Tag Archives: KDE 4

First Look at KDE 4

KDE 4 the desktop environment for Linux was released on Jan 11. The release announcement is here. A nice guided tour is also available here. Having looked at KDE 4 Beta 4 and KDE 4 RC 1, I could not wait to get my hands on the final release. I downloaded the SUSE CD image, burnt it and got started.

The test system was custom built. I have given the spec below even though I tested using a Live CD

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 @ 2.2 GHz
  • 2 GB DDR2 RAM
  • Seagate 250 GB HDD
  • nVidia GeForce 8500 GT with 512 MB RAM
  • LG Super Multi DVD Writer
  • Acer 17″ LCD monitor

The Good

1. Stability – The final release is far more stable and usable than the two previous releases I had looked at. This is only to be expected. Congrats to all the developers who had worked on KDE 4

2. Response – The UI was very responsive and I never experienced a lag even while running multiple applications

3. Eye Candy – Plasma has improved greatly. Though the widgets provided don’t do anything great, they dont crash as they did earlier. Even the controls – buttons, scroll bars and the like – have been converted to blue which is more pleasant than the default green of SUSE Linux. The Oxygen icon theme looks beautiful, though I still could find some icons missing under Applications

4. Desktop Effects – Unfortunately, I could not enable the desktop effects while running the Live CD. I don’t have a spare system to install and check it out 😦

5. Configuration – The monitor was recognized and the correct resolution was set. Similarly, the network card, sound and everything else was configured on boot. Once I get my laptop, I should check for Wi-Fi. I know this is more of an OS thing but still I want to mention this here since last time I could not get my Ethernet card detected.

The Bad

1. Kickoff – After looking at Kickoff, I should say, whoever came up with this idea did not have the least idea of what usability is. And what pains me is the decision to use this idea and bring it out in the final product. Why should I click four times to open an application?

2. Konqueror – Again, how come Konqueror can even be imagined as the default web browser. Most sites don’t work on it. It was good to use it as a file manager in previous KDE versions and Konqueror was very good at that. But to use it as a web browser is a little disappointing. Mozilla Firefox should have been there, or if you are against it pitch for Opera.

Conclusion

A great release. Though the Live CD did not have a usable browser or an office suite, I assume it is up to the distros to add their favorite applications on top of the platform.

Screen shots

KDE 4 RC 1

Just when I was about to pop in the KDE 4 Beta 4 for another close look, the KDE guys let loose theKDE Logo RC1. This is available for download here and this is the OpenSUSE distro. The release announcement is here.

I grabbed a copy of the disk image and got started. Keep in mind that this is a live CD. The RC1 is a minor change in the version. Well looks like the version has been rounded to 3.96.00. But the text next to it still says KDE 4 Beta 4. Shows work in a hurry. At first look I was really surprised. But on another look, I observed the KDE 4 Beta 4 was version 3.95.2.

KDE 4 RC 1 - About KDE

At first glance, not many changes are apparent.

The desktop screen shot is right below the About KDE screen shot to your left.

The font for the clock on the task-bar had been changed and rightly so. Just refer to my previous post and you can see how bad the clock looks. Now things seem to be in order. Well, they just seem. I am still not able to right click on the clock and change its properties.

No major changes were visible on the other fronts too. As an example some of the icons for commonKDE 4 RC 1 - Desktop applications like Kate were missing. For a desktop that is touted as which will be the best, this cannot be considered acceptable.

One major problem I still have is that the Configure Network Card application does not work. As I have mentioned earlier, my ISP provided me a static IP and I have no way to set this and so I could not get online. Shouldn’t that be ready by RC1?

More work is still left. The guys have done a really great job and they should just not loose steam during this crucial period. Even if it KDE 4 goes for 10 RCs I think its fine, but when released, the fanboys from the other side should not have such easy targets to point out.

There are a few things that I had left out in my previous post. Let me tell you about them. KDE 4 RC 1 - PlasmaPlasma has got a lot of attention. I can see a few improvements there. Just as it was mentioned in the release note, the bits are falling into place and I can see that widgets have options to configure, close and drag them around. The hard disk info widget blanked my screen and I had to restart X.

KDE 4 RC 1 - Dolphin PreviewDolphin, now shows the previews of images. I have not checked with PDF files though. So there too the final fixes are coming in. Good sign again.

I tried to play an ogg file Amarok and it was good. I did not try the mp3 format sinceKDE 4 RC 1 - Amarok I was using OpenSUSE and mp3 by default is not supported.

The next thing I tried was Konsole and it worked pretty well too. I have a bunch of screenshots below for applications such as Konsole, Kontact, Ocular, Klondike and Sudoku.

For those who are not aware, Konsole is the terminal application aka command line. Kontact is the all in one Personal Information Manager. Ocular is the PDF reader for KDE. Klondike is Solitaire and Sudoku needs no explanation I guess 😉 ( I myself was interested in Sudoku, but, never became a fan )

Konsole

KDE 4 RC 1 - Konsole

Kontact

KDE 4 RC 1 - Kontact

Ocular

KDE 4 RC 1 - Ocular

Klondike

KDE 4 RC 1 - Klondike

Sudoku

KDE 4 RC 1 - Sudoku

KDE 4 Beta 4 – First Impressions

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

KDE4 Desktop

2. About KDE

About KDE

3. Menu – Favorites

Favorites

4. Menu – Applications

Applications

5. Menu – My Computer

My Computer

6. Menu – Recently Used

Recently Used

7. Menu – Leave

Leave

8. KWrite

KWrite

9. Gwenview

GwenView

10. Dolphin Preview Mode (did not work)

Dolphin - Preview Mode

11. Dolphin Column Mode

Dolphin - Column Mode

12. Dolphin Removable Device

Dolphin - Removable Device

13. Open Dialog

Open

14. Properties Dialog

Properties