posted by Eugenia Loli on Mon 15th Dec 2003 07:07 UTC
IconThe latest beta of KDE's 3.2, beta 2, was released a few days ago. I installed the provided Fedora RPMs and had a look in this early pre-release version of the popular X11 desktop environment. Six screenshots are included. We look at both the strengths and the weaknesses of the DE.

KDE 3.2 offers a slew of new features, including an updated khtml engine, an SVG viewer/player kpart, better tab integration on Konqueror (which are now available for file management as well for web pages), CD burning via Konqueror, and even an addon-like technology, named Service Menus. Any user can hack together their own custom service menus and create their ideal addon menu without any C/C++ code. There is also a better Kiosk support, support for graphically connecting to Windows machines, and support for inline automatic spellchecking for some apps like kmail.

KDE 3.2b2 - click for a larger image The Kontact manager has seen a lot of work and seamlessly integrates KMail, the address book, the calendar, a notes system and a Palm Pilot kpart. Together with the KGroupware project this can be a very strong point of KDE pitching itself to the corporate desktop when Kontact becomes more stable (currently, I find it to not be as much). The now included multi-IM solution, Kopete, also integrates seamlessly with the KAddressBook.

New applications include JuK, KPDF and KWallet, a universal password application and new versions for a geometry app and KStars (the very nice astronomy app). Developers would find new versions of KDevelop, Quanta, Umbrello (a UML modeler) and the inclusion of KCacheGrid for profiling KDE apps. An interesting new app is KDialog which let's you create little GUI apps with simple shell scripting for use with simple tasks. A very handy tool that can do the job much faster than writing the equivelant C++ code.

KDE 3.2b2 had a copy of the latest beta of KOffice as well. The office suite looks pretty good, very well integrated together to all KDE apps, however I did manage to crash KSpread when loading a Gnumeric spreadsheet. Other new features include a Wi-Fi manager, a reworking of the KDE Center and a shuffling of some of the preference modules, the inclusion of KRandR to dynamically change screen resolutions, an updated Kooka version, a better "configure background" dialog etc.

KDE comes with a new theme as well, named Plastik. Plastik is one of the best themes I have seen on Unix/Linux, ever. It is simple, but on the same time very well designed, up to the point and without extra graphic bloat. It is clean and concise with the right amount of mouseOvers and colorings. It is just right, and I honestly hope that this theme becomes the default KDE theme instead of the hideous Keramik (remember, most of the users don't change the defaults, so it is important to serve them the best solution each time, in this case Plastik).

KDE 3.2b2 - click for a larger image There are a few more nice UI touches on 3.2, like a new vertical widget showing on the left bar of Konqueror, Quanta or KDevelop which auto-expands. Also, I love the bouncing icon when loading an app (also I believe that should be the default behavior). The Kicker modules now don't have a visible grabbing point; you need to place your mouse on the left of each module to get it to show and that results in a cleaner-looking Kicker. The context menus on the desktop have now being cleaned up and while there is still quite a number of menu entries in there, the situation is a bit better than before. The Trash's context menu is now just right too.

What are the best feature of KDE 3.2 in my opinion? Speed. Definitely way faster than any Gnome installation on my AthlonXP, even Slackware's. The KDE applications seem snappy, they load fast enough, and the widget/UI performance and responsiveness is far better than GTK+'s.

Table of contents
  1. "The KDE Solution"
  2. "The KDE Problem"
  3. "My Conclusion"
e p (0)    176 Comment(s)

Technology White Papers

See More