posted by Osho GG on Mon 19th Jul 2004 18:24 UTC
IconThis is not a typical review of a desktop environment such as KDE or GNOME. These are my observations when I updated from KDE 3.2.3 to KDE 3.3 Beta1.

Installation

Click for a larger version I installed KDE 3.3 Beta1 by compiling it using Konstruct. Nothing surprising here. Compilation and installation went smoothly for the entire KDE desktop. I created a new ~/.kde3.3 directory so that I can keep my settings for KDE 3.2 separate and to make sure that any bad behavior I encounter is not due to illegal/incompatible old settings. On the negative side, this means that I could not test how well 3.3 ports old settings to new settings. Oh, well.

KDE 3.3 Beta1

When I started KDE 3.3 Beta1, I was presented with KDE's Desktop Configuration. What I liked in this wizard was that Plastik is now presented as one of the style choices (which I think is the best among the styles that come with KDE). Nice. Unfortunately, it is not the default but it should be. I also noticed that the startup speed has improved. The "aKademy" splash screen is new and looks cool! Also, everything feels more snappier and quicker. Applications seem to launch faster. If you configure to preload an instance of Konqueror at the start up time; all subsequent launches of Konqueror are lighting fast.

KControl

KControl is KDE's Configuration Control Center. KControl has been criticized for being too complex in the past. I can't say that it has become simpler - I wish it can be though without losing any configurability. It has received a number of enhancements. KControl Fonts dialog selection is cleaned up with more advanced options available by clicking on "Advanced Options". Also, it allows to set hinting level to full,medium etc. This was available in gnome-font-properties but not in KControl, till now. KDE Window Decorations have new buttons that could be part of a window's title bar. These buttons are: Keep Above Others, Keep Below Others, Resize and Shade. One can customize where one wants these buttons. Not all window decorations are capable of showing these new buttons. I have found that only KStep and Plastik window decorations can display these new buttons (except the Resize one). Here is a screen shot with Plastik window decoration with these new buttons.

At first, the window decoration seemed really clutterred to me. But, after a while I started liking it - particularly to send some windows to "always below other windows" mode just by clicking on a button on window decorations. It gets the window out of your way just like minimizing while still keeping it around to look at where it is not obscured by anything else. Screen Saver Setup has an additional option "Require password to stop after Seconds". This is a really nice and handy setting if you often find that screensaver starts but you are too late to touch the keyboard to stop it from asking a password. I like this new feature. Kcontrol -> Desktop seems to have a new entry "Window Specific Settings". This let's a user easily configure windows settings for some windows. This could be used to set that a particular application's windows has a particular size, appears on a certain desktop, has certain focus policy etc. I tried it and it is really useful to easily configure sizes of a particular window's size, position or the desktop that it appears on. I know that window managers since fvwm1 (and probably earlier) have provided this capability. However, this time it is matched with a very easy to use GUI that a user with a fear of editing text configuration files would really appreciate.

There is a new "Theme Manager" in KDE Control Center. One can create a complete desktop theme which consists of: Backgrounds, Colors, Styles, Icons and Screensaver. In an effort to simplify KDE Control Center, all these settings could probably be put inside the Theme Manager. There is a capability to install themes that change all of these components. There was a theme manager in earlier KDE versions but it never really worked well (atleast for me). This seems a newly written piece which will hopefully make it easier to change the look of the entire desktop from one place.

For IBM ThinkPads, a new KControl module is available with a KMilo service. This provides user feedback when user changes Volume, Screen Brightness etc. using Fn+special keys on IBM Thinkpads. Since I use Linux on Thinkpad exclusively, I was really happy to see this! My only wish here is that I would like a way to specify the function for the Thinkpad switch.

Table of contents
  1. "KDE 3.3, Page 1/2"
  2. "KDE 3.3, Page 2/2"
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