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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

KDE 4.3 and Konqueror's Neglect

KDE 4.3 Ain't So Stable (Yet)
KDE 4.3 was released yesterday. My advice to anyone considering trying it out right now: DON'T UPGRADE! If you are going to use it, do a fresh install, unless you know how to juggle config files. Edit: I did an upgrade of KDE 4.3 on my brother's laptop, and it went smooth as silk. KDE 4.3 works flawlessly for his computer, yet mine still had/has some issues. So your mileage may vary.

While any of you that know me are aware I am an avid Linux fan (though this is really about KDE, not Linux per se), the following post has some bad new to report.

KDE 4.3 is supposed to be a stabilizing release, focusing mostly on bug fixes (over 10,000 completed) and some feature updates. That may be, but I'm afraid my experience so far has been anything but stable.

1st: I installed KDE 4.3 from the apt-repositories. Then I restarted KDE/X-Windows. KDE proceeded to start, but never showed me my desktop, just a blank workspace. Obviously KDE 4.3 did not smoothly upgrade from KDE 4.2.4.

2nd: After 30 minutes of doing a fairly straightforward but advanced detection and fix, I was able to isolate a group of the problem files and repopulate my KDE configuration files. Things progressed smoothly until I encountered the next major bug: Exiting KDE.

KDE 4.3 will NOT, under any circumstances, Shut down the computer, Restart the computer, or Log out. It simply will not do it, no matter how many times you try. Luckily I know the manual shutdown command, but that's a pretty heinous error.

3rd: Konsole. The transparency in KDE Konsole is... wait for it.... even more broken than before. I have trouble believing my eyes on this one. I'm pretty shocked it did not get fixed. Even the WORKAROUND for the bug, that has been there for over a year, no longer works now. I guess this just gives me more impetus to get back to writing my own alternative virtual terminal, because God-Damn-it, we need one fucking badly.

4th: EDIT. I fixed the problem. It was a setting configuration, though it was really damned hard to find.

5th: Be forewarned this has some rather ranting moments, so I apologize.

Konqueror is without a doubt the best file manager I know of currently. But it has been pretty broken since KDE 4.0.

Even by KDE 4.3, it still have issues, plus some new bugs. For me, the most apparent bug in KDE4 Konqueror is the utterly awful way Images are handled within it (opening, previewing, mouse previewing). Since one of my primary hobbies is collecting images, this has been a constant colossal pain in my side. I keep waiting for that be fixed but it has been 18 months now. That's pretty f**king unacceptable. (Can you tell I'm mad?)

On a less rage filled thought, Konqueror is in serious need of being updated from QT3 to QT4. Namely it needs the standard QT4 navigation bar, and god-damn-it would be nice to have meta/information panels like Dolphin does. Actually, even though I don't use Dolphin because of its imposed limitations, I like several things in it.

But there is good news. At least, partially. The KDE team has been planning to add these exact updates for a while now. It would just be nice if they actually did it.

Cursory Review of KDE 4.3
  • Konqueror Gestures are back. I did miss these, but ironically now I don't so much need them if I have my new mouse with 5+ buttons.
  • Better Ark integration (with more menu support too).
  • Support for more formats and a few small bug fixes.
Gwenview (changed from version 2.2.4 to 2.3.0):
  • Bug Fixes: God Almighty I hope the bugs are really fixed. They were simply AWFUL at points (way too frequently) and they should been fixed a long time ago. Really, they should have been. No excuse. Should have been done months ago.
  • Plugins: In case you did not know (like most KDE 4 users), you have to install the kiki-plugins package to enable the plugins for Gwenview. As far as I can tell, nothing has changed since the prior version.
    It is still missing the most important plugin for me: Find Duplicates Images.
  • Sidebar: Better hiding and restoration interface.
  • Thumbnail Bar: Now it can be vertical, which I prefer. Nice.
  • On a personal note, though Gwenview is still missing a few features I consider crucial, I really do like all the new features that have been added.

I sometimes ask myself, "Should you try using KDE 3.5 again?" The answer is mostly no. The biggest problems (that I know of) for KDE 4 has been Gwenview and Konqueror, which are two programs I use constantly, and they are usable, just not fully-functioning. If I look beyond that, KDE 4 is a great system. I can live with the small little lack of eyecandy in Konsole. Even in KDE 4.2.4, when Plasma would crash, it would do so very gracefully and almost immediately restore itself with no noticeable ill-effects.


  1. You clearly have either screwed up packages or a screwed installation or both. I've not encountered, nor have heard from or read about anyone that has had the problems you're reporting.
    To describe the problems you experienced as endemic to KDE 4.3 is mistaken at best, or deliberately misleading at worst.

  2. Jamboarder: As I mentioned, it was some config files that did the trick of fixing things. I never said the problems happened to everyone, though in my original post I never said they didn't. Subsequent installations on other computers went flawless, so I edited the details to reflect that. Regardless, my case still happened, and as for what package, I suspect it was X11 / Nvidia related, since I have encountered other problems with them since, even on fresh installs.