Tag Archives: KDE

Fedora 16 KDE – First Impressions

A few days ago Fedora 16 was released. As a Fedora 15 user, I was eagerly awaiting this new release. The download is available here. This post captures my experience with the latest and greatest of Fedora.

Live System

This time, I had a pretty new computer at hand to try the live system on – an Intel Core i5-2310 2.9GHz Sandy Bridge processor with Intel HD Graphics 2000, 4 GB RAM and an LG DVD drive. I burnt the image on a DVD-RW and booted it. The boot process was a bit slow, the limitation being the DVD-RW. Once the live system was up, it was an absolute delight to use. It was fast and really stable, but with one problem. The supported screen resolution of 1280×1024 was not detected but rather set to 1024×768. Apart from this, there were no other problems.

On my laptop, a 4.5+ year old Dell Inspiron 6400 with an Intel Core 2 Duo T5300 1.73GHz with Intel 945 GMA and 2.5GB RAM, there was an error during boot stating that a bookmark couldn’t be saved. Not sure what this was, but, the desktop loaded successfully.

Installation

I went ahead and installed Fedora 16 on my Dell. The now familiar and straight forward installation took about 20 minutes to complete. This time I made one small change to the partitions and formatted my home partition with btrfs. I wanted to try first hand what the new file system is all about, despite being aware that it is not production ready, yet. Post installation, to my surprise, there were updates worth 175 MB. I went ahead and installed them.

Boot up and Shutdown

Boot time: 53 seconds with auto login.
Shutdown time: 13 seconds.

Software

KDE Platform version 4.7.3 is what this release is about, with Kernel version 3.1.1 (after the update) under the hood.

Fedora is known to provide only free software. The included software  reflects this philosophy. There is no Adobe Flash, Java or codecs. we have

  • KOffice
  • Konqueror
  • K3B
  • Kopete
  • Dragon Player
  • Amarok
  • Gwenview
  • Apper

However, adding the RPM Fusion repository, enables the installation of codecs and other non free software.

Desktop & Activities

The desktop in Fedora 16 is clean and refreshing with a wallpaper to match its code name – Verne. The default desktop just has Home and Trash icons. On the panel there is the Kickoff menu and to its right is the Show Activity Manager  icon. To the far right are the notification area, system tray and the clock .

Clicking on Show Activity Manager icon reveals four pre-defined activities with what seems to be a welcome effort to simplify the understanding of Activities.

1. Desktop – The regular KDE desktop with a Folder View widget at the top left. This is the default activity.

Desktop

Desktop

2. Photos Activity – Displays the photos in the Pictures folder or any user defined folder.

Photos Activity

Photos Activity

3. Desktop Icons – The classic desktop which allows icons to be placed on the desktop.

Desktop Icons Activity

Desktop Icons Activity

4. Search and Launch – A netbook like interface with large icons allowing the user to – as the name suggests – search and launch applications. Favourite applications are displayed at the top bar.

Search And Launch

Search And Launch

The currently selected activity is displayed to the right of the Plasma (cashew) icon.

Another small but effective change is the introduction of breadcrumbs within Kickoff. Earlier it was necessary to navigate the menus and sub menus one level at a time. Now I can jump from any level to the top level with one click thus saving time.

Kickoff - Breadcrumbs

Kickoff - Breadcrumbs

There is an interesting change in Dolphin which deserves mention. The menu bar is hidden by default. I guess the aim here is to allow the user to focus on files rather than being distracted with menus and options. Those who cannot live without the menu bar, can enable it from the Configure and control Dolphin menu.

Dolphin

Dolphin

I am yet to try out desktop effects, so no comments on that area.

There were a couple of problems when booting into the desktop. At the first boot after installation, the splash screen just froze. I rebooted once again and everything was back to normal and the desktop loaded as it should. There were a few crashes immediately after, without any major interruption to my work. However, a day later, I am yet to see a crash.

Connectivity

The wi-fi connectivity set up during the live system carried over after the installation which was nice. In Fedora 15, sometimes wi-fi wouldnt connect automatically after boot, but that issue seems to have gone away now.

Bluetooth worked fine and I was able to browse the folders on my phone in no time.

Conclusion

Fedora 16 has delivered yet another smooth, stable, sleek and solid desktop experience with KDE.

On distributions which support the live system, it would be great if the files created on the live system home folder were carried over to some sort of guest user account valid for the next day or so. One example where this is especially helpful is taking screen shots during the installation and not losing them accidentally after the reboot 😉

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Fedora 15 – Network Manager Update & Broken Wireless

An innocent update this weekend to my Fedora 15 (KDE) system broke the Wireless Connection. The culprits –  NetworkManager 0.8.9997-4.git20110620.fc15 and NetworkManager-glib 0.8.9997-4.git20110620.fc15. To make matters worse, anything I did within Network Manager crashed Plasma.

To fix this problem, I first setup a wired connection and then reverted both packages to their previous versions 0.8.999-2.git20110509.fc15, using this command

yum downgrade NetworkManager*

There is a forum link here which discusses this problem.

The official bug report: https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=716591

Fedora 15 KDE – First Impressions

A long time Mandriva user, I was distro-hopping for the past 6 months. I tried openSUSE 11.3, 11.4 and Fedora 14 – all in their KDE avatars. I couldn’t wait to try Fedora 15, which was released this week. I downloaded the KDE Live CD and copied it onto a USB stick using Unetbootin (I hate booting from a CD/DVD since it is terribly slow). Fedora booted up in less than a minute on my 4-year-old laptop and presented me a clean, pretty and solid desktop. After playing around a while, I decided on replacing openSUSE 11.4 KDE with Fedora 15 KDE.

Why KDE?

The big question first. I tried the new GNOME 3 on Fedora 15 Beta. First, my laptop didn’t have enough graphics capability to load GNOME 3 and fell back to the GNOME 2.x style desktop. Second, when I tried it on my brother’s computer, I found myself clicking more than required and I hate clicking twice when once should have been sufficient. GNOME 3 isn’t for me. I am planning to spend more time with it later, to check if I can use it as per my liking.

Hardware

An old Dell Inspiron 6400 with Intel C2D T5300 @ 1.73 GHz, 2.5 GB RAM and 10 GB for the root and 10 GB for the home partition with a GB for swap. Windows Vista resides in a 25 GB partition and my data in another 60 GB one.

Installation

The installation from the USB drive took about 15 minutes. It was pretty straightforward with standard questions like language, time zone, disk partitioning, root password and the like. Just before installing the boot loader, a message “Resizing partition /dev/sda1” popped up and put my heart in my mouth, but nothing untoward happened in the end.

Boot up and Shutdown

Fedora booted in about 50 seconds into a usable desktop. I have a single user setup and so this time includes auto login as well. It shut down in about 6 seconds.

Desktop

A customized Fedora 15 KDE Desktop

A customized Fedora 15 KDE Desktop

The desktop after the installation is clean with only an icon for the home folder and another for trash. On the panel, there is only the Kickstart menu to the left and the usual system tray and clock on the right. Of course, everything can be customized to either present a simplistic or fully loaded desktop feel. The wallpaper is slick and fresh, even-though I wondered  what the little golden thing on the bottom right of the tree is 🙂

Software

Here is a list of software that comes with Fedora 15 KDE from a user’s perspective, in addition to a host of other utilities.

  • KDE platform 4.6.3
  • KOffice
  • Konqueror
  • Dragon Player
  • Gwenview
  • digiKam
  • Kopete
  • K3B

Fedora sticks to free software and there are no codecs, flash or Java support in the default installation. These can be obtained by adding the RPM Fusion repos. I installed the following applications to make my desktop complete

  • Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1
  • Gstreamer codecs – Good, Bad and Ugly
  • VLC
  • GIMP

I have not yet installed one of the other Office Suites. Right now I don’t have a pressing need to create documents or presentations, so I kept installing office suites for another day.

My integrated Intel GMA wasn’t capable of running desktop effects. I turned on desktop effects only to be told that it was quite slow and hence temporarily disabled. I then disabled it permanently. It is nice to have desktop effects, but I hope I won’t miss it.

Update 1 – 28 May 2011: (Courtesy: comment by Arthur) To set up desktop effects that don’t get temporarily disabled, I followed these steps.

  1. Go to System Settings > Application Appearance > Style and select the Fine Tuning tab. From the Graphical Effects drop down select High Display Resolution and Low CPU and click on Apply button
  2. Click on Overview button to go back
  3. Go to Desktop Effects and select the General tab
  4. Check the Enable desktop effects box and click on Apply button
  5. Select the Advanced tab
  6. From the Compositing type drop down, select OpenGL and click on Apply button
  7. Select the All Effects tab and configure the effects you like
  8. Make sure the Blur effect is disabled

Connectivity

Wi-fi connectivity is a snap these days and I had no problems connecting to my router.

The Bluetooth adapter was not detected. So this was the only piece which did not work. I have to investigate this further.

Update 2 – 28 May 2011: The problem with Bluetooth seems to be pretty widespread and is documented in Bug 695588. The solution is to run the following commands in Konsole as root.

systemctl enable bluetooth.service
systemctl start bluetooth.service

KPackageKit

I must mention this. KPackageKit worked way better than it used to on Fedora 14 and openSUSE 11.4. It was buggy and behaved inconsistently earlier but now it is just fine, although it is a bit slow sometimes.

Conclusion

When I started my distro-hopping from Mandriva, I was of the impression that Fedora was going to be cumbersome to set up and unstable considering that it is cutting edge and needs to be tweaked quite a bit. But none of that was required. Fedora 14 was a solid release that reassured me to go ahead and install Fedora 15. I was not disappointed. So far, nothing has crashed or my laptop has not frozen. I find Fedora 15 far stable than openSUSE 11.3 and 11.4 and I intend to continue using it as my primary Linux system, unless Mandriva 2011 comes out and beats Fedora hands down.

Install KDE SC 4.5 on Mandriva Linux Spring 2010

Now that KDE SC 4.5 is out, I went ahead and upgraded my Mandriva Linux Spring 2010 from KDE SC 4.4 to KDE SC 4.5. Though the process is pretty simple, here is a simple step by step guide to upgrade to KDE SC 4.5. Please note that there may be other ways, but these steps use just the GUI. No command line involved here. So here we go

Step 1: Selecting the mirror

  • Head here and select a mirror.
  • Select the one closest to your location.
  • Copy the URL of the mirror

Step 2: Add Media

  • Open the Mandriva Control Center by clicking “Configure Your Computer” from the menu.
  • Provide the root password when prompted
  • Click “Configure media sources for install and update
  • Select File > Add a custom medium
  • Enter the details in the “Add a medium” dialog and click Ok.
Add a Medium

Add a Medium

  • Close the “Configure Media” window by clicking Ok again.

Step 3: Updating your system

  • In the MCC, click “Update your system
  • Updates from the newly added repository will appear.
  • Apply the updates

Step 4: Login to KDE SC 4.5

After the updates have been downloaded and installed, logout and log back in
Enjoy

Slax – Tiny, beautiful, functional

I had downloaded Slax a few days ago. But due to work commitments, I could try it out only today. I should say, I am

Slax

Slax

very impressed with this little distro.  Slax is a Live CD distribution meant to run from a CD or a USB drive. The default package is just 190 MB and the site offers iso images for those wishing to run Slax from a CD or a tar archive for those wishing to run it from a USB drive. An iso image can also be made from the tar archive and the iso image can also be used to run Slax from a USB drive. It works both ways and it is pretty convenient.

The best feature of Slax is Modules. Modules can be added to the default pacakge before download. Modules include additional programs, tools and utilities. Modules can also be added or removed at a later stage. This makes the distribution very versatile. Slax makes for a very good recovery or emergency OS.

Live CD

I tried the Live CD flavour of Slax. It booted up quickly on my laptop running an Intel Core 2 Duo T5300 processor with 1 GB RAM. I did not time the boot sequence, though. Another nifty feature of Slax is it can be loaded and run completly from RAM without the CD in the drive. This is very useful for people who have just one CD drive on their desktops or people using laptops.

Included Software

Slax is a KDE based distribution and it runs KDE 3.5.10

Other packages include

K3B
KolourPaint
Kopete
Konqueror
KOffice

plus other utilities a couple of games and tools for the Internet. The packages are not bleeding edge and this helps greatly in the stability of the distribution. There is no OpenOffice.org or Firefox in the default package. I figured out that Firefox can be downloaded from the modules, but did not check on OpenOffice.org

Conclusion

After running this distribution for a while, I immediately thought it would be a great fit on my very old PIII 1.1 GHz with just 256 MB of RAM. Currently this machine is chugging along with Win XP and Ubuntu with Ubuntu replacing Mandriva since the drive containing Mandriva failed. It is a stop gap distro and I was searching for something light to replace Ubuntu. From the time I discovered Slax, I have been researching how to install it on a computer. Since it is a Live CD distro there doesn’t seem to be a direct way to install it. All in all Slax is beautiful, minimal and functional.

I am still trying to empty my flash drive to run Slax on it and to see if my other files can happily co-exist. If I manage to do that, I will do another post.

Screen shots

Here are a few screen shots of beautiful Slax

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