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KDE 4.1 Released, Reviewed 475

Posted by timothy
from the looking-quite-nice dept.
StoneLion writes "After months of development and controversy, the KDE project announced the release of KDE 4.1 today. Linux.com (a Slashdot sister site) took a hands-on look at the new code, and reviewer Jeremy LaCroix says, 'KDE 4.1 simply rocks.'" Bruce Byfield's review is quite positive, as well.
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KDE 4.1 Released, Reviewed

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  • Fedora 9 packages? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lendrick (314723) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:34AM (#24387427) Homepage Journal

    Does anyone know where one can obtain Fedora 9 packages? I've been suffering through 4.0 for a while and I'd love to be able to upgrade, but I'd prefer to use fedora's package management rather than compiling it myself. It's just simpler.

  • Nvidia cards (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wiarumas (919682) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:39AM (#24387531)
    From TFA (because I know some of you may not read it or at least not all of it:

    "...users with Nvidia graphics cards and proprietary drivers may notice slowdown when resizing windows or moving plasma widgets, although I did not experienced this during tests with my Nvidia hardware."

    Closer, but not quite there yet. Small problems like this are what is holding it back. However, with that said, I, for one, can't wait to get my hands on this.
    • Re:Nvidia cards (Score:5, Informative)

      by joshtheitguy (1205998) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:49AM (#24387679)
      I have been playing with KDE 4.1 on my gaming desktop since beta 1. I have a 9800GX2 and the only time I noticed the slowdown on resizing windows or moving the plasma widgets is when I had SLI enabled in the xorg.conf. When I disabled it the performance increased drastically and I had no issues with that afterwards.

      It is definitely worth downloading and I say it is more then sufficient to replace KDE 3.5

    • Re:Nvidia cards (Score:5, Informative)

      by zebslash (1107957) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:55AM (#24387783)

      Use this setting:

      nvidia-settings -a InitialPixmapPlacement=2 -a GlyphCache=1

      Using this trick, resize becomes snappy.

    • Re:Nvidia cards (Score:4, Informative)

      by silentcoder (1241496) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:13PM (#24388179) Homepage

      For the record: I managed to sort out all my nvidia speed issues by loading XGL instead of AIGLX. Because XGL masks away the card itself and presents a generic interface, it worked around the nvidia driver issues very well. None of the other tricks made much difference for me.

    • Re:Nvidia cards (Score:4, Informative)

      by HappySmileMan (1088123) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:19PM (#24388287)

      Closer, but not quite there yet. Small problems like this are what is holding it back. However, with that said, I, for one, can't wait to get my hands on this.

      There was a lot of discussion about this, the KDE developers eventually decided NOT to fix these issues themselves because they are due to broken drivers, basically you either have to apply those config changes or hope NVidia improves their drivers.

      I can't imagine how those drivers got so messed up, I've heard that any desktop effects are painfully slow on brand new NVidia cards, yet I'm sitting here running KDE4.1 with a 64MB GeForce 4 MX (which is like 5-6 years old I think) and it runs very fast...

  • Kubuntu Packages (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:43AM (#24387585) Homepage
    I've been waiting for the 4.1 release before trying 4.x. I didn't care for 3.x and while I'm not a huge fan of GNOME, I like it well enough for daily use. So, good news for be because it looks like Kubuntu has deb packages ready to install with a few easy steps [kubuntu.org] ... thinkin' I'll give it a whirl tonight.
  • by Khan (19367) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:43AM (#24387589)

    Hopefully they've gotten rid of that freakin' kidney shaped thing in the upper right corner. Talk about a useless static "feature". ugh!

    • by lbbros (900904) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:50AM (#24387695) Homepage
      From the Plasma FAQ [kde.org]:

      Please provide an option to disable the upper right cashew.

      Although putting an option to disable the cashew for desktops sounds reasonable, from a coding point of view it would introduce unnecessary complexity and would break the design. What has been suggested is, since the destkop itself (a containment) is handled by plugins, to write a plugin that would draw the desktop without the cashew itself. Currently some work ("blank desktop" plugin) is already present in KDE SVN. With containment type switching expected by KDE 4.2, it is not unreasonable to see alternative desktop types developed by then.

      • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:17PM (#24388261) Homepage

        I don't get it. Why all the fuss about the desktop background? It is just a background after all, and hidden by any windows you have open.

        From observing 'ordinary users' running Windows, they use the desktop background for starting programs which have a shortcut there - because the Start menu is so congested with crap, they don't even look at it and are often incapable of running anything not on the desktop. Because of this most Windows application installers have taken to adding a desktop shortcut as well as a Start menu item. Of course in the long term this 'icon inflation' will make the background itself unusable and we'll have to think of something else. I can't help feeling that just making a usable Start menu would be a better answer.

        The second use of the desktop background is because files get saved there by default from your web browser. Again, this seems to be because unsophisticated users have no idea of directories and if it doesn't go on the background, they can't find it. But on Unix everyone has a home directory and I'd expect KDE (or GNOME) to provide easy access to that directory, even for people who aren't aware that any other location exists.

        The kind of technically skilled people who used to run Enlightenment probably enjoy having semitransparent widgets flip into shape in 3d on the background, but I don't see what usability advantages that brings. Would it not be simpler to make the background be a background - just blank? There is no difficulty in putting one application window _underneath_ another, so you will see it when the top window is moved or minimized out of the way.

        • by dlZ (798734) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:31PM (#24388471) Journal
          The background icon issue will be resolved as soon as we can all easily arrange by penis.
        • by maxume (22995) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:36PM (#24388547)

          The various hotkey launch bars are the usable start menu and the better answer. Press hotkey. Type (part of) application or file name. Hit Enter. App launches or file opens.

          Launchy is the one I am using:

          http://www.launchy.net/#download [launchy.net]

          Tastes seem to differ quite a bit for this type of app, there are dozens of alternatives (and apparently some similar functionality is built into Vista).

          And yes, they got popular with Quicksilver on the Mac.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gparent (1242548)
          Did you even use the Windows start menu, or are you one of those Windows bashers that never used the OS?

          How is it "unusable"? Just like most start menus, it has places you can go to (Gnome also has this) such as My Computer, etc.

          It has a shortcut to the control panel, a quick way to get help and also to open a command prompt or whatever program you need.

          Once you open the "Programs" option though, it gets very confusing. You are presented with various complicated options such as "Accessories" (For ac
          • by cp.tar (871488) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @01:20PM (#24389219) Journal

            Windows Start menu is all fine and dandy until you install some software.
            At that point it becomes unusable.

            Instead of sorting themselves into categories, programs sort themselves by vendor.
            How intuitive is that, exactly?

            Of course, it is editable, but how many users are willing to do that? I am a competent user, yet I still can't be bothered.
            Instead, I use launcher applications and the like.

            Windows Start menu wastes time, and that is why it is unusable.
            Compare the Windows Start menu with the new KDE menu... and IIRC, Vista's new menu is a rip-off of KDE's.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I like having icons on my desktop; it lets me locate icons spatially instead of paging through a list. I want it to work like KDE 3 and not waste my time on "plasmoids". Until it at least attains the functionality of KDE 3 (does it amaze anyone else that they say they won't have a basic desktop, like every other DE, until around KDE 4.3?), it's worthless to me.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Risen888 (306092)

            You know what? You can have all that! It's an exciting new project called KDE 3! Check it out (and stop wasting everyone's time with this blather)!

          • by FrozenFOXX (1048276) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @02:24PM (#24390257)
            Um, not sure what the problem is. KDE 4 allows you to put icons on your desktop. Even better it goes beyond the functionality of KDE 3 in this respect since you could make several containers in different areas of your desktop and put different icons in each one, thereby giving you even more spatial control cleanly and efficiently.

            What can't you do for KDE 4.x that you can do in KDE 3.x that's a show-stopper for you?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by steelfood (895457)

          The desktop so quickly gets cluttered with so many program shortcuts, files and folders, and file and folder shortcuts that it becomes a nightmare within weeks. The start menu at least has only applications and application-related links.

          Some people really do treat their desktop the same way they treat their desk top.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:47AM (#24387637) Homepage Journal

    Sorry but Linux.com and Bruce Byfield praising KDE is like PC Magazine praising Vista.
    I would like to some more critical reviews.

  • by lbbros (900904) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:54AM (#24387765) Homepage
    Here [youtube.com] and here [youtube.com] there are some screencasts showing off some Plasma features.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:55AM (#24387777)
    I must say I am impressed by KDE 4.1. The features I like most include Konsole's ability to have fonts changed by a slider, the new file manager (Dolphin) and the beauty the whole KDE 4.0 stack introduced.

    What I would like to see includes better fonts and more useful and complete help files. I also miss Amarok.

    I have had my disappointments too. My college website will not allow Konqueror. Plug-in installation still needs work so that it is as smooth as that on Windows XP.

    I have nothing but praise for KDE developers who insisted that we needed a new way of doing things in KDE and therefore started developing KDE 4.0. At that time, I did not see any reason why we needed a new paradigm. Now I see the reason. Thank you so much.

  • Best KDE 4 distro? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pavon (30274) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:56AM (#24387789)

    For the adventurous that have been using KDE 4, which distros do you think have done the best job at packaging it? Also will they be releasing packages for KDE 4.1 shortly, or are they waiting for their next normal release cycle?

    I've been having all sorts of kernel/Xorg headaches with Hardy Heron, and am looking to dump it. I'm planning on moving all my must-have software to another box running Debian stable which will free up my desktop to experiment with a new distro.

  • by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:58AM (#24387837) Homepage Journal

    After months of development and controversy

    I've never been sure why there was much controversy. The various announcements around the time of the 4.0 release and in advance made it clear that KDE 4 was the entire new desktop (in all its future versions) with new core technologies like Phonon and Plasma, whereas KDE 4.0 was the very first release of said desktop, wherein the underlying technologies were frozen so that developers could start using them, but the apps and desktop were incomplete.

    I tried it as a LiveCD and the desktop experience was lukewarm, so I went back to 3.5. But I never wrote off KDE 4. No one should have, and there never should have been any controversy, considering what 4.0 was. The 4.1 release is the one people have actually been waiting for, since the apps and desktop components have had time to adjust to the new libaries, so if you adopted 4.0 thinking it would be your new desktop and you hated it, you probably jumped the gun. Have another look.

    • by Rob Kaper (5960) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:11PM (#24388137) Homepage

      I've never been sure why there was much controversy. The various announcements around the time of the 4.0 release and in advance made it clear that KDE 4 was the entire new desktop (in all its future versions) with new core technologies like Phonon and Plasma, whereas KDE 4.0 was the very first release of said desktop, wherein the underlying technologies were frozen so that developers could start using them, but the apps and desktop were incomplete.

      The controversy is that it redefines what .0 means to most computer users and has meant throughout the release history of KDE.

      It only occurred to me today, but I actually think KDE should do it again for KDE 5. If consistently used, there's nothing wrong with the following version numbering:

      [b].0[/b] is the [i]zeroeth[/i] release set of a new product or technology generation. It could be used instead of silly names such as alpha, beta, preview and technology release alltogether and would indicate incompleteness.

      [b].1[/b[ would be the [i]first[/i] release and would be complete.

      This would probably also be more intuative to end users because only developers use zero-indexed lists.

      Then again, it would not have provided the KDE release team with a way to push forward their new platform the way they did now. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

      • by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @01:53PM (#24389761) Homepage Journal

        It only occurred to me today, but I actually think KDE should do it again for KDE 5. If consistently used, there's nothing wrong with the following version numbering

        I agree. I actually like the KDE 4 scheme better than the usual one. Partly I like it because terms like "alpha" and "beta" are used inconsistently nowadays, and are [google.com] often [google.com] abused [google.com]. The so-called controversy with KDE 4 erupted mainly because KDE didn't go the easy route and call it 3.99 or beta. The complainers didn't pay attention to what they were getting and had false expectations as a result. However, the paradigm that .0 would be a library freeze to build a platform foundation was very sound, IMHO.

  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:59AM (#24387861)
    I'm bugged by something he says in this review and I see reviewers doing it all the time: "everything ran fast and smooth, even when I had six plasmoids in use and desktop effects turned on, even on a modest 1.6GHz laptop." He's using the old megahertz myth [wikipedia.org]. If he's using a 1.6GHz Centrino 2, I doubt that I'll see the same performance on my 1.8GHz Sempron that's four years old.
  • by MaulerOfEmotards (1284566) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:01PM (#24387909)
    The article lines up pros and cons, though it is names "KDE4.1 Rocks!" actually appears rather fair and objectiveish. It claims the significant problems with 4.0 has been addressed. The earlier discussions here on /. have more or less focused on KDE4.0 being incomplete, which was taken to mean either incomplete as a desktop platform (insufficient basic functionality, such as icons, menus, expected behaviour etc) or desktop environment (complete set of application), and it is in this light that the article should be taken.

    * KDE 4.1 Plasma panels are now resizable and you can have multiple , and they can be repositioned by dragging them by mouse.

    * "The Folder View plasmoid ... is a container you can place on the desktop that can show the contents of any directory. Most distributions set one up in the default configuration to show the contents of the desktop folder, but you are no longer limited to having the contents of just the desktop folder displayed on your desktop -- you can add several instances of Folder View, each showing a different directory." This addresses the popular misconception and marketing catastrophe of KDE4 now having desktop icons.

    * The article raves about the beauty of KDE4.1.

    * Application support has grown and out-of-the-download contains Konqueror, Dolphin, Gwenview, Kopete, JuK, Kontact, the KDE CD Player, and the minimalistic Dragon Player for videos

    * Dolphin has been improved with tree view and tabbed browsing features.

    * Is is faster than KDE4.0, "everything ran fast and smooth, even when I had six plasmoids in use and desktop effects turned on, even on a modest 1.6GHz laptop".

    * "The new interfaces may take some getting used to by those accustomed to KDE 3. "

    * "Nvidia graphics cards ... may notice slowdown when resizing windows or moving plasma widgets"

    * Amarok 2.0 is still not complete

    The article is finished by saying that the author has finally replaced KDE3 as his production DE with KDE4.1.

    In short, whether by design or by listening to the criticism, KDE4.1 seems to have addressed if not all then at least the most important warts of the unfortunate 4.0 release. I'll probably still wait for 4.2, but as a KDE fan I'm certainly excited!
  • by MrZaius (321037) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:01PM (#24387915) Homepage

    I've got to say, Kubuntu Hardy with KDE4 was extremely disappointing. Neither Ubuntu nor KDE provided a functional wifi manager - The Network Settings application shared by many Ubuntu desktops couldn't write a interfaces file that preserved WEP keys, and was insanely cludgy. Steal some code from Maemo, people.

    More KDE4 specific, using it stripped me of any sort of effective GUI-based power management. Hibernation, sleeping, and battery usage controls were completely absent. All it brought to the table was a (commonplace and unimpressive) battery monitor.

    I enjoy using KDE4, but I really hope they're getting their acts together with this release, so far as laptops go.

    • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:37PM (#24388557) Journal
      Keep in mind that KDE 4.0 was meant to be used by developers. It was not user level. The hope was that by giving it a .0, that it would encourage app developers, but discourage regular users. After all that is what seems to happen in the windows world. But I think that Linux has more in common with Apple than with Window; That is that users put more trust in it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by andrewd18 (989408)

        Linux has more in common with Apple than with Window; That is that users put more trust in it.

        We'd put more trust in Windows if it hadn't given us such a piss poor track record.

  • by houghi (78078) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:07PM (#24388053)

    People with openSUSE 11.0 can just click here [opensuse.org] to run the one click installer or go to http://news.opensuse.org/2008/07/29/kde-41-released-with-opensuse-packages-and-live-cd/ [opensuse.org] (or KDE developers [kdedevelopers.org])

  • KDE41: my experience (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:14PM (#24388191)

    So far I've had the following issues/nags/etc:

    * Using the resize on the upper right of the new menu instantly made the default size *bigger*, which isn't what I wanted, and there was no way to resize back to even its default size.

    * Input Actions don't work at all. Yes, the action and the group it's in are not disabled, and KHotKeys daemon is activated from Global Settings. No key combos work.

    * The main panel glitched out and everything was horribly spaced out when I tried to add and remove widgets from it; I had to completely recreate a new panel to fix it.

    * While it's not exactly slow, it does have several slow redraw issues (e.g. the classic launcher menu) and I've seen it lag at random times much more than KDE3 ever did. I know this is probably to be expected, but it's worth noting. No, I don't use desktop effects (compositing), as I've seen that slows things down much more in general (games, etc) than it helps with desktop elements.

    * System Settings crashed on me on more than one occasion.

    Overall, much better than the completely unusable 4.0, but they still have a long way to go to make KDE4 even remotely stable.

  • Mish-mash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by delire (809063) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:19PM (#24388293)
    From TA

    "As far as eye candy, KDE 4.1 looks simply stunning."

    I look at this screenshot [linux.com] linked from the article however and I see a confusing mash-up of design agendas. Dolphin file manager looks drab and strangely cluttered with shallow implied 3D for tabs and other delimiters yet the OS X style scroll bars bulge out. What are those scrollbars supposed to be made of? Blown glass? Gel? The panel at the bottom caves in with greater depth than the background image.. The simulated lighting model they're using to shade elements come from all over the place. I can count about 3 contradicting implied directional lights, from the panel to the icons to the widgets themselves..

    Other things confuse: What is that Logitech logo doing in the top-right corner? Those tiny minimise/maximise buttons look like they're from another universe entirely: not echoed in any other element on the desktop, lest of all the stripey title bar.

    I'm not convinced much effort has been spent on making KDE look 'stunning'..

    KDE was very tweakable last time I looked so I'm sure someone will come up with a unifying theme. Glad to hear stability and speed have been greatly improved.

  • Ugh. (Score:4, Informative)

    by monkeySauce (562927) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:21PM (#24388337) Journal

    STILL can't hide system tray icons?

    This is a big problem for me. I don't have a widescreen monitor, so the system tray is taking over the panel, squeezing my task bar to a frustratingly small size.

    KDE3 has an excellent system tray icon hiding mechanism. Why does KDE4 make me look at them all, all the time?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by icebear.dk (182125)

      I follow the KDE panel development mailing lists and blogs so I read just this week that the System tray hiding is going into the KDE SVN or is already in. I don't know if it will be backported to a KDE 4.1.1, but it is a definite for 4.2.

  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @12:43PM (#24388641)

    Can someone please clue me in as to what a plasmoid is? What are the differences between a plasmoid and a regular application? Why would I want to use, say, a folder view plasmoid rather than a regular file browsing app?

    • by Haeleth (414428) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @01:51PM (#24389741) Journal

      Can someone please clue me in as to what a plasmoid is?

      As usual, Wikipedia is your friend:

      A plasmoid is an extra-chromosomal DNA molecule separate from the chromosomal DNA which is capable of replicating independently of the chromosomal DNA. In many cases, it is circular and double-stranded. Plasmoids usually occur naturally in bacteria, but are sometimes found in eukaryotic organisms (e.g., the 2-micrometre-ring in Saccharomyces cerevisiae).

      Hope that clears things up some.

    • by emurphy42 (631808) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @02:16PM (#24390129) Homepage
      "Plasmoid" is KDE's name for "applet". See also Wikipedia's article on Plasma [wikipedia.org]
    • by Rich (9681) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @03:32PM (#24391339) Homepage

      Ok, a plasmoid is generally a visualisation of a Data Engine. There can be many plasmoids for the same data engine (eg. this means that if we write 10 task bars then the back end code is all shared). Unlike an application a plasmoid doesn't have its own process, and simply responds to changes in the underlying data engine (because of various bits of wizardry this means that they will consume less battery power too btw). In a model-view design, you can consider a plasmoid to be a pure view. That said, many of the current plasmoids blur this by including model functionality - this is likely to become less prevelant as we determine what data engines we need.

  • Bye bye to KHTML? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @02:56PM (#24390791) Homepage Journal

    Now that KDE 4.1 is using WebKit in place of KHTML, does this mean EOL of KHTML? For anyone using Konquerer in the new KDE, how does web performance differ from the previous version?

    • Re:Bye bye to KHTML? (Score:4, Informative)

      by vizZzion (832507) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @05:34PM (#24393133) Homepage
      KDE 4.1 is not using webkit instead of KHTML. Webkit comes with Qt now, but KHTML is part of kdelibs which will remain binary compatible until we release 5.0. KHTML is actively being developed and improved. Konqueror still uses KHTML for rendering webpages. There is work for a webkit part under way, so in the future one might be able to use Konqueror with webkit as rendering engine. Some other features of KDE are already using webkit, however. As a developer, you can choose.
  • As a warning... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Karellen (104380) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @04:11PM (#24391955) Homepage

    ...from the KDE devs, read this before you install:

    http://techbase.kde.org/Schedules/Is_KDE_4.1_for_you%3F [kde.org]

    (Disclaimer: I used KDE 4.0, was aware it was a developer release, and liked it for what it was despite the lack of polish. I've been using the KDE 4.1 betas and RCs for a while and really like what's been done and it's really usable for me. But YMMV and there are some parts that aren't up to par with 3.5.x yet. That's fine - I didn't use those parts. But if you are using them, then 3.5.x is still being patched and updated, so it might be worth waiting 'til 4.2 before you switch.)

  • by Trogre (513942) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @07:32PM (#24394337) Homepage

    So does this release allow you to set the different desktop backgrounds for different virtual desktops across multiple monitors, like KDE 3 did?

    Or are they still trying to dumb down the desktop experience a la GNOME, Ubuntu and KDE 4.0?

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