Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

KDE 3.4 Unleashed

Filed under
KDE
Reviews
-s

Defined as a network transparent contemporary desktop environment for UNIX workstations similar to the desktop environments found under the MacOS or Microsoft Windows, KDE provides an easy-to-use highly customizable integrated graphical interface for today's most demanding tasks. These include email communication, newsgroup participaton, web surfing, instant messaging, graphic design and manipulation, multimedia capabilities thru audio and video applications, system monitoring, file managing, and even software package handling. Today we will look at the latest incarnation.

KDE 3.4 is a reflection of the many years of development invested into the project with more shine and polish than ever experienced with any desktop environment in existence today. Beginning in October of 1996 with just a handful of developers it helped spawn such major projects as Mandrakelinux in 1998. Today there are an estimated 900 developers improving the approximate 5 million lines of code comprising the KDE desktop.

Today features expand much beyond basic functionality to encompass some of the most advanced options imaginable. Some new features in 3.4 include:

  • Text-to-Speech API

  • Use of .ogg Vorbis files
  • Read support for XCF images
  • Support for passwordless wallets
  • Added accessibility features to the KPersonalizer
  • Logitech mouse specific features
  • Add keyboard gestures for enabling AccessX
  • Drag 'n drop between panels
  • System Tray Icon Hiding
  • Reboot options in kdm
  • Middle-click functionality in konqueror
  • Cursor indication when hovering mailto: link
  • Support for the XComposite extension
  • Limit on history size relaxed in klipper
  • Support for images in klipper
  • Autolock feature in kscreensaver
  • Support for SVG wallpapers
  • Drag & drop files or contacts on the chatwindow in kopete
  • Support incoming MSN handwrite messages in kopete
  • Contact behaviour statistics plugin in kopete
  • KOrganizer Journal Plugin in kontact
  • X-Face support and Smileys in kmail
  • X-Face support in knode
  • DNS-based service discovery
  • IOslave abstraction for a trashcan and better implementation for other media

One of the most obvious things one might notice upon their login to 3.4 is the vastly improved speed at which it functions. Desktop start up time is decreased by my approximations of 50% over 3.3. The applications on my desktop open up in about one second. I usually have one instance of konqueror preloaded and I open it to a blank page, but it's opening is just to fast for this human to clock as it is almost instanteous. Kontact takes about one second and kcontrol about two.

Another improvement is the increased stability. Gone are the days of konqueror crashing on a java or flash site. No more are the crashes of kmail as it re-indexes or compresses a large folder. A distant memory are the crashes of knode due to a malformed character or large image in a usenet post. No longer does one experience freezes as one checks their klipper content. Past is the lagging as one tries to move around large files. It may have went through some growing pains over the years, but KDE has become mature, stable, and complete. We have finally reached desktop utopia.


However, the most noticable improvement is the default look. Sporting an attractive wallpaper, jazzy icons and sexy window decorations, one almost hates to customize. But customize we shall and no one makes it easier than KDE. Even installing themes and icons are a breeze within the kde control center. Setting them for use is a no brainer. This is the first thing I do.


One can configure a wallpaper right from their desktop. In fact one can install new wallpapers right from their desktop. Right click on your desktop and choose Configure Desktop. Right there in the first heading Background, one can click the button Get New Wallpapers. This opens one of KDE's best new features, a Get Hot New Stuff dialogue box. In this application, Hot New Stuff contains choices of wallpapers from kde-look.org with tabs for Highest Rated, Most Downloads, and Latest. One can even get detailed information on their choices by clicking Details. Choose a wallpaper and click Install. Close the applet and navigate to your ~/.kde/share/wallpapers folder and choose one of your newly downloaded wallpapers. From this same Configure Desktop applet one can set their general desktop Behavior, Multiple Desktops, Screensaver and Display variables including power control.

I have much more in mind when I customize, so I prefer to just open the KDE Control Center. I've always appreciated the integrated controls of the kcontrol application. KDE Control Center is just that, the main configuration hub for KDE containing all necessary modules for setting up a beautiful and functional desktop.

Another application that will be making use of Get Hot New Stuff is kopete. Soon one will be able to connect to kde-look.org and download new emoticons. Developer Will Stephenson says, "Implementing this was incredibly easy - only 8 lines of code - and since KMail, Kopete and Konversation share the same emoticon themes, the other apps will be able to use the new emoticons too."

kstars also uses the Get Hot New Stuff interface to download extra datafiles. Click, click, click to a more complete experience. Jason Harris says of kstars' new look and functionality, "the layout is much less cluttered, and all of the data fields now use KActiveLabel(API|LXR), so the text can be copy/pasted with the mouse."

New in accessibility is some high and low contrast light and dark color themes with monochrome Flatmono icons. This can be a great advantage to individuals with visual impairments.

KSayIt is a utility that simply speaks a given textfile or the actual content of the clipboard.

There are wonderful things in kontact in 3.4. One of which is the news aggregator is now part of kpim and includes http caching, appearance/font settings, uses kNotify for notifications, and KDEPIM's progressbar.

But most notable in kcontact is the support for smileys for your communications in kmail. Smile I'm a sucker for the eyecandy.

Other improvments include passwordless kwallet, support for gimp's native xcf format, and highlighted address bar to indicate encryption status in konqueror.

I've saved the best for last. Transparency. Transparent windows is one of the newest trends in x11 and now KDE. It works fairly well but in default state it's limited, slow and a bit unstable. I wasn't able to get transparency above 75% and kde crashed out to the terminal more than once. In it's infancy transparency makes a beautiful effect. But this feature needs some more time to mature. I don't use it on an everyday basis, but it's nice a feature to include when showing off your desktop to windows users.

There are just so many new additions, features, and improvements that I can not possibly include them all. For a complete list of new features in 3.4 visit developer.kde.org. I can not stress enough how impressed I am with this latest version. I've said more than a few times how stable it is and I think to everyone that is the most important thing a desktop needs. The install from sources was effortless requiring a mere ./configure, make, make install. Most major distributions are already uploading their compatible versions to mirrors, but anyone can install these from the source. Sometimes details like that get overlooked in reviews, but I think it's very important for a package to compile cleanly without a lot of fuss and muss on the part the user. There is no reason to wait. Visit kde.org for a full list of mirrors.

This is most likely the last feature release in the 3.x series. Makes one wonder how they can possibly improve KDE enough to make a new major version. I for one can hardly wait for the next round.

Please visit my gallery for these shots and many more.

thx

Why thank you so much for saying so. Smile I appreciate that.

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Thank /you/

No, thank you for reading it. Please come back anytime. And thanks for saying. I appreciate it so much.

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

re: Compiler

I'm using 3.4.3 dated from 01/10. Yeah, I heard good things about 4.0. I've also read about a lot of problems folks were having after an upgrade, apps breaking and such and not being able to get 'em to rebuild etc. I usually wait for gentoo ebuilds for upgrading things like that. Thanks for the link, I'll read up on it.

My box isn't a top-of-the-line either, nor a 64bit. I have just your basic amd 2800 with 512mb ram. So I think my time estimations on kde's performance is a good indicator of the improvements. I perhaps should have mentioned my specs for some kind of scale for folks tho.

Thanks for your comment.

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

re: Seen the Enlightenment video's?

Yeah, those videos look awesome! I might have to check em out. I was thinking of doing a howto on fixing up fluxbox next, but that might make a good story too. Thanks. Smile

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

re: KDE 3.4 *is* awesome

I read on kde's site that this would probably be the last feature release in 3.x series, so I gathered there wouldn't be a 3.5. But then I read somewhere else there may be a 3.5. So I don't know. kde 4.0 is supposed to be much faster cuz of the new branch of qt, but I can't imagine it being faster. Exciting times...

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

re: Try Ubuntu, you'll love it.

I was thinking of trying that kubuntu I think it's called, the one where they use kde. But I just don't have enough hours in the day. I really wanted to review mandrake's release candidate since I read most of the bugs I complained about were fixed, but I just didn't have the time. But yeah, thanks for the suggestion. I might do just that.

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

re: have they made it user-friend

I'm not sure as that would be such a subjective answer. I think it's user-friendly. As for the kate settings menu, there's only 3 entries and the settings opens up a nice configuration module reminiscent of the kde control center. I should have put up a screeny of it for ya. I might do that when I get home from work tonight.

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Which way do we wanna go with this?

The first desperately-needed applet is a bullet-proof equivalent to Windows Add/Remove Programs...

This is where it gets confusing for the New User. OK, In Windows, there is only one Desktop Environment and that is, uhhh, well Windows. With Linux and depending on your distro of choice, you have many environments from which to work. IMO, features such as Add/Remove Programs and the Device Manager are functions of the Operating System, not of the current WM or DE. I too think, while KDE has done miraculous things, putting features into KDE such as Add/Remove Programs would simply confuse the user. Linux is about choice and boy howdy, are we given choices..and sometimes thats the problem. Too many choices that accomplish the same task in too many environments. I do wish they would make the above-mentioned features executable from a place like PCLinuxOS Control Center or Master Control. This way, it cuts down on the confusion.

And dude..."LIAR"? Calling srlinuxx a liar for saying what she said is like calling you a liar for saying you like Fords over Chevy's. I do believe there is medication available for your disorder. If the medicine fails, I would opt to personally tutor you on personal interaction and social skills.

My tutoring tool of choice in your case would be a high-end cattle prod.

helios

re: Which way...

I don't think he was talking to me. I think he was talking to the windows fan Keith F. Kelly. Best I remember his post Mr. Kelly had said that M$ add&remove programs was bullet proof and linux needed the same kinda thing. I think that comment received several lively responses. But I'm fairly sure Asharoth wasn't talking to me or about my article.

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Just covering all the bases...

Well there I go again, jumping to contusions. See, everything in the written word is not always black and blue. Then again, its good to have a friend that will beat back your critics.

yeah, I watched alot of violence-filled television as a child...why do you ask?

helios

re: covering

Yeah, I almost thanked you for getting my back, but got distracted and failed to mention it.

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

Scrivener Writing Software has a Linux Version

In some ways, Scrivener is the very embodiment of anti-Linux, philosophically. Scrivener is a writing program, used by authors. In Linux, one strings together well developed and intensely tested tools on data streams to produce a result. So, to author a complex project, create files and edit them in a simple text editor, using some markdown. Keep the files organized in the file system and use file names carefully chosen to keep them in order in their respective directories. when it comes time to make project-wide modifications, use grep and sed to process all of the files at once or selected files. Eventually, run the files through LaTeX to produce beautiful output. Then, put the final product in a directory where people can find it on Gopher.

Gopher? Anyway …

On the other hand, emacs is the ultimate linux program. Emacs is a text editor that is so powerful and has so many community-contributed “modes” (like add-ins) that it can be used as a word processor, an email client, a calendar, a PIM, a web browser, an operating system, to make coffee, or to stop that table with the short leg from rocking back and forth. So, in this sense, a piece of software that does everything is also linux, philosophically.

And so, Scrivener, despite what I said above, is in a way the very embodiment of Linux, philosophically.

I’ve been using Scrivener on a Mac for some time now, and a while back I tried it on Linux. Scrivener for the Mac is a commercial product you must pay money for, though it is not expensive, but the Linux version, being highly experimental and probably unsafe, is free. But then again, this is Linux. We eat unsafe experimental free software for breakfast. So much that we usually skip lunch. Because we’re still fixing breakfast. As it were.

Details with Screen Shots Here

Anyway, here’s what Scrivener does. It does everything. The full blown Mac version has more features than the Linux version, but both are feature rich. To me, the most important things are: A document is organised in “scenes” which can be willy nilly moved around in relation to each other in a linear or hierarchical system. The documents are recursive, so a document can hold other documents, and the default is to have only the text in the lower level document as part of the final product (though this is entirely optional). A document can be defined as a “folder” which is really just a document that has a file folder icon representing it to make you feel like it is a folder.

Associated with the project, and with each separate document, is a note taking area. So, you can jot notes project-wide as you work, like “Don’t forget to write the chapter where everyone dies at the end,” or you can write notes on a given document like “Is this where I should use the joke about the slushy in the bathroom at Target?” Each scene also has a number of attributes such as a “label” and a “status” and keywords. I think keywords may not be implemented in the Linux version yet.

Typically a project has one major folder that has all the actual writing distributed among scenes in it, and one or more additional folders in which you put stuff that is not in the product you are working on, but could be, or was but you pulled it out, or that includes research material.

You can work on one scene at a time. Scenes have meta-data and document notes.

The scenes, folders, and everything are all held together with a binder typically displayed on the left side of the Scrivener application window, showing the hierarchy. A number of templates come with the program to create pre-organized binder paradigms, or you can just create one from scratch. You can change the icons on the folders/scenes to remind you of what they are. When a scene is active in the central editing window, you can display an “inspector” on the right side, showing the card (I’ll get to that later) on top the meta data, and the document or project notes. In the Mac version you can create additional meta-data categories.

An individual scene can be displayed in the editing window. Or, scenes can be shown as a collection of scenes in what is known as “Scrivenings mode.” Scrivenings mode is more or less standard word processing mode where all the text is simply there to scroll through, though scene titles may or may not be shown (optional). A lot of people love the corkboard option. I remember when PZ Myers discovered Scrivener he raved about it. The corkboard is a corkboard (as you may have guessed) with 3 x 5 inch virtual index cards, one per scene, that you can move around and organize as though that was going to help you get your thoughts together. The corkboard has the scene title and some notes on what the scene is, which is yet another form of meta-data. I like the corkboard mode, but really, I don’t think it is the most useful features. Come for the corkboard, stay for the binder and the document and project notes!

Community chest: Storage firms need to pay open-source debts

Linux and *BSD have completely changed the storage market. They are the core of so many storage products, allowing startups and established vendors alike to bring new products to the market more rapidly than previously possible. Almost every vendor I talk to these days has built their system on top of these and then there are the number of vendors who are using Samba implementations for their NAS functionality. Sometimes they move on from Samba but almost all version 1 NAS boxen are built on top of it. Read more

Black Lab SDK 1.8 released

QT Creator - for QT 5 Gambas 3 - Visual Basic for Linux Ubuntu Quickly - Quick and dirty development tool for python emacs and Xemacs - Advanced Text Editor Anjuta and Glade - C++ RAD development tool for GTK Netbeans - Java development environment GNAT-GPS - IDE for the following programming languages. Ada, C, JavaScript, Pascal and Python Idle - IDE for Python Scite - Text Editor Read more

Did Red Hat’s CTO Walk – Or Was He Pushed?

He went on to say that some within Red Hat speculate that tensions between Stevens and Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president of products and technologies, might be responsible, although there doesn’t appear to have been any current argument between the two. Cormier will take over Stevens’ duties until a replacement is found. Vaughan-Nichols also said that others at Red Hat had opined that Stevens might’ve left because he’d risen as high as he could within the company and with no new advancement opportunities open to him, he’d decided to move on. If this was the case, why did he leave so abruptly? Stevens had been at Red Hat for nearly ten years. If he was leaving merely because “I’ve done all I can here and it’s time to seek my fortune elsewhere,” we’d expect him to work out some kind of notice and stay on the job long enough for Red Hat to find a suitable replacement. Turning in a resignation that’s effective immediately is not the ideal way to walk out the door for the last time. It smells of burning bridges. Read more