This 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.
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 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
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.
KDE Desktop and Kicker
There are no major eye-catching changes in overall KDE Desktop and Kicker. There are small improvements in a lot of places. For example, window switching using Alt+Tab (in KDE, not CDE mode) and Desktop switching using Ctrl+Tab now pops up a very nice GUI choice display. This seems more usable than the previous version. Kicker Pager has an option of how many rows one wants for virtual desktop displays in the pager. This is useful for non-common kicker width/height/position etc. Also, Kicker Pager display seems slightly improved. Right clicking on the desktop and selecting “Configure Desktop” has an additional Display Tab. This tab let’s a user easily switch various resolution/orientation for the X windows desktop using XRANDR extension (if available). This is what many Windows Users expect. Irrespective of whether windows behavior-mimicking is good or not, I think it is a good place to put these settings in. KDM has an improved look including new and cool icons for users. I typically like to hide the kicker applet handles – which gives Kicker a much more compact and cleaner look. Selecting the option to hide the kicker applet handles used to “compact” only the left side applets and not the right side ones. Now, it properly handles both sides.
Konqueror is KDE’s file browser and web browser. Konqueror’s toolbar buttons have been organized better using separators. However, it is still too cluttered when all Konqueror plugins are installed. This needs a lot of clean up so only a few of these plugins are available from tool bar and the rest are available through Tools menu. Konqueror’s tab browsing have some new capabilities. There is a new setting in Konqueror tab settings: Activate previous used tab when closing the current tab. This is useful as it manages the browsing context better when one is used to open links in tabs instead of new windows. Konqueror has Google Search Toolbar (like Mozilla and Firefox’s Google Search bars). Finally! Welcome (and IMHO, long overdue) addition. Konqueror has Type-Ahead feature now. Yeah! Konqueror was able to render all the webpages I typically visit quickly and accurately.
Kontact is KDE’s PIM Application Suite. It combines a number of applications (KMail, KOrganizer, KNotes, KPilot etc..) using KParts technology to build a one-stop PIM application. KMail is probably the most mature of these components. KMail has a new capability to compose messages using HTML. It seems to work well in my limited testing so far. This should make lot of KMail users happy. I also noticed that KMail’s icons were reorganized with more separators. I thought it looks weird keeping just one icon between two separators. This could be improved.
There are many new changes with other KDE applications. For example, Konsole supports real transparency using freedesktop.org’s kdrive capability. I couldn’t test it as I don’t run freedesktop.org’s server. I look forward to all fake transparencies (konsole, kicker, menus, window shadows patches etc.) to be replaced by this. KOpete seems much improved. It is becoming more and more usable with newer releases and a worthy replacement for GAIM. Amarok (a new audio player), Kolourpaint (a new paint program) etc. are some of the new applications that I have yet to play with more.
Bugs, Problems etc.
Considering this is a beta release, bugs, problems etc. are expected. I ran into a few bugs/inconsistencies/wrinkles. The default Icons still seem to be Crystal SVG Beta1. I think Crystal SVG had a final non-beta release after KDE 3.2. Why is the Crystal SVG Beta1 still there? In Kcontrol -> Regional & Accessibility -> Keyboard Shortcuts; if I assign the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Comma to any action, Ctrl+> is actually registered as the keyboard shortcut! (This is an older problem and I know it is present in all KDE 3.2.* versions). In KControl. Internet & Network -> Email control module does not open. I get “There was an error loading the module”. Konqueror crashed once while using the new Google Search Bar. I haven’t been able to duplicate that crash though. Starting Euphoria screen-saver crashed my machine hard. I have no idea why. One bug of Konqueror that has annoyed me for a while now is still present.
In Konqueror’s bookmark editors; when bookmarks are saved after some modification, the bookmark toolbar on Konqueror window magically seems to have more separators. This was also present in 3.2.3. I use Linux on a notebook computer. I find that after a APM suspend+resume cycle, artsd is taking up pretty much all the CPU. I hope there is a work-around for this as it is very annoying (other than turning off KDE’s sound system, of course). This was also present in 3.2.3. I still have to register bugs for some of these in http://bugs.KDE.org. Let us hope they get fixed before the final release.
I find a lot of improvements and new features to be excited about in KDE 3.3. KDE 3.3 Beta1 is very stable, quick and snappy desktop. This is the most stable beta of KDE I have ever tested. I am actually amazed at how few crashes I have got compared to what I expected. There are many small improvements sprinkled across a wide variety of applications – they definitely improve the overall quality of the desktop experience. Wonderful job done by KDE Team!
About the Author
Osho is a long time user of Linux and various Unix operating systems. He has been using Linux for last 10 years or so. He has been using KDE exclusively on Linux for past 3 to 4 years.
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The KDE guys decided to hold off on kcontrol simplification until KDE 4.0. Also they decided not to change the default style until KDE 4.0. They didn’t want huge interface changes every small release (like kde 3.1 changed the default style and had huge reorganization in kcontrol)
Qt 4.0 will provide more and exciting theming capabilities (can you say opengl?), so perhaps something even better than plastik will appear.
<<Konqueror has Google Search Toolbar (like Mozilla and Firefox’s Google Search bars). Finally! Welcome (and IMHO, long overdue) addition.>>
Is this turned on (visible) by default? I certainly hope not, cause that would add unnecessary clutter. Even though I’m not one of the “Konqueror-is-way-to-cluttered” guys I think there should rather be a bit less buttons and bars (i mean as a *default*) than more.
I know that many people just don’t know about “gg:” and other webshortcuts that can be entered into the adressbar – but should a better documentation and kind of a new user’s guide be more usefull than a google bar?
Ah well I just hope it’s not on by default… otherwise i’m fine with new features
Some screenshots would have been nice.
Just cause it would be nice if there was QT version of a RSS/RDF client.
KNewsticker? Konqueror newsticker sidebar? Kontact summary news plugin? aKregator? So much choice 🙂
Akregator is “ok”. It is not perfect and it irritates me some times with some of its behaviors, but it is usable.
I just hope the guys at Trolltech could fix something that annoys me a lot, the little spacing between the menu items in the windows…it gets really crammed sometimes! Some 3 or 4 pixels more wouldn’t make it any bad.
File a bug report about it. I have talked to the Trolltech CEO about the same thing a few months ago when I met him.
Plastik in Beta 1 und Keramik in Beta 2 have bigger menu item spacing.
> Akregator is “ok”. It is not perfect and it irritates me some times
Well, how old is it? Two months? And it hasn’t left “Beta” state yet. But it’s developing fast! 🙂
> I have talked to the Trolltech CEO about the same thing a few months ago when I met him.
It’s possible since Qt 3.3. And before you continue, toolbar separators now default to draw a line.
Better don’t start compiling Beta 1 if you don’t want to anger yourself to repeat it with Beta 2 later this week. 🙂
You think I don’t know?
Thing is, the *theme* needs to take advantage of the new API, it is NOT done automatically for all themes. And this IS an issue, because 99% of the themes out there (including the KDE default themes included) most probably won’t take advantage of it.
Plastik used to work with the new API (I worked with its developer a few months ago about it), however newer versions don’t seem to take advantage of it anymore.
they decided not to change the default style until KDE 4.0. They didn’t want huge interface changes every small release
I understand them not wanting the look not to change constantly, though I still hope they think about it again and take the plunge with Plastik for 3.3 Final. Many distributions seem to make it the default already – if they aren’t even using completely other (and sometimes not bug free) styles… somehow I have the feeling nobody realy wants to see Keramik… Even the guys I show Knoppix to at times are like “ugh that looks strange”…
So it wouldn’t be that much of a change for many people anyway.
Qt 4.0 will provide more and exciting theming capabilities (can you say opengl?), so perhaps something even better than Plastik will appear.If it won’t be Plastik I hope it’s something similarly clean, simple (or ‘flat’ like in ‘unlike Keramik’). Though a 3D accelerated KWin (dropshadows, smoot exposé like window management) and a “3D” enhanced plastik would really make KDE 4.0 a very nice thing.
I just hope the guys at Trolltech could fix something that annoys me a lot,…
There are things I hope get fixed as well – like the inability to move a horizontal scrollbar when there is no vertical scrolbar in a window… think of MultiColumn View inside Konqueror or the Open/Save dialog (in a directory with a lot of files).
“Just cause it would be nice if there was QT version of a RSS/RDF client.”
Try akregator ( http://www.kde-apps.org/content/show.php?content=12779 ). It’s beta (and only a scant above two months old) and has crashes and some unexplained behavior, but it works fine and is a lot faster than the other Linux RSS readers (straw, liferea) in terms of loading large lists.
I’ve tried many Linux RSS readers and none of them were ready for prime time. Some were Java-based and creep along lethargically. At least one has a built-in dependency on an extinct version of Mozilla. Almost all of them botch displaying HTML on their own and almost all of them don’t seem to know how to re-use an open browser.
Choice is fine, but not if the options are half-baked.
Lots of polish, few real big new features, but it’s all the better becasue I want to see work on DKE 4 start faster.
I also hope that the spacing issue in DE gets resolved. I never really noticed it before Eugenia pointed it out, but after that I realized that it was very important in presenting a clean and welcoming desktop.
> because 99% of the themes out there (including the KDE default themes included) most probably won’t take advantage of it.
You’re *wrong*. The default/shipped themes by KDE all take advantage of it in Beta 2.
> You’re *wrong*. The default/shipped themes by KDE all take advantage of it in Beta 2.
What? Was it changed upstream in KStyle or in QCommonStyle? I think that was the correct thing to do in the first place 🙂
It’s changed in KStyle.
does kde have an HIG? or even some sort of rough usability guidelines? been reading alot on such things recently, i find that not only does it give a greater insight into the various environments, but even the differenvces can tell you alot about HCI in general.
>does kde have an HIG? or even some sort of rough usability guidelines?
Menu > Utilities > Desktop
There’s quite a lot there but maybe you were not asking that question
There are general guidelines though they arent called HIG’s like gnome
HIG has not seem to of helped Gnome a lot. I would rather use KDE over Gnome any day.
It has. Gnome has a more ‘integrated’ feeling. Although I like both DE’s I really hope that KDE will use a sort of HIG in the future.
Another thing: I don’t want to sound spoiled, but does anyone have an idea when we can expect kde 4.0? (I mean it seriously, I don’t know if it’s next year or later)
OT: how do I make the quoted txt appear in italic. I doesn’t work when I use tags like [i]
hehe, plz forget the last sentence. I saw the italics tags in the preview, but now it doesn’t appear in the final comment. I get it
> HIG has not seem to of helped Gnome a lot. I would rather use KDE over Gnome any day.
Are you serious? Have you ever used the pre-HIG GNOME 1.x? It erm, *sucked* compared to GNOME 2.x. Just look at the ugly UI of many gtk 1.x apps.
However, I don’t think KDE needs a formal HIG as much as GNOME did since much of it’s standards being hardcoded *inside* of the libraries. For example, the GNOME HIG specifies margins for many dialogs. The KDE libraries do this automatically for you ( http://developer.kde.org/documentation/library/3.1-api/kdeui/html/c… )
That is why to some people’s eye, including mine, KDE feels more standardized and intregated than GNOME does, despite not having a large formal HIG.
The only problem with this approach is for applications that don’t use kdelibs. It’s much easier for an application like firefox, for example to start using GNOME HIG than conform to basic KDE standards.
“Another thing: I don’t want to sound spoiled, but does anyone have an idea when we can expect kde 4.0? (I mean it seriously, I don’t know if it’s next year or later) ”
kde 4.0 will be based on qt 4.0 which is only released on late first quarter of 2005. there probably will be a couple of kde 3.x releases before that but they arent likely to include major new features
Rough bet from my perspective is probably next summer or fall. The intial alpha of qt4 was just released and once the devs have sent 3.3 on its way, work will begin on kde4. If the move from kde 2.x to kde 3.0 is any indication (the major work being background technology improvements) it won’t be an insane amount of time…..
I wish that you could drag windows from on pager desktop to another like in XFCE. I guess I should have a look at bugs.kde.org to see if it’s already a wish..
Oh yes! That would be awesome!
“… On the negative side, this means that I could not test how well 3.3 ports old settings to new settings. Oh, well.”
What I do is in between. I rename ~/.kde and copy back bookmarks and addressbook into the new ~/.kde created after logging out and in. The rest, like customizing the menu, sizing windows and configuring KMail I do again. It takes only a sec. I also backup ~/Mail.
“Also, everything feels more snappier and quicker”
Agree. It’s noticeable.
“Konqueror has Google Search Toolbar (like Mozilla and Firefox’s Google Search bars).”
Why? What’s wrong with “gg:”? If the problem is moving the fingers from the mouse to the keybord then another solution is maybe to turn the “location:” label widget into a into a pulldown menu widget that contains favorites like “location:”,”gg:”,”wi:”,”wp:”,etc.
“Here is a screen shot with Plastik window decoration with these new buttons.”
Nice. It’d been nice with a few more screenshots from other areas.
Use kpager, only the minipager-applet doesn’t have it.
well but kpager doesn’t go into the ktaskbar so nice and has too many features I don’t need. I really miss the fact that I can’t drag’n’drop a window from one window to another in the pager.
You might wanna take a look at
Why is everybody so obsessed with the google toolbar?
I mean konqueror has had the same behaviour for many years if you set a “Default Search engine” in “Web Shortcuts”.
Its even easier than the google bar, since you can enter your search in the default location bar, and even have the advantage of auto completion if you want to do a simmilar search.
So is there a possible to disable the google bar?
> So is there a possible to disable the google bar?
I have not implemented the “to top” and “to bottom”
buttons because I can’t think of a good button graphics
for them. I’m sure in the future more decorations will
support the new buttons. I don’t think they are meant to be shown all together, howver. The “shade” button could
replace the “minimize” one, for example, if the user so chooese.
The widget theme, I mean. I use B2 as my window decoration.
I quite dislike both the widget style and the window decoration of “Plastik”. They look like a Windows (the later one, what’s it XP?) ripoff, and are flat and dull.
They have very little contrast, which does not help a bit.
Keramik widget stand out better.
I am using the OO.org build with KDE styled widgets… in 3.2 it worked perfectly, now OO.org crashes…
Let’s face it – Keramik looks a bit toyish,childish,too loud,bluffware,non-pro. Simple clean lines and colors are often more attractive. Just think about for example modern furniture. That’s why Plastik is preferred by many. SuSE 9.1 default is “Thin Keramik” which is Keramik at reduced volume allthough not as clean as Plastik.
I think if MS Style “Metalic Shades” gets ported to KDE, would be a very good idea. Metalic Shades for XP is a very pro and easy and soft to look at style.
I always wonder if there does excist a person who actually likes keramik. I use kde mostly but I’v never understand the devs for choosing keramik as the default look. Plastik is so much more proffesional.
The crystal iconset is great though…
It looks better than Gnome 2.6.
amaroK is not part of KDE 3.3 but has to be installed seperately.
@Anonymous (IP: 61.95.184.—) – Posted on 2004-07-19 20:30:57
Thank you, this is pretty much what i was looking for
yeah, i think it makes a difference too. id like to point out that gnome isnt the only one with a human interface guideline, both apple and microsoft have one too.
kde uses the windows approach in that regard, which has its pluses and a few minuses(mostly that as soon as you leave or change apis your like a babe in the woods, not an insult or troll cause thats where i was about two months ago). a good HIG cannot be replaced by a component framework and common dialogues, because the focus of a good HIG should be user interaction rather then just look. what kde seems to have is a component framework and some usability guidelines which is more then enough, if developers read and understand em 😉
I dont understand why the google search bar is so great. Now you have another bar using up space that you have to click on seperately from the location bar. It’s way more convenient to search directly from the location bar which konqueror has been able to do for a while.
I hate the firefox google toolbar, its a waste of space when I already have a perfectly good location bar to use.
I have konqueror set up to search google for things that are not addresses, alternately you can use the web keywords like: gg: you search here
to search for stuff. Way better approach than having a seperate textbox
It sounds like Longhorn will have a hard time competing with that… KDE is bliss even right now and getting better every day, while I continue to hate XP to the fullest extent possible :==) and don’t think those developers over at M$ have the guts of doing it right with Longhorn this time.
Fd.o, kdrive, fresco (oh and yeah, Sun’s Java Desktop thingie) and all those efforts look real promising, I am looking forward for some major eye candy to come. Oh, and I just *love* my Gentoo, which we can expect to have a great future aswell (Anaconda and Catalyst are cool beginnings; hope in some time Joe User can install Gentoo with optimisations and do his own LiveCD with his own chosen software…)
Goooo OSS, goo!
cya ’round folks
P.S.: My site is off for the time being, but in the sake of correctness..