I finally got time to try out the KDE 4 Beta 4 that was floating around for a while. I downloaded the Debian Live CD. It was around 420 MB in size. I burnt the iso to a CD and booted. I took a while before I was presented with the login screen. Well, there was no clue what to use for the User Name and Password. After a bit of googling I found that the User Name was user and the Password was live.
After logging in, I should say I was disappointed. There were not many apps and those that were available did not even open. So after some reading, I decided to download the openSUSE version. I downloaded it from here, burnt a CD and booted with the openSUSE live CD.
This was more or less a complete CD of about 590 MB containing most of the KDE Applications if not everything. There was a lot of applications that did not come up. I could not get to configuring my network card. My ISP provides me a static IP and I could not set it up and so no internet. Amarok did not work. The new KDE menu system is in place. I personally feel it is a pain. The older one was far better. Why should so many clicks be required just to open a program. But the Search bar on the top was a saviour and I ended up typing the names of applications in that instead of using the menu.
Whichever application worked, worked well. I was really impressed to see the Column mode in Dolphin file manager which brings a new level of usability. It is very very similar to Finder on OSX. I was only disappointed to see that Column mode was not available in the Dolphin I installed on my Ubuntu Gutsy. My USB thumb drive was recognised on plugging in and Dolphin showed the drive contents. I was able to open the files and save files into it. No issues there. But there was no icon on the Desktop. Neither was I able to directly open my thumb drive from the KDE Menu. Always had to go through the /home folder.
Now lets look at eye candy. Oxygen is the default there for icons and controls. I feel a distinction between the title bar and the menu bar would have been better in terms of usability. If I have several windows overlapping each other, it becomes quite difficult to figure out which one is where. The controls and the icons definitely look great though. Plasma allows user to add widgets to desktop. I tried to add a few. Again, a few worked perfectly and others did not. The hard drive monitor widget showed that I had 777.296 TiB free on all my four partitions. But it showed that I had 1.1 GiB free on my removable device which was correct. I have not testd Wi-Fi.
Those are the first impressions. This is for sure a Beta product and requires a lot of work to get things in place. I have touched only places where a normal user would play around. If you like me to cover some other area/application please let me know.
And for those who love screen shots, below are a few, 14 to be exact
1. KDE4 Desktop
2. About KDE
3. Menu – Favorites
4. Menu – Applications
5. Menu – My Computer
6. Menu – Recently Used
7. Menu – Leave
10. Dolphin Preview Mode (did not work)
11. Dolphin Column Mode
12. Dolphin Removable Device
13. Open Dialog
14. Properties Dialog