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KDE GUI Open Source Programming

KDE Frameworks 5.3 and Plasma 2.1 – First Impressions 84

jones_supa writes Ken Vermette has done a write-up on his experience with the new KDE desktop encompassing Frameworks 5.3 and Plasma 2.1. For starters, some patience is still needed for apps to be ported to KF5, and most of them will be KF4-based for now. Many of the widgets you may have used don't exist yet either, but the good news is that the Plasma goodies which do make an appearance are universally improved. The new search widget is shockingly fast and the notifications tray has been reworked. Visual outlook of desktop has been simplified and things don't feel so tightly packed together anymore. The system settings application has been completely regrouped more by goal than underlying mechanics. Unfortunately the desktop stability leaves a lot to desire: there was several crashes and Plasma had at one point managed to forget colour and wallpaper settings. However the developers seem to be knowing what they are doing, and there's a real feeling that this software will reach rock-solid stability very quickly given the state of it as it stands.
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KDE Frameworks 5.3 and Plasma 2.1 – First Impressions

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  • KDE has always had great functionality, but the actual *look* of it was always clunky-as-hell. Too many typefaces, too many buttons/widgets, and nothing ever seemed to "fit" correctly. It was just half-assed. Shiny, but half-assed.

    This looks good. Maybe KDE will finally have the polished look-and-feel that Gnome (and the spin-offs) have had for 15 years now.

    • by Shaman ( 1148 ) <shaman@kos. n e t> on Sunday January 11, 2015 @10:53PM (#48790659) Homepage

      Ehhhhhh...... Gnome has always had that "pretty but vacuous" look to it, kinda like one of my ex.

      • by smallfries ( 601545 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @01:27AM (#48791099) Homepage

        Grammar nazi mode: actually I think you'll find the plural of ex is oxen.

        • nah, he was talking about breakfast i.e. ham and ex
        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Were you actually being a "Grammar nazi", you would note that "ex" is an abbreviated form of "ex-wife", "ex-husband", or "ex-spouse". (I don't think there are any other valid candidates in this usage.) As such it doesn't have a valid plural form except in the way that "sheep" is the plural of "sheep". This is because the different extensions from their plural in different ways. I mean, just consider "exives" or "exs". So if you elide the variety of spouse, then you simultaneously elide the plural form,

    • The stuff not fitting became a problem when KDE4 appeared. I don't remember the 3.X series being bad in this regard.
    • by DrXym ( 126579 )
      KDE has always had the kitchen sink mentality and it has suffered for it. All those buttons, menus and settings are great for people who want to change every last setting but they're a usability nightmare. I believe the reason that GNOME is the default in most Linux dists, particularly enterprise ones is because KDE provides far more opportunities for users to screw things up and raising support tickets. That's the reason it has lived in GNOME's shadow all this time.

      Anyway playing with plasma on FC21 sugg

      • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

        The only reason GNOME is the default for most distros is a historical one based on licensing issues at the time. KDE and QT today are LGPL - no licensing issues at all - but history is history. For all the work Ubuntu and RedHat put into polishing GNOME, they could easily roll a version of KDE that hides some of the unnecessary complexity (I run Mint KDE, and love it - though I find the settings over the top too).

      • by RoLi ( 141856 )

        KDE has always had the kitchen sink mentality and it has suffered for it. All those buttons, menus and settings are great for people who want to change every last setting but they're a usability nightmare. I believe the reason that GNOME is the default in most Linux dists, particularly enterprise ones is because KDE provides far more opportunities for users to screw things up and raising support tickets. That's the reason it has lived in GNOME's shadow all this time.

        Usability depends on the user. I like it when I can customize it to fit my needs and there is absolutely zero need to have another Gnome with a different name.

        I can't handle Gnome because it is a usability nightmare for me.

  • Its plasma 5.1.1 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 11, 2015 @10:39PM (#48790609)

    The title is wrong. Its plasma 5.1.1

  • kde5 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by johnsnails ( 1715452 ) on Sunday January 11, 2015 @10:59PM (#48790671)
    Visually, kde5 is really nice, but not nice enough or stable enough or feature rich enough to upgrade from 4 at the moment.
    Im sure the people who grew up on kde 3 said the same about kde4 when it came out but early adopters like me put up with it because it was shiny and had not realised how powerful kde 3 was.
    • people who grew up on kde 3 said the same about kde4 when it came out

      Yes, I was one of the horde. Early iterations of KDE-4 were not as functional as the KDE3 later versions were. I adopted KDE4 very late (two years ago) and am still not comfortable with it. I am loath to even taste KDE5 until it is feature-rich and stable.

      I have begun to miss blackbox...but that's another story.

      • KDE5 or what ever the correct thing to call it is, is WAY more functional then kde4 when it first came out. But at this point I don't see a compelling reason to upgrade on my day-2-day machine. But dont see myself waiting too long either.

        From a user perspective, it just feels like a modern skin with super fast hassle free search. So shouldn't be to long before I upgrade (I hope).
    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      I don't use fancy features, and I NEVER experienced problems with KDE4, even 4.1. OTOH, I have not, and do not, think the user interface is as well designed. It's just better than Gnome3, which isn't hard. But the tools are nicer than xfce tools, so I end up useing KDE4 not because it's my preference, but because my preference isn't being maintained. KDE3 was the best desktop to use that I have thus-far experienced. (And Trinity wasn't as good the last time I installed it. Largely because it didn't wo

  • X or Wayland? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Sunday January 11, 2015 @11:01PM (#48790675)
    Did Ken try this on a box that had X or one that had Wayland? What's the state of KDE 5.x on Wayland?
    • Re:X or Wayland? (Score:5, Informative)

      by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Sunday January 11, 2015 @11:38PM (#48790801)

      KDE on wayland is not complete yet. There has been work for kwin, but one thing is sure: if you want to use it on wayland, you will need [martin-graesslin.com], as usual, systemd. Of course, the author points out that this does not imply you will also need to install a web server and a ntp daemon, and that the dependency is on the API not on the program itself, but then show me an alternative implementation i can use. You know, systemd brings nice new APIs and so on, but then I read about the next thing systemd broke [archlinux.org]. Its in the man page of the shutdown command [ed.ac.uk] that this should work.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Why libinput integration in KWin?
        KWin/Wayland already supported input handling by being a Wayland client and connecting to a Seat. But especially for pointer events this was not sufficient at all. We have quite some code where we warp the pointer and Wayland doesnâ(TM)t support this (and shouldn't). Warping the pointer is normally considered evil as it can introduce quite some problems if applications are allowed to warp the pointer. E.g. it can create security issues if you start typing your password and a malicious applications warps the pointer to trick you entering your password into a password field of the malicious application. Also from a usabililty perspective it can be problematic as it makes the system behave in an unpredictable way.

        I think the "and shouldn't" part is wrong. The next paragraph goes on to say why a window manager/compositor needs it. And to quote a 10 year old post [osdir.com], here's reasons why an application might need it:

        There are applications where pointer warping is beneficial. Most have to do with tracking mouse movement to move a camera in a 3-d viewing context. For instance to look around a 3d world, using the mouse to point the camera. One can just compare the pointer position to the previous position to get a vector to rotate the camera, however this will fail when the pointer reaches the edge of the screen, and no more motion in that axis will be detected. With pointer warping, one can disable the drawing of the pointer, warp it to the center of the screen and just calculate thier movement vector based on the position of the pointer from the center of the screen, and warp the pointer back to the center of the screen. One now has full freedom to rotate the camera with the mouse. This is a useful feature in 3d games, 3d modelviewing, virtual tours, and many other 3d applications.

        Also useful for trapping the cursor in a VM, if you want the edges. Another application I can think of is trying to select a region from a large image that requires scrolling. Usually that involves button press and hold, moving the cursor to the edge of the image carefully avoiding moving off the image and wait

  • Circle of life... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by loony ( 37622 ) on Sunday January 11, 2015 @11:12PM (#48790711)

    Not quite the typical 3 step list leading to profit, but here it goes:

    1. Developer: This is so cluttered and ugly. Nobody needs all these features. Lets get rid of the old and do something new - it will be clean, pretty and well designed.
    2. User: But now I can't do xxxxx - this sucks! You are idiots!
    3. Developer: Ok, We'll add this back in.
    4. User: Ok, better. Can you add yyyyy too?
    5. Developer: Sure. And how about feature zzzzz as well?
    6. User: Awesome. Its finally usable.
    7: New Developer: This is so cluttered and ugly. Nobody needs all these features. Lets get rid of the old and do something new - it will be clean, pretty and well designed.

    So sorry if I don't get too excited...

    Peter.

    • This isn't Gnome, they aren't removing features on purpose. KDE just removes features by accident when they have to slowly port everything to a new frameworks/Qt/whatever that breaks compatibility.

  • I've been using the Kubuntu plasma 5 test recently and I have to say that the translucent app launcher background is one of the worst design decisions I have ever seen. If you have any text behind that window it will be extremely difficult to make out the names of the programs. So far I have been unable to figure out how to change the translucency of that window. I'm beginning to think it is not possible.

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Sunday January 11, 2015 @11:43PM (#48790819) Homepage

    The tree widgets on the left are mismatched: some solid lines, some spaces with alphanumeric characters; the alpha characters are black, yet the lines are gray visual noise that creates visual processing and cognitive load for no reason, adding nothing.

    The parenthetical text at the top has a title whose margin (left whitespace to other widgets) is significantly different from the text below it; there are spaces between the parentheses and the text, which no text or print style guide in the world endorses because it separates the parenthetical indicators from the parenthetical text, when they should be tightly bound for clarity.

    The window title preserves the absurd convention of using both the binary name and a descriptive title together, and separates them with a typographical element (an em-dash) which is inappropriate in a label or design element because it is asynchronous—it indicates a delay in interpretation and pronunciation (as the em-dash just a few words ago in this paragraph does) and thus suggests long-form reading, which is not the intent for at-a-glance window titles (unless you don't want them to be very usable).

    The title of the list widget, "Information Modules" is superfluous and redundant; the user starting an "About" dialogue expects to see "information" from the start, and they do not need to know about implementation ("modules").

    The resize handle contrasts significantly with the window background, drawing undue attention to this particular area of the window above others (why is it "louder" than the window title, for example? Window controls should be secondary to window content and all at the same visual "volume" for usability).

    In short—they still don't get it; they are signaling, in conventional ways that most users process subconsciously, thought habits and forms of attention that are not contributing to efficiency and use, but rather detracting/distracting from it. This is the same old KDE with poor, unprofessional design that leads to cognitive clutter. It's not that KDE has "too much going on" but rather that KDE has "too much going on that isn't actually functional and adds nothing to users ability to get things done).

    Yuck.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Barsteward ( 969998 )
      i can never understand why posters rubbish things that are still being developed as if they are complete. just shows there are a bunch of anal whiners out there who spend their life looking for excuses to moan and try and show they are superior. mmmm did i create a description of a troll?
      • i can never understand why posters rubbish things that are still being developed as if they are complete.

        You can understand why people would say nice things, though? Can I get you a pacifier and a binky?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So much wrong with your post...

      - It is not an about dialog, as the title of the window might tell you. In particular the title is not redundant.
      - The tree widgets are different for a reason not mismatched
      - the "absurd convention" is completely consistent and very useful for stuff with unusual names.

      Also, this is all work-in-progress but it seems you did not notice that. Maybe they should put DRAFT in giant writing over all screenshots, but then you would complain about the kerning in that writing....

  • I'm just over here talking about how thankful I am that 3.5 is still available via TDE.

    LK

    • Or it was. The devs retired KDE 3.5's code with 3.5.13 — everything after that is a brand-new DE that is designed to look/act similar to KDE/TDE 3.5. I wouldn't care, except I noticed that some things no longer work properly, some other things are no longer present, and from what I could tell, dropped HAL in favor of udev+systemd.

      • Re:KDE 5.3 (Score:5, Informative)

        by jbernardo ( 1014507 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @08:21AM (#48792211)

        Seems like you're wrong, they added support for systemd dbus calls, but no dependency on systemd libs. It will use it if it's there, but doesn't require it.

        This message [pearsoncomputing.net] has a small description of what they did. Too bad other developers don't want to be this conscious and prefer to link with systemd libs, needed or not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2015 @01:15AM (#48791039)

    Eric Raymond wrote a horrifically amusing screed about why open source interfaces suck so bad, back in 2004. It was called "The Luxury of Ignorance", it laid out fairly good guidelines for how to do an interface *well*, and Gnome has ignored *everey single one* of the guidelines. I'm asking about this KDE, did they follow *any* of these guidelines?

    = So, if you are out there writing GUI apps for Linux or BSD or whatever, here are some questions you need to be asking yourself:
    * What does my software look like to a non-technical user who has never seen it before?
    * Is there any screen in my GUI that is a dead end, without giving guidance further into the system?
    * The requirement that end-users read documentation is a sign of UI design failure. Is my UI design a failure?
    * For technical tasks that do require documentation, do they fail to mention critical defaults?
    * Does my project welcome and respond to usability feedback from non-expert users?
    * And, most importantly of all...do I allow my users the precious luxury of ignorance?

    = Postscript, 26 Feb 2004: I added the new fifth question based on an excellent suggestion in LWN's comments on the story.
    = And here are some more design rules, from Nico Kadel-Garcia:
    ** Can you gracefully and easily duplicate your tools and configuration for a similar installation? Is it documented? (RedHat and CUPS is no help with this, either, most of the print-drivers wend their way from the foomatic and other tools into the CUPS setups without a lot of hint of how it works.) [For cups, the answer is "you can duplicate it easily, but it's a *secret*"! Every configuration should be built and recompiled from the source tarball! What are you, a n00b?]
    ** Is installing this toolset likely to replace or break something already in place (such as LPD based printing packages)? If so, explain how to gracefully do the transition.
    ** Are there settings you can do from the command line or hand-editing config files that cannot be done from the GUI? Are they documented anywhere? Does using the GUI erase these settings? (The answer for CUPS is "Yes, you can flush all sorts of hand-edited things this way!". This was an incredible problem for NeXT stations and remains a big freeware GUI problem, although most try harder to address this. Webmin is an excellent example of how to do it right in most cases!)
    ** Are all your important features mentioned? The automatic flat text->Postscript conversion is one such feature, and despite its presence in the tarball tools and default use the CUPS claim it's not theirs and not their problem.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's really okay to have one or two niche systems suitable for experts. Let the dumb masses use more mainstream commercial OSes and move on to better systems in the event they outgrow those and gain a clue. There's lots of room for everyone.

      I never understood this intense desire on the part of so many to have everything, absolutely everything, completely and perfectly usable by the "ignorant" as you so nicely put it. It's something people like you routinely assert but you never explain why it's so necess

      • And they ALREADY have expertise.

        A computing expert already has decades of highly detailed experience and familiarity with a bunch of paradigms, uses, and conventions.

        Experts are the LAST people that want to read manuals for basic things they already have extensive experience with, like desktop environments. Again, they're busy. Being experts.

        So, reading the manual on new tech that needs to be implemented in a complex system—great. Reading the manual on a desktop environment? Seriously? That's the last

    • by Anonymous Coward

      ESR uses i3, which most assuredly doesn't allow users the "precious luxury of ignorance". It is pretty inscrutable to anyone who hasn't seen it before, failing most of the tests in that first list.

  • From the article, it uses hardware acceleration to achieve its look and feel. This is potentially awesome, but I wonder if that takes a toll on gaming, say via steam.
    • I guess a good compositor should let a full screen app pass through without getting in the way. If every frame drawn by the game goes also through the desktop compositing pipeline, yeah, it's going to have a toll.
    • kwin has been doing hardware-accelerated effects for a long time, since around the KDE 4.0 release I think. Although I don't game and can't say first hand how it affects steam, I haven't seen complaints about it.

      • Curious how whether or not one person who has not seen complaints factors in here. Do you monitor bugs/user feedback for KDE? Is your personal experience of complaints relevant?
    • by 3vi1 ( 544505 )

      in my totally anecdotal experience, I get better gaming performance with Plasma 5 than with Unity. I'm not sure why, but it's noticeable.

  • KDE4 may have been too tight on a Retina or other super high DPI screen, but on standard resolutions I find it to be perfect (and certain default settings even too large/wide/tall). From what I've seen I'll be forced to use QtCurve with KF5, if Oxygen doesn't gain an optional compact mode by then.

    PS I just tried Kubuntu 15.04 preview in a VM running under VirtualBox on OS X. Had to disable acceleration after installing the guest additions to login to something other than a black screen. That's always been t

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