Kate is a wonderful programmer's tool. Really, after using Vim like an addict for two years for all my coding, I've switched over to Kate within weeks of discovering it. You see, I have a scroll mouse which I use even during a keyboard-intensive activity like programming, and I can't use the scroller with either vim or gvim. A terminal-based editor just wouldn't do. Anyway, clearly much thought has gone into creating this application. It's got split views (both vertical and horizontal, just like Konqueror), syntax highlighting for all sorts of languages, a one-click terminal emulator (invaluable while creating shell scripts) and advanced find. An innovative feature is code folding - you can contract and collapse individual functions within your code by clicking on the (-) and (+) icons. While writing a rather long code file, this can speed up navigation many times over.
Kwrite and Kedit, though, seem to be treading on each other's feet. How is any one of them different from the other? I get the feeling that Kwrite is supposed to be slightly more feature-heavy than Kedit, but I conclude this simply from the observation that Kwrite takes longer to load! I have not observed any difference between these two editors that is significant enough to warrant two separate applications. The result is that I use Kedit for everyday editing tasks, Kate for my programming, and ignore Kwrite altogether. I suggest the KDE team to choose one of the two, define its focus/intent more clearly, and bid RIP to the other.
At the beginning of this article, I asked, rhetorically, if KDE 3.2 would enable me to use the command line more effectively. The answer to this strange question is yes. Presenting KDialog. A simple way of generating all kinds of dialog boxes via the command line. By no means is this new to KDE 3.2 - it was present in 3.1, too. The simplest dialog box, one with an OK button and some text, can be generated by
$ kdialog --msgbox "Hello, KDE 3.2 World."
I use this to great effect to notify myself about the status of a lengthy background job. For instance, compiling even a normal-sized application on my ancient machine takes an eternity. So, instead of a simple "make", I issue
$ alias kmsg='kdialog --msgbox' $ make && kmsg "Compilation Successful!" || kmsg "Error during Compilation"Then I minimise this terminal window and go off to do something more productive. When make exits, either of the two messages are displayed depending on the success/failure of the operation. No more periodic checking to see if make is done yet!
Another useful application of kdialog could be to generate a dialog box with a list of tasks and execute a command when an option is clicked. This could be bundled up into a tiny shell script and be easily executed by creating an icon on the desktop. This has already been implemented at kde-look.org. A tutorial on KDialog is available. Let your imagination run wild as you think up of even more ways to harness the power of KDialog!
Part 3: Bugs!
Most of these bugs below cannot be reproduced with any guarantee. That's why I haven't filed these as bug reports to KDE. Besides, I have not compiled from source, I've downloaded the Fedora RPMS, so I can't determine whether or not these are issues with KDE, Fedora or the Fedora RPMS.
- "Shutdown" and "Restart" features sometimes do not work. X and subsequently KDM is again respawned.
- Password-less logins in KDM do not work.
- Splash Screen does not work. Now I've read a review and seen screenshots of the splash screen working fine. That reviewer had compiled KDE from source. So I guess this is a Fedora RPM issue.
- Image previews in Konqueror do not work. Only Icons for file type image/* are shown. This in spite of having previews for images checked.
- Right-clicking on a directory and selecting "Local Net Sharing" brings up a message saying - "You need to be authorised to share directories". Running the wizard (as root), and enabling "Users can share files from their home directories" does not result in any changes.
Part 4: Conclusions:
Overall, even with its faults, KDE 3.2 is the fastest Desktop Environment that I have used. It's much faster than Gnome 2.4 or XFCE 4. In terms of productivity, it beats the crap out of even Windows XP. Of course, readers must take these conclusions with a whole fistful of salt, because this is from the point of view of someone who a.) is a Linux and Windows power user; is comfortable with both, and b.) has used both KDE and Gnome extensively right from their earliest versions. I cannot speak for the newbies, because it's been quite some time since I could call myself one. If you use Linux as your primary OS, and have some experience using KDE or Gnome, I'd strongly recommend you to take the plunge (even with this beta) right away! As the name of the once-popular Office suite for BeOS goes, GoBe Productive!
About the author:
Rahul Gaitonde is a final year student of Computer Engineering at Mumbai University. His first love affair was with RedHat Linux 6.0 in 2000, and since has used most versions of Mandrake, SuSE and Debian unstable 'Sid'; has also tried out Caldera, Corel (remember it?), Vector, Peanut, Knoppix, Lycoris, as well as FreeBSD 5.1 and OpenBSD 3.2. He currently uses Fedora Core 1 as his primary desktop. His areas of interest are Computer Architecture (especially RISC architectures) and Operating systems.