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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

KDE 4.2 Review Continued

My final thoughts and observations on KDE 4.2 before I switched back to KDE 3.5.

I have gone back to KDE 3.5. Thank God (or specifically Partimage) for ghost imaging because this would have taken me a lot longer to get back to "perfect working order" otherwise.

So I have used KDE 4.2 for about 12 hours no. Not a single crash yet, which I must say I am still very impressed with. Here are my final thoughts for the moment:

Better Bluetooth: I take it back what I said before. Their integration certainly is better but their program itself is still buggy. It keeps failing to recognize my keyboard after a reboot.

New Run Dialog: Very nice. A real improvement over what came before. Many individual programs are updated by their respective developers with new features (and taking advantage of many new things in KDE 4). The eye-candy, when I use it, seems nice but that's no surprise. Some new features are half-there, which look promising, particularly for Konquorer.

"Toggle Present Windows": This feature (keystroke CTRL+F9 by default) is really cool. This is a feature taken from Mac OS's dashboard and it is great. I am glad we have this in KDE by default now.

Desktop Backgrounds / Plasma: Despite their lack of tiling+scaling, I praise the KDE team for finally writing a good resampling algorithm for the desktop background display. Finally my pictures look good when scaled.

I have observed at least one image resizing bug with Plasma's desktop area. The image displayed without scaling (and it should have been scaled). I could not repeat it, and it was really a minor bug.

Show Desktop: I don't know if there is an option to "show desktop" in KDE 4 anymore. There is an option to show the Plasma desktop but since I'm not seeing my desktop background, it is missing one of my most important features.

The only thing I have found is adding a widget for this.

  • Show Desktop: There is a bug with this as it does not toggle all the time. It seems to work for 2 or 3 key-presses right in a row, then it stops working and leaves you on the desktop feebly pressing the shortcut key.
I may have mentioned that the Icons seem to be spotty (ugly or not working properly) in some situations but this is planned to be addressed in KDE 4.3.

Ark (zips, rar, 7zips, gzips, tars): The new Ark program for KDE is looking mighty fine. KDE has finally fixed their annoying bug with extracting multiple archives as once (it would often not extract all archives fully, only grabbing some of the files). Ark was in great need of an update even though I really appreciated the presence of Ark period. I remember what it was like in KDE before Ark appeared.

However I did manage to cause a "Fatal" error in Ark though it was the most graceful error I have ever seen in KDE 4. This happened when I told it "Extract to subfolder, name autodetected."

  • Folder Tree Refresh: There is a bug with the Folder Tree view in Konqueror. It does not refresh and you can't manually refresh it without closing and reopening the application.
  • Renaming: So like I mentioned before, the rename file function in Konquorer has changed from an integrated view to a separate window. Now, at first I thought this was annoying because it was an unnecessary change and for a variety of reasons I thought it was an deprovement, not an improvement to Konquorer. But I lived with it. However, if you have malfunctioning Window Management Preferences (like I do now with Konquorer) then the tiny Rename window can fill your whole screen, becoming maximized. This just goes to show that separating the rename function into a different window was a thorough mistake.


Before I begin talking about Gwenview's problem, I want to note that I am aware the Gwenview Developer(s) have stated that 1.4.2 is their stable version, not the version 2.2.0 that ships with KDE 4.x.

Gwenview Zooming:
This thing gets it own section.
  • Zooming: Zoom out on a large picture is not really a problem but enlarging a small picture looks bad. It appears that the older enlarging method applied a (Gaussian) blur of some kind after performing bilinear (or trilinear?) interpolation. I think this was nice and I miss it. The new images look very pixelated as they are enlarged.
  • The more I use Gwenview with this shitty zoom algorithm, the more I realize I can't stand it. It is horrible for reading comics with.
  • The subtle irony here is that while Gwenview had good zoom quality for years, KDE's desktop backgrounds did not. It seems this has reversed as now Gwenview has shitty shit zooming while KDE's desktop background looks nice.

Other problems with Gwenview:
  • Hotkeys / Shortcuts: A couple of options for assigning shortcut keys to are missing in the latest versions of Gwenview.
  • I forgot to mention that many (if not all) the plugins for Gwenview are not present in the Kubuntu early testing of KDE 4.2. I would venture a guess they are not available in other distros with KDE 4.2 either.
Good things with Gwenview:
  • Full Screen Interface: I like the new features that Gwenview has added, like a better full screen interface. Very nice for viewing multiple images in a row.

The Panel:
  • Task Switching with Mouse click: I noticed a bug with clicking from a grouped task to a non-grouped task. I hope that fix this bug.

  • Transparency again: By moving my konsole to a separate desktop where it is the only window, the Alpha-transparency basically acts like Good Transparency. This is a useable work around for getting good transparency back to my konsole but I don't deceive myself that I will probably have to seek a different konsole here soon enough. After using it for a few hours, this is really not bad but I wish I didn't have to do it.
  • Scheme switching: There is no quick and easy way to switch schemes in Konsole without going through a couple of menu items and clicking 3 buttons. I hope they fix this (by making it smooth like the old style).
So, after using KDE 4.2 for a while I can see that things are going to be great when they are finished. Even if they never added more features and just fixed the bugs, it would be a pretty stellar desktop-environment when all things are considered. However we all know KDE 4 will go for the gold, if you will, and achieve even greater greatness.

I look forward to KDE 4.3 that is scheduled (currently) for release in June.


If you are considering moving to KDE 4 and you use Konquorer, hold off until KDE 4.3 in June. Even if you don't, I would say hold off until more of the customization options are plugged into KDE 4 and several of those small but annoying bugs are fixed.

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