KDE Commit-Digest for 16th December 2007

In this week's KDE Commit-Digest: A Sonnet-based spellcheck runner, and icons on the desktop in Plasma. Continued work revamping KBugBuster, more work towards KDevelop 4. GetHotNewStuff support for downloading maps in Marble. Image and audio dockers in Parley. The start of Glimpse, a new scanning application based on libksane. The beginnings of a generic resource display framework for NEPOMUK. Various work in KHTML. Music Service configuration work, and the integration of code in Amarok 2.0. Printing work in KOffice. A Sybase database driver for Kexi, panorama work in Krita, and ODF work in KChart. Kompare becomes usable for KDE 4.0, and gets a new maintainer. The confusingly-named game KWin4 is renamed KFourInLine. Trolltech-supported Phonon backends for all major platforms (Quicktime 7, DirectShow 9 and GStreamer) are imported to KDE SVN. Read the rest of the Digest here.


No introduction or content - only PHP errors about missing files...

By Dima Ryazanov at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Just fixed the errors (really annoying, as it strikes while I sleep!)


By Danny Allen at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Thanks for the Digest Danny! You rock. This gives me some holiday reading :)

By Leo at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Thanks a lot, but apart from the statistics I see only this:

Warning: file(): Unable to access /var/network/www/docs/ in /var/network/www0/docs/ on line 101

Warning: file(/var/network/www/docs/ failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /var/network/www0/docs/ on line 101

Warning: array_search(): Wrong datatype for second argument in /var/network/www0/docs/ on line 118

Warning: array_search(): Wrong datatype for second argument in /var/network/www0/docs/ on line 177

Could you ...?

By Flitcraft at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Weird. Earlier this morning everything was fine.

By Boudewijn Rempt at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Indeed, tis annoying... And trying to hack it by using doesn't work either.

By J Klassen at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

> And trying to hack it [...] doesn't work either.
Well, like the warning says...

file(/var/network/www/docs/ failed to open stream

when there is no file, you cannot "hack it" to work. ;-)


By Erik at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

I don't suppose anyone cached a copy? I'm getting withdrawal symptoms...... ;-)

By Adrian Baugh at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Just fixed the errors (really annoying, as it strikes while I sleep!)


By Danny Allen at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

We can forgive you anything, dannya - thanks for the digest! :)

By anon at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Finally! Thank you very much for this, it was due for a long time.

By AC at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Thanks Danny for an other interesting digest. I managed to read most of it in the morning before the errors happened :)

I've been thinking about System Settings and how some have complained that it's annoying to navigate to Overview every time you want to go somewhere else, lacking the hierarchical structure that KControl offered. I also looked at Phoronix's cool gallery of Kubuntu + KDE4 images (

As I looked at Dolphin, I thought "why can't we also implement a breadcrumb navigation system into System Settings?" I hacked up an example which could show how it might work (though you can tell I'm not a graphic artist :D). In this example, you want to go from Desktop to Accessibility. You first navigate from Look & Feel to Personal, and then choose Accessibility. Or maybe we omit the top-level categories such as "Personal" and "Look & Feel" from the path (leaving them in Overview) so you could go straight from Desktop to Accessibility in the same drop-down (there would be 15 options from the General tab). To switch between General and Advanced, you'd still use Overview.

I realize that the KDE developers are busy and probably won't have time to implement such an idea in time for 4.0 even if there was support, but it's something to keep in mind for the future. What do other people think? Any comments or improvements?

By Darryl Wheatley at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Very cool idea. The more I use breadcrumb the more I like it, and it would be nice to have a better settings navigation than the current one.

By Adrian Baugh at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

but still kcontrol navigation style is much easier and clear

By non7top at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

jep kcontrol was perfect. Hierachical and Googlebased search approch,

no way to top this

By doodle at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Absolutly. Hell why was the 'minimize-items-visible-on-screen'-mantra ever introduced into kde? I hate it. bah. Leave that to the Vista/Gnome fraction..!

By Marcel Partap at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

I thought the kcontrol system sucked. There was no structure at all. System settings has its problems, sure, but kcontrol was an abomination. However, kde is supposed to be about choice - how hard could it be to have the choice of kcontrol "big flat list with everything jumbled together" navigator or a nice smart breadcrumb navigator? Hey, there could even be a settings module where you can set how settings is displayed!

By Adrian Baugh at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Actually, kcontrol wasn't any less organized than system settings. A tree view is not flat. There were the different sections - appearance & themes, Desktop, Internet & Network, etc. - with the modules underneath. System settings has many of the same categories, and modules even, it just hides access to them when you choose a module. It also doesn't give access to all the modules available at the moment.

I understand there's still work being done on system settings to allocate all the modules and update them, but the overall design doesn't appeal to me.

As for breadcrumbs, I don't see the point for system settings, because you never get further than one click away from the overview. Infact, that "overview" button is basically a breadcrumb already.

Finally, I fail to see how spreading all the icons over a large window makes it any easier to find the setting you want than an organized list. It's the same annoyance I had with the control panel in windows.

Sorry about having such a negative post, I usually try to be more positive. The solution for all my problems would be implementing a tree-view like kcontrol in system settings. The tree-view could be on a panel that can be hidden by default to preserve the system settings design, but make it available to those of us that find it significantly easier.

By Soap at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Oops, criticized the breadcrumbs before properly looking at the mockup. It would be better than the current state of affairs. I forgot about the pop-up menu bit.

By Soap at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

I think the real problem is that when we envisioned the kcm module we broke it up in kind of a weird way; as we added modules, we added them as new features we're added. Take a look at Mac OS X's "system settings" (its very, very similar). As much as I don't like Mac, its very well organized. Users have a view of where things belong; this is especially the case in appearance; there is a lot that a user would consider to be an appearance option that doesn't appear (heh) in appearance.

The best example of this, I think is that "screen saver" is part of desktop. It should have its own kcm or be part of appearance.*

Also, personally I never understood the logic in the division between "Overview" and "Advanced".

*Okay I looked; Mac OS X does the same thing we do, what do you know? They do say, for clairity "Desktop and Screen Saver" as opposed to just "Desktop"; thats clearer. scroll to the bottom.

Eh, maybe now that I look at it, its not the well organized, never mind. System seems to just be a catch-all for those that didn't fit. And what does quicktime have to do with Internet?

By Level 1 at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

You got to think like a new user coming across the thing for the first time. Is the expectation that KDE Linux use will grow or NOT??? Or is it just going to be an also ran for it's own little clique??? If so then fine just carry on as is, if not, then someone had better start thinking like a NEW USER, one who hasn't seen any of this before.

I was a new user to KDE once, and when I ran across this Kcontrol my first reaction was what a piece of crap, not intuitive at all, I had to open each damed thing up to figure out what it does. Most times only to discover that I had opened up something that didn't do what I wanted. With the System Settings lay out I have a fair idea what each thing does, BEFORE I OPEN IT UP. But if you want to keep KDE in geek land, then go right ahead, don't even consider the needs of NEW USERS.

By Bigpicture at Sat, 2007/12/29 - 6:00am

The minimalist-aproach has its limits.

Let me put it like this:

If there are too many things visible, one will take too long to locate the wanted item.
If there are too few things visible, one no longer has an overview of which possibilities one has.

Think of a command line. For a command line, all the items and possibilities have to be kept in your head. That is a damn fast and efficient way of interface, as long as you almost exclusively do things you know from the top of your head. If you have to look through a manual page, efficiency compared to a GUI is abysmal.

That should be a guide for a desktop interface. Frequently used parts of the desktop have to get slimer and more of the GUI can be offloaded to the user's brain. Seldom used stuff (like the control center) should display all possibilitie it offers to the user. For the control center it does not matter if the user searches for audio settings for 2 minutes, as long as the user is shown all the other possibilities he has.

That is exactly the thing Gnome got SO wrong. You can customize Gnome equally deep as KDE, but you have to digg your way through Key/Value pairs in a registry file and what effect they relate to. I understand that for KDE4 still everything will be cutomizable from the control center without having to resort to config file editing. But think carefully about "gnomifying" the interface too much. Less is not always better, because the less you display on a screen, the more has to be remembered by the user if it relates to possibilities.

By gustl at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

I've done a good job of keeping myself away from this discussion, all the way up to about..... now.

I wish people would just drop this ridiculous notion that everything was milk and cookies back in the old kcontrol. The tree widget used for navigation was an abomination. For a start, kcontrol opens and all the categories in the tree are closed. So the first thing the user has to do is manually click on the tiny, and I mean *real* tiny little plus icons to open up the categories to find what is actually available before they can actually go anywhere. The icons in the tree are way too small to be recognisable or useful, and the click targets for the items themselves are way smaller than systemsettings (small=slow). And then when the use has opened the categories we add insult to injury by scrolling the tree off the bottom of the dialog and then forcing a scrollbar on the user if they want to see the rest of the list(!).

The tree was a painful thing to use and a lousy way of presenting the options to the user. So let's just give it a rest OK.

Anyone who still wants a tree can exercise their "freedom of choice" by coding one themselves. Despite the vocal minority I haven't seen anyone motivated enough by this "problem" to actually do something about it, which suggests to me that this issue isn't even as remotely important as some people like to think.

Merry Christmas in either case (or Happy Holidays)


By Simon Edwards at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

Actually, once KDE 4.0 is out, I may just do that... assuming PyKDE is capable of it. I just don't have time to stumble my way through learning C++ right now.

By Stephan Sokolow at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

Let's first say that I have no preference in that particular matter, and I don't really care if the settings will be configured in KDE 4 with System Settings or with a renewed KControl.

Anyway, I must say that the main issue I see with this Configuration apps, whether it's System Settings, KControl, the Mac one or Control Panel in Windows, is basically how things are sorted. It has actually little to do with the GUI itself and most of the things you actually criticize in KControl are just about how things were implemented, but not really a proof of a bad concept.
As someone else posted, with a setting quite similar as System Settings, there still quite a lot of things you can't find easily in the Mac app and I actually expect to have some issues to find some specific settings just the same with System Settings. And in that case, I'll have to go back and forth between different screens to get what I want, which will be probably just as painful, if not worse than clicking on various icons in a left column.
If it's badly sorted (and it's quite a difficult task with the amount of settings in KDE), it will always be painful. For the rest, nothing that can't be fixed with a bit of work.

By Richard Van Den Boom at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

No, you don't have to hit the tiny plus at all. You can click outside the plus, you can click on the text label or the blank area right of it, and if that's not enough you can use the right and left cursor keys to expand and compress the submenus. If you don't want the tree view at all, you can switch to icon view mode in the menu and then choose "Huge" as icon size to get 48x48 pixel buttons. Is that big enough for you?

Finally, if you're looking for a specific setting you can also use the search toolbar right above the tree,

With the regards to the scroll bar, most mice have scroll wheels these days, as do many touch pads on laptops (or some other scrolling mechanism like moving your finger along the bottom of the pad).

By SP at Sat, 2007/12/22 - 6:00am

I agree with you thoughts. The largest complaint I have with system settings is the navigation. The mock-up you did is much better. I would rather have the old kcontrol style or just have each module open a seperate window. I think the gnome-control-center is using that approach and of course Windows uses also.

By David at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

I like the idea of putting several settings together, as system-settings does it. I also think the way the Gnome control center currently looks is better - I love that sidebar. Of course, I loathe the fact it opens a separate WINDOW for each setting - that's just play silly.

By Jos Poortvliet at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

Nice idea! A system settings like this would be better than the actual :)
Please takt your idea into kde wish list! :)

By Marco at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

+1, great idea !

By Anonymous at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

+1 for me too, as the number of reply on the dot seem to have a real impact since a few week ;)

Great idea, it is much, much better than the actual no navigation at all (i use kde4 as my primary DE since few month now)

By Emmanuel Lepage... at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

That's indeed a nice idea, but IMHO the best approach for this kind of application was Mac OS X 10.3's (=Panther's). I had the feature to drag the most common used icons to the toolbar. I don't know why Apple removed that feature from 10.4.

By yxxcvsdfbnfgnds at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

That one is really cool

By k at Mon, 2007/12/24 - 6:00am

Cool to see so many comments :)

I agree that a sidebar with a similar but refined treeview a la kcontrol would also be a great idea. A popular suggestion seems to be the option to add favorite control applets to a central place like in OSX. Knowing our great community, some charitable soul will probably add that in future.

Jos may be onto something when he talks about getting inspiration from the clean design of the GNOME control center, such as putting the filter to the side and extending the idea to have a "Favorite Applets" bar that lists commonly used controls. This would leave more room for the breadcrumb thing when System Settings gets longer path names. But then again, if you look at the Desktop control in the current implementation, there is already a sidebar on the left that divides up the applet between Desktop Effects, Launch Feedback and Screen Saver, so maybe the new sidebar could be on the right. I also reckon it would be cool to see an "Options" button so that people can configure the look & feel of System Settings to their heart's content. These brainstorms are pretty fun!

I hope everyone has a joyful Christmas (not Khristmas :P) or whatever you celebrate and have a great 2008!

By Darryl Wheatley at Sat, 2007/12/22 - 6:00am

That Phonon website is linked over and over in announcements, but it is very out of date, the roadmap appears not to have been updated since 2006!

By Kevin Kofler at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Same goes for many of these cool sites. Unfortunately, nobody steps up to fix it...

By Jos Poortvliet at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

until 4.0 is out nobody writing code really has time for this stuff. and people not writing code have a hard time generating the content.

By Aaron J. Seigo at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

Until the digest database problem is resolved, we have better news this week to read and play with:
Trolltech is working hard on Qt 4.4 and released a first technology preview! While this will not be finished in time for the KDE 4.0.x release, we can have a sneak preview of what the future of KDE 4 will offer.
Merry Christmas to all!

By christoph at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Qt 4.4 is quite exciting indeed!

Widgets on GraphicsView, Phonon, Alien (using non-native widgets to solve the ugliness that happens when you resize windows on X11) and WebKit integration are four of the (IMO) more interesting things in the release.

Hopefully whatever problems the Digest is having will be fixed soon and the rest of us can get our weekly fix of the Digest ;)

By Sutoka at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

This week with the introduction of I noticed a noticeable speed improvement in Kwin's composite mode using the propietary nvidia drivers.

Keep up the good work!

By Josep at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Orly? I'll have to try it!

By Ian Monroe at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

That's true and the effects are smoother than before although they still haven't reached Compiz Fusion's quality as yet. The window thumbnail in the task bar is now working. I have been using KDE4 for the whole day today with very little problem. There are still rough edges and the programs aren't that smooth but it is shaping up! The biggest problem that I have encountered so far is trying to use Lancelot after adding it's plasmoid to the desktop, it only showed a black window looking like a menu and then crashed the whole session. I have been having this problem for quite a while now. Don't know what's the cause.

By Bobby at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

It seems like a problem that plasmoids can crash the whole session - I thought the whole idea of them is that they should be writeable with comparatively little programming experience, and publishable by anyone without any quality control. Is this a design problem with plasma, or just a bug in the current state of things?

By Adrian Baugh at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

that's the point of the script bindings, yes. many plasmoids in svn, for various reasons, are in c++.

By Aaron J. Seigo at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

If c++ plasmoids can crash the entire session, do you plan to remove them once the script bindings are ready? Or create some safe sandbox for them?

By ben at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

You can't sandbox c++, really (except for using stuff like AppArmor/ SELinux, which will be an immense headache). Scripted applets will inevitably swallow more resources than native applets, so stuff like the (default) systray, taskbar, menu etc should ideally be native code.

Honestly, the best thing to do is to write core applets that simply Don't Crash. Applets are generally very simple, so this really shouldn't be that hard to do. Applets from third-party dudes are really best as scripted applets: More stable, more secure (maybe not Ruby and Python as their sandbox implementations are not currently great but, perversely, Javascript should be good), easier to install and, since they are deliberately added by the user and not part of the default install, the small amount of extra resources they take up is not too much of a disadvantage.

By anon at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

This isn't a kwin problem, its a plasma problem. Since plasma is now such a major part of kde, when plasma breaks it seems like everything has broken, but that's not the whole story.

But your right, a plasma applet, no matter how malicious, should not be able to crash plasma. Hopefully, as plasma matures, it will be less of a problem.

As for kwin 4 -- yeah! we can use that name without confusion now! I hope the developer of the game kwin4 (kfourinline) is happy with this change, don't want to hurt anyone's feelings!

Anyway, as for kwin 4, I don't find it a lot of fun; I have a very bad graphics card (ati X1400, possibly the worst ever made...) I have 4 "usuable"* drivers but they all suck in kde 3; in kde 4, well....

*fglrx, radeon, radeonhd, and vesa. So far, you know which one I like best? Vesa. Yeah, this card sucks.

By Level 1 at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

"But your right, a plasma applet, no matter how malicious, should not be able to crash plasma. Hopefully, as plasma matures, it will be less of a problem."

Note that no matter how "mature" plasma gets, native applets will *always* be able to bring the whole thing down - it's unavoidable. Scripted applets should be immune, though, and are easier to write, download and install, anyhow, and also more secure since they are easier to sandbox (Javascript in particular).

By anon at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

Of course a c++ applet will always be able to bring down the whole process if it really wants to. (Actually this issue reminds me a bit of Windows explorer.exe crashing and taking all the desktop with it) However i wonder if there isn't a mechanism, that can be used to catch segmentation fault for example. On thing that comes to my mind would be catching SIGSEGV, but i don't know how much that really helps.
I have seen no (trivial) way of determining *which* portion of code or which plugin actually caused the signal to fire.

Well, I trust the plasma devs, that they will come up with something smart, that deals with this issue.

By Daniel Stöckel at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am

> that can be used to catch segmentation fault for example

it already does.

By Aaron J. Seigo at Fri, 2007/12/21 - 6:00am