JAN
2
2004

KDE 3.2 Beta 2 Reviews Roundup

Three reviews recently joined the list of KDE 3.2 reviews with most having an emphasis on the applications being new in KDE 3.2: Francesc tried it on Gentoo and states in this blog "This release is the best KDE I've ever tried". Pycs writes about his first impressions and likes it too. Finally, gooeylinux.org published a rather controversial article about the good and bad sides of KDE 3.2 Beta 2.

Comments

Nobody is suggesting that we get rid of the feature. But does it really need to be in the default toolbar? It takes one extra click to activate it from the main menu instead of the toolbar. Is that too much of an extra burden?


By Rayiner Hashem at Sat, 2004/01/03 - 6:00am

Also most other browsers have some kind of "zoom" widget (a dropdown box with predefined values or a spinbutton), which works just as well and is easy to add and remove. The font buttons in Konqueror are particulary annoying if you try to use "text below icons" or "text alongside icons", as the labels are WAY too long[1]. The buttons are also very difficult to remove because first you have to understand that they aren't on "Main Toolbar", but on "Main Toolbar " (one of the thirteen offered toolbars to edit). Ugh. It might sound silly, but up until yesterday, I didn't even know that you could remove them.
Finding actually useful items to add to the toolbar is a pain, because all actions are treated similar. And don't even get me started on those "merge" items which you can remove but not add again (thankyouverymuch). For example finding the "new tab" action took me a while and then it even showed up as a horribly pixelated item, because it obviously wasn't meant to be used as a large button. I could find only a single theme where this buttons looks somewhat reasonable (slick icons).
Those are some of the issues which I face when I try to get comfortable with Konqueror and that's really just the tip of the iceberg. I have used Konqueror in and out after KDE 2.x and also used the KDE 3.x versions quite a bit (mostly just trying it out though), still I don't feel in control of it. It feels more like taming than using. I'm currently trying the latest 3.2 beta version and it really hasn't changed at all.
I know that I could fix some of those issues myself or at least write bugreports, but the number of problems which all seem to come from the simple fact that the KDE interfaces are more generic than anything else is so overwhelming, that I just don't see the point of it. I don't really believe that the situation can really be improved without either ten times the resources or a major change of mind.

I hope this didn't sound to much like a rant, as I really just tried to bring across my point as a user and developer, why I prefer simple and "designed" interfaces, to "generic" interfaces. It's not like I'm completely against customization, but Epiphany for example let's me practically customize it more (and much faster) than Konqueror, at least in those areas which matter for a web browser. And when I'm done with Konqueror, I can start doing the same with every other single application, let alone the other "modes" of Konqueror... It's just no joy.
OTOH, I can see that there is a market for such "generic" interfaces (I really think that this word fits KDE pretty well) as some people obviously enjoy customizing their applications, so it's probably a good thing that KDE (or rather GNOME) differs so much. I don't think however, that you'll be able to make the interface more enjoyable for people like me just by omitting most buttons by default. What I (and other "less is more" people) want isn't an interface that is just stripped down and lacks any controls, but rather interfaces which are well designed to be most efficient for the specific tasks they are trying to support (yes, this requires that the application isn't meant to be a kitchen sink in the first place).

Again, I hope this all didn't sound to harsh. :) I just like that you actually care for the issues of other people (with KDE) instead of shooting them down, so I wanted to give you some more insight on some of my particular issues.

Also I _do_ think that KDE is indeed not much worse than Windows for example (in terms of usability) and it hasn't gotten worse over time. It's just that my expectations have changed because of new and cleaner interfaces like GNOME 2 or OS X. KDE hasn't really changed since a long time and no interface will feel modern forever.

[1] This problem isn't exclusive to the font size buttons of course. All buttons suffer from using the tooltips as label, thus making text below icons really really ugly. Text alongside icons is even more useless, more useful would be a "priority text" option as in GNOME and Windows, which would only show labels besides commonly used buttons (for example the back button of a browser).


By Spark at Sun, 2004/01/04 - 6:00am

Mozilla has had this for ages (press -<+> or Ctrl-<->). Although sometimes I'd also like to have buttons for it.


By Daniel at Mon, 2004/01/05 - 6:00am

>The 'up' button really does not make a whole lot of sense in the context of web-pages.

It does actually, it provides me a good way to go back to the main page when i'm completely lost in a complex site.
It also brings me to the index-page of a certain site when I got there via a link. I'm a very curious guy, and the [up] button provides me an easy way to navigate through sites without the hassle of using the controls provided by the site itself.


By rinse at Sun, 2004/01/04 - 6:00am

For example, it provides an easy way to go back to the discussion after posting a comment in the dot. Just go up a few stages using the [up] button and i'm back in the mean thread :)

Rinse


By rinse at Sun, 2004/01/04 - 6:00am

Although I like KDE very much, I think Konquerors menus and context menus are still overloaded in CVS.

Also kcontrol needs much more cleaning up: Try to set up for example the MacOS like menubar at the top *as a child panel*. You have to make the changes in (at least two, I'm at work so I can't check in the moment) different dialogs and in the right order. Why do we have at all two different ways of getting the menu at the top of the screen? Why can I set the Fonts for the Desktop at different places (Configure Fonts and Desktop Settings)?

KDE is very mature and my favourite DE, but it needs more cleanup.

furank


By furanku at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

> Although I like KDE very much, I think Konquerors menus and
> context menus are still overloaded in CVS.

It always leads to a lot of discussion when a certain
option is to be removed. Personal preferences and
*requirements for daily tasks* differ from person to person.

The toolbar editor makes it really easy to add or remove options
from the toolbars.
I'd appreciate a GUI for stripping down the *context menu*.
I guess the usual suspects would complain again about
over-configurability but I think that would really be neat.

For example: I for one *never* use any of the following entries
in the context menu: back, forward, reload, copy text,
select all, bookmark page and some options in the "actions"
menu. Either I don't use the functionality, or I prefer
using keyboard shortcuts or the icons in the toolbar.

I guess a lot of people would cry out if any of the entries
were removed completely. But why not make it easy for me
to add or remove them in my personal config?

I think if such an option were available a menu that's
trimmed down to the bare minimum would be acceptable
to the power users (I'm sure those would know how to
*add* the more esoteric options to the menu using the new GUI).
It should be possible to lock that possibility down with
the kiosk framework, of course...


By cm at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

And there's another thing that might be improved:

It would be good to have *verbose* explanations for
the actions / icons that can be assigned in the
toolbar and keyboard shortcut editors
(for example as tooltip on the action name / icon?).

One example from KHTML:
What does the action "Manuell" mean (German locale)?
Two from KMail:
What does "Inline" or "Intelligent" mean?

If those actions appear in their own context
(as option in a certain dropdown menu, for example)
the user can make sense of it, but outside of the
context it's sometimes difficult.


By cm at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

>One example from KHTML:
>What does the action "Manuell" mean (German locale)?

If a german string is unclear to you, please inform the German team about it.

>Two from KMail:
>What does "Inline" or "Intelligent" mean?
both strings are in the sub menu "attachement" in the "view menu"
The determine the way attachements are displayed. Inline means that the attachement is shown in the mail itself, intelligent means that kmail decides how to handle the attachement.


By rinse at Sun, 2004/01/04 - 6:00am

Thanks for your answer, but:
I know what they mean (at least for the three examples I've given).
I know because I've seen them before in the context of their menues.

I just wanted to point out that the user finds it hard or even impossible to determine their meaning if they're presented *out of context* in the shortcut editor or the toolbar editor. There is no way to get an additional description of the action.

IMHO it's nothing that the translators can solve. It's the same string that's used in the menu and in the shortcut/toolbar editor (the "name" of the action). Making the action *and* the context clear in a single phrase would result in monster menu entries that would even be redundant:
Let's take the example "Intelligent":
Currently it's
View -> Attachments -> Intelligent

It would become something like
View -> Attachments -> View Attachments Intelligently
Only this way would the action be clear in the shortcut editor where all you have is the action name.

This kind of long menu entries is nothing I would want. So I'm for adding a verbose description that can be displayed where the developer thinks it's useful (IMHO in the toolbar and shortcut editors).


By cm at Sun, 2004/01/04 - 6:00am

Hi!

To make it easier to build your personal Desktop KDE should something have like a program registration. If you build KDE from the source you have all applications installed by default. Ok, you can modify the Makefile but...

It would be nice to have a minimal set of default apps and a big pool of installable programs. I (personally) do not use programs like kreate, cdbakeoven, ShowImg, Gwenview... and they i.e. expand Konqis action-menu or register unwanted mimetype relationships. I hope as part of the debian desktop alliance we will see something like this - but this is a task of an integrated desktop and _not_ distribution specific work.

Talking about KDE control center. Is not easy or not possible to make everyone happy with such a "beast" ;-) Maybe the whole problem is the tree-gui. Maybe the find-view is better for the unexperienced user and leave the structured treeview for the pro(?) If you make the treeview vertically smaller and horizontally deeper e.g. via tap-dialogs this does not make it easier. Hiding and using a "more..."-button is often better to use, like the kde-printing-window (btw... why is there the choose-printing-system-part not part of the hidden setup??)

Using KDE-CVS as my daily system on my "play-machine" I think KDE-3.2 will be a great release. There are still some problems with khtml and JS; knotes and kpilot; kwallet and some regressions if you use a webpage with a tabbed-Konqi or with a normal one. For me its hard to write good bug reports about these glitches. Maybe we need a bug-hunting-and-report-writing-session before the final bug fixing ;-)

All the best for 2004

Thorsten


By Thorsten Schnebeck at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

I compiled and installed KDE 3.2 Beta2 and I loved it. I really like plastik. I think it is professional and smooth. I like the configurable cursor. I think Konquror looks great. I also enjoyed Universal side bar.That is a great addition.

I would like to see a KDE compile time configurator to decide what gets compiled and what does not. This can be simillar to Kernel Configurator. I know it is possible to change Konstruct Makefiles with appropriate configure flags. But for that to work I will need to know ever changing list of KDE modules and reinsert all the options with every new release of KDE. How about having a top level .config file for Konstruct with all the optional modules which exist within KDE as a beginning point?

-Umesh


By Umesh Sirsiwal at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

> It would be nice to have a minimal set of default apps

Why is that? To save harddisk space worth about EUR 0.20 (assuming 200MB) ?

If you calculate only EUR 15 per hour and you save only 3 minutes because you don't have to install some application you need, you already saved EUR 0.75 which already paid for that additional harddisk space.


By Roland at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

to reduce menu clutter and things like 'potato guy' which does seem like bloat to me


By ac at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

Hey, my niece likes him!


By Roberto Alsina at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

It is a wonderful app, still there seems to be no active development on it :(
The images could be better, and there should be more scenarios to. Where is Konqui? And Kate? :-/


By Random at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

Well, I think that would be a serious deviation into grounds of overconfigurability. Imagine the tech support problems!

When someone calls the suppor hotline for a potatoguy problem now, you can tell him how to put the nose in the face, and roughly the standard position for it, as well as what you mean by nose, describing the graphics in some detail.

How do you explain that what you describe about a grey-brown ovoid should also apply to a green dragon? No, it would be almost, dare I say it, evil HCI design.

If your irreflexive proposal was adopted, confused three-year-olds the world over would have tears in their eyes. Why would a dragon need a nose? It already has a fire-breathing muzzle! How scary would a eyeless, noseless, mouthless dragon look like? Do you want this app to be the cause of hundreds of nightmares?

Besides, imagine the bloat! An additional "theme" would probably use about 50KB of disk storage, wasting over half a cent worth of HD, not to mention over one thousandth of a penny in bandwidth charges.

And the configuration issues! A new control panel applet?

No. As Eugenia loli-Queru from OSnews.com always says, "defaults matter", and in this case, the potatohead default is correct, sufficient and perfect.

Maybe after KDE gets its regedit-like app we can entertain a few keys that would tweak, MAYBE, the number of ears available, or the width/height ratio of the potato, but not further.

Please, avoid madness, let potatoguy stay in its current perfection cocoon.


By Roberto Alsina at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

WOW! Sorry Mr. Potato guy! I didn't know you have so many friends! ;)

I want to be your friend also Mr. Potato, I'm sorry about what I said :)

Still then, someone ought to update you a litlle eh?


By ac at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

I am not, nor have I any affiliation with the potato guy.


By Roberto Alsina at Sat, 2004/01/03 - 6:00am

He's talking to me...
I'm feeling so sad, please develop me! Make me higher resolution like Tux in the other scenario, give me some more friends, teach me other languages... Please don't forget about me :(


By Potato Guy at Sun, 2004/01/04 - 6:00am

Oh, you sure are an ambitious little vegetable, aren´t you?


By Roberto Alsina at Sun, 2004/01/04 - 6:00am

hi suse i do not no how to get to konuror web browser bye


By max at Sun, 2004/01/18 - 6:00am

I agree with this. Just like the toolbars are configurable, the context menus should be. See http://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=66119


By claes at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

Thanks for pointing that out!


By cm at Sat, 2004/01/03 - 6:00am

I think that is a really good idea. This should also be true for the K menu also, which is full of junk (for me!) that I don't need.

I don't know what the best way to do this would be, and it may well be different for the context menu and the K menu. Ideally though, some way to make an edit right there and then, without a big song and dance about it.


By Dominic Chambers at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

> I think Konquerors menus and context menus are still overloaded in CVS.

Well, I don't know how the CVS version looks like - but what I have seen on the latest screen shots proofs that. I am neither a KDE associate or a developer. Just an idea from a user point of view: I wonder why most KDE developers forgot about tear-offs. That would be so cute in particular for the konqueror context menus. Non-standard features that are still necessary to include could be grouped in submenus and those should have tear-offs. The context menu will be slim and nice to look at. Advanced users can pop-up permanent submenus utilizing tear-offs for easy access. The problem that the mouse-press-position is unknown for these menus can be solved by using the selected text/file/whatever.

This is something that really bothers me since 3.1: I believe the last tear-off can be found in one menu of konsole (this is not a request to remove that, too)! I have the impression that most developers made some hacks when filling the menus and simply removed the tear-offs because they didn't care for signals to en-/disable the items of the edit menu when the selection changes. Of course, it is easier to redefine the menu only when it is going to be opened and to check at this time for disabled items. Seems that the Gnome developers do a better job in this regard.

Please, KDE developers: Insert them again whereever you can! In particular the Kmenu is such inefficient since the tear-offs are gone that I am thinking about a switch to GXXXE or a rewrite of my own. Tear-offs are definitely _my_ way of working efficiently.

And yes: I know of the option in kcontrol - hopefully it is a SuSE bug.

Regards
Sebastian


By Sebastian at Mon, 2004/01/05 - 6:00am

The reviewer didn't like KDE before he started, and still doesn't like it. Although some of the features are very good.

Derek


By Derek Kite at Sat, 2004/01/03 - 6:00am

I think you'll find that the reviewer at the "pycs" site is our old friend Roberto Alsina.
Not that he would be a bit biased, oh no. ;)


By taj at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

Ahem. And I even mentioned it there ;-)


By Roberto Alsina at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

And it crashed. Oh well :-P


By Roberto Alsina at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

Is anybody else having problems? I am using a squid proxy and am being denied


By a.c. at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

Same problem here ;'(

The proxy server received an invalid response from an upstream server.
The proxy server could not handle the request GET /lateral/stories/12.html.
Reason: Could not connect to remote machine: Connection refused

Roverte, can you please fix the server or mirror the article?


By Niek at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

I am on vacation. On the beach. Drinking alcohol. No access to the original copy right now.

However, pycs is back up, so you should be able to read it now. That proxy error happens every once in a while when the PyCS server crashes or stops for some reason, because it´s reverse-proxyed and you access teh prxy that can´t read the page.


By Roberto Alsina at Sat, 2004/01/03 - 6:00am

i generally find reviews, good bad and ugly, interesting to read if only because of the groupthink they tend to display. spending time listening to people of various background quickly gives one pretty good impressions of what needs to be addressed for the next release(s).

however, one thing that drives me to distraction without fail is when the writer says that some particular thing sucks but doesn't ever say which particular thing or why. as an example, the gooeylinux.org review says that "The error screens in KDE are pretty horrible". Ooook. which error screens? the ones that appear when an app crashes? or the error boxes in kmail? or in konqueror? or ...... where?! it's a little frustrating to know that someone has seen something that might need improvement, but not know what that thing actually is.

if you're going to write a review and want to complain about something, provide specifics about what you are complaining about. Eugenia at osnews.com usually provides screenshots of these things, which is rather nice, but even a bit of specifics in the text goes a long ways.


By Aaron J. Seigo at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

Look on the bright side, a bad 'previewer' is almost always without clue and most things he/she says hover around in clueless space. The bad thing is that, generaly, the clueless 'preview' reader has no clue to begin with and can spread the 'clueless stuff'. So, looking on the bad side, the bright side is not so bright after all. But look on the bright side, if you dont realize the bad side in the first place, you wont notice the bad side, but the bad side of that is that you never see the bright side. Yeah!


By ac at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

I guess he means the error message which http://www.gooeylinux.org/bensjunk/kde/c_c_error1.png shows inside the screenshot collection without index to which he pointed in the first comment to his own story.


By Anonymous at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

ah.. i didn't bother to read the comments.. looking at that link, there are two screenshots there named *error*.png, though only one is actually an error. so now i know what he's referring to: the various dialogs that pop up in various apps. i'm sure those two boxes he found heinous enough to make screenshots of caused him all sorts of problems; we probably owe him 10 seconds of his life back. ;-) they are definitely cosmetic issues that users don't need to be bothered with, but not quite as interesting as it might have been...

now to figure out what he meant by the all the other vague statements in his article...


By Aaron J. Seigo at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

This is why governmental evaluations of desktops systems are also fruitful for FLOSS development. Even when the Government decides against KDE/Linux we benefit from the input. All issues that we the reason for the non-adoption of KDe in the German Parliament are now resolved. It is important to define problems and resolve them. Don't complain, fix it.


By elektroschock at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

I am Using KDE 3.1.94 on Mandrake 9.2 base systems. It is pretty cool. But I believe other than Keramik style all styles need to be in a separate packages and number of games in the default game packages also need to be reduced. I think Patience, Klicketty, Smile and two or three logic/strategy games are way more than cool to be included in the default packages. Otherwise we should have option to choose which package I can Install. Actually Carefully packaging tools will reduce amount of downloads and amount of time it takes to compile. I have tried to compile QT with the following options -mcpu=pentium3 -mmmx -msse -fpmath=sse,387 but it does not work. Although ENtire KDE packages have been compiled with this option.I think make apidox need to be part of default make rather than a separate option and should have different option to exclude building apidox.

Thanks.
Raihan


By S. Mamun Raihan at Tue, 2004/01/06 - 6:00am

Plastik is very nice. One problem though: I think the difference between a pressed button and an unpressed button is too small. In the taskbar it is somewhat hard to see what window is active since there is so little contrast between the buttons. I think the contrast should be sligthly increased to improve this.


By claes at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

Plastik also makes no use of the contrast slide available in the color setting as of now. Before Plastik becomes default this should be changed and then could also be used to improve the contrast in the future.


By Datschge at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

Let me right my own review about KDE.
I am using Gentoo and KDE 3.1.4. I do not plan to install KDE 3.2 unitl it becomes stable (sorry developers for not helping you, but I can not afford a crash or to lose data)

KDE has many buttons, but this means that it is very configurable, which might make your day difficult, if you do not know how to move around. This is a problem only you use KDE once, however.

I do not understand why people like Gnome.... because of "Start here" button .. and so if you click on it you will a find a very few settings, the basics. Are they happy with it? I am not... I was told, and in my work I realized that it is important to pay attention to the details. My advisor is telling me to do a merticulous job and this IS what KDE is about.

If you can not get around because of all these buttons, then you can use the "configure toolbar" option to remove some of these buttons, but apparentlly the reviewers do not know it.

To summarize:
If you do not like KDE, if you prefer Gnome this is fine, but you do not have the right to write about a program if you have not used it for more than a week. This is not a game!! This is a DE, which might take some time to configure it, but in the end you will be happy with all the options that are available to you.

I am using KDE since version 2.1 (Redhat 5 or 6), I fully trust the developers of KDE and I know that they will not dissapoint me.

Keep up the good work.,

Vasilis


By Vasilis at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

Don't forget that you can set up a separate user account to run KDE 3.2, instead of installing it system-wide. I think this means you can't use emerge, however, which DOES install things system-wide.


By Michael Pyne at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

This guy doesn't know that ~/Desktop was standardized by freedesktop.org, then Gnome drops gmc and introduced Nautilus, with its own uncompatible desktop files.

This is indeed an ugly review... A person that knows nothing about the thing he is reviewing (besides he plainly dislikes him) can't be taken seriously.

Anyway, at random he scores a few points...


By Julio Cesar Gazquez at Sat, 2004/01/03 - 6:00am

What is the difference between keyboard shortcuts and Khotkeys?
Why are they in different categorys? I don't understand the difference given the name.

http://www.gooeylinux.org/bensjunk/kde/c_c_clutter.png


By Andre at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

There is also an option "keyboard" under periphals...


By Andre at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

Keyboard shortcuts usually depend on specific applications while khotkeys allows you to add fully customized shortcuts including mouse gestures independent of applications (ie. also usable for non-KDE apps if they give eg. cli access to their commands, eg. you could control xmms with mouse gestures when using khotkeys).


By Datschge at Tue, 2004/01/06 - 6:00am

I also think that many of the reviewers are biased against KDE. I just dont understand why!
I've bin using the KDE CVS version for months now.
I use it at work, at home. I use it for programming, wordprocessing, gaming, watching movies, listening to music, practically all the time.
I have very few crashes and the speed is amazing!!
I really think the reviwers should pukk themselves together and try to USE KDE for a while before saying anything!!
I would never say anything against GNOME, not because it is better than KDE, but because I dont use GNOME for long periods of time, so how on earth should I be able to say anything for or against it?

There is also a lot of talk about to many menuitems and buttons. Have a look at the attached snapshot. Yeah too many buttons:-)
I agree on the previous post. KDE should have all items visible and let SUSE, RedHat, Mandrake etc. decide WHAT to include.
Also the talk about all the applications. Damn the guy is an amateur!!
If he dont want them all then dont make a make install in all!!
The distributers will let the user install the applications they need, but if you download and install all of KDE, then of course you get a lot of applications. Nag nag nag, and with very bad arguments!!
In fact this is one of the joys about compiling KDE.
I have never tried myselves to compile GNOME. I looked at all the packages I needed to compile GNOME and gave up at once. It is much easier with KDE, just download arts, kdelibs, kdebase... and compile.
I really love KDE, I hope SUSE is not skipping KDE since SUSE is the one distrubution I've found to have the bestr integration of applications with KDE.
I really think that the guys develpoing the various applications have done a great job in 2003 and I'm really looking forward to seing what 2004 brings!

And another note to the amateur of a reviewer... 256Mb RAM on a 2 GHz machine hi hi hi. Get a life. Why have a machine with that processor when you're running on SWAP? Dont tell me that GNOME does not use most of the RAM. It does here so why should it not there?
I have 1G and KDE takes up about 200 of these MB, I dont think that is bad concidering how big and fast the applications are.


By Jarl E. Gjessing at Sat, 2004/01/03 - 6:00am

The guy is reviewing the "default" kde setup so that means all of it and he's complaining that they include too many apps in the whole thing. Just because the guy isn't as rich as you he doesn't have a life? I only have 384mb of ram, take your best shot. People have different preferences, deal with it


By Michael Douglas at Sat, 2004/01/03 - 6:00am

i have 1.5 gig ram , so lets meet in the middle at 768 mb.


By chris at Sat, 2004/01/03 - 6:00am

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