Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Jan 2009 13:46 UTC
Editorial With Windows 7 having made its grand debut, and with KDE4's vision making leaps and bounds forward with every release, we have two major software projects that have decided to implement some fairly drastic interface changes. Such changes are bound to receive some harsh criticisms - but the funny thing is, these criticisms usually come from people you least expect it from.
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Member since:

I am sorry but the whole argument that KDE 4 criticisms are centered around an aversion to change is simply delusional.

Yes there are users who will resist change and will criticise a product due to that, this is not and has not been the primary criticisms for KDE4. Most technology advocate sites have praised KDE 4's direction with Plasma, Solid, Phonon, etc... It is a good direction and will eventually lead to a good user experience. 4.0 was not it. 4.0 was a disaster in communication down the entire pipeline. It was not usable as a desktop by any but the most forgiving. Yes Aaron and a few others posted on their blogs warnings but the statements were marginal and late. Users were not clearly communicated to, nor were distro teams evidently since many went to 4.0.

4.1 was an improvement but still far from stable or feature complete. Features had to be deferred and removed to allow the release. This was not a decision due to a paradigm shift in the way to use the desktop but a pragmatic decision to allow the product to be released.

4.2 is a usable desktop in some instances but still has some glaring and significant problems. For me the completely broken interaction with xrandr on laptops with intel graphics is significant. Rotating a screen crashes X in KDE 4 but not any other desktop environment I use. Adding a monitor using xrandr sometimes crashes X, sometimes KDE depending on the laptop. Either way I have to restart the session to get a usable desktop and still have no second monitor. This is not an aversion to change, this is the inability to do a basic function.

Most users of Linux who have been at it for more than a year or two have gone through multiple desktop environments, usually with significantly different ways on how to configure and operate in. Kde 3, Gnome, XFCE, and even KDE 4 in their default configuration have the same basic concepts for interaction, configuration, and window control. KDE 3 offers much more in the way of user configuration, while Gnome offers sensible defaults. But when it comes down to it the start menu, task bar, and application control via title bar and window level menu is common. Fluxbox, FVWM (yes FVWM is a windows manager but it can be configured to act as a dektop environment), Awesome and other more fringe environments behave differently from this common paradigm though. How many Linux users of over 3 years that you know have not tried at LEAST 3 distributions and various desktop environments? The willingness, even desire, to distro/desktop hop argues against a long term Linux users aversion to change. Indeed the average Linux enthusiast spends a significant amount of time playing and trying different environments to find what is most effective for him. This tends to suggest that most Linux users have the predisposition to experiment and determine effectiveness of an environment. The fact is KDE 4.0 and 4.1 was a significant step down in ease of use and effectiveness from 3.5.

KDE 4 is currently not as effective a Desktop environment as KDE 3 is. 4.2 is in my opinion on parity with Gnome now but has significant usability issues to its detriment. But do not balme the user for being critical of an application for dropping or breaking basic features. This is not an aversion to change it is a simple reaction to removing that which we expect out of a desktop environment.

This was from KDE 4.2 by the way but I have now come downstairs and want to use my second monitor so need to switch back to Gnome.

Edited 2009-01-27 15:27 UTC

Reply Score: 11

Yagami Member since:

sure there are alot of distribution hops in linux users.

but there are alot or most linux users that swear to a single linux distro. and use it through years, even when read or hear that others are better in some reviews.

kde4.2 dont have any usuability problem for me, but i dont have a second monitor, so i dont know.

but then again, i must and old linux user, since most of the time i used linux , it was hard to make even my primary monitor work, let alone a secondary. ( i am talking linux / X , regardless of desktop environment ).

but what basic features are missing ? what is considered basic features ? are are usuability issues and HIG studies ? at least kde 4.2 allows to completly hide the panel. there , gnome sucks kde rulez. ( being overly exagerated )

i guess the point from thom can be that : it depends on the users. some have issues with it , some not.

you have , i dont ! i dont have stock money in kde , so i dont need to defend it or be forgiving.

example : millions of people use windows. i still dunno how people manage to have a desktop without virtual desktops. same goes to osX before in earth would anyone claim osX had a good desktop without virtual desktops is beyong me.

since kde4 i have become addicted to activities. until another desktop implements activities, all but kde4 have usuability issues ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

sakeniwefu Member since:

at least kde 4.2 allows to completly hide the panel. there , gnome sucks kde rulez. ( being overly exagerated )

And this is where I disagree with the line of the article. See, I can take change, plasmoids are nice and can be useful.

However, when gnome panel wouldn't autohide properly they were taking features away from us.

The start menu cannot be simpler than the original Win95. You could browse it with two clicks. Now apparently we have to click and browse endless menus in order to be a *modern* OS.

In Windows 7, the classic theme is gone forever, now it seems you need 4096x3000 displays in order to fit a widget into your screen. I understand that some people have large screens and enjoy useless eye candy, but to me it is stealing screen real state. The same theme without ludicrously enlarged widgets and taskbar, wouldn't bother me at all.

Did Microsoft have to design the ribbons so that they took up *more* space than the original mess they were meant to replace?

Oh, BTW, and the Oscar goes to, GUI animations. "Yes you have clicked on that menu, but wait because you have to witness it unfold all its 3D beauty until you are allowed to do anything useful". You win extra points if the user cannot disable them or doing so will remove additional features.

All these are changes that remove functionality for the sake of change. Why do we have to put up with that?

Reply Parent Score: 6

Kokopelli Member since:

In fairness I just tried again and the last update to 4.2 partially fixed the dual screen problem on one of my 2 laptops. I can now go to dual screen without it crashing X.

- KWin crashes about every 30 seconds but the desltop stays somehow.
- There is a strut on the secondary screen where I do not have a panel.
- Plasma, thus desktop and widgets, does not work on the secondary screen.

But KDE does not crash and I can move windows over to the secondary screen so it is a start. Definitely not how it should be operating but usable within certain limitations. My older laptop still crashes KDE though.

That sort of sums up my experiences with KDE 4 so far. Buggy, crash happy, not as flexible, but with potential. Secondary screen just crashed entirely so better wrap the message up.

Reply Parent Score: 0

lemur2 Member since:

For me the completely broken interaction with xrandr on laptops with intel graphics is significant.

This is possibly due to a regression in the Intel graphics driver, Mesa or Xorg.

It does not necessarily have anything to do with KDE4. KDE4 does interact with the graphics driver and Xorg in different ways than other desktops, so it can pick up something broken in the graphics software that other desktops do not exercise.

Edited 2009-01-27 23:31 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

roddog Member since:

I just don't see KDE4 as a "Radical" change. Sure the underlying mechanisms are being rewritten and there is a bunch more bling associated with sitting in front of it. But in essence, it is the same experience. There is a "Start"-like button that brings up a menu, there is a task bar, there are some desktop widgets that can do tricks. This is not, imho, a "Radical" departure from the win95 outlay. When I think of Radical changes, I think of things like bumptop or some other interface that actually departs from the general framework set forth over a decade ago.

Reply Parent Score: 1