The release of KDE 4.0 was not a smooth one, and left a number of users a bit disgruntled. Still, the release showed so much potential that it was oozing out of every pixel. KDE 4.1 improved significantly in many areas of concern, but it wasn’t yet ready for everyone. With today’s release of KDE 4.2, the KDE4 vision is ready to face not only developers and enthusiasts, but every users. We have taken a look at the release candidate for KDE 4.2, and we have a short interview with KDE’s Aaron Seigo.
KDE 4.2 Released
KDE 4.2 comes packed with new features, improvements, and bug fixes, and the KDE team claims this is the first release of KDE 4 ready for everyone, not just developers and enthusiasts. After having tried the release candidate for a while, it becomes clear they have a very, very good point here. It’s not perfect – but no one ever claimed it was – but it’s leaps and bounds ahead of the previous releases, and this is the first release where you really get the idea that you’re using a proper desktop environment instead of a loose collection of promising ideas.
Plasma has seen a lot of work. The Plasma panel has gotten most of the features of the tried and true KDE 3 Kicker panel, such as panel autohiding and task grouping. The system tray not only looks better, but also received some additional features, such as tracking long tasks such as downloading. The Plasma desktop can now act as a traditional , file manager-esque desktop, icons and all. In addition, Plasma now supports widgets from Mac OS X’ Dashboard, as well as Google’s Gadgets.
KWin has also received some serious love, further improving performance of the tool. The biggest benefit of KWin, I think, is that it integrates so nicely with the entire desktop, instead of feeling like a slapped-on afterthought like Compiz. In my personal trials, performance was a bit lacklustre, but I found out that had to do with my NVIDIA card and its drivers – apparently, there’s a newer NVIDIA driver (180.xx) that fixes the performance issues.
The KDE 4 file manager, Dolphin, has been improved as well, for instance through integration of the Ark archiver tool. The extensive and detailed tooltips of KDE 3 have also returned. Tabs will now open when you drag documents/folders/etc. over them, making navigation a little easier. There are a number of other feature additions as well, such as capacity indicators and an icon-size slider, and many other things.
Various other applications have been improved as well, such as a new email view for KMail, which works quite well, I must say. The visual tour to KDE 4.2 details a lot of the changes, while the release announcement gives a quick overview. On the next page, we have a short interview with KDE developer Aaron Seigo, and we ask him why people should use KDE 4.2, and what the focus of KDE 4.3 will be.