Help give a voice to KDE

With the KDE 2.1 release nearing, major code changes are prohibited. Despite this restriction, we started thinking about how to make KDE 2.1 (or future releases) even more appealing. Carsten Pfeiffer, devoted KDE developer, remarked that while people are hard at work polishing the visual aspects, KDE suffers from a marked lack of sounds and sound effects.
[Update: 02/18 23:25 PM by N: See also this mail for more details.]

Window manager events, application events, general actions, even games, are in a need for high quality, appealing sound bits. So, we hereby invite all those willing unsung sound artists to contribute a bit of their talent to KDE. If you are interested, please go and subscribe to the KDE Multimedia mailing list, and help get the snowball rolling.

The only criteria for the sounds you submit are: aesthetic elegance, originality and copyright rightness. Please, make sure your sound bits aren't proprietary; open licenses or public domain are acceptable, as for all things KDE.

Well, come in large numbers, we need your help before the KDE-2.1 release, if at all possible.

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by Shift (not verified)

When I saw the title of the news, I believed that KDE team wanted to make KDE speak :)

Of course, I already have "festival" on my "babasse" (French Word to speak about own computer) and it is very cool. It can read files (mail for examples). The only problem is that I haven't succeeded in making it speak with a French pronounciation :(

It's out of topic,... I know ;)

But what about integration of plugins to interface with apps like festival in kde apps like kbiff ?

by David (not verified)

I don't know if you know or not but it might be interesting info: There was an article here a wile ago regarding the fact the QT & IBM had demo'ed a voice enabled QT so real voice enabled KDE might not be that far away? There is the licensing issue to sort out so I guess a voice enabled QT might actually be non-GLP'ed.

Any tips on festival? I played with it for 30 mins or so but it wasn't something I'd use to read to me, is there anyway to make it sound a bit more human? I've never played with the MS stuff either so I don't know how festival compares to anything else.

by Shift (not verified)

In fact, I have seen this news about QT&IBM.

About festival, I haven't tested it a lot. I haven't got time to do it 'cause I have some works for my school :(
If I succeed in using french voice, I will look at other parameters but not before that ;)

I also try the duo kvoice/festival but it can work only with full-duplex soundcards but my SB Vibra16X can't do that under "Nunux" (even with alsa). It will be funny to speak to my computer and that he answer me :))

"I love the off-topic"

by Nicolas Roard (not verified)

Well, i played with mbrola, and there is quite cool french voices.. There is a perl script also, for read a french text. Very cool, and easy to hack...

by Carbon (not verified)

A while ago, while was still active, I saw a link to someone who had patched kedit to interface with festival. Take that, simpletext!
That IBM stuff is ridiculous. IBM obviously plans to sue the pants off of anyone who starts any new KDE speech projects, even though there is no chance that KDE developers will make commercial libraries a central part of their progs.

by ian reinhart geiser (not verified)

Wow you are clueless. IBM was nice enough to get this working on Linux. It is people like you who will guarentee that MS will always have a home.

For your information IBM is working to make QT/Speech integration better. They spent a VERY large sum of money on it. Now I understand you have no concept of the cost of things but some of us do and are thankful.

As a side note, festival is to slow to do real time speech, but there are some open source solutions in the works.

by Rolf (not verified)

I got good results with mbrola/hadifix, but this is only for german.

by David Simon (not verified)

Yes, they were nice enough to suggest ever so beneficially to the developers that they should integrate a library into their desktops that effectively makes it non-open-source. If major KDE progs start using this, and making it a seriously important part of their architecture, then said progs will cease to be free source code. That's all there is to it, and I frankly don't give a politician's ass how much money they spent. I could understand it if they were attempting to put this out to encourage the development of niche kde apps, apps that specifically involve voice detection (such as a kde based telephone remote admin system or some such thing), but this basically makes very little sense anyways, since a specialist will want to alter their systems manually, and then they'll just use GVoice, which works quite well in situations which use custom dictionaries (the airplane scheduler is very hip). Also, that crack about having no concept of the cost of things, doesn't that seem pretty inappropriate on a news site about a DE that is almost completely developed by people working in their spare time for free?

by Craig black (not verified)

Qt has several lincencing agreements. I think its great if some people will develope commercial apps for kde. Of course open is awesome but commercial is ok to.

by David Simon (not verified)

I totally agree. Especially, I think that theKompany has the right idea : help KDE by doing open source devel so that potential customers will use it, and then make commercial accessories for it. Unless I've completely misunderstood their post to kde news, it sounded as though IBM wanted to integrate closed source voice control integrally into core KDE components.

by bero (not verified)

festival is IMO the only real thing we could use - it has a somewhere near usable API, can be turned into a shared library with just a couple of lines of patching (I've actually done this a while ago, if anyone wants the patch just drop me a message), and most importantly it's open source.

Most of the alternatives aren't (e.g. mbrola has the "no commercial redistribution" restriction which shuts it out from all major Linux distributions).

by Christopher Young (not verified)

Don't wanna just "throw" this out there, but shouldn't be a bigger effort to make KDE a little more response on older CPUs first? I mean, I have an AMD-350 w/ 256Mb of RAM and I have major performance issues when using Konquerer as my primary web browser.

I REALLY love KDE 2.1 and everything that is happening, but I really believe that we are leaving ALOT of people behind by not focussing on performance for a while.

I hate to bring this up, but my wife runs another OS on a P60 and I.E. renders and displays faster than my system. A Pentium 60!

I think before any more glitz gets added, two things need to happen:

Complete code release focussed on making KDE more responsive and perform better on smaller systems (I really believe that KDE should function OK on a Pentium 166 and above)

Complete code release focussed on better, more end-user friendly default values for all application and environment settings. Better default values with improve usability more than anything else!

Again, this is just my 2 cents, but I felt that it needed to be said. Let's focus on the important things and not get into glitz too much (that has GNOME's mistake for a long time, let's not relive it))


by JC (not verified)

Really? For a while I had KDE2.0 running on a K2-450 w/ 64 MBytes of memory. And while Konquerer wasn't as snappy as IE or Netscape, it was completely usable.

by Josh Liechty (not verified)

I have a very similar setup, with a AMD K6-2 400 and 64 MB of RAM. Konqueror seems to be a little faster than IE. Of course, I have IE 5.5, and that is said to be slower than previous versions.
However, I think the video card makes a difference. My TNT2 performs much better than the old S3 Trio3d/2x card I used to have.

by asdfuweyyewru (not verified)

And dont forget X server, you get a huge performance boost going from xfree 3.3.6 to 4.0.x in many cases.

by emmanuel (not verified)

Here p2-266/64Mb, rage pro, x3.3.6. The machine is perfect to use... Maybe with 128Mb of RAM it would be better (like now 2konquys+emacs is just just), but the proc is perfectly OK.

(And somehow the windows move more smoothly than on my p3-550/128Mb/r128/x4.0.2, grrrrrr)


by rinse (not verified)

Hmm, I use a P166 with 64 MB Ram. KDE and Konqueror are very usable, and fast enough. I regulary have about 10 or more Konqi windows opened, without suffering performance loss.....

Kind regards, Rinse

by Much Foster (not verified)

I 'don''t know what you mean
by "perfomance" and "fast",
but I''m running KDE2.1beta2/XFree-4..0.2
on PIII-800/133FSB with 192Mb RAM,
and I think it could be really
more responsive.
Also, we have 70 workstations (PII-266/64RAM), running KDE 1.2
and already started switching to KDE 2.x
making our users not really happy with
it's perfomance..

I'm not confused with that for now,
because KDE is a really GREAT project and it is in the process of development.
But I suppose there could
be some things to do to make it
a bit faster :).

by sarang (not verified)

i guess try to find out what the problem is.. the problem is def. not with KDE.. its really fast.. look at my post.. after kde comes up, i do a free and i get memory usage as just 31MB.. so its cool! it shld be perfectly usable on a 64MB machine.. check if there are any backgroud processes running.. arts in KDE 2.1beta seemed to be broken a bit..

by Étienne Brouillard (not verified)

KDE 2.0 being slow? God no! I even dumped wicked2k
just because KDE was:

a-More reliable

b-Way quicker when with XFree 4.0.1

c-Updated NVidia drivers

d-And gosh, extremely more nice to work with.

Guess it all depends on your config, i have an AMD Athlon 900 with 256Mb RAM and GeForce2 MX :)


by sarang (not verified)

I have a 450MHz AMD with 128MB memory and KDE 2.x simply rocks.. infact, KDE 1.2 after booting showed 51Mb of usage.. now when i boot 2.x, the initial memory usage is just 31MB!

So I guess there is some problem with u're machine's configuration.. please don't blame KDE.. they are find on lower end machines.

by Justin (not verified)

Agreed. Konqueror is very good as it is, but it is a tad slow compared to IE. As a web browser, they both take about the same time to load, but as a file manager IE starts up almost instantly.

Since Konqueror treats folders and websites as one in the same (IE does too, but has a more obvious mode-switch), optimizing the code would probably make both types of browsing go faster. Even though Konqueror loads up at a "bearable" rate compared to Netscape / IE, I think it should (and could) be optimized to just blow everything out of the water.


by Troels (not verified)

Agreed. Konqueror is very good as it is, but it is a tad slow compared to IE. As a web browser, they both take about the same time to load, but as a file manager IE starts up almost instantly.

Of course IE starts faster, major parts of it is preloaded when you boot up your machine and there are no way to prevent that. If you want exactly the same speed you would probably have to stick parts of konqueror into the kernel. (which i don't think Linus would approve of :)

by Justin (not verified)

Well I think loading into the kernel is a bit extreme. Maybe preloading when you start KDE? There is a performance boost when you have Konqueror already open. Since Konqueror is a very core portion of KDE, I think it ought to be preloaded as much as possible.

Of course, not everybody would want this, which is why it should be just an option. =)


by Troels (not verified)

I was being sarcastic about the kernel part ;) I generally find preloading a bad thing. Load on demand is a more clean way of doing things. This of course results in longer loading times, but then again if your machine is slow enough for you to notice a big difference then you should be happy that it doesn't take up extra resources by preloading stuff you might not need. I guess making it an option might not be too bad an idea but then what should be preloaded? Would be nice if kdevelop would start instantly too you know. Nah, i think it is fine the way it is. Bloating the system might gain you a few seconds of loading time but i doubt it is worth it.

by Jérôme Loisel (not verified)

What you describe does not correspond with my experience. I run KDE 2.1beta2 on a K6-2 266mhz with 64mbs of RAM. So my machine is definitely not as performant as yours. My primary OS is a RedHat 6.2 install, slightly modified.

The only times when I get "major performance issues" is when I am running low on memory. Since I develop websites, I sometimes run Netscape 4.X, Mozilla 0.8 and Konqueror all at the same time. THEN things get slow. But if I had half the RAM you have, I would still be able to get away with it.

I even dual-boot on this machine, so I can compare. Konqueror exhibits no major performance issues as far as I am concerned when compared with Mozilla, Netscape and IE. The only slowish part of Konquy is start-up, especially since the new, very beautiful greeter page was added (beta2). But it is still better than Mozilla with regards to that.

Don't get me wrong: I agree with you that optimizing KDE and Konqueror are very good things. But judging from what I see here, if you do experience "major performance issues" with Konqueror, there is probably a problem with your setup. (Or maybe we just have different definitions of what is a "major" performance problem.)




into your location-bar and choose "Window -> Save View Profile 'Web Browsing'"

Then start Konqueror using the Konqueror-icon

mistake -- it should read:


by Stuart (not verified)

How do we turn the greeter page off? I would rather it went to my home page!

by Martyn (not verified)

I'd be prepared to dissagree with that, if you use Konqueror to copy files over samba networks, ALL konqueror windows respond _painfully_ slowly, sometimes you have to click on them 10 or 20 times to get them to close. etc.

This is on:

SuSE 8.1
AMD K6-2 500MHz
Dual 60GB IDEs & 10K SCSI-160
100Mbit net.

by Eric Laffoon (not verified)

What kernel are you running???

You might want to get a newer one in right away. Starting about 2.2.17 there were some noticable increases in performance on my system. I have an Athlon 700 with 512 MB and my wife's system is a K6 III 400 with 128 MB. They are both very crisp.

If you are running anything like 2.2.15 or earlier you will probably see performace seem to be about double.
Member of the Quanta Team

by Carbon (not verified)

That's wacky, I have a 200mhz AMD k6 with 64 mb of ram, and konqueror runs fine. It's certainly zippier then Mozilla! I think the problem is people forgetting that almost every Linux distro comes with daemons turned on that people either don't know about, or are afraid to turn off (to a newbie, they might think that 'sendmail' actually handles outgoing mail through their ISP, and thus waste a pretty considerable portion of CPU cycles). Besides, you can just turn off the sounds, all this means is that people who use sounds will have more ear-candy.

by J (not verified)

If you knew the first thing about UNIX, you'd be able to sit there with top(1) and watch all the processes running on your system. You'd then be aware that most of those background daemons don't take up anything in terms of CPU time. Just RAM.

by Carbon (not verified)

Oops, I meant system resources when I said CPU time. Thanks for pointing that out, but there's no reason to get a "Hackier then thou" attitude. :)

by Craig black (not verified)

what kind of a stupid jerk response is that?

by KDE User (not verified)

KDE 2 is extremely snappy on my Celeron 450 with 64M. There is definitely something wrong with your setup. Don't blame KDE until you fix it.

by Ralph Miguel (not verified)

Right. I can't complain about performance on my Celeron 300A with 96MB. KDE 2.1 Beta 2 runs fast enough. It's a fine click-and-point thing, comfortable and good looking. And there was nothing to fix, I just downloaded and installed it.

by Electronic Eric (not verified)

I'd like to throw in my support for the optimization push.

Turning off useless daemons is certainly a good OS-level start. We ought to apply this philosophy to KDE as well. All over KDE, it should be easy to disable features you don't, especially ear and eye candy type features (I like em plenty, but sometimes I want em off).

IMHO, one of KDE's greatest advantages over Windows is that it's preserved much more true modularity than Windows - let's use this to make modules easily disabled and re-enabled. I'm thinking of an augmented module manager, integrated with KControlCenter (even cooler would be one that worked with KTop) that helps you to disable processes, with, of course a Restore All Defaults Button if you screw up your config really bad and want to go back to scratch. This will make KDE "wicked fast".

Another direction is making compilation (and hence compiler optimization) easier. Would it be possible to make a GUI installer that compiles tarballs, and if that bombs, helps the user go get binaries?



PS - KDE from binaries runs fine on my RH6.1 machine, P3500 - 256MB RAM - Konqi is at least twice as fast as Mozilla, and doesn't have aggravatingly slow rendering. Nice work Konqi!

by Toastie (not verified)

You're probably comparing a fresh Windows 95/98 machine to a Linux distro default install.

Did you turn off the unrequired services on your Linux machine? inetd? atd? crond? Are you actually running in a "server-like setup" on a desktop machine with limited RAM?

Also, upgrading to XFree86 4.x and tuning up performance (32bit disk access etc.) might be a good idea.

by SubPar (not verified)

One of the things that can slow down KDE2 is an improperly configured QT2. If QT2 is compiled with no exceptions (use -no-g++-exceptions along with all of the other ./configure options you use), it'll use a lot less memory and run noticeably faster. Get the latest version from Trolltech and install it (Even if you're not the compiling type, don't worry. It's not that hard). Heck, using 2.2.4 over any previous version gets you better handling of poorly-created GIF and PNG images (example: benchmark graphs in Anandtech reviews), so it might be worth it for that.

by Josh Liechty (not verified)

Will programs that have been already installed (i.e. Konqueror) use the new Qt? If not, how can I force them to do so?

by jon (not verified)

They will. Make sure you delete the old version.

by Christopher Young (not verified)

Ok, because I have gotten so many (what I consider to be) newbie-oriented answers, let me clairfy a few things...

I am running RedHat 7 w/ all updates w/ Xfree86 4.02. My video card is a 3DFx VooDoo 3 AGP (16Mb). I have been running Linux for about 5 years now.

All uneeded services have been disabled w/ chkconfig. All uneeded services have been removed/disable from xinetd. I have even lowered the number of virtual terminals (mingetty processes) in /etc/inittab in order to keep everything nice and tidy. I consider myself to be way beyond newbie level on these things.

Just wanted to clarify that since most of the answers that I have received tend to lean towards things other than KDE. I KNOW that it is KDE because I can backtrack into KDE 1.x and everything is super snappy. My point wasn't to try to go WAY off course (sorry for interrupting a good thread) but merely to point out that the KDE community needs to go back to its roots for a minute and cover the basics that make running Linux so great

Stability should always be number one. No one disagrees on this. I truly believe that to make the best desktop for UNIX, you need to consider the impact that the desktop environment will have on performance and put a real effort into it.

I'm NOT saying that the KDE people don't do this! I love KDE and everything that it offers. The KDE developers have my gratitude forever as thier environment makes me very productive in Linux. I am just suggesting that we backtrack a little and try to cover the basics before throwing in every feature we can think of.

All I know is that I watch my CPU pop up to 100% when rendering pages and things are really slow. On my other system (a laptop) which is a PIII 700/ 256 Mg of RAM everything is wonderful, which is why I'm concerned.

Ok, I'll stop babbling, but I can guarantee that it _IS_ KDE (or some aspect associated with it) that is slowing things down heavily. I have made certain that the binaries have been stripped and have done all of the usual system tuning.

That's all I have to say.


by oogabooga (not verified)

on machines where it shouldn't be (i.e. 600mhz pIII) due to strange combinations of cpu-cach main board characteristics, buses, disks, controllers, etc. It can be very very difficult and frustrating to debug.

KDE2 and Staroffice 5.2 run fine on my Pentium 133 (!!!) but both are sluggish as molasses on my p3-450. In fact on that machine staroffice 5.2 is *unuseably* slow - it simply will NOT work at a useful speed. So I use KDE 1.2 and StarOffice 5.1 on my 450 and KDE2 and SO 5.2 on my Pentium 133 ... go figure.

by Thom Lawrence (not verified)

are you installing kde in package form? if you compiled from the sources with the right optimizations and useless stuff left out it might help.

by Wayne Vinson (not verified)

As far as speed goes, compilation otions are really important, and a lot of distros did a piss-poor job (*cough*redhat*cought*) with kde2.0 of optimising the builds. Particularly, if you don't turn exceptions off in the qt build, it increases the size of EVERY qt-linked binary by a huge amout (we're talking 1meg+ here). That, and most of KDE doesn't use exceptions either - AFAIK, only khtml needs them. Plus, the default build scripts optomize for a 386!!! Who tries to use kde2 on one of those? If this hasn't already been fixed in the build process, it should be top priority. Those extra megs in every binary are enough to push a 64meg system over into swap when you're not doing much at all. And that explains the speed arguments between people here - my start times were devided by 4!!!! when I recompiled form source with sane options.

by Jason Katz-Brown (not verified)

Wow, i agree that kde needs new sounds. But, how does one make them? i don't know :P


by Carbon (not verified)

Just make a wave file that sounds neat. One way to start would be to use a midi composer, hit 3 or 4 notes that sound sort of neat, and have sox screw with it. I've had a lot of fun with the sox reversal filter! !looc tub elpmiS

by Jason Katz-Brown (not verified)

I think the bigger q is what good software for doing this is.


by Stuart (not verified)

Everyone has been posting stuff that they would like to see happen on KDE, and I have a few. It is for KWrite, I would like for it be able to save in *.doc format or some format that MS Word can. Also, in KWrite a print preview would be nice. I would like for KMail to beable to open graphics in email. Of course anything to make KDE faster would be great, too. Thanks for make the best!