Unused Cycles

May 19, 2008

The Best (and Worst) of KDE 4

Filed under: GNU/Linux — Kevin @ 3:02 am

So I’ve been using KDE 4 for the past few days to try it out. Some things I’m very pleased about. Others, not so much. Here’s a short list of what I’ve found to be good and bad about it. But first, my specs:

Intel Core Due Processor @ 1833 MHz running Kubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron)
1 GB Ram
Sound Blaster Live! (with ALSA drivers)
Dell WLAN 1390 Wireless (with ndiswrapper)
ATI Radeon Mobility X1400 with fglrx 8.47.3 driver

  1. The interface itself looks pretty. I’ve actually stuck with the default theme for now, but I haven’t really experimented with changing around themes. It’s fairly easy in KDE 3, so I’m assuming that they’ve kept that ability in the newer version.
  2. CompositingKDE 4 has its own built in composited desktop effects. While nowhere near as flashy or sophisticated as Compiz Fusion or Beryl, they do add a nice zing to the desktop. The only problem I had with it is that when they are enabled OpenGL apps such as Google Earth flicker. This probably isn’t KDE 4’s fault, however; running Compiz Fusion in any desktop environment causes this flickering which seems, at least in the case of CF, to be the fglrx driver.
  3. Plasmoids – Desktop widgets similar to Apple Dashboard Widgets or Microsoft Gadgets. Interesting idea, but a very limited selection so far and no easy way to install new ones. Certain distributions have an import button, but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere. The KDE team says they’ll eventually have support for Dashboard Widgets (still in development) and Superkaramba widgets are supposed to work as well, but none come by default. And as I mentioned, I can’t install new ones, so I’m left with the dozen or so default plasmoids, of which about 2 are useful to me personally. Once support for these is actually implemented, it will actually be a useful feature! For now, I’m sticking with Superkaramba because of the wider selection.
  4. Konsole’s text input is a bit screwy. As I enter text, the cursor at times moves too fast for the input itself, and sometimes it moves too slow. I haven’t had this trouble with Konsole in KDE 3, so I’ve been using the KDE 3 version of it. Still haven’t figured out why it’s doing this…
  5. KDM hangs on logout when I use KDE 4. I had the problem with KDE 3, but was able to fix it. But the problem is still there with KDE 4.
  6. Objects on the panel don’t persist after I log out. For example, I usually run with four virtual desktops and I like it if it shows these in two rows on the panel. By default, KDE 4 shows them in one row, but I can change that to two easily enough. However, when I log out and log back in, it reverts to the original one row. The same has happened with other objects on the panel. Worse yet, I’m not a fan of the new K menu (which is reminiscent of the Windows Vista start menu), so I tried adding the traditional-style K menu (more like the XP menu) to the panel. First off, I can’t move the menu from the right of the screen to the left. Secondly, it again disappears when I log out.
  7. KMilo doesn’t work. Which means that I can’t control the volume with my extra buttons on my laptop. Which means when my computer starts blaring a YouTube video at an obscenely loud volume, I can’t quickly mute it. Luckily I was able to set global shortcuts for KMix, but this doesn’t show the volume percentage bar that KDE 3 has when you change the volume.
  8. Lastly, it seems that they’re trying to replace Kaffeine as the default video player with Dragon player. I’m a big fan of Kaffeine and it does the job just fine, so why they’re trying to replace it mystifies me. The new video player doesn’t seem to be as configurable as Kaffeine, either, but this may have something to do with the Phonon interface I’ve read a bit about.

Overall, KDE 4 is not for me yet. While I’ll definitely be upgrading to KDE 4 sometime in the future, not until the little things get worked out. I believe KDE 4.1 is supposed to be fixing some of these gripes, so here’s hoping!


1 Comment »

  1. I am writing this on KDE4 and I wholeheartedly agree…
    KDE 4 is far from ready, yet. BTW I am using Kubuntu and the last updates stopped my KDM from hanging!

    I have got the feeling, that the KDE is going the way of gnome, just in smaller steps, less possibilities to configure it to your liking, but as you said, this may be the fall time before all the new apps are ready. Right now it is more of a mess.

    What irks me the most is that Alt-Tab is hanging sometimes for up to five seconds, for no reason at all…


    Comment by Sven — May 30, 2008 @ 12:44 pm

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