Ocean Mist

28 Dec 2007

Thoughts on the state of KDE4

Posted by astromme

This post started out as a reply to PinCushionQueen on the InternetTabletTalk forums.

I’ve been running KDE4 built from svn as my main environment on both my desktop (DIY Build with an AMD X2 and a pair of 7600GTs) and my laptop (Lenovo X61 Tablet PC) using Ubuntu 7.10 as the base. I must say that it is usable for me at the moment in its current state. I use kdesvn-build to keep myself updated, and I have removed my $KDEHOME a few times when weird configuration-related bugs crop up. Here are my thoughts.

Overall I am pleased with the state of KDE4 development. Of course, KDE 4.0.0 is not going to be for general users, and in some ways, it has not achieved even feature parity yet much less config parity. On the other hand, There are many things in kde4 that are simpler than their kde3 counterparts but at the same time maintain all of their flexability and configurability. These are some of my highlights:


– I <3 everything they changed. It's simpler to configure, looks sharper and cleaner, and is fast loading.


– Once I get support for jabber ssl (I have messed up somewhere, it does work) it will become my main messaging app. Looks clean, beautiful and seems faster. It also is easier to work with. (I’m sensing a pattern here…)


– This is still in pre-alpha state, but I like where it’s headed. And, I already love the 1.4.x series.


– I feel like we’ll really see plasma shine come kde 4.1.x. It’ll make its debut in 4.0, but you can clearly see that it isn’t even close to finished based on what Aaron Seigo has blogged about.


– I love Step. It is a physics simulator slated for kde edu 4.1. It is fast, nice, and has simple easy to use features. You can create particles, soft bodies, rigid bodies, etc.. and can apply forces, tracers, graphers, labels. I’ve blogged about it before.


– For that matter, everything in kde4edu seems polished, usable, and just better compared to kde3edu. Highlights are KAlgebra and KmPlot.


– I had my doubts when I saw early work on the oxygen theme, but it has REALLY come far, and it puts everything else I’ve seen to shame. This includes Vista Areo and Mac (Aqua?). It’s just beautiful. I feared that it would have too little contrast, or would be too glossy, but honestly it is just perfect for my needs. And, as a bonus, it looks great even with different color schemes (I tried black, green, ice blue, and purple!).


– Many of the features I loved in compiz/beryl are present in kwin now, including opacity, blur, and shadows. More interestingly, I’ve found two unique plugins I love. The first is “Dialog parent” which dims windows when they create dialogs, which is both visually aiding and reminds me that the window wants my input. Secondly, I’m using a plugin called “Thumbnail Aside” which lets me put mini transparent copies of windows at the bottom-right of my screen with . For example, I almost always have a terminal open compiling something, and instead of having it visible on my work desktop, I put its thumbnail on my screen. Then, when I stop seeing movement on the thumbnail, I know that the compile has finished. This would also work for converting videos (see when the preview finishes) or a file transfers.

– And – For a status update. I’m rebuilding KDE4 for maemo4.0, this time making sure I include as
many optional libraries as I can manage. Maybe I’ll have better luck this time.

A couple of last ideas:

Dolphin vs Konqueror

I love dolphin. It’s really smooth, simple, and just a joy to use. However, Konqueror is still my swiss army knife. I can do anything with it. So, for most simple file management tasks, I use dolphin, but for web/advanced tasks I use konqueror. And I like it that way!

KDE3 inside of KDE4

I can run kde3.x.x apps by running “/usr/bin/3xappname” if they’re installed on my system. However, some of them try to use kde4 resources because of the $KDEHOME setting. So, I have a session where I “ssh -X localhost” to get back all of my normal kde3 environment variables. From there I run for example “kontact & kopete & konqueror & konversation &” and I am greeted with my kde3 apps working perfectly in my kde4 desktop!

Wow, that was a long, involved post. I’m excited for January and the release of 4.0, but I’m even more excited for this spring and the work that will be done on 4.1

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