KDE 3.2.1 has many improvements, and KDE seems to be advancing much faster than any other desktop. The sheer customizability of this desktop really excites me. Not to mention the community support and the amazing things you can find on KDE-look. KDE is fast, stable, and easy to use. Some people criticize KDE for too much customizability but I like to have it my way, and KDE lets me do it. In fact, the introduction of KDE is what kept me with Linux after using Gnome on the early versions of Red Hat.
KDE 3.2.1 has a bug where SuperKaramba themes are always on top. Okay, maybe it is a problem with SuperKaramba, I don't know, and I shouldn't have to know. Please fix this! That said, perfection is in the details and KDE has a lot of the details right. For example, launch feedback with the bouncy icon by the cursor is a nice touch. The addition of alpha-blended cursors and shadows (though I think that this is from XFree86, not KDE in particular) is really nice, too. The kicker panel has been improved, with improved transparency and the ability to remove those ugly handles.
KDE is very Slackware-friendly, as you can always find pre-built .tgz files of the latest release of KDE. You download each file from the ftp site and then installpkg *.tgz as root. The upgrade is fast and easy and the boot time is improving. Bloatware? Hardly.
I did have some problems that I managed to fix after the first couple of weeks (I do not get a chance to play with Linux every day, mind you). My i810 onboard video hardware acceleration was not working, though I added the appropriate DRM and DRI sections to the XF86Config file. I finally figured out that there is an xf86config program that asks you questions and writes an XF86Config file, which did actually correct my DRI problem and suddenly my OpenGL screensavers were working (except the Star Wars scrolling/distance fading text screensaver – that one crashes my system after a certain amount of time), and glxgears was up to 400 fps from 150 fps (which is still slow by today's standards, but keep in mind that this system is 4 years old). The i810 graphics are substandard but that was always the point of onboard video – if you want performance, shell out the extra bucks for a discreet graphics solution. Even so, I get a lot of graphics glitches on my i810 from time to time, mostly in KDE in the title bars and scroll bars. Has anyone else experienced and/or fixed this issue? I do not know if this is KDE or the i810 driver. Even though the Linux driver is supposed to get around the BIOS video memory option (1MB pre-allocated), it does not seem like I can get to 1024x768 at a decent color depth. I set the video memory to 16MB in the XF86Config file but this has not fixed anything.
Another problem that I experienced was that MySQL was not working properly. As it turns out, MySQL does not get installed completely in Slackware like it does in other distributions. A quick search on LinuxISO got me the answer I needed. Please fix this, Slackware team, as many utilities depend on MySQL or PostGreSQL (I do not have a preference but I would like one or the other to be working after the operating system is installed).
My third problem involved the onboard audio with the i810 chipset. KDE kept giving me a hard time about audio failures and I even recompiled the kernel to be sure that i810_audio was compiled in. It turns out that I just needed to modprobe i810_audio and then add this statement to /etc/modules.conf in order to load the module at every boot. Why didn't this happen automatically? My Soundblaster Live! Value was detected and loaded properly on that old PIII machine and I expected the same behavior. Perhaps Slackware's hardware detection is broken for this old chipset and nobody noticed. Another one for the Slackware team.
Getting my printer working in Slackware was a chore. I know, there are probably a few thousand high school kids out there that could do it in their sleep, but not me. My setup was very easy in Red Hat 9.0 and I had hoped it was as easy with Slackware. I have a Samsung ML-1210 laser printer running on a Hawking Technologies print server. I tried using various methods and eventually worked my way backwards far enough and had just enough help from linuxprinting.org to get it working. Here's the short of it: Slackware does not use the typical SysV init scripts, it uses rc.sysinit (BSD-style). rc.sysinit, in turn, checks to see if the files in the /etc/rc.d folder are executable and, if they are, runs them. My rc.cups file was not executable, so I did chmod +x rc.cups, then ./rc.cups start and CUPS was then running. Hooray! I pointed my browser to the CUPS web administration tool (http://localhost:631) and added my printer, pointing to the .PPD file I downloaded from Samsung, and set it to use "ipp://192.168.1.102/lp1" instead of "http://192.168.1.102/lp1," which did the trick. I had tried apsfilter, foomatic, editing /etc/printcap manually, and using the KDE print manager to add a printer, all to no avail. That was too much work! If Linux is going to make headway onto the desktop, something as simple as printing cannot continue to be this difficult.
I had one heck of a time figuring out how to get mod_php installed. It turns out that I just had to add a few lines to my httpd.conf. Shame on Slackware; this worked out of the box in my Red Hat 9.0 system. Why would the majority of people install PHP without wanting mod_php installed at the same time? This should be done by default or the user should be provided with an easy way to get it done.
My onboard 3Com ethernet adapter does not want to work in kernel 2.6.3. I looked and, for some reason, my /usr/lib/modules directory for the 2.6 kernel was empty – no wonder dmesg had all kinds of messages about not finding modules. I think I'll have to reinvestigate this; for now, I'll stick with the Slackware-current kernel (2.4.25).