I removed the kubuntu installation as i was fed up upgrading 1G every week on karmic branches. With that i lost a few good apps from kde.. which still can work but bring a lot of stuff as dependencies.
Searching for a replacement to quick launch … came across gNome Do. http://do.davebsd.com/download.shtml
Managed to move the minimize/close buttons to left and it does really help .. use gconf editor to edit the button location settings