FEB
3
2008

Can KDE Save a Dying Windows Platform?

As a longtime KDE user forced to use Windows, is the recent announcement and availability of a port of KDE for Windows a dream come true? "KDE 4.0.0 was released and there again was much joy. More importantly an actual honest to goodness Windows port is released." Blogger MrCopilot gives us a hands on review with 50+ screenshots of KDE in action on that other operating system and tries to answer that question. KDE on Windows is not yet ready for the masses but hopes to be declared stable for KDE 4.1.

Comments

You have to remember that Windows is not an OS, it includes an OS which was called NT and is based on DIGITAL VMS. Microsoft sells "Windows Services for UNIX" which allows UNIX applications (NOT GUI) to run on an NT based Windows system. So it isn't really correct to say that the problem is that Windows isn't Linux.

The problem comes with running GUI applications in a windowed environment. AFAWK, MS-Windows doesn't use X11 for its windowed environment. MS-Windows is all bolted together so we really don't know how modular it is, but I doubt that it is. IAC, we don't know how to interface with it. So, the only possibility appears to be that which WINE uses. which is to convert Windows calls into X11 calls. This doesn't seem to be the ideal design, but I don't know if building a parallel windowed environment that could run concurrently with X11 would even be possible -- are MS-Windows and X11 too different to ever coexist?


By JRT at Mon, 2008/02/04 - 6:00am

for some reason, each time I read the title, I see "Can CDE Save a Dying Windows Platform?"

I have no idea why I get this weird effect.


By yman at Mon, 2008/02/04 - 6:00am

Kde is getting quite alot of these reviews/interviews. I like them; gives me something to read once in a while. Keep up the good work, KDE; keep the press coming. ;)


By jeremy at Mon, 2008/02/04 - 6:00am

Please note, the title contains irony.


By Jonathan Riddell at Mon, 2008/02/04 - 6:00am

What the heck is a dying Windows Platform? Is it my XP which is the only OS that performs as it should and is stable. Linux is intrinsically unstable and Vista appeared slow to me (so I've dumped it). I do use Linux whenever I want to waste some time - it is not entirely good and not entirely bad, but it simply won't beat XP because XP just runs and Linux might run if tweaked sufficiently. Before you guys are getting a heart attck - I am talking about laptops here. Except for Lenovos and a few other models you won't be able to deny that Linux is having a hard time to cope with my favorite travel companions.

Now to KDE: I have mainly used KDE, Gnome and XFCE - and there is no obvious reason why I should prefer either of them. Same applies to Windows - if you slow down my XP I could even live with Vista.

As a result: no, I do not think that KDE can save a dying Windows platform (whatever this might be). If those guys joined forces and created something like a KnomeFCE (combined advantages of course), you could try to ask me again.


By Bob at Mon, 2008/02/04 - 6:00am

I've often wondered what it would be like if we had one Linux DE instead of at least three. But apart from the technical differences between KDE/Qt and GNOME/XFCE/Gtk, I think that people in the community do what they do because no-one forces them in such a direction. It's mostly a spontaneous development, led by peoples' individual choices. And that's both a strength and a weakness. About five years ago, I thought that eventually one DE would come out on top. Today I tend to think it doesn't work that way, and I don't think there will be a standard free desktop environment on Linux for at least the next five years.

BTW: Am I entering a danger zone here? Let's post entirely on-topic:

Don't get me wrong, I am pro-free software, pro-Linux and pro-KDE. But I do realize that in the end, it's not about the tools, it's about getting things done. I don't know if KDE on Windows is a good or a bad thing. But well, if it makes developers happy, I'm all for it. Happy developers are more creative, and I and many others get to enjoy the fruits of that :).


By starbase218 at Mon, 2008/02/04 - 6:00am

> intrinsically unstable

No, it isn't.

> I am talking about laptops here

FWIW, I just spent a week running Linux with KDE 3 (Kubuntu 7.10) on my laptop with no trouble, including many, many suspend/resume cycles, wifi usage, etc. For the record, my laptop is a Toshiba. Just because you have had issues doesn't mean the majority of others do as well.


By Paul Eggleton at Mon, 2008/02/04 - 6:00am

Good for you if K7.10 is working on your hardware. Unfortunately, most forums prove that you belong to an exclusive minority. I know that there are some Toshibas which work but others don't. I had the chance to check out certain models from Sony, Acer, HP, FSC and Compaq. All of them had (Linux) issues: mostly suspend/resume, sometimes wireless. I vaguely remember warnings about a certain HP desktop series which would not allow Linux to be installed. HP customer service reportedly had no clue.

But we all know or heard about these problems already, just some of us won't admit that too easily ;-)


By Bob at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

I never said there weren't problems. I do however object to broad generalisations such as the ones you made since I do not believe them to be generally correct.


By Paul Eggleton at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

In my experience, you don't really appreciate how good Windows really is and how hard it is to make a global consumer OS until you try one of these so called "easy" desktop-oriented Linux distributions.

Linux is an OK system for servers. On desktops, it plain sucks. Yes, it is unstable, it's slower than Windows, it lacks quality apps, and hardware support is a pain.

But I guess Windows is a dying platform... in an alternate reality.


By John C. at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

The statement that Windows is a "dying platform" is pretty absurd, I agree.

Other than that, would you care to provide some basis for your assertions?


By Paul Eggleton at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

I don't think I have to provide hard proof about lack of hardware and ISV's support. Also, the few third party drivers and applications that exist, are ridicuously hard to install. As for the rest, as I said, that is just my experience with both systems. Since XP was out, I've never experienced a Windows crash and Vista is equally rock-solid. On the other hand, I've had quite a few with Linux. As for the desktop experience, I've never seen a Linux desktop quite as responsive as Windows is (and Vista on good hardware is no exception, by the way).

Linux has the upper hand when it comes to desktop features though: window management and built-in virtual desktops are far better in KDE. But that's about it.


By John C. at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

I would disagree with that. I use Linux and Windows daily. I prefer Linux but to do my work in development I have to use XP Pro on my laptop. No matter what I do, after a few hours of uptime on my laptop the process "System" begins to use 100% CPU, heats the laptop to death and causes it to almost lock up.

On the other hand, running large BT downloads can be done on Linux for days, even weeks at a time with no need for a reboot. The system is just as fast and responsive after all that time. It just seems for me, that with the poor memory management of Windows in comparison with Linux (why windows needs to use 250mb of swap when theres over 200mb RAM free I don't know) the desktop is generally more responsive than Windows.

I can't dump Windows yet, and I will admit that on my hardware battery life is better with XP, but if I had a choice I would work soley in Linux.


By Amara Emerson at Wed, 2008/02/06 - 6:00am

I personally found the article arrogant. Windows platform dieing, ah, no it's not. So now we don't just have kde users bashing gnome, they now want to bash windows. Boring and retard author of the article needs to get his facts straight before he day drams and shows the lack of his intelligence.


By Richard Bollinger at Wed, 2008/02/06 - 6:00am

Did you read the whole article?

-He wasn't bashing on Windows. The headline was just an attention grabber.


By Max at Wed, 2008/02/06 - 6:00am

> Linux is intrinsically unstable
May be you are referring to the bugs in the desktop environments or bugs introduced unwittingly by your distribution. Mind you, Linux (Linux kernel) is far more stable than windows (Windows kernel). If it appears unstable to you, then you must realize that it's because of applications which you believe to be part of Linux.


By Anonymous Coward at Sun, 2008/02/10 - 6:00am

You're obviously new to Linux and its' many Distro's.

I've installed Linux over 300 times and NOT ONE of those computers have had ANY instability problems once the unstable code (Micro$oft products) was removed.

Over 50 of those systems were laptops, Toshiba included....

Sorry guy, I think that you're stuck in noob fantasyland....

-UncleMonkey


By UncleMonkey777 at Mon, 2008/02/04 - 6:00am

My experience is quite opposite to yours? So?


By Caemyr at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

I think that, if you experience an unusual amount of instabilities/crashes with Linux, you either have a bleeding-edge distro - in which case you could ask yourself if that is a wise choice - or you have screwed something up yourself.

Which does not mean that you are a "dumb" user. Linux sometimes forces you to go deep into the system, editing config files etc. If you aren't comfortable with that, you might be better of using Windows. IMO this is not fantasyland, it's fact.


By starbase218 at Thu, 2008/02/07 - 6:00am

BTW, it seems a bit strange to me that you would be aware of every instability issue of over 300 systems, especially if over 50 of those are portable systems.

Or are you talking on a professional level, e.g. are you a Linux sysadmin? In that case, I wonder what it is you do all day long ;).


By starbase218 at Thu, 2008/02/07 - 6:00am

Cmon... since when Windows platform is dying? Just because Vista hasn`t hit the spot (it`ll take its time), while XP is right now a rock-solid Ms columnt, supported by Win2k and 2k3 (soon 2k8)....

And what is supposed to "save" the "dying platform"? KDE and a bunch of 40 or so apps? Could you please cut out the FUD?

Now, dont take me wrong. I`m not anti or pro anything. I use both Linux and Windows, having BOTH of those systems working rock solid, 24/7, 3x days a month etc. No, i dont reboot Windows more often than once a month (Windows Update), neither I reinstall it once a half a year. It works fine, no bogging down.

I`m not against porting KDE to Win, why should i be? But KDE as a Windows savior? Who is gonna use it? Those who doubleboot Linux and Windows, maybe... It is not gonna replace Explorer on Windows. Most of Windows folk will just ignore it.

Just be realistic, am i asking for too much?


By Caemyr at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

Now Microsoft will became a KDE Platinum Sponsor, just like Nokia.


By George at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

He is talking about his own PC, on which he finds he uses Windows less and less. He is not talking about Windows in general.

it's the difference between "Can KDE Save a Dying Windows Platform?", which speaks about one system, and "Can KDE Save the Dying Windows Platform?", which talks about all Windows systems.


By yman at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

Windows isn't dying. By a long-shot.

This is called great copy-writing. A title like "windows is dying" will catch more eye-balls, than "KDE is offering programs for Windows"-yawn. Every journalism major knows that. A good article needs an attention grabbing headline!! Then the actual article can condition the initial statement.

As it is. Great news about KDE on Windows. Great news for operating system agnostic cross-plattform users.


By Richaard at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

As with a couple of the other not-anti-Windows crowd above, I use both Windows and Linux. A few years ago, I was one of the "Linux is obviously superior to Windows" crowd. That phase of my life ended when I started experimenting with Linux (FC3.)

I'm running OpenSuse 10.3 on this computer, and dual boot that with Windows XP on my laptop. Stability wise, I can't remember the last time Windows crashed on me since SP2 was installed on my old desktop a few years ago; my (new) desktop hasn't had issues with stability with Linux, but I have had some with my laptop.

Security? I'll start accepting comparisons when Linux has more than 1% of the client market penetration that Windows has. Seriously, who even tries writing viruses for Linux? You might knock out a server here and there, but the vast majority of the world wouldn't blink an eye.

The big difference, though, is that Windows Just Works. Linux doesn't. Part of it is the fact that I'm still fairly green with Linux, but if you want to get rid of Windows, then Linux better be easy enough to use that someone far less capable as an admin than myself can use it out of the box. On my laptop, I can't count the number of hours trying to get ndiswrapper to work properly (still haven't gotten it.) I built the desktop with an ATI card; no luck with fglrx to load properly. Motherboard died, decided to upgrade to a SLI system; no luck with nVidia's driver working properly either. CUPS I got working, but it took some digging (it was easier on my old desktop with Xubuntu than OpenSuse.) Yes, a lot of it is that drivers are first and foremost written for Windows. Nevertheless, I have gained an appreciation for the fact that, despite being a massive OS encumbered with a not-so-great historical code base, Windows has a phenomenal ability to cope with a massive range of apps and hardware and not bat an eye.

If all you're doing is basic office and internet stuff, Linux is fine. A step beyond, though, and you're headed into command line interfaces, dealing with hardware compatibility issues, and in general a bunch of stuff 95% of users are absolutely unwilling to deal with. I like Linux; I really want this computer to never see Windows (mainly to save the $110 on Vista Home Premium.) But it really isn't ready for the mainstream user yet, and it's annoying that half the websites I go to for Linux advice, news, etc. have people that are extreme OS elitists.


By Bob at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

Didn't notice that someone above me had already used my standard pseudonym. Not to be confused with the first Bob.


By Bob2 at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

problems with hardwaresupport won't go away as long as the market share of linux is relatively small.

I general it means that when you buy hardware, you should be aware that you need to buy stuff that is linux compatible.
If you do so, linux will perform like a breeze, withouth the hassle of installing drivers, etc.

You see the same with Vista at the moment: most of its problems are related to the fact not all hardware has drivers ready for it.
Does that make Vista unfit for mainstream users?
Main difference with linux is that Vista is forced upon new users (finding new pc's with XP is getting more and more difficult), so it will gain its market share automagicly and become more mainstream suitable as well.


By whatever noticed at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

Agreed. Both systems have their good points.

As to the stability issue, the crashes I had before SP2 were mostly due to shoddy firewall drivers like those belonging to Agnitum Outpost or Kerio - the latter of which gave me a BSOD every 12 seconds like clockwork until I used system restore. When my last graphics card fried (an ATI Radeon) Windows found a problem with agp440.sys and wouldn't even get me into safe mode.

Linux, however, booted just fine.

I use Ubuntu 7.10 and I find Envy to help a LOT with loading graphics card drivers.


By Ryan at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

That's the reason why I'm looking forward to KDE on Windows.

I really want to use Plasma, widgets, compositioning effects under Windows too.

While I use Linux a lot, there are a lot of production environments that I can't use Linux, or am not allowed to.

Not to mention my gaming rig. It needs DirectX 10, and as everybody knows, dual SLI configurations are at best iffy under Linux. There is no way I'd even expect cedega to support this. To make a long story short: I NEED WINDOWS FOR GAMING. I WOULD ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO USE KDE as a window manager though and all the apps I'm used to from the Linux world.

So please guys, stop with the Holier than thou!! attitude and listen. We're all on the same side. Just cause we need KDE to run on Windows/OS-X does not mean we're any less loyal to the Linux version, or would *gasp* abandon it.

Having KDE on Windows isn't just nice to have - It's a necessity.

Besides it will be great when I can synchronize my next Nokia smartphone under Windows/Linux/Solaris/whatever else I can dream up without any problems. I would love to use the same desktop Plasma apps on my Cell phone as well as on the desktop.
This would be an iPhone on steroids!!! Running full blown KOffice on the mobile device (and CarPC) as well as on the desktop. INCLUDING WINDOWS!!!


By Richaard at Tue, 2008/02/05 - 6:00am

"I really want to use Plasma, widgets, compositioning effects under Windows too."

So you need to port them yourself - these are not part of KDE/Windows.

"LOVE TO USE KDE as a window manager"

KDE is not a window manager, KWin is. And KWin is not going to be ported, because Windows already has native one. On of important rules here is not to break existing functionality by introducing KDE.


By j at Wed, 2008/02/06 - 6:00am

Aww...

Shucks. I was hoping that the rest of KDE will be ported too. I remember in the Windows 3.11 days, on could replace Microsoft's window manager ("Program manager" at the time) with one by a company called "PC Tools". It was great, and I loved it.

Why can't we do that for KDE too?

At the very least, port Plasma. This way people could write the same widgets and be platform independent. That would be swell.


By Max at Wed, 2008/02/06 - 6:00am

Can't remember the last time Windows crashed since you installed SP2? What planet are you from? Did they release a different version of SucksPee there to the one they did on earth?

Windblows SucksPee basically sucks so badly it practically inhales itself. I came off Windblows after my XP installation (with SP2) crashed 633 times in 2 weeks.

Since I went onto linux, I have forgotten what a Blue screen looks like (other than the one which pops up when I boot my computer, telling me I have a Hewlett Packard!).

Get a grip. I went from Windblows to Linux in just under 3 days, including working out how to change permissions, limit access, list directories and set up my printer.

Out of the box, the best one is Mandriva by far. Practically sets itself up.

Trust me. If I can use linux, you should have no grief at all.


By Thor Malmjursson at Wed, 2008/02/06 - 6:00am

Hey, I happen to like XP Media center edition. (don't use the actual media center functionality though)

It's the best version of Windows Microsoft released. (other than Windows 95 :) )
It's easy to use and works with everything. It's what my Game machine is running.

I love linux as much as the next guy, but please give them credit, where credit is due.

Some pragmatism please. Linux, KDE, is an operating system/desktop environment - NOT A RELIGION.


By Max at Wed, 2008/02/06 - 6:00am

Didn't need to go too far to prove Bob's point, I guess.

Linux can really do without the people that live to bash Windows. It makes the community look stupid and immature.

GM doesn't run an advertising campaign bashing Ford.


By Ryan at Wed, 2008/02/06 - 6:00am

(although God knows that after the rear-exploding tank thing they could have)


By Ryan at Wed, 2008/02/06 - 6:00am

There are realy two planets here.

Since the XP launch I experienced *much* more crashes in linux than in windows, given that the time I used linux was only an fraction of the time using windows. By the way, my last crash in Windows was one year ago triggered by Mplayer, and it's been like 4 years since my last reinstalation of Windows, while I re-instaled all linuxes frequently.

I share bob's opinion, Windos Just Works for me, while linux requires days and many search and how-tos to set up just the basic functionality.

And I too like lots of things in linux, and wanted to use only it if possible and pratical. That is not the case for me yet... but YMMV.


By Manabu at Thu, 2008/02/07 - 6:00am

> The big difference, though, is that Windows Just Works. Linux doesn't.

I'm using Linux for about 10 years now, KDE since the 1.x releases. Working in a software company I can afford to use Linux all over the day for my development tasks. We're developing inhouse applications for one of the world's largest mail order companies. Do you know what? Until about three years ago, there was mainly Windows (except Unix on the servers). Today, there is Linux wherever possible. Workstations which are set up to run only inhouse applications are Linux-based. Nearly all servers are Linux-based meanwhile.

The only lock into MS are Office (because some people like nonsense macros as copying the Word document title into the file attributes) and Exchange. Ha, have you ever seen such messages sent to mailing lists where a sender wants to recall a message?

Well, Exchange competitors are on the way, OpenDocument is on track. Vista is clearly a no-go for larger installations. Give Windows another five years, but then...
Really, big companies change their IT behind the scenes. It's not as public as some governments do. Lots of people were surprised to see inside those companies.


By Andreas at Wed, 2008/02/06 - 6:00am

Yea, that's true.

Great writeup! It's very true. Most business applications are platformindependent web applications. At that point nobody will care what operating system runs underneath.

My Masters program teaches all about "Analysis of Web-based Systems and Design". That's where the future is.

Hence Microsoft wanting a slice of the pie. Vista isn't making any money. (Force-feeding it on preinstall doesn't make much money, as OEM's get volume licenses.) MS-Office days (well years) are numbered. We'll see that when they release a odf-compatibility bugfix/servicepack. The large customers will demand it. (in Europe at least) The U.S. is pussy-whipped too much by Microsoft to have a spine.


By Max at Mon, 2008/02/11 - 6:00am

You appear to looking at Linux through a MS-Windows frame. Since *NIX (this applies to all UNIX like OSes) is not Windows, this tends to distort the issues. The virus issue on *NIX is fairly simple. A virus modifies an executable file. On a properly configured *NIX system, only root can modify an executable file so a virus needs to obtain root permission to propagate itself. I think that you will find that this is considerably more difficult on a *NIX system (including OS/X) than it is on Windows. Yes, some of this is configuration, but on *NIX a secure configuration is the default.

A serious issue is hardware support. Windows types call this drivers, but *NIX doesn't use "drivers" like Windows does. Actually, a great deal of the hardware support issues are due to the Windows driver syndrome. You might call your printer issues a driver problem, but really it is an issue with the RIP and/or spooler software that converts from file you are printing to the format of the printer and sends it to the Kernel to be printed. The actual driver is the Kernel module that drives whatever I/O port that you have the printer connected to. I do not recommend CUPS because it is overkill for a stand alone system, but LPR is no longer supported. KDE needs to step in and fill the void.

The driver syndrome is the fact that the Windows architecture with plug-in drivers means that a piece of hardware doesn't need to follow any standards as long as the manufacturer writes a driver for it. This is not a good thing. Good luck getting it to work on future versions of MS-Windows after that piece of hardare is discontinued.

I hope that there is a special place in hell reserved for those that have caused the current graphics card mess. Unlike other hardware, this is partially a driver issue since the Kernel needs to have a DRM driver for your graphics card, but it is mostly a software issue since what is needed is to get X11 and OpenGL to work with your graphics card. This is done by using X11 (X11 does have graphics card specific modules commonly called drivers) and GL libraries that are specific to the graphics card being used. This is not the ideal solution, but it did work OK till ATI and nVidia decided that they would no longer provide documentation for their new products. In the past, there were published industry standards for graphics cards. The last two were the VGA standard which IBM fully documented and the VESA extensions to it. The current situation with proprietary graphics cards is untenable. We can only hope that Intel and AMD remedy the problem completely.

To make this clear. Proprietary hardware that doesn't conform to published standards is EVIL -- published industry standards are needed. This is not something wrong with Linux except that Linux has a harder time dealing with the problem than MS-Windows does. But there are still issues with Windows that are in someways worse than Linux. With Linux, if there is support for hardware then you can probably get it to work on any version. For example my old Epson LQ1000 still works on the current version of Linux because it doesn't require a "driver" -- just the RIP software (it also helps that the printer comes with full documentation). With MS-Windows, the situation is that you need a driver for that piece of hardware and that version of MS-Windows -- if you can't find a driver, you are dead.


By JRT at Thu, 2008/02/07 - 6:00am

KDE is built into Linux at the moment, and rightly so too. Why put onto the unstable Windows OS when Linux looks as good has the same apps (with cheesier names). If you want an easy to use OS like window I would highly recommend PC Linux OS [ http://www,pclinuxos.com ] it is on both KDE and Gnome. It is very fast nand esier to use than Windows XP or Vista (wizard galore!)
In conclusion moving KDE to windows is daft. Particularly because Window's kernel32 is so unstable on less powerful machines it will crash continuously!

Agree? Disagree? Post a comment


By Gray at Sun, 2008/02/17 - 6:00am

You haven't used Windows since Windows ME, isn't it?

The Win2K kernel -and the XP one, too- is very stable. In 6 years of intensive daily use, I have seen only 2 hangs. Since I switched to Ubuntu (6 months ago), I've seen at least 4 hangs on Linux; complete freeze, not even Ctrl+Alt+Backspace could save it.

Which one is the unstable one?

I've no doubt that other Linux distros can be a stability marvel; Gutsy has a lot of broken corners, and feels more like a beta than anything. I only hope Hardy it's much better at it, because (hangs or no hangs) I'm not gonna go back to MS; I value my new freedom too much.


By It's me at Sat, 2008/03/15 - 5:00am

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