Fight for the Internet 1!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nifty Recovery Tool and KDE 4.3 Review Continued

So after using KDE 4.3 for a while, I am happy to report it is an excellent upgrade.

Possible Retraction
The problems I have been experiencing with KDE 4.3 on my system may be related to slowly failing hardware. I believe my motherboard may be going bad, which could be causing the shutdown problems.

KDE 4.3 Upgrade Problems - Not Hitting Everyone
KDE 4.3 may upgrade smoothly for some, especially if the user never changed many of the KDE configurations. For my brother, upgrading from KDE 4.2.4 to KDE 4.3 was smooth as silk. Flawless. He had left everything default in 4.2.4. I can only assume my prior problems were caused by a few problematic configuration files that were created while I used KDE 4.2.4 plus, and I do customize a ton in KDE.

There is another thing I forgot to mention, whichk I only found out about today. If your KDE 4.3 upgrade screws up and you don't get any desktop displayed, this fix may help:

Reboot and when GRUB is starting to load, switch into the Recovery mode and boot with that. Upon startup, you will be given a nice little Text GUI with several common options, such as root console, root console with networking, package manager, etc. I have never seen this option screen before but I was both surprised and delighted by it. This is no doubt an excellent helpful tool for new and even old-but-inexperienced users for recovery.

I have no idea how long this feature has been here, nor do I know if it is from the Kernel Devs, the GNU, Debian/Ubuntu or what.

I even got to test one of these options just today. When upgrading my VirtualBox Kubuntu KDE 4.2.4, it had the same configuration errors I had experienced when upgrading my main desktop. The X-Windows system started and KDE 4.3 went through its startup but in the end all I got was a mouse-cursor and a black-blank screen with nothing else.

Since I could not easily get to a virtual-terminal in the VM window (by using CTRL+ALT+F1 for example), I decided to reboot and use the recovery mode. That is when I discovered this new Text GUI window with options. Looking through the options, I decided to try 'xfix', not thinking it would work. Imagine my shock when IT FIXED IT. I don't know exactly what it did (I wasn't watching at that moment) but it definitely sets many (if not all) configurations of the GUIs/X-Windows back to default. But hey, it fixed it.

I don't really give Konqueror credit for the subtle but truly excellent upgrades it has been receiving for a while. To name a few I have noticed:
  • Auto-column (re)sizing
  • Easier/smoother sorting order changes in Icon mode
  • Better toolbar icons + functionality available
  • Better shortcut support (but that's a whole KDE thing now)
  • Better Ark integration and configuration
  • Transfer Management: Transfer start-stop-pause control of multiple file transfers, not to mention a more unified and convenient window-management for the transfer-statusbar subwindows.
  • Latest version of Konqueror supports inline renaming, just like old times.
  • More options for general configuration
Another piece of news worth noting: Konqueror restores all of my tabs upon restart-from-konqueror-crash, and I do mean ALL my tabs. That means, for example, restoring multiple tabs split into 8 or more sub-panes windows, in different view modes and sorting modes. That is Im-Freaking-Pressive.

I have never been able to Columns view, and it always breaks when I do, even mangling the program restart with a few residual error messages on the restart. But oh well, I don't use that mode. (I just wish I could remove that button from my toolbar!)

KDE 4.3 is definitely more stable. Though I thought KDE 4.2.4 was pretty good, KDE 4.3 is better. The small errors have been smoothed over, though I still occasionally have crashes with Gwenview viewing from within Zips files. I'm inclined to wonder if it is a combination of Gwenview and the KDE KioSlaves not jiving well together.

Again, the changes are subtle, but influential. I have noticed that the passive notifications and progress/statusbars now fit even more nicely and less obtrusively into the KDE system-tray icon for them. I am not if some of the Konqueror features I mentioned should be attributed to KDE or not. Either way, I like where things are going.

Remaining Problems

  • Shortcut keys: The default shortcut keys in konsole interfere with real work. But you can change these through the Settings -> Configure Shortcuts menu. My case is CTRL+S, which locks my console. I have seen this behavior before but never from Konsole.
  • Transparency: First, Good transparency was removed from Konsole. It was replaced with Alpha Transparency.... which has never actually worked 100% properly in KDE 4 to date. In KDE 4.2 I was able to find workaround to make it function more or less correctly. Now that workaround no longer fixes the problem, so I'm stuck with a butt-fuck-ugly konsole with a washed-out white undertone on EVERYTHING. To whomever screwed this one up, I hate you.
It is hard to believe that the transparency feature in Konsole went from great, to bad, to really bad.

There are a few features still missing from Gwenview, which does vex me. I am hoping to see them by the next major update. It seems to me that the rest of the more complex features have been implemented by now.

Missing features:
  • Key shortcuts for Beginning/End of the current image list (in the current directory or archive).
  • Option to enable automatic disregarding of changes without prompting.
  • Duplicate Detection plugin
  • Image counter: (Without using the thumbnail bar) shows your progress in the current list of images. Something like 53/100. This was very useful for me.
I am actually kind of surprised that Gwenview is only missing a few features before it is back to what it was before.

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