been the reason why I had problems getting contacts to show up in Kopete.

    I'm glad to know the team is aware of the problem with magnet links.

    I will see what I can do about the captcha.

  3. Since this blog does require a login, I see no need for the Captcha. It's been removed. Let me know if that makes things easier for you! :)

  4. Yes, much easier now to comment :)

    Generally qtransmission can handle magnet links, it's just a copy over from firefox that seems the can copy the magnet links manually though into the "open folder" dialog.

    You could also try updating telepathy to 0.4 once its available from the repos and see if it fixes your crashes (it seems to work fine here).

    Which version do you use (32/64)?

  5. I used the 32 bit version because the 64 bit version crashed as soon as I launched the installation program. Unfortunately I don't remember the exact error message I got, though.

  6. I have tried many KDE distros and Netrunner 4.2 is the best so far. :)
    I still trying many other linux and always coming back to netrunner again (not virtual installations)
    I Have been installed netrunner about 20 times (from DVD-R/flash drive) and never have any problems with installation. (yes im freak but it's like 30min to go so why i have to use Virtual box? don't get me wrong i like virtualbox, just perhaps for PC-BSD or something like that)
    in my pc i use two operating systems win 7 and netrunner 4.2 (win 7 just for games :)
    I do have some small problems like somebody said with microphone ant ... but shom me linux with have none ?!

    things i like in netrunner:
    dizain how it looks like and works
    many programs with i use already installed
    fast boot fast and simple installation
    force-quit (i like it:)

    things that I think have to be changed:
    most important ting I registered in netrunner forum and still don't have any email with password and can't log in ?! mabe more people have same problems?
    KDE - linux distribution based on KDE if you want to be popular please please please fix all bugs or at least as much as possible.
    because basically all linux same and people see just screen graphical interface and work with it every day and all day long and bla bla bla...
    nothing can be better then come back from work turn on your PC and have no problems with errors bugs or other annoying stuff and all that just in an operating system
    basically nobody care about latest kernel version or stuff like that, everybody just want nice, good working, fast and safe OS.

    configure display(display settings)
    i think then you press "right" mouse button on desktop have to be included "display settings"
    now more about "display settings" - I have never seen linux with KDE where it works without any problems (I mean then you connect extra monitor)
    in netrunner i can't choose proper size it just like my laptop or less,
    and it works just in position "clne of" and even in this mode sometimes my screen start to get bugs like for example down panel with clock, sound, network connections icons disappeared and will appear just then I pointing my mouse on it
    on linux mint KDE extra monitor have normal resolution but have more bugs in other funktions...
    maybe I the only one use external monitor on my laptop or maybe I the only one have problems with KDE monitor settings panel
    why in multimedia menu no Audacious player? it is for music and the rest players is for "everything" (and I really don't need that my music player will do for me printer, scanner job or wash my dishes)
    it is for mp3 and many people mousty need just that :)
    any programs with password encryption in netrunner? (you can start with "password gorilla" at least i use it :))
    can't remove from "run" panel "web-games" web-sites" "web-apps" or if remove they appear on top on it ?!
    I have seen in some linux that you can choose in "run" menu with browser to install or just simply mark all of them and install.
    Could be same for choosing video player, mp3 player, internet browser, mail, and ... so you don't have to put them all because many users use just one of each type of those programs
    Can't run "" games in netrunner:
    in firefox it: "You're using an unsupported version of Java. Please install the official Sun Java from"
    in chromium: something like I have to activate Java something with firewall?!
    and the funny thing is when I installed first time netrunner I did something and it worked but now I just can't get it to work no matter how many java, flash stuff I installing...
    I am not a person who like everything and who need 100000 of programs, but if I use some of them I would like to that they work nice (maybe because I will use them every day)

    anyway the best KDE distribution I found so far and i tried a lot (gnome to).
    sorry bad english :)

  7. me againt:
    just found my registration pass from netrunner forum in spam folder of gmail
    sorry about that :)