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.
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.
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.
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.
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 feature ! yé !
KDE4 Application Launcher - Applications library KDE4 Application Launcher - My Computer KDE4 Application Launcher - Recent 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.