Ars Technica: A First Look at KDE 4 Beta 2

At Ars Technica, I have put together an article detailing my impressions of KDE 4 Beta 2 (more or less, my source checkout is from within 24 hours of beta 2 being tagged last week). An official beta 2 announcement should be arriving shortly as the distros have been packaging it this last week. I am happy to say that beta 2 has made significant progress since beta 1.

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by cossidhon (not verified)

I agree with you. I've always sticked with KDE for the technical reasons. It's way better "architected". But for looks? No. KDE 3.5.7 can be made good looking, but looks is a taste thingie, and people tend do disagree on that a lot :-). Most people believe however KDE doesn't look as good as Gnome on first impression, and, as I said in previous posts, first impression matters a lot! I'm sure however, that KDE4 will make a marvelous first impression, even with 4.0 (it better be!!)

by bert (not verified)

It was the other way around. Gnome was brown, boring and ugly. They branded it as "for the industry" while KDE had the bling. finally they kind of fixed the file dialogue, well, not really.

Now: Honestly themes and DE are two entirely different issues.

Get Abiword with Crystal Icons and it will "feel KDE". Get a QT application as Scribus and the Ubuntu guys will say that it "integrates with Gnome".

Forget the superficial stuff. Theme design is an issue you can hand over to a designer but a designer cannot solve a cluttered library. If you like gnome Themes go an port them to KDE. I really hope that on the long run both desktop environments will kind of merge.

Look carefully at Windows applications and you will get that there are several different generations of graphical interfaces and API. But users don't really notice it. Similar a user should not even mention if a GTK application is running under KDE or a KDE application under Gnome.

by Anon (not verified)

"Look carefully at Windows applications and you will get that there are several different generations of graphical interfaces and API. But users don't really notice it. "

That's exactly why KDE exists under the unix world and what they tried to prevent.

There's a reason Mac OSX is so highly praised. Even when different widgets libraries are used, they all try to follow the Apple guidelines as much as they can and there's no competing operating system that can give you the same feelings.
Windows is a mess of different GUI behaviors between the software just like the old unix days.

We are lucky there's only QT and GTK that got some use under UNIX-like oses. (and some Motif)

by Göran Jartin (not verified)

> do you buy a new car depending on its colour?

Actually, I think it's a very important part for most people.
I think Henry Ford was proven wrong quite a few years ago.

by Henrik Pauli (not verified)

The point is, that if KDE4 is deemed crap by the new users due to the issues with the eyecandy (which is part look-good, part make-things-useable, the second one being more important), then Houston, we've got a problem.

This doesn't mean that I'd think the Oxygen style is crap -- far from it, I think it's nice. Except for that it's "unreadable" and therefore hard and/or uncomfortable to use as a widget theme.

A software, especially a whole desktop environment is very different from a car, and unfortunately its looks is much more important than the colour of a car. Well, actually, you are making a bad point. People like to buy cars that look pleasing to the eye (whereby I mean not the colour, but the shape), and don't like to buy cars that are ugly. And some people will criticise a car for not being streamlined or things around the steering wheel not being at a correct place, just as we will criticise a widget theme that's not particularly easy on the hands/eyes/reflexes/whatever.

by name (not verified)

When more style brings more users to OpenSource, than more style is needed.

by Coward (not verified)


by zayed alsaidi (not verified)

I want Thank you for your great works and efforts.

Oxygen theme and Icons team: Really, You have a good taste!!
Plasma team: keep it up!! You are doing so great.
KDE developers: Well done and thank you.

by Rus (not verified)

Finally, out of all the above "critical" posts,
I see someone actually appreciate all the work
that went in to this release.

I would also like to take a moment to appreciate
everyone who is working on KDE 4 and would like
to say that all of you are doing a marvelous job.
Oxygen looks great, and Plasma seems to be heading
KDE into the right direction for the 21st century.
After reading all the posts above, I see that many
people are forgetting that this actually IS the
21st century, and that Gnome is not sufficient for
every-day use anymore, unless you are a system
administrator or a power user.

Keep up the good work! KDE 4 will be a very big hit!

by Sutoka (not verified)

I think Troy should also be added to the list (he wrote the article), along with Danny (commit digest guy) and a lot of people that don't really fall into any of the other categories exactly. I'm really liking the look of the plamsa-kicker, especially how the colors from it work with the default wallpaper, and the interesting contrast with the very bright windows.

by Andy Allan (not verified)

A question that can't be answered from screenshots - how responsive does KDE4 feel? Do nested menus spring up quickly, or are there pauses? How quickly do applications launch? How does it feel when you grab the scrollbar on a 100 page pdf document and flick it up and down - does it need time to think about things?

Responsiveness is the killer for me - I find it completely different when apps take 10s instead of 2s to start, or everything takes a few 10ths of a second to respond when clicked. I'm not looking for numbers, I'm happy to take opinions!

by Iuri Fiedoruk (not verified)

Let's hope the new fancy themes and Plasmoids dion't kill the gain of speed and memory we got with Qt4.

by jospoortvliet (not verified)

Imho, it's bad. Not extremely, but I hope the final version will be a lot better...

Of course, it might have to do with all the beta stuff, unoptimized and all. And because of KWin not being really fast, and the debug stuff in there. So I have good hope.

by (not verified)


In the middle of all that discussion I cannot read (or see) anything about the dialogs, specially the file ones (copy/move/open/save, etc). In all the screenshots, the dialogs are the same of the KDE 3 series, heavily inspired by Windows (2000).

Sorry to say, but I really dislike all that dialogs (they are too big sometimes), especially the copy/move one, because it displays too much information, making it difficult to find the what you want.

Are you planning something different for KDE4? Or the dialogs will remain the same?

As a old MacOS user (mostly versions 7, 8 and 9) I suggest that you make the dialog simple, with less information but with a "drop arrow" that expand the dialog to show more information, only when needed.

Bye, and keep your good work.

by jospoortvliet (not verified)

some work has been put in these dialogs, but more has to be done yet. I think most of that will be 4.1 stuff.

by Ian (not verified)

I'm sure i had this option a long time ago but i may have been dreaming. i would like to see a "pin" on the title bar of each window to allow me to keep a window on top instead of 3 clicks via the advanced menu. Is it configurable or theme specific or i was dreaming?
I do a lot of cut and paste between spreadsheets and documents and dont have the luxury of dual screen.

ps: and will okular print collated for X copies of a multipage document? KPDF can't manage it, it always prints all the page 1's then page 2's etc then i have to collate it myself

I am really looking forward to KDE4 (except that theme in the article - the "save as" dialog looks awfully busy with no borders separating the constituent parts)

Keep up the great work, it is appreciated.

by pin-king (not verified)

Hi Ian,

If I remember correctly (I'm sitting on a Windows machine at the moment), you have to go to the "Window decorations" settings in the Control Center. The second tab allows you to add and remove buttons in the title bar. You can probably also get to that setting dialogue by right-clicking on the bar and choosing the settings menue entry.

by Hans (not verified)

And if you don't want to use the mouse at all, you can set a shortcut key in KControl/System Settings.

THanks Hans,

i'll try and sort that out over the weekend - always good to have more than one way to skin a cat.



hi pin-king

That worked a treat once i stopped using the Suse decorations.
Thanks for that.



by Tom (not verified)

In 3.5: kcontrol->Appearance & Themes->Window Decorations->Buttons. Click "Use custom titlebar button positions" and drag and drop "Keep Above Others" to your titlebar.

by Martin Ronde (not verified)

I think most Linux users are pleased with a well-integrated and responsive shell, for Windows users you must provide an as simple and less confusing structure, the windows key has to open the menu, for Mac users eye candy and usability. All this is no problem if it just work. That was always just a matter of configuration. But what really matters is unique stuff.

Plasma' vision looks to me a lot like these Microsoft Silverlight Demos from Miguel.
In fact it is a Halo3 frame.

what I find more important is technology leadership. Does KDE support VOIP calls? Video Conferencing with my friends? Collaborative editing?

Can I record and edit my videos?

Easy upload of your ripped media as torrents?

Does Konqueror support all relevant Ajax applications?

Can you easily record the screen?

Can you easily upload your KOffice slides to slideshare?

Does your application choice the right executor for alien files such as .exe (mono, wine, dosbox, ..). Is context menu configuration intelligent?

If your scanner doesn't work will your system help you to contact the right forum, find the right help page?

Are all unnecessary popups eliminated?

Does the environment enable and facilitate user contributions to extend the system? E.g. a dictionary: adding new words and uploaded them.

Is code reviewed on a regular base to avoid kludge?

Is upcoming hardware such as USB and wifi telephones supported and integrated?

Speech and speech recognition.. we know it is a long way, but its important for accessibility.

Does it enable me to print easily birthday invitations?

Does it simplify my ebay accounting and home banking?

Can I manage my small business or my local firefighters club with KDE applications?

Are my files deleted safely?

Will web radio just work? Will I also be able to easily record it?

Will KDE excite my MEP because it also supports our regional language?

Will the new KDE excite my girlfriend?


by jospoortvliet (not verified)

Most of these things can be answered with either "yes" or "we are working on that, hold on until 4.1" so rejoice.

by Louis (not verified)

Will it make coffee the way I like it?

Will it massage my neck while I'm using the computer?

Does it leave a delicious peppermint taste in my mouth?

Can it automatically locate and download porn to match my fetishes?

If not, you can keep that crap. I think my expectations are reasonable. :-)

by Martin Ronde (not verified)

If not, you can keep that crap. I think my expectations are reasonable. :-)

---> Very good proposals ;-) Peppermint may take some time, you know the /dev/mezmer support.

by reihal (not verified)

Will it make focus follow mind?

Will it supply the monkeys with bananas?

Will it make annoying trolls disintegrate?

One thing KDE developers to has to understand is what is meant by ugly. Solly ...

by szlam (not verified)

I just hope KDE will some day become a fully object oriented desktop environment. Just the way OS/2 was.