Fedora 10 with KDE 4.2 RC Review Comments

Alright, so we here at InaTux had the time this week to play around with the newest KDE Desktop Environment (version 4.2 *release candidate*) we have to say-- and we might get some criticism for this but-- we think that lately the KDE team version by version have been taking large steps in the wrong direction. They have been doing a good job at making a Desktop Environment that feels almost invisible, but the general design of the Environment itself seems a little too much like a Vista (i.e. Widgets) and Mac (i.e. the theme) clone and this isn't what GNU/Linux was originally designed to be, a clone.

The second problem we have with KDE is the fact that they are somewhat breaking away from the easy usability and user friendly design of the GNU operating system, of which almost all GNU/Linux distributions are based. KDE is now starting to demand more from the computer hardware in order to run, for example KDE 4.2 would not run on a computer with an 800MHz processor, less than 64MB of video, and 128MB of memory, where GNOME easily would.

Thirdly, and we know this is more of a paranoid thought but, the "K Desktop Environment" when native programs starting with the letter 'K', are listed read "KKK" KKKKK and so on, this isn't a "problem", and this shouldn't be taken too seriously, it's just something we noticed. And they sometimes even designed artwork for the system that makes it look intentional to say "KKK", as seen in the image below. And we know that's not the case. It just seems as if they take pride in the letter 'K' as strange as that sounds.

KKK KDE artwork - KDE 4.2

Though GNOME does the same thing i.e. "GGG", but this way is better because anything to avoid the "Ku Klux Klan" name similarity and reference. Not suggesting anything here, we just think that initially when they decided on the name, they didn't consider this.

And the KDE Desktop Environment has always made programs look more integrated with the Desktop Environment than as separate programs, and this kind of behavior is more confusing and takes away more from the usability than it adds. Additionally, the KDE team have designed their own replacements for programs, so that they integrate better, nice, but when there is something already out there, it would probably be better-- particularly for compatibility reasons --to use it instead, and just modify, add and remove features.

But over all, it's not our favorite Desktop Environment, mainly because we believe more strongly in the philosophy of the GNU project, and the stability.

Here is our review of the new KDE 4.2 release candidate...

First, now when you start any file operation, the progress will be displayed in a notification "bubble" that appears above the panel. These "bubbles" will stack for multiple operations and let you control them individually. This eliminates the need to have progress dialogs appear when moving or copying files with Dolphin, KDE's file manager. The notification "bubble" can be hidden by clicking the associated tray icon. The "bubble" can also be snapped out of the panel and dropped onto the desktop like a regular plasmoid(widget). This makes a seamless user interface that Plasma was designed to facilitate.

File Operations - KDE 4.2

There has been a lot of other small features added to the panel to make it more friendly. The task list now supports a multiple-row layout and can also group related windows. These features work well, but still need a little bit of work. The panel also finally supports autohiding, a feature that KDE has been lacking.

The "folderview" plasmoid, which displays the icons of files in a specific folder, also got some improvements in this release. Users who prefer the conventional desktop icon paradigm can get equivalent functionality in KDE 4.2 by setting the Desktop Activity Type to "Folder View" in KDE's Desktop Settings configuration dialog. But this doesn't seem to reduce processor or memory usage.

Folder View - KDE 4.2

There are a few new plasmoids in 4.2, including a calendar, pastebin uploader, system monitor, and a file preview tool. Plasma now also supports displaying Google Gadgets and plasmoids written in Ruby or Python.

Lastly, the 24 hour clock is still a big problem, there isn't an easy way to set it to 12 hour mode, if at all.

The KDE 4.2 release candidate can be downloaded free at www.kde.org, but if you are new to GNU/Linux you might want to wait a little while for the final release.

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