posted by Corey Taylor on Mon 11th Nov 2002 20:00 UTC
IconAs announced at The Dot, KDE 3.1 RC2 is now "Ready For A Hammering." Well, okay, so I decided to hammer away and here is my preview.

Introduction

One of the reasons I like GNU/Linux so much is that there is a lot of fresh new stuff coming out for the desktop. The rapid pace of free software development keeps my bleeding edge hunger satisfied. KDE has to be one of the most organized free software projects on the face of this planet. They are like the NVIDIA of the open source world. It's like they pump out a doubly more powerful product each year, with refreshers every six months. Don't get me wrong though, this is just a comparison, I'm not sure of the exact figures, but one thing is for sure, KDE releases early and often.

I have been a big fan of KDE since version 2. The last version I used seriously was the Slackware 8.1 provided KDE 3.0.1. Though, I think the 3.0 series is excellent, it still leaves something to desire. As GNOME 2 matured, I turned my attention away from KDE to tinker with GNOME for awhile. As much as I respect GNOME, I think KDE is a more mature desktop environment. KDE's strong configuration tools are always what keep me coming back. It's debatable, but KDE is easier to administer than GNOME. Also, the stock configuration seems much more organized and less stripped-down compared to GNOME.

Another thing KDE has over GNOME is it's file manager/web browser, Konquerer. Nautilus (GNOME's file manager) is really beginning to come into its own lately, but Konquerer is a much more complete (some might say bloated) file manager implementation, at least for now.

Now that you know why KDE is my preferred desktop, let me share why I turned my attention away from it to test GNOME 2 for awhile. KDE is ugly, GNOME 2 is elegant and simple. This is highly subjective, but KDE leaves much to be desired in terms of user interface aesthetics. Well, this may no longer be the case with the upcoming 3.1 release. After reading Andreas Pour's "KDE 3.1: The Best KDE Yet" (promo.kde.org/newsforge/kde-3.1.html), I am convinced the folks behind KDE are serious about improving KDE's look. Hence, my enthusiastic embrace of this latest release candidate.

Installing Qt and arts

KDE 3.1 RC2 is downloadable in source code form only (only Mandrake released binaries so far, I think). Thus, compiling a large package like KDE is never error free (at least while I'm at the keyboard, it isn't). My current distro favorite of the month is the recent Red Hat 8.0, which sports a spiffy, heavily modified GNOME 2 interface. I have to say, Red Hat 8.0 has become my favorite desktop distro, with Slackware 8.1 being my second favorite desktop distro, and favorite server distro.

My attention span being as short as it is, I decided to download the KDE 3.1 RC2 source code and attempt to get things up and running. This page suggests that you compile arts before anything else (it also tells you witch flags you should configure Qt with). I checked the prerequisites and thought I was ready to go. On first attempt, during ./configure arts complained that I didn't have the Qt development libraries available. After installing all the KDE development stuff from the Red Hat CDs, arts still refused to configure itself. This was my first mistake. I then attempted to download the most recent stable version of Qt from the Trolltech FTP site. I compiled and installed it, set all the necessary environment variables; arts still wouldn't configure. After about an hour of fiddling with environment variables, I finally decided to read the configuration error message and try to interpret it. It said: "error: Qt (>= Qt 3.1 (20021021)) (headers and libraries) not found."

What version of Qt had I just installed? 3.0.6. Idiot! Anyway, after finally realizing that I was installing the wrong version of Qt, I stumbled onto this FTP site. You can imagine my embarrassment when I saw a fresh Qt version 3.1.0-rc3. Hmm, it would make sense that the version of Qt which works with this version of KDE would be in the same download location. After beating myself for wasting half an evening, I decided I had to publicly mention my stupidity so others don't fall into the same time trap I just did.

After I had configured and installed Qt, I attempted to configure arts once more. I got one last configuration error, only this one wasn't so aggravating to solve. The configurator complained that arts needed libaudiofile to continue. I downloaded audiofile-0.2.3-1.i386.rpm from oss.sgi.com/projects/audiofile/download/rpm/ and attempted to install it. RPM complained that libaudiofile was already installed and a newer version at that. I quickly realized that I was trying to install the wrong file. Instead, I downloaded audiofile-devel-0.2.3-1.i386.rpm from the same location. Once I had installed it, arts configured and compiled. Finally!

Table of contents
  1. "Introduction, Installing Qt and arts"
  2. "Installing kdelibs, Setting up the environment"
  3. "Fonts, Icons"
  4. "Window dressing, Putting the O in OS, Conclusion"
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