KDE4 User Review : better than expected !!!

I have been waiting for KDE4 for a while already.... And now it has gotten much closer to the goal and it's time for a real survival test...

Due to my old computer slightly lacking horsepower, I recently switched from Gentoo to Ubuntu. tried Gnome for a little while but wasn't for me, really. Then I installed kubuntu-desktop and followed the quick steps shown on kubuntu.org about KDE4 rc2. Really easy install...

From KDE 3.5.8 I could already see many applications in the menu which had got duplicate for their KDE4 counterpart letting me try them from within my desktop. but on the early morning of December 26th, without knowing if it would work at all, I decided to give the already installed KDE4 a try. Without expecting much it shine onto my screen promptly.

Fired up, I am looking at what is to become the next best and most popular desktop on the planet. Let see what Santa-san has in store... read on for more details ...


Hey it launched... and quickly... I'd have to shut it off and launch it again to check the speed for sure but I did not wait so much that I cared.

First thing I notice is the top-right corner which contains a config tool icon, letting me add plasmoids easily. I tried them all. there is a nice little collection so far, nothing too fancy but nothing crashed at least. The "Button" plasmoid, a launcher button does not seems to work. it only shows a file icon of a binary file. But overall, I can say Plasma already works wonderfully. The quick access to the calendar isn't there yet. But what I can see if a very solid platform with endless possibilities, I can't wait to learn how to customize my new shiny desktop.

Plasma - Plasmoids

Second thing I notice : The new beautiful widget sets. they aren't Plastik or Keramik anymore. It's Oxygen, Oh god that every button and scrollbar are pretty. One thing I like a bit less, is the background of the panel at the bottom. That gray and wide border just does not cut it. But I know for sure it will be uber easy to change very soon.

Plasma - mouseover

These buttons appears on mouseover.

Now that good news and bad news never comes alone, I realize that I forgot to backup my ~/.kde folder and I might not be able to run KDE3 again with this user. Don't do the same mistake as me, and backup your user's config or user KDE4 under a separate user. (clock ticking...) After giving a quick look at my home directory, it seems like KDE4 applications have created their config and stuff under ~/.kde4, leaving my ~/.kde intact. I don't know for sure but it really seems like so. Therefore, everything is great.

What a wonderfully stable and fast first experience. Now I understand why they call it a RC2 release. It definitely ain't Beta anymore. I can feel the release coming soon by seeing how stable this desktop is.

Now more in details about what I personally use...

I recently started learning to play Go and for some strange reason, when I was starting qGo under KDE 3.5.8, I had no sound: I did not care that much to investigate into the problem, but here that I launch it under KDE4 and ItJustWorks(tm). Wow.

Kompose, which I use as an application switcher under KDE3 works just as fine under KDE4.

The Add applet tool to add plasmoid onto the desktop is really easy to use and while I could not find a place to click on the panel to add a pager to it, I discovered I could simply drag-n-drop an plasmoid from the add-applet dialog to the panel and Voila! ItJustWorks(tm)

I recently had to switch to pidgin because I cannot type japanese in Qt applications (please help) and it made me discover a little annoying bug. No GTK+ apps with a systray can run on KDE4 yet. Apparently caused with missing argb implementation in GTK+. (ain't exact but just to make the story short ...) There is bug ticket in both team's bugzilla so, things should get fix soon. In the mean time, don't be surprise if you see an error like this one.

somekool@somekool-laptop:~/packages/kload$ pidgin
The program 'pidgin' received an X Window System error.
This probably reflects a bug in the program.
The error was 'BadMatch (invalid parameter attributes)'.
  (Details: serial 373 error_code 8 request_code 2 minor_code 0)
  (Note to programmers: normally, X errors are reported asynchronously;
   that is, you will receive the error a while after causing it.
   To debug your program, run it with the --sync command line
   option to change this behavior. You can then get a meaningful
   backtrace from your debugger if you break on the gdk_x_error() function.)
somekool@somekool-laptop:~/packages/kload$

But that bug made me discover something very cool about KDE4. See, in order to track if the problem was related with kwin or plasma, someone on IRC made my relogin using the "failsafe" option which does not load any windowmanager or anything but an xterm. from the xterm, I manually lunched kwin-kde4 and then pidgin. Worked !!! Then I launch plasma-kde4 and BAM! pidgin crashed. So that tells me two things. One. the problem is definitely with plasma, more precisely the systray applet. TWO and the best... KDE4 can pretty much be run by launching these two program only. I suppose there is more under the hood when you launch the default startkde BUT ... think about it how this desktop has gotten much lighter. kwin and plasma and that is pretty much it. Anyone looking for a minimalistic, yet powerful desktop. KDE is in the HOUSE ! Add to that the huge optimization Trolltech have included in Qt4, this desktop is gonna be faster than a silk made and turbo propulsed rocket. How wonderful.

Alt-F2 (krunner) The Alt-F2 krunner application has totally been redesigned. The black is a little too much and makes labels unreadable here. But Oh that I love this new button "Show system activity" its like launching top in a nice GUI window, but it is much slicker, smaller and faster than the kde3 counterpart ksysgard. unbelievably awesome job. And how the process are easily sorted for the user to see the apps they care about... Wow.

System Activity

I have been a heavy user of the ALT-F2 feature since early KDE1. I even believe I had a more rudimentary equivalent on the same hotkey under WindowMaker back in the days I was only running kmail and kfm from within WindowMaker. But even though KDE4 pushed the bar even further, their own new competitor might change my mind. The redesign K-Menu is awesome. I never liked the Windows(tm)-ish K-Menu but now look for yourself...

KDE4 Application Launcher - Search KDE4 Application Launcher - Search feature ! yé !

KDE4 Application Launcher - Applications library KDE4 Application Launcher - Applications library KDE4 Application Launcher - My Computer KDE4 Application Launcher - My Computer KDE4 Application Launcher - Recent KDE4 Application Launcher - Recent KDE4 Application Launcher - Shutdown KDE4 Application Launcher - Shutdown

And finaly, the most awaited Konsole with Split view.

Unfortunately, tabs are mirrored on each split views. So it ain't like 4 konsole tiled. I hope it changes in the final release.

That's about it. I have been running KDE4 RC2 for close to a week now, without a serious glitch. I am looking forward redesigning this panel to suit my taste.

Conclusion, what do I see is something totally new yet built on the powerful base kde is known for. There is not that many and that fancy plasma applet yet but one can clearly see how the plateform is ready for the world to develop upon.

Cheers to KDE and lets make 2008 the year of KDE on the User desktops and Business workstations. Not to forget the 400th anniversary of the oldest city in North America (Québec city). Please visit us and happy coding.

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Posted in , | Posted on 31 Dec 2007 12:00by somekool | 19 comments

Trying out KDE4

So I wanted to have a sneak preview at KDE4 and also have the development environment ready in case I find some time to fool around.

So I compiled KDE on my gentoo system. I simply followed the various instruction found on the developer website. I created a kdefour user. Installed cmake and Qt 4.2.2 normally using gentoo portage system. and from kdelibs into the user home directory.

that's what my .bash_profile looks like

kdefour@krypton ~/usr/build $ cat ~/.bash_profile
# /etc/skel/.bash_profile

# This file is sourced by bash for login shells.  The following line
# runs your .bashrc and is recommended by the bash info pages.
[[ -f ~/.bashrc ]] && . ~/.bashrc
export YACC='byacc -d'
#export QTDIR=$HOME/usr/qt
export QTDIR=/usr
export KDEDIR=$HOME/usr/kde
export CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=debugfull
export PATH=$HOME/bin:$HOME/unsermake:$QTDIR/bin:$KDEDIR/bin:$PATH
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$QTDIR/lib:$KDEDIR/lib:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH
function cmakekde { cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=$KDEDIR \
-DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=debugfull $@ && make VERBOSE=1 && make install
}

kdefour@krypton ~/usr/build $            

and I created myself a small rebuild script

kdefour@krypton ~/usr/build $ cat rebuild
#!/bin/sh

source ~/.bash_profile

modules="kdelibs kdepimlibs kdebase koffice kdegames"
modules="koffice kdeutils kdenetwork kdemultimedia kdepim"
build_dir="/home/kdefour/usr/build/"
src_dir="/home/kdefour/usr/src/"

for i in $modules
do
        echo $i
        #echo $build_dir$i
        #rm -fr $i
        mkdir -p $build_dir$i
        if [ -d $src_dir$i ]
        then
                (cd $src_dir$i; svn up)
        else
                svn co svn://anonsvn.kde.org/home/kde/trunk/KDE/$i $src_dir$i
        fi
        cd $build_dir$i
        time cmakekde $src_dir$i
        if [ $? -ne 0 ]
        then
                cd -
                echo $?
                break
        fi
        cd -
done

kdefour@krypton ~/usr/build $     

and here is a small screenshot for the curious

kde4 snapshot 1

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Posted in , | Posted on 16 Feb 2007 21:24by somekool | 1 comment

KDE has turned 10, lets celebrate

KDE, the world famous open source desktop environment is now 10 years old. WOW.

Matthias Ettrich's 14th October 1996 announcement original post

It's the great moment for KDE right now, KDE 3.5.5 just got released. The most powerful and stable release ever. and KDE 4 is just around the corner. KDE4 Beta Packages already available for Mac OS X and for Linux

I think its a great time to watch screenshots and try it out (Kubuntu, Sabayon) and get involved

KDE Happy 10 years and we wish you another good 10 years.

omedeto & gambatte

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Posted in , , , | Posted on 13 Oct 2006 22:25by somekool | no comments

kikkanji

Here is my latest toy. I made myself a Kanji studying tool. It took me only few hours to build using QtRuby. I find it pretty amazing what I built in this short amount of time even though I don't have much experience with this technology. It is a really impressive technology.

I build up a small kexi (sqlite3) database, which I open with ActiveRecord. I could have used Qt's SQL module, but I'm so used to AR that I did not bother.

I named it kikkanji because I first intended to create a kicker panel applet. but, panel applets are not yet possible with QtRuby. so I had to wait. I instead used Qt Designer and created myself a main window.

kikkanji

download now

comments and feature request are definitely welcome.

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Posted in , , , , , , , , , | Posted on 16 May 2006 21:53by somekool | 1 comment

My new KDE desktop

I changed my KDE desktop feels, I like it so much better :) And feel much more productive since then. it's been about a month now. and I totally love it.

I got rid of everything, make it simpler looking and giving me more screen space.

1 - kickerkicker is too large and takes too much of my desktop space for things I don't need that often. making kicker smaller bugs me even more. because than I miss kicker space to put my favorite applets. some applets are annoying in their small version. but some applets are worse when kicker is vertically positioned.solution ? getting rid of it. hard. with so many programs using the systray. I can't really. Hide it ? I always hated auto-hide, but still worth the try. And I made it so its fine. I wanted hidden, easily accessible but not over-annoying like hitting a edge by accident would raise it. The top-right corner of the screen is busy for the close button. so I choose the top-left corner of the screen as a hotcorner to raise the kicker. I moved the systrays icons to the left, because systray icons are really the most important reason why I still need kicker. And I don't want to ride my mouse from the top-left corner to my systray at the other end. so I then reordered all my applets by how often I am accessing them. putting the clock on the full right as I am not clicking on it very often. the K menu that I use maybe once a month. and the Garbage not so far as I am trying it out but so far, not appealing enough.2 - desktop icons.actually I like them, I press F11 to show my desktop and I use them very often. but recently I've been hitting on a bug that makes my desktop and kwin crash when I use the context menu of a desktop icon. and I don't like when it happens and I can't wait for the bug to be fixed. so I removed desktop icons. its nice to see my desktop backgrounds without a mess of icons on it.3 - task switcher.I use kompose, with a hotcorner on the bottom-right and F9/F10 hotkeys. its perfect. I'm also ALT-TAB addict but I like using kompose a lot.4 - flaws ?only one so far, I don't get changes notification from kwin. so I need to close kopete window or else I forget to answer my friends. its a big problem I'm trying to deal with. if you got any idea. I wish kompose could wake me up ;)4a - changes notification systemand two more requests: 4b - get the trash applet a better tooltip, 4c - titlebar buttons are just a 22 years old technlogy.got solutions or comments for me ? my ears are wide open.

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Posted in , , , , | Posted on 04 May 2006 09:39by somekool | 1 comment

ALSA we love you

Anyone had fun with ALSA before ? Some would say its much better than OSS and much more powerful. Some would simply say the it supports more cards (well of course, development on OSS is kinda stopped for a while already) anyway.

Who need this kinda of configuration ? why there is so many options to this config file ? its like your computer could really have 5 different sound card and reroute them in some weird way. well, buy a mixer. got true use for all the power ALSA offer ? please comment below.

I'm just to a point where, even though you are a geek programmer, if all you want to do is software or web development. You don't really want to understand the fully underlying sound system of your operating system to chat with your girlfriend. There is advantage Linux has I can't live without but there is huge whack of extra time that you have to spend in order to get things working. And some of you who does not have problem, well either you have not used it long enough or you are just as picky as I can be.

anyway, I did not want to troll about anything today. I'm just very tired of rebooting on windows when I have to do my phone calls. And the good news is: I found this little hack that I need to get both my soundcard device and my USB microphone as default device.

somekool@krypton ~ $ cat /etc/asound.conf
pcm.!default {
        type asym
        playback.pcm {
                type plug
                slave.pcm "hw:0,0"
        }
        capture.pcm {
                type plug
                slave.pcm "hw:1,0"
        }
}
somekool@krypton ~ $

that's it. so now I can just use arecord to record my voice without needing any options to specify the proper device.

somekool@krypton ~ $ arecord file.wav

well am I happy ? not really. skype needs OSS or OSS emulation to work. it does not use ALSA directly. but OSS is too old. and I can't really switch my system to it. so I'm not sure if I can get an OSS-emulated device for my USB microphone or If I really need to get arts to see my microphone. arts seems the easiest way to get everything working. but for some reason, it still does not see my microphone.

Hey you out there who knows all about it but are just a little to shy to help. show yourself off it will be highly appreciated.

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Posted in , , , , | Posted on 14 Apr 2006 23:59by somekool | 2 comments

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