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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

KDE 4.2.2 Things are getting good

So I tried KDE 4.2.2 through VMWare today. I'm really pleased with the impressive improvements I see. I feel like I might be jumping the gun by saying this but KDE 4 may very well be ready for me to use. Here is a quick run down of what I checked/noticed since my last review.

System Settings
  • Overall / General: For one thing, the System-Settings area has been filled out a significant amount. Many things are there now that were missing only a few months ago, and what's there seems to work well.
  • Notifications: I need to confirm whether this is easy to disable all sound. By going to Player Settings and choosing No Audio Output, things might be what I want.

    You cannot turn off all the audio notifications in an easy way. I really hate the concept of going through every single program and turning them off. I like my computer to run silently so this is a personal annoyance, but to be honest the previous system under KDE3 was not great, just more usable.
  • Startup: Sweet new interface for adding startup programs/scripts. Very nice. Not tested yet myself but this is a cool feature.
Shortcut Keys Binding
Previously I mentioned that KDE4 seemed to only allow binding a single shortcut key sequence in programs, instead of their KDE3's well-established two sequence binding options. I notice that KDE4 may have added, or at least begun adding, options for binding two keys again. This is great.

Gwenview 2.xx is pretty much ready for use... for me anyway.

When I tested Gwenview, as of today, 90% of the "shitty" zooming issues (enlaring smaller images) previously noted have been resolved. I don't exactly know what source these fixes came from, but they are there. I am not even sure if there are any zoom related problems left.

I tested enlarging small GIF/PNG/JPG files and all of them look very good. It is difficult to say whether the zoom quality is "at the highest possible" while using VMWare but it sure looks quite acceptable for the time being.

The only unusual thing I noticed was on the enlarging of small PNG files. Gwenview may not have been performing perfect binary interpolation on all the sample test images I tested. Regardless, the enlarging zoom was still of a very acceptable level of quality.

Konqueror Preferences/Settings
Konqueror seems to have fixed some of its bugs since I last reviewed it, especially the great many of the issues I care about.
  • View Configuration: Many of the preferences are now saved, in particular Menu: Settings -> Configure Konqueror -> File Management -> Views.

    These were some of the most important for me. Though there seems to be a bug with not displaying the check in the checkbox for enabling "Show Delete in Right Click menu" but the feature is still enabled.
  • Tabbing: Tabbing still seems very solid, but I cannot remember if this successful preference saving was present in my last review. Regardless I take this a good sign of progress.
  • View Mode Icon Size: The bugs with inconsistent view modes icon size have been fixed. This time around, I only had one instance where the zooming was off slightly, but a quick setting of the zoom and the problem never repeat itself.
  • Toolbars: I already mentioned the Toolbars in Konqueror were improved and I am still impressed with them. Nice and usable and still quite configurable. That annoying bug with some element misplacement that occurred with KDE3.5 because of Gwenview integrated image viewing is gone.
Konsole/Console/Terminal profiles
The feature for smoother switching profiles within Konsole has been integrated. Very nice.

Power Management
Yet another sweet looking application I cannot wait to try. This is looking seriously awesome. I have not been able to try this on a mobile device but I will report on it as soon as I do.

Desktop Themes
This is pretty impressive. I guess is just goes to show that KDE can be even more customizable if you want. I don't even know where to begin with all the options. To be bluntly honest, even just testing this a tiny bit with impresses me. I see major potential for smooth and easy eye-candy customization.

There are several things which I don't use but their existence is worth noting.
  • Digital Camera integration: I don't use a digital camera so my word is that of a novice but it looks like KDE is providing (or will provide) a pretty good user interface for accessing it. This is a nice thing to have since it promotes inclusion of more users in the future.
  • PDA/PIM utilities: KDE 4 looks to have some nice (and assumably working) PDA/PIM integration and software. I don't use a PDA (yet) but doubtless I will when the 2nd generation of the Google Phones come out. I am glad that KDE has good these utilities.
When I installed KDE 4.2.x from within Gnome, I ended up with a lot of more color themes... and they were good! When I reinstalled KDE4.2.x from Kubuntu, I was sadly surprised to find it does not ship with some of these themes. I hope that gets fixed because those themes were nice.

Font size
There are still some real font issues, but these may be less of a deal breaker than I first experience. Today in KDE 4.2.2 I set the entire system font size to 7 and then Konqueror and System Settings looked okay. Actually, everything I tested seemed to look just fine after this change. The exception was the Classic-Applications Menu, whose font became quite small but still readable.

Network Manager
I experienced Network Manager problems when using it through VMWare, but I'm not sure how it will perform on an actual system installation. The Knetwork-manager seems to cause a lot of problems for some people, though I have luckily avoided most of these problems through serendipity.

If you are going to use KDE4.x, I would seriously recommend having a diffferent network manager installed and functional. I suggest Gnome's network manager.

Mouse Gestures in Konqueror
Currently I cannot find anyway to enable mouse gestures in Konquorer. I conclude that this feature is not available yet in KDE 4.2. This is unfortunate because I use this feature every day. This is not technically a bug, just a missing feature.

Media:/ protocol
The 'media:/' protocol is not present in KDE4 yet. This is known to the KDE team and it is on their list of things to do.

I am pretty set to use KDE 4.2.2 right now, but I will hold off. I don't have any pressing need to switch yet, and the few missing features are not deal killers but important for me.

Previously, the failure of Konqueror saving settings properly and icon size mismatching was the deal killer for me. But now there only are a few missing features left on my list. Good times.

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