Where’s the KDE4 Desktop?

August 27, 2007 at 2:36 pm | Posted in KDE | 32 Comments

Before I come to the content please bear in mind: This is just my personal impressions from the 10/15 minutes I played with the current KDE4 desktop yesterday. I’m completely aware that there’s still 2 months of work happening and that KDE 4.0 is not primarily targeted at the broad user base that KDE4 is. Also I only have kdebase,kdesdk and kdevelop checked out, so I can’t say how the other modules are..

Still I think the Desktop is not in the shape I would’ve liked to see it for the 4.0 release. We do have a desktop with a wallpaper and this desktop-widget-thingie. First thing I noticed after trying the analog clock example is that the drop-down box is not xinerama aware. That is the widget itself is on the second screen (have them side by side) in the top-left corner, but the content of the box appears on the first in the top-left corner (2nd is left of 1st). Another thing is that the clock is somehow cropped when I switch from Desktop to one of the panel-types, it seems as if there’s some leftover from the round shape of the analog clock thats covering the left parts of the digital display.

Then tried to run some kde4 apps, kate, kwrite, umbrello and kdevelop crash a second after the start (but that also happens when started from a kde3 session, not sure whats going on here). So I tried the konsole, that one works ๐Ÿ™‚ And I know konsole is in quite good shape already. The launcher is cool as well, I really like the new Ui and they way to show the alternatives matching the input.

Next thing to try was the kcontrol replacement – systemsettings. And I was pretty dissappointed. Not by the new UI, but that there were only about a handful of icons for the various parts, that needs vast improvement before a release to the public. (And yes I know our artists work their ass off). I do like the new categorization and the cleaner interface (although the treeview from kcontrol isn’t much of a problem for me either, though sometimes settings I’d group together are splattered over different modules). The dialog-ish way of presenting the modules fits quite well too. I tried (among one or two others) the kwin settings stuff, first bad error: The dialog is too small and gets a vertical scrollbar. Which makes 2 Scrollbars side by side in the effects tab – very bad I think. I tried to enable some of the effects, but without any documentation (should be in the about box or a separate Help thing, or did I just miss something here?) its hard to find out how they could work. I guess most don’t work anyway because on radeon Xinerama and things like Composite/XRender and Co don’t play well (and I couldn’t find out how to get a 2 screen wide desktop without Xinerama and without the radeon MergedFB thing).

Last but not least: The style (the widget style, not the kwin style) doesn’t play well with the upper-left-corner desktop widget, the widget is completely useless with it I can’t see any of its widgets when oxygen is activated it seems to be all see-through. I know oxygen is not done yet and there’s still plenty of work (which I unfortunately can’t help with currently) there but this was really surprising as its based of plastik nowadays and I didn’t see such extreme glitches with standard apps (read kdevelop/kate/kwrite).

So thats for that, I can’t see myself “eating the kde dogfood” before 4.1 at the moment – at least not unless there’s some major improvement in the next 2 months ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  1. great comment ! I think in the same way ….

  2. To my knowledge, the slide-in plasma box is going to go away, it’s just a convenience thing Aaron implemented early in the plasma development process.

    What remains is: Fix a few crashes, complete some icons and polish some of the dialogues. I don’t see why you expect this to only happen after 4.0. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I do see a point though that to eat our own dogfood, plasma needs some improvements. Oh, yes, and picking compositing effects for kwin is guesswork indeed, some major cleanup is probably needed (but again, not a huge amount of work, I think).

    So have a little confidence ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. We’re only have a “technology platform release” in two months, KDE 4.0 isn’t until January.

    I still haven’t used the KDE4 desktop much myself.

  4. Maybe I’m lacking history here, because I only started to look at the kde4 desktop very recently (read 3 weeks ago I had the first look), so maybe I’m completely underestimating all you hackers out there ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway, time will tell if I can use a kde4 desktop later this year.

  5. I have to agree with you.
    But I don’t think that it is a big problem, because there is only the plan to achieve world domination in two months. I think others would be glad to get a few extra months ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Ian I don’t care how marketing calls the upcoming release but it will be KDE 4.0.0 as far as I know and as far as kde-release archive and techbase goes I’m right. And as I said at the top of the post I know its not a release for the wide public but mainly targeting the app developers. Still that doesn’t mean we should deliver a “partly unusable” (I wanted to write mostly but thats not fair and I didn’t find another word than partly here) desktop to them.

  7. Hi

    I think that having a usable (by power users) KDE 4.0 environment for daily work by october 23rd is just a wet dream.
    In fact it makes perfect sense what Ian says, and probably a january release will see something more complete and usable (but I think that we, the early adopter power-users, will have to live with new bugs, regressions and missing functionalities.

    But anyway I think that KDE4 is a giant leap forward, as Gnome 2 was. And everyone remember that Gnome 2.0 was just an half-working environment with no advanced functions. I think KDE 4.0 will be wyas better than this, but anyway not ready for prime time.

  8. kde4 authors are aiming for too much of perfection(idealistic) which infact is not bad at all but only accounts for more time :p
    Lets encourage all kde4 contributors so that they can achieve the kde’s goal soon ๐Ÿ™‚ If not kde4 becomes world dominator it surely does lay steps for future versions of kde to be the same since there is vast/drastic changes in technology which really makes it hard to achieve domination in kde4 itself.

    Good luck to all kde4 guys ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. The funny thing here is that on one hand, you’re right – it’s not much right now, at least in some area’s. But as far as I can tell, the developers are slowly moving towards getting it to actually work, and I think they’ll amaze you with 4.0 ๐Ÿ˜‰

    for example, to add to what sebas said – there is work going on RIGHT NOW to fix just what you miss in Kwin ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. @jospoortvliet: Ok, but on the other hand do not be *too* optimistic, or people will complain when KDE 4.0 will be out. For example, Phonon mixing capabilities and the old-school kfind in Dolphin are two sad news that should be kept in mind.
    Realism is somewhere between blind optimism and whining pessimism, IMO

  11. You are 100% right. KDE4 will be great in 6-9 month. But it would be embarrassing to ship it in october as the next big desktop think or desktop revolution. Most of the functionality of kdesktop or kicker is gone. most of the developers dontยดt use svn at the moment because kde3 is so much better at the moment.
    Please letยดs delay kde4 for half a year or a year. we will disappoint our userbase with this kde 4.0 release in october.

  12. @kdedeveloper: Uhm, I completely disagree. The 4.0 release shouldn’t be changed more than a few days or maybe a week or two (depending on the progress). There are tons of app developers out there that wait for the first kde4 release to start porting their apps. They won’t start before that because kde’s core stuff is still too much in motion. We just have to make clear that KDE 4.0.x is not necessarily meant for the complete user base of KDE.

  13. The most annoying thing i noticed is when using dual screen application menu’s always opening in screen 1 and not in the screen of the application. Then i noticed the same problems with qt4 apps under kde 3 session so I’m not sure where the real problem is.

  14. I think that until fairly recently the developers were mainly working on the new underlying technologies (Plasma, Phonon, Solid, etc.). Now they’re working on integrating all that into the desktop. Also, I got this from the latest DistroWatch Weekly: “they will release KDE 4 on October 23rd as planned; however, they won’t really announce it until January 2008”.

  15. @apaku: kdelibs is already frozen. so developers can port their applications. I was talking about finishing a working desktop. (kdesktop and kicker) current kde 4 is unusable for endusers at the moment. plasma is more or less in techdemo stage. this is nothing we should ship to endusers. try svn if you donยดt believe me.

  16. @kdedeveloper: Uhm, are you even following kdelibs development? I don’t think you can call the current state of affairs really frozen albeit the time plan. There where many exceptions and there still are exceptions to the freezes. kdelibs API will be really frozen with the 4.0 release and you can be sure app developers are waiting until then.

    KDE 4.0 is not meant for end users, KDE 4.0 will not be announced in the public before January next year.

    And guess what: I do try svn, every day. Check the blog I’m a kde4 hacker since more than 6 months now. I tried the full desktop experience just recently.

  17. @Jason:Work on Plasma is not finished (AFAIK), Phonon got a major overhaul just 2 weeks ago (due to large improvements Matthias Kretz did in collaboration with TT). Solid hasn’t seen much work since quite some time (at least I can’t recall much from the commit logs).

    Anyway, yes people work on getting the new technologies into the desktop and I guess I didn’t make it clear enough: I don’t expect the KDE4 desktop _now_ or in 2 months to be as complete as the KDE3 one is right now. I was just a bit surprised that its still behind so much, I somehow had the hope it has evolved more.

    @Maor: I don’t have a problem with app menus, really just that desktop widget and as was already said that seems to be going away sooner or later. I didn’t try the remains of kicker in the bottom, I’m waiting for its replacement to show up…

  18. Not to forget about oxygen, world’s most ugly icon theme. I mean the folders look like trash cans!

  19. @Oxygen: Don’t you think its a pretty stupid nick/email if you’ve got that opinion? Anyway, I never really criticised the artwork behind oxygen (neither the icons nor the styles nor anything else), just technical problems with the styles. I actually like the new iconset, maybe just because its something fresh and new.

  20. I’m using opensuse 10.2 packages from the opensuse buildservice and my plasma is xinerama-aware, so I’m guessing it’s your Qt4 that’s not compiled with xinerama support.

    (I truly hate it when apps aren’t xinerama-aware too.)

  21. @apaku and kdeveloper:
    It might be right that KDE 4.0 won’t be the best thing since sliced bread, but I think it’ll be usable enough. True, KDE 4.1 will be a lot better. But then again, 4.2 will be even better… etcetera.

  22. There is nothing embarrassing with KDE4 current situation, the same thing happened to Linux kernel 2.6. It took about ten releases to become the default kernel of some distro’s… but I get the point of the article.

    The difference between KDE and the Linux kernel are that there are people who are uncomfortable with the success of KDE among Linux users, even though it has less corporate backing and PR than some other projects, whereas the Linux kernel does not have a popular “competitor” in the Open Source world, so people do not care too much about “embarrassing incomplete releases”.

    The KDE leaders only need to find a way to stop those biased critics from raising their voices.

  23. @jos: True, I guess I better wait for the last 4.x release to test it ;P

    Anyway, I think this is my last comment here, took already the better half of the day to moderate and answer to this. Would’ve never expected so many comments (there werent’ so many when I wrote about the oxygen style).

  24. Just correcting the second paragraph: The difference between KDE and the Linux kernel IS…

  25. I don’t get it, isn’t KDE4 slated for a release in October 2007? I mean, the developers made it apparent that 4.1 will be the more polished and less buggy release, and a more fuller realization of the KDE4 desktop – but I don’t remember any of them saying that it will be a developer-only release as far as functionality and usability goes. Because if that is true, then they are going to set themselves up on a huge dissapointment from the community – because a lot of people (even Gnome fans) are looking forward to KDE4, and expecting the full release in October. Well, even as just as a user it’s pretty apparent that KDE4 is an ambitious step towards the future and at this stage there should be nothing but bug testing until the release – but the latest builds are still looking very primitive and incomplete. I just wish the developers let everyone know the current state of the release and whether 4.0 is developer only, and then speak of it as such because they have only made it clear that its going to be for desktop users.

  26. @Katokato: I don’t know where you get your information from, but so far the agreement among KDE developers is that KDE 4.0 is _not_ KDE4, there will quite some parts be missing from the .0 release and that is something that we kde developers need to clearly communicate to the users. There will be further releases which will bring more and more cool features, we just can’t do everything for 4.0.

    And about the current state of /trunk: Its monday and thus larger changes are happening, breakages are still common on mondays but usually they are fixed within minutes, hours at most.

  27. Sorry, but it’s idiotic to run Linux on a box that has an ATI card. You’re so serious about F/OSS that you review a beta of KDE4 and you don’t even switch to an nVidia board, knowing full well that they’re much better (read “at least somewhat”) supported by the OS/GUI. Why?

  28. Corwin: I’ve thought a while before letting your post through. Before replying, take these word of advise: I don’t want any bashing here and I also don’t like comments that call me an idiot. All that this shows is that you don’t have the slightest idea.

    As far as support for ATI cards go: So far only some ATI cards have a working open source driver that allows to use 3D acceleration. And the nv driver isn’t one of the most stable things on earth. The only thing that radeon seems to lack is support for things like XRender, XRandR and Composite when used in Xinerama mode (not the MergedFB mode).

    Having that said, NVidia or ATI is just trying to choose the better of two evils. I think when I have the choice my next laptop will have an intel chip.

  29. technology release is by no means a final release. This is only a feature and API freeze and after that comes some time for hard core debugging. There is no way that you will get a kde stable release by the end of the year. For that you will have to wait until January. So don’t get your hopes up just yet. And as far as KDE 4 is concerned, as it has been stated before by several of the lead developers, most of the improvements will not be visible to the end user when 4.0 comes out. There is a pretty vast framework and it will take some time for developers to start using all the improvements that KDE 4 offers. Overall though it is pretty impressive community effort. Much more so than what you get from the Gnome camp and this is no attack on them.

  30. […] Andreas Pakulat expressed doubt about how the release will take shape in a blog post titled ‘Where’s the KDE4 desktop?’.” KDE’s Aaron Seigo also shares his thoughts on […]

  31. […] and is now approaching a real system (so now you know my biases)Uwe mailed me with a link to one tester’s blog. This tester believes that KDE is simply nowhere near release ready.  More specifically the […]

  32. […] pace of development stays where it was the last couple of weeks (remember that I blogged about the “bad” shape of kde4 some weeks ago). Guys keep up the good […]

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