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KDE4 reviewed

I’ve been able to download the KDE4 LiveCD by now, so I wanted to give it a test ride and write a basic KDE 4 review. These are my findings. I first and foremost want to stress I do not ever want to attack, offend or whatever anyone in this post (as reactions of vocal users on posts like these can be fierce sometimes ;-) ). These are my findings, both positive and negative.

One reason to read this until the end (in case you wouldn’t ;-) ):

KDE 4.0 Button Overflow

At first bootup the OpenSuSE bootsplash theme attracts your attention. I really like it, very smooth.

After a successful bootup (using VirtualBox virtualization) the KDE desktop starts. This takes a while, but this can be blamed on the use of a LiveCD, and a virtual machine. The splash screen is very clean, the use of black and rounded corners reminds me of Apple OS X a little, don’t ask me why. The icon animation is nice, although I think the transparency shouldn’t go all the way to completely transparent (at least, that’s what it looks like), an maybe it should change somewhat slower. Next to this, the last icon in row (the KDE icon) is much bigger than the others, which doens’t look nice. Anyway, minor details.

Once booted, the user is presented with his desktop and a ‘Useful Tips’ dialog:

KDE 4.0 First login

One can immediately notice the new themeing (at least, compared to what I remember of KDE 3.5). The window borders are pretty nice (I like the fact they’re integrated with the window content, notice the curve on top), icons in the dialog are slick. One detail I really dislike is the use of centered text. No clue why this isn’t simply left-aligned.

Once the dialog is closed, one can explore the desktop. As I mentioned in my previous KDE 4 post, I dislike the panel width. I could not figure out how to change this though: when right-clicking the panel in search of some “Properties” function, only panel applet-specific properties can be changed, and the panel border is not draggable. Maybe this setting is hidden somewhere else, but it’s not available in the (IMHO) most logical place.

There are 6 panel applets enabled by default: a menu (which integrates applications, places and system settings, as before, somewhat like the GNOME panel menu Novell created), a task manager, a desktop switcher, the clipboard manager, an applet to manage removable devices, and a clock.

There’s a minor issue with the applet represented by the computer screen: unlike the other applets, when hovering with your mouse above it, no tooltip is displayed denoting what this icon is all about. I could only figure this out once clicking it.

On the upper right corner there’s a hotspot which allows the user to add widgets to his desktop, or to ‘Zoom out’:

KDE 4.0 Desktop zoom out feature

I, honestly, have no clue what the use of that is. Luckily you can zoom in again too, although the hotspot context menu is zoomed out to one quarter of its original size too, which is really small (actually, not readable). Bug?

Posted in Desktop, Linux, Technology.

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17 Responses

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  1. kv says

    Is seems that there is something wrong with you distribution: I’ve tried both self-compiled and kubuntu-provided packages of KDE4 and I have totally different Applications categories (for example Sound Mixer is directly in Multimedia category and so on) and I have no PC Floppy drive entry in the Computer tab.

  2. Nicolas says

    As mentioned before, this review is based on the OpenSuSE LiveCD you can get here.

  3. kv says

    Hm, “Notification”->”Player Settings” controls which sound system is used to play notifications sounds while “Sound” category allows you to configure KDE sound system itself. This is not the same, for example you can select aplay program (or even some script) to play notification sounds bypassing KDE sound system at all. Or you can disable notification sounds completely without disabling sound in other places.

  4. Nicolas says

    Allowing the user to disable notification sounds is great, this setting should certainly be kept. I don’t know why one would use aplay to playback system notifications sounds though, and not the integrated sound infrastructure. After all, a normal user shouldn’t know about aplay. It’s as if in Windows you should configure your system to use the old “Windows Sound Recorder” tool to playback notification messages…

  5. kv says

    aplay was a stupid example. For a better example I could create a script that plays sound at daytime but does nothing at night and use this script to play notifications. I agree that its better to somehow mark this setting as advanced…

    Anyway, I like reading your blogpost. Thanks for pointing out the bugs you have found. I really hope that most of them will be fixed soon. In the meantime please take a look at this warnings:
    and this ones:

  6. David says

    The zoomout button isn’t in the official release. I’m not sure what the use of it is (multimonitor?), but they didn’t put it in because it doesn’t fulfill the use yet.

    For some reason SUSE put it back into their packages.

  7. Anonymous says

    About menu categories and positions, that’s usually completely defined by the distribution. openSUSE’s KDE3 has a patch with collapsed sub-menus with a single entry to the higher hierarchy but that has not been ported to KDE4 packages yet.

    About the floppy menu entry, it is hardware dependent. It doesn’t show up in my VMware nor on my laptop. Are you really sure that you didn’t configure a floppy to exist or that VirtualBox is bug free? :-)

    About the zoomout button, that was unnoticed by the Plasma maintainer removed by someone before the release so it’s not in the 4.0.0 tarballs. But it was restored afterwards in the 4.0 branch and the SUSE packages are contains post 4.0.0 branch updates so it shows up there.

  8. Anonymous says

    One additional note, to call this a “KDE 4.0 Review” when you’re basically only looking at two of the changed pieces (plasma and system settings) is a joke.

  9. Stoffe says

    KDE: All functions with no thought
    GNOME: All thought with no functions

    That’s how it used to be. Now GNOME has most – but not all – the functionality, but KDE still has very little thought… that is my impression from KDE 4. And seeing all the excuses about how a major version number isn’t meant for public consumtion etc etc etc etc etc etc, the KDE people know it too.

  10. troll says

    Beautiful bootsplash? Bootsplashes as a concept are entirely broken. There is absolutely no sane reason why a software couldn’t boot up fast enough so that you wouldn’t have to entertain the end user while waiting for it.

  11. Markus says

    It is noticable that you did your best to give a fair and unbiased review, and it worked out very well. Thanks for this feedback of yours!

  12. Nicolas says

    David, Anonymous: regarding the zoom button, I can only (just like every “normal” user) judge what I got in front of me, a day-by-day user won’t check any source code to know whether the feature is standard. If a distribution ships a package which feature X enabled, an end-user interprets this as a standard feature of X.

    Anonymous: regarding the floppy thing, I’ll check lshal and dmesg the next time I boot the VM.

    Stoffe: your words, not mine ;-)

    troll: actually, come check my hard drive performance. Even launching TWM in a simple X server using startx on a cold cache takes several seconds. On a hot cache it takes about 1s.

    Markus: I wanted this to be a fair review (I try never to be unfair, especially on things lots of people work on for fun). Great this was noticed, thanks a lot for the pleasant comment!

  13. Kike says

    Hi, do you know how to add icons in the task manager? By accident i deleted the KDE menu launcher, how can I restore it in the plasma bar?

    Thanks for any help..

  14. knifemonkey says

    Kike, I believe you have to remove the kde4 config files.

    • Bertie says

      Everyone would beineft from reading this post

  15. Alex says

    I am a big fan of KDE, since I first installed linux. I installed KDE 4 only some days ago, and the truth is that although it is innovative it has still long way to go. First of all, I didn’t like this only-widgets thing. It would be better if KDE kept some features of the previous version, like the panels, and of course the ability to customize them. Another thing I noticed (I am not sure about that, since I’ve been using KDE 4 for about 2 days now), is that you can’t use some applications of the previous version of KDE. From my limited experience with the new KDE desktop I also found it more difficult to customize it’s look and feel, and not in the same extend as the previous version.

  16. Webman2000 says

    The concept is great, in fact KDE4 is the first windowing system of any that makes sense. The problem is it has alot of bugs. Sessions dont save, widgets always have to be reopened etc. But the concept of a non obtrusive desktop is hopefully finally arrived. I gave up on X Window apps because they just werent there, and switched finally to Mac. Loved Macs simpicity, and then found KDE4 and now I think my MacOS gui is child’s play. KDE4 team has alot of fine tuning to do, but really, they have found the answer. Good job.

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