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KDE Software GUI Linux

A Screenshot Review of KDE 4 274

billybob2 writes " has an extensive screenshot review and commentary on the development version of the Free and Open Source KDE desktop. Highlights include the ability to run any desktop applet prepared for Mac OS X inside Plasma, on-the-fly annotation and rating of files from within the Dolphin file manager. It also has an improved GUI for the Amarok music player, flexible 3D eye candy configuration in KWin, and improved support for both accessing digital cameras via the Solid hardware layer and the DigiKam photo manager."
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A Screenshot Review of KDE 4

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  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @10:00PM (#22927314)
    I see KDE as a very good, highly configurable and modern desktop environment but still wonder why it is not yet the desktop environment of choice for the "major" distros. Why? Is is because it is mainly European based and all the so called major distros are American based? I hope not.
  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy ( 963289 ) * <> on Monday March 31, 2008 @10:00PM (#22927316) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to see some originality, but once again OSS disappoints.

    If you want to see where OS X has borrowed from OSS, simply look at spaces (predated by Virtual Desktops), Dashboard (predated by Konfabulator), Spotlight (predated by Beagle), etc.

    I'd like to see some OS X fanboys who have a clue about the way OS development works; hint: all the majors copy concepts from each other & rarely come up with original features (they mostly come from research projects), but once again, Apple fanboy disappoints.
  • Slackware proper only ships with KDE (and fluxbox, and XFCE, IIRC - they're in the 'extras' discs). You can get Gnome on Slackware via other projects, but Slackware doesn't support Gnome. So, that's one distro that is straight out of the box KDE. In fact, that's why KDE is my favorite desktop environment; Slackware was my first distro, and I just got used to it.

    Although, I do appreciate Gnome for what it is, but it just doesn't feel as familiar as KDE. So, yeah, the main distros these days are debian derived and that's why Gnome is dominant, IMHO. Whatever a user is subjected to first, they'll find to be more comfortable with.
  • Unoriginal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:22PM (#22927702) Homepage Journal
    Since when did Mac OS and Windows have stuff like Sonnet, Strigi/Nepomuk, Solid, Plasma, Decibel, etc?

    Oh wait, they didn't.

    It really irks me when people look at a window decoration, and assume that fully encompasses the work of KDE 4.
  • Re:ok... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by routerl ( 976394 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:57PM (#22927866)

    I'm not sure how Gnome is more minimalist, unless you mean fewer options and features. Then again, I'm not sure why people don't like having choice.

    Because more choice is not always better. Gnome does what I need it to do, and is as customizable as I need it to be. Given that, my pre-existing comfort with gnome, and my never having used KDE for any extended period of time, I have no desire or need to switch. And this is independent of whatever advantages KDE might have, when it comes to what you need it for.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:40AM (#22928078)
    Could you explain what you're talking about in actual terms? I'm not sure if you're trying to troll, or trying to use hyperbole, but "Fisher Price" and "Teddy Ruxpin" and "clearly for kids" are not exactly standard computer terms.

    As for why to make GUIs more toylike in general, that's easy: to increase the user success rate. That's it. (What did you think the purpose of a GUI was?) I know a bunch of old-school UNIX geeks are embarrassed by having to use something with color icons, anti-aliased fonts, and accelerated graphics, but I don't know that anybody has ever found these features to *reduce* your ability to do whatever it is you want to do. In comparison, when computers look geeky, a lot of people are afraid to do anything. These features do increase the success rate for a lot of people.

    I worked in tech support for a while, and if you haven't, you really wouldn't believe it. It's not that people are stupid; they just have a completely different outlook than you (if you've ever read slashdot). I remember asking one person (a tenured university professor who'd been programming since punchcard days, who we were basically teaching how to use a mouse) why he didn't try clicking something that looked like an obvious (to me) thing to try. His response shocked me: "I would be afraid to click that". It wasn't in the manual, you see.

    If you're not used to it, a computer can be an intimidating place. Imagine asking a random person to do something under the hood of his car, or in the cockpit of an airplane -- even something simple. *I'd* be afraid to do anything! It's foreign territory. These things are built to look industrial and scary (compared to, say, the inside of your car, or the passenger seats on an airliner) precisely because they're not for normal people to operate.

    A toy, OTOH, is built to look inviting. It's plastic or metal, so you can't possibly break it, even if you tried. Things are rounded and move smoothly, which mean no pain and no surprises. These things make people feel more comfortable trying things. I know *you* don't need comfort when using a computer, but you'll use a computer (successfully) anyway. Nobody's afraid that drop-shadows will cause you to be unable to type "grep" in your terminal.

    And if you don't like colors, choose the "Graphite" theme on your Mac (one menu choice), or an old GNOME theme, or even a different window manager or whatnot. (GNOME is highly configurable, despite initial appearances -- just not in the main menus.) If you want your computer to look geeky, it's not exactly hard.
  • by jjohnson ( 62583 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:52AM (#22928138) Homepage
    Because while an extreme ability to customize the smallest thing is great when 1) I want to customize small things, and 2) I know how to customize it, the rest of the time I want Fischer Price. I want a simple, direct interface. I don't want to spend time clicking through multiple tabs or unfolding tree menus or visually selecting one from many icons.

    90% of my time is spent doing very few things that implicate the interface--terminal, browser, IDE--and are best taken care of with a very slick, minimalist interface. It's not only best for unsophisticated users; most of the time, it's most functional for power users too once they've bothered to get things the way they like.
  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy ( 963289 ) * <> on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:41AM (#22928298) Homepage Journal
    Just nitpicking, but Konfabulator was a shareware, not OSS. Spotlight was predated by Sherlock 2 which was released as a part of Mac OS 8.5, years before beagle's 0.0.0 release.

    You are correct about Konfabulator, but I'm not sure Sherlock 2 is a good example - its indexing wasn't really any different to AppleSearch (did it search your browser history, mail, pdf content - ie all things we mean when we refer to 'desktop search' apps?).

    FWIW, I don't think Beagle started the desktop search frenzy - all desktop search apps are a natural evolution of indexed search going waaaaaaaaaay back to at least the early 90s

    I agree with your point, Apple 'borrows' ideas and code from anywhere regardless of their origins, but at least get the facts straight and don't guess if you really don't know. It only undermines your claim.

    My point is that everyone 'borrows' ideas (not code) from anywhere regardless of their origins. I used Apple to make that point.

    and Apple usually does it right more often than others when it comes to UI.

    They do - particularly with integration.

    You can call me an Apple fanboy.

    No way - you're far to reasonable to be a true Apple fanboy - try again with more mouth-frothiness.
  • by MrNemesis ( 587188 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @03:31AM (#22928656) Homepage Journal
    I know it's not a "true2 part of KDE and I hate to make another rant about this, but I've been unable to see anything but a horrific downturn in amarok, both in terms of usability and basic visual appeal and the developers are convinced their "content-centric" way of doing things is The Right Way. In my experience this translates to:
    Making it look like superficiallyiTunes whilst continuting to ignore the ability to have the user decide where to put things like the playback controls and position slider
    Seemingly ephemeral "content window" taking up greater than a third of the main app real estate so I can repeatedly read the wikipedia articles on my bands, or something. Why would I want to do this all the time? Oh right, because it's plasma
    Aforementioned content window gets in the way of dragging things from the tree browser on the left to the playlist on the right
    Playlist has been severely gimped compared to amarok 1.4 IMHO. Devs have been telling users like me that keep several thousand items in their playlist are stupid (the only valid reason I ever saw was because it increases startup time - something I'm not particularly worried about with my current amarok uptime being about fifteen days) whilst failing to provide me with a convenient way to listen to my music in the way I liked (generally on random/semi-random unless I want to listen to a particular album or artist, in which case I use the boolean filter)

    Maybe I'm horrifically sad and very much music 1.0 or some such crap, but I use amarok because it makes managing and quickly picking out music from a massive collection really, really easy. Amarok 2 just seems to me to be a catalogue of style over usability and change for changes sake. Pretty much every criticism I've seen of the new UI on the blog from the very first mockups has been shouted down with either "these aren't even alpha yet, shut up, the final design will look nothing like this!", "you're wrong, this way is prettier", "we think it's more usable even if you don't, no we won't provide that as an option, it goes against our philosophy" or "can't change it now, we're too close to release". Seriously, how much time to /.'ers spend staring at their music application (not counting pretty visuals like projectm)?

    Since the site seems slashdotted, here's the latest dev image posted to the amarok blog: []

    On a more KDE-centric level, I'm not enjoying the low-contrast Qt themes with the insistence of rounding every possible corner, and I've yet to come across any themes that give be the beautific simplicity of Plastik
    The new XP-style kicker replacement is an absolute abomination to use. Too many clicks, practically impossible to browse the program hierarchies quickly. Everyone says "use the search!" - sorry, I shouldn't have to use the search function because you neglected basic functionality
    Still doesn't like working across multiple monitors
    Panel and window configuration options are still severely lacking
    Seeming enforcement of "the desktop is the application!" metaphor with the proliferation of widgets replacing apps. The desktop, in my way of working at least, is visible for about three seconds after login until an app or five autostarts and covers it. Thanks to KDE's fantastic setup of multiple individually configurable panels and/or kb shortcuts I was able to do away with all of that tiresome minimising of windows. If you're going to make us use widgets, at least give us the option to make them use the window manager so they get an entry in the taskbar, please. The lets-have-windows-without-taskbar-entries philosophy is annoying enough on windows, as anyone who's spent time trying to find that security dialog box that took a minute or two to appear will testify
    Speaking of the taskbar, the icons are still huge and it still doesn't play very nicely with having lots of windows open
    Last time I checked, those somewhat confus
  • by LiquidFire_HK ( 952632 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @04:19AM (#22928802)

    On a more KDE-centric level, I'm not enjoying the low-contrast Qt themes with the insistence of rounding every possible corner, and I've yet to come across any themes that give be the beautific simplicity of Plastik
    How about the Qt 4 version of Plastik, called "Plastique", which ships with Qt 4 by default?

    Many (if not all) of your other complaints, while valid, are things that have simply not yet been fixed, or features that have not been implemented. It was just that KDE 4.0 was somewhat rushed (it probably should have been still beta, but at least this way it got lots of development attention).

    As for Amarok, you really don't need a playlist of all your music just so you can listen to random stuff or stuff based on a filter - that's what Smart and Dynamic Playlists are for (I should add that I have not tried recent versions of Amarok 2, but I use Dynamic Playlists even in 1.4).
  • Re:ok... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by c0p0n ( 770852 ) <[copong] [at] []> on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @04:31AM (#22928832)

    I'm not sure how Gnome is more minimalist, unless you mean fewer options and features. Then again, I'm not sure why people don't like having choice.

    Because more choice is not always better. Gnome does what I need it to do, and is as customizable as I need it to be. Given that, my pre-existing comfort with gnome, and my never having used KDE for any extended period of time, I have no desire or need to switch. And this is independent of whatever advantages KDE might have, when it comes to what you need it for.

    I'm sorry, but I don't see your point. Are you saying that, as Gnome does what you need it to do, choice ain't better? But then you say "it comes to what you need it for"?

    How is it having choice worse than no choice at all? That defies common sense, buddy.
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:43AM (#22929106) Homepage Journal
    I hate THAT!

    Sorry, just had to vent. In my office the trash can is out of site but easily accessible. So should it be on my computer desktop.

    On XP I just removed it totally from the desktop and get at it through explorer. I saw a mod that allowed it to live in the system tray which I think is a better solution. I understand that on my Mac that its a native part of how the UI operates but at least I can keep the whole bar down there off my screen or scale it so its not annoying.

    Still... in real life we don't sit them on our desks.... maybe they should use the ashtray instead - because thats the only "trash" thing ever to sit on a desk
  • Re:LiteStep (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wheely ( 2500 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:40PM (#22932244)
    This just drives me nuts.

    I really find it hard to believe the stuff that is supposed to come out of usability studies. I have seen some usability stuff at the sharp end and it looks sensible but what actually ends being released is beyond logic to me. I dont believe many of these people are capable of understanding the effect their goal is on the subjects reactions.

    I fail to believe that "search" is better for newbies who dont know what they are searching for. Its almost as dumb as thinking context sensitive menus are a good idea. The most important learning tool in any system, even a text book is the chance of accidently seeing things you werent looking for. Be it, the man page for "grep" you first found while you were flicking through looking for the man page for "ls" or the option on a menu for "Save profile web browsing" while looking for the option to "exit", this is useful stuff to become aware of. People dont look for things they dont know about for christ sake!

    Dont get me started on who thought it was a good idea to move the "clear the url line" button from the left the right in konqueror. I dont know about most people but I start writing in that box on the left and not only that, thats where the cursor ends up after youve pressed it.

    Oh and big grey boxes with tools on when you hover over a plasmoid. Pretty but dumb. I see that now, at least, the little tool icons dont swap sides depending on which part of the screen your on. Thank god for one small mercy from the "how people work gurus". I had to laugh when my excitement at getting rid of the things (by "locking" the desktop) made it impossible to change your background image. Logical to some extent until you realise that, given the "set image as background image" disappears from the desktop menu, there are no clues whatsoever to tell you in six months time that the steps to change your background are 1) unlock desktop, 2) Go to menu that two seconds ago didnt mention anything about this task and 3) select the option to change the background.

    It is utter, utter nonsense and we are being taken in by the human interface sales pitch.

    I really, realy get some of the technology improvements in KDE4. I think they are a marvel and have the potential to be world beating. It is streets ahead of anything else. Sadly, it will become just a demo application for technology if this philosophy continues.

    My 65 year old mother hates it and she is one of the target users.

    God it makes me baity!

  • Re:LiteStep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrNemesis ( 587188 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @02:05PM (#22932538) Homepage Journal
    I've been struggling to remain sufficiently Zen amongst all this as well. I don't recommend you read some of the comments on that page if you value your blood pressure, there seems to be a colossal mentality of "Novell spent loads of money on it, and it's scientific, therefore is MUST be true!".

    The search function seems retarded to me as well, for the precisely the reasons you state - we already have a method for launching applications where you're able to type in the start of the name of a program, press a button to initiate a search and then press return to launch the application, it's called a bash shell with tab complete in my book. Woo fucking hoo for your innovative search function. As you say, pretty much the whole point of a GUI, and the reason they're easier to pick up by n00bs, is that they expose you to more than you're currently using. Kickoff is the complete antihesis of this, yet it still manages to be complex enough to be confusing.

    The most disturbing thing is the attitudes of some of the key developers who seem to think that a) the current users (especially the power users) don't have valid opinions and b) that it's better to cater to the lowest common denominator. Sorry, that's why I dumped GNOME. I don't want to dump KDE, but if you make everything as ball-gratingly annoying to use as kickoff and amarok I'm not going to have a choice.

    Here's to hoping that the "It's finished, honest!" 4.1 will either a) put off a load of users and spur the devs into using some common sense instead of putting faith in design by committee or b) actually be halfway usable. Until then, I'm going to continue hugging my beloved KDE 3.5 - hands down the best UI I have ever used, imagined, experienced, witnessed, praised or wiggled.

Air is water with holes in it.