Forgot your password?
KDE GUI Software

KDE Responds To Misconceptions About KDE 4 279

Posted by Soulskill
from the feedback-is-good dept.
Jiilik Oiolosse writes "PJ at Groklaw speaks with a member of the KDE team about some of the common myths circulating about KDE 4. 'There has been a bit of a dustup about KDE 4.0. A lot of opinions have been expressed, but I thought you might like to hear from KDE. So I wrote to them and asked if they'd be willing to explain their choices and answer the main complaints. They graciously agreed.' Among the topics discussed are: 'Releasing KDE 4.0 was a mistake,' 'I cannot put files on my desktop,' and 'KDE should just have ported KDE 3.5 to Qt 4 and not add all that other experimental stuff right away.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

KDE Responds To Misconceptions About KDE 4

Comments Filter:
  • Happy to wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spacejock (727523) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @04:28AM (#24162949) Homepage
    I've always preferred KDE over Gnome, but unlike many I didn't rush to install KDE 4.0 (what with it being an incomplete beta and all.) I didn't get XP until it had been out for years either, and by the time I'm considering Vista it'll be lying in a shallow grave from the sound of things.

    Basically, I see KDE 4.x as something to play with alongside my regular desktop. I'll jump onboard properly when things calm down, but in the meantime I have work to do.
  • Misconceptions? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @04:59AM (#24163045) Homepage Journal
    Simply put, I had to revert to KDE3 in order to be able to work with my laptop.
    If KDE4 is not finished, why announcing it as a deliverable product?
    What everyone expects from a new major release is no less features and stability than the older ones.
    Whenever this is not the case, a flop is waiting at the corner (as a lot of people learned from Vista).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2008 @05:14AM (#24163095)

    for quite a few developers not developing features often means not developing at all

  • Re:Misconceptions? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Basje (26968) <> on Saturday July 12, 2008 @05:33AM (#24163151) Homepage

    I agree. The work was not finished, and calling it 4.0 creates expectations. In the article, the kde devs say they communicated it was not to be taken as finished. But their most potent statement, the version number, says something different.

    It continues to make that statement. Big distributions as kubuntu and opensuse offer kde4.0 as a default choice. Not because they don't understand 4.0 isn't ready, but because the demand is there. People will pass if the latest version is not available. If the goal is to make a successful desktop, communication like a major version number should be aimed at the end users, not at the developers.

  • by argent (18001) <> on Saturday July 12, 2008 @05:37AM (#24163169) Homepage Journal

    how come they haven't been able to duplicate the Apple GUI experience?

    Because they're trying to duplicate the Windows GUI experience, complete with periodically pissing off half the user base by changing the entire interface for oddball reasons.

    They say "the desktop hasn't had a radical redesign in X years!" So what? The command line hasn't had a radical redesign since the Bourne shell, unless you're using Plan 9, and that was about 30 years ago. You don't *need* a radical redesign of things that work well. You don't *need* to break applications and force people to upgrade to a new API, either. Yes I'm looking at YOU, Trolltech... what's the point of using an OO programming language if you don't take advantage of the fact that you can have multiple methods with the same name, so you don't HAVE to remove the old calls when you change the calling sequence?

    That's like when Microsoft declared "all new code will be in .NET" and had people hanging on to Visual Studio 6 for years because that was the only way to stay backwards compatible.

    (and, no, I don't think Apple's going to get everyone to dump Carbon either)

    Yes, you occasionally have to break stuff, but unless you're doing it because of security problems you do it after a transition period, and I don't think (for one random example) "directory.exists(name, TRUE)" counts as a security hole.

    Or is there more to it than that, such as difference philosophies or lack of people with good a understanding of user psychology and graphic design principles?

    All of the above. Not that Apple's user interface is perfect (god knows it isn't), but it's proof that you don't have to blindly clone everything Microsoft does to produce a great user experience.

  • by alderX (931621) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @05:40AM (#24163183)
    I'am not so sure if the Apple GUI experience can be described as superior. I have a Mac Mini with dual boot into OS X and Linux with KDE 3.5 on top. Overall I think OS X looks cooler and more professional designed, but from a usage and efficiency point of view into the KDE environment better fits my needs.

    For instance:
    o The Alt+Tab vs. Alt+Tilde thing - I understand the technical difference between switching applications and multiple "documents". Still I often have the case where I have 2 Terminals and 1 Firefox open and need to constantly switch between them. Here I don't want to think about if it's another application or document I want to switch between. I just want to do it and I can with KDE, Gnome, Windows, OS/2 but not OS X. Ok there is an extra tool (forgot the name), but that one didn't work flawless eather.
    o Virtual Desktops - Well that something a lot of Nerds seemed to miss, something which the OSS community had in their products for years. Not having it can result in considerable clutter on the screen which is exactly how my OS X screen looks like. Great to see that Apple finally came around and introduced it in it's latest version.
    o Zoom vs. Maximize - One IMHO really strange thing in OS X is the Maximize button which actually is a Zoom button. The window size gets proportionally increased until it reaches the horizontal or vertical limits - whatever comes first. It's not possible to really maximize a window to cover the entire screen. Exception to that being that applications can alter this behavior and e.g. Aparature is doing so - showing the same behavior as this botton does in KDE, Gnome, Windows, OS/2,...
    o Resizing a Window - To resize a window you have to drag the lower right corner and only the lower right corner. Why can't I use the left side border of the window if I choose to? Also something that's possible nearly everywhere else.
    o Focus follows mouse - ...
    o Rename a file - You can do tons of things (like copy, move to trash,...) within the context menu of a file. But still you can't rename it. Instead you have to click on it once and then again on the name below the icon. I find this quite inconsequent and also not very intuitive - actually I had to google it.
    o Consistent UI appearance - It's true that Qt, GTK etc. based applications look different. But so do OS X applications where you have the white style, this brushed metal style and another one which escapes me right now.

    So don't get me wrong, I didn't want to rant about OS X. It's my favorite UI from a design and "looking at" point of view. But if it's about daily work with it, then points like the mentioned above are really in my way. With KDE it's vice versa for me. It doesn't look that good, but I lets me do the job and it's more consistent with what you would expect coming from other UI's.
  • Eh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zygfryd (856098) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @05:51AM (#24163233)

    People really need to cut the KDE developers some slack. The devs specifically said that the first releases will be lacking, it's a major rewrite after all. Keeping that in mind, they're doing a wonderful job. Would you rather the release schedule looked like e17's?
    Also, lots of the people flaming KDE4 sound like the KDE team owed them something... that's really so embarrassing for the open source community.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2008 @05:51AM (#24163237)

    Why, yes I know. Don't feed the trolls... I just can't resist here.

    That would have helped so tremedously! It would have made clear to trolls and dumb people that it is not for them and real FOSS lovers would have still tested it and filed bug reports and feature request.

    So I'm dumb or a troll for feeling let down when a stable release (which a 4.0.X release should be) of a major open source project tends to crash on me constantly? In the FLOSS community, release management has a lot to do with honesty.

    If your 4.0 branch has scathing architectural deficiencies that make it unusable for production environments, call it 3.9, if you already had that, call it 3.10. Now KDE has their own gnome 2.0.0. Anyone who remembers that one awful experience?

    Naming convention for the future:

    *Insert big FOSS project X.0 ( X > 1 )* "Developer Release"

    Otherwise all the dumb users will think it is Photoshop CS4 or something.

    IMHO that is the path to happiness!


    If it's not 4.0 don't call it 4.0 -- it's that simple.

  • Re:Happy to wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psychotria (953670) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @06:13AM (#24163303)
    Yeah, I am in the same camp. I have been compiling SVN head since 4.0. I love what KDE is becoming. But stuff like what I am pasting below is where the UD (minus the F) is coming from. To say that the first release of Dolphin will be binary compatible with all future releases of KDE 4.X (which is what the quote is implying) just doesn't seem right. Doing svn update changes things constantly (including the base libs and the headers). KDE base libs stable and binary compatible until KDE 5? I can't see it.

    From this point on, our libraries will remain binary compatible until 5.0. Not releasing 4.0 at that point means holding back hundreds of application developers from porting and releasing their applications. Not releasing would hurt these applications - they wouldn't receive the attention to detail they deserved. We're talking about core applications like Dolphin [...]

  • by sirius_bbr (562544) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @06:19AM (#24163321)

    Well, to be fair, calling it KDE 4.0 suggests it's relatively bug-free (else it would have been 4.0-beta), and feature-complete (else it would have been 4.0-alpha).

    From what I've read it was neither of those...

  • by MaulerOfEmotards (1284566) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @06:39AM (#24163379)
    I have tested KDE4 on my Mandriva install as well as on a few LiveCDs and am very positive about it. It is aesthetically pleasing, offers wonderful functionality, enormous flexibility and extensibility, and gorgeous eye candy not on the expense of usability or ergonomics.

    Many people uphold OSX or Vista as the pinnacles of desktop beauty, and in the case of Mac, usability and user experience, yet the beauty possible on modern Linuxen desktops is not only equal to that of the Big Two, but in fact far surpassing them. Yes, I am talking a lot about "beauty" and "aesthetics", terms that programmers and techheads usually spurn or dismiss as irrelevant or superfluous. However, because it is not in the front of many geeks' minds does not mean it is irrelevant (especially considered I being a programmer myself) - beauty is important! In KDE, in particular KDE4, and especially coupled with technologies such as Compiz-Fusion and/or Metisse, the Linux desktop is far ahead any competition in presentation aesthetics, a fact seldom recognised.

    That said, I am not using it on my production system and will not until release 4.2.

    The problem as I see it, and the mistake made by the KDE dev team, lies in using a version numbering system that makes great sense for them but has little relation to how it will be interpreted and understood outside the development circles. For the devs, according to TFA, the "4.0" in KDE 4.0 means

    is just the beginning. KDE 4.0 has the beginnings of a publicly usable desktop and applications. KDE 4.0 also marks the stability of the libraries and their programming interfaces so application developers can actively start using them in their application. The new features and frameworks need some time to be implemented in a user-visible way. In that light, KDE 4.0 marks the beginning of the availability of KDE4-technology-based applications.

    For most of the world, the release of a new major version means both something new and exiting, which KDE4.0 certainly delivers, but also a finished and usable system that will be refined, embellished and updated. The KDE devs, on the other hand, means it as a platform on which a functioning system can and will be built. Their mistake lies in not realising that public perception of "4.0" would differ from their intention.

    That said, this is a very common mistake in all human communication. Seldom indeed does intention transmit perfectly into perception.

  • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @06:39AM (#24163383)

    haven't been able to duplicate the Apple GUI experience

    Waiting for clones. That is precisely why OSS has *always* been behind.

    lack of people with good a understanding of user psychology and graphic design principles

    Yes. They are in high demand. Apple hired all of them.

  • by gaggle (206502) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @06:40AM (#24163385)

    On reason is that great design means fewer options, and OSS inherently favors control and flexibility because all the apps are written to and by superusers. So there are these goals that oppose each other, and cutting through it all is difficult when your programmers owe you nothing. It takes a clear vision to achieve the elegance Apple pulls off.

    Well that, and Apple's gigantic wad of money they spend on human interface research :)

  • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @06:54AM (#24163423)

    If anyone was wondering why KDE 4 was so user unfriendly, then this article pretty much says it all. None of the answers are user friendly. They are all argumentative and poor excuses at best.

    KDE 4.0 is the starting line, not the finishing line.

    Isn't that the precise definition of BETA software? They released KDE 4.0 Beta as the finished product, and are now ARGUING that it is not finished, but a "new beginning." Well, thanks for telling us beforehand, which btw would have been as simple as adding "beta" to the name. If 4 is so backward compatible and "user friendly" then why have so many users failed to "make use" of KDE 4? If they listen to their users, then why do they feel they haven't been heard? If you disagree with them then fine, but you cannot argue with them and expect to win anyone over and claim that that is listening.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @07:03AM (#24163455) Journal

    They just didn't realize that calling the package that included the completed KDE4 libs "KDE 4.0" meant that distributions would start pushing it out to users, and publicizing it before it was objectively 'ready'.

    Why, exactly, is it surprising that, when the product is announced to be "out of beta and released", it will be pushed out to end users?

    If it's not "objectively ready", then it's not even beta, it's alpha. If the libs are ready but not the desktop itself, then release "kdelibs-4.0", and keep the version of the desktop itself at alpha until that part is finished.

  • by dodecalogue (1281666) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @08:03AM (#24163723)

    I very strongly agree with this sentiment. So much effort in OSS has been to try and pull in a userbase by mimicking what the user is already used to, and in many cases dissappointing down the road by the simple fact that the product is not microsoft/apple.

    With no (or anyhow little) risk of lost revenue, one would think that all kinds of fantastical innovations would be spilling out of the open source movement in areas of desktop, input and output, etc. It's all gotten so incestuous that any small change seems like an earthquake. People maybe forget that at one point, the mouse was an innovation. [] And others like it CAN come along and be useful and accepted, it just takes a little imagination.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2008 @08:58AM (#24163989)

    The problem is that {k}ubuntu people don't have a polite education on free software. Most of them recently moved from windows and are not adapted to opensource philosophy.

    I'm a developer on a major Linux distribution. I can tell that everytime more people shows up on the official IRC channels with the "Feature X is b0rken, you suck!" attitude.
    I believe this new generation of lame and lazy users will damage some opensource software a bit, specially software who have a bigger community.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2008 @09:36AM (#24164181)

    That is just silly.
    The reason for the major version number to change is to indicate breaks in compatibility with earlier versions. A version like 3.X indicates that everything written with 3.Y (Y <= X) will still work with 3.X.

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @10:14AM (#24164347) Journal

    Just shows that KDE made the wrong decision. Not technically mind you, just the wrong release decision.

    When you have to go back and justify your actions, that means you did something wrong in the eyes of the consumer. If you continually find yourself doing this, you're going to have an uphill battle.

    While plasma is nascent technology, I think everyone sees it as cool.

    I think starting with a port of KDE to Qt4 would have been the best idea. It would have provided a crucial step between designs and shown off Qt4's improvements over Qt3. Then with everything ported release 4.0. Then in 4.0 deliver a beta of Plasma and/or a release of Plasma in 4.1. There was absolutely no need to ever include plasma. Plasma is based off the QGraphicsView class. At the time Plasma was started and even up until the 1st release, you could not put a widget in the GraphicsView. This should have been a show stopper, or at least a "wait for" feature before Plasma was forced on people. That one feature should have made it clear - port to Qt4 and release as 4.0. But that's not what happened.

    Still we have KDE saying "no, we're right" despite the various criticisms. If KDE really listed to their users they'd say "we're changing our release policy to a user-centric one"

    Disclaimer: KDE is my favorite desktop, I only have interest in it succeeding, and that is why I am critical of it. But I realize that the user, not the code is the most important factor.

    The bolt-on technology should have come second. It is completely optional. It should have been separated out like Aero is from Vista.

  • Why complain? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2008 @10:21AM (#24164383)

    I've never tried kde 4, but after reading here, I just don't understand what there is to complain about, if you are using a major distro.

    kubuntu - has always been unstable.
    fedora- ment to be experimental.
    suse- warned their users before.
    freebsd- hasn't included kde 4 yet.
    debian- hasn't included kde 4 yet.
    gentoo- a typical gentoo user is used to this.

    and so on

    This looks like a lot of noise over nothing. Those complaining are probably gnome users who never used kde. I just cant understand that end users have been affected so much about this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2008 @10:32AM (#24164437)

    Come on...

    Everyone knows that x.0 releases of software are a bit buggy and have less shine and new functionality than later iterations. OSX was the same, XP and Vista were the same, Apache was the same, so were Perl, PHP, Samba, Skype and hundreds of other applications.

    x.0 releases are always useful to see what is coming, and to code for it. They are very frequently a challenging user experience, and people who compile and use x.0 releases know that. They expect it.

    The only people who don't are the non-tech users who say "Oh... A brand new exciting version of my favourite application..!". But those people don't compile it themselves... They aren't capable of doing that. Instead, they rely on the distros.

    For KDE 4.0, the distros held off using it and left it as an optional alternative to 3.5.x, because it was less mature, and they made that clear. If you wanted KDe 4.0, you couldn't get it from a distro without seeing plenty of warnings about stability and features.

    Everyone understood what they were getting into with KDE 4.0. It was a developer release, and users running it had to accept that when they compiled/selected it.

    There seems to be a very small group of people on Slashdot/OSnews/etc. who keep on complaining that it should be labeled a 'Developer Release' (always using that exact wording). Did you install it, skip the warnings and just get disappointed, or something?

  • by Joe Tie. (567096) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @01:39PM (#24165573)
    I don't know if it's so much that they lack education in open source, or if it's just that they don't care. There's a whole lot of people who just want their computer to work, and don't care about the code or philosophy which got it there. With all the talk of "this is the year of linux on the desktop", that's what you get. The average person is never going to have philosophical concerns about how their computers were created. You can lead them to linux if the system does what they need it to, you can't lead them to care.
  • by Rich (9681) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @01:44PM (#24165611) Homepage

    > The problem was that the KDE team didn't want to miss the Ubuntu Long Term Support edition

    I'm afraid this information is just plain wrong.

You had mail, but the super-user read it, and deleted it!