So, after going round and round with Java settings and all kinds of ridiculousness I decided to try the Eclipse plugin route for JasperSoft Studio. So far this is working great.
I'm using Kubuntu 13.10 and whenever I tried to run Studio 5.5 standalone I would get java errors with no startup or it would run a little while and then crash. I tried lot's of fixes but then installed Studio through the Eclipse marketplace. This along with the Toad Database manager plugin has been a terrific experience. I've only worked on a couple of reports so far and may add more later but I had no crashes and I think it works faster than iReport. Plus you get more of the full Eclipse experience.
BTW: this is Eclipse Keplar and jdk1.7.
Just an FYI that will hopefully help someone else not spend time pulling their hair out.