KDE 4 Preview [rev 723381]

[ Friday, 12 October 2007, Bastion ]

KDE 4 is coming. It’s starting to look and behave in a mature enough manner to use it on a normal desktop. This article is a little introduction as to what you should expect from the brand new KDE that is due out later this year.

Author: Korneliusz Jarzebski

It’s been an entire month since I’ve investigated the new K Desktop Environment, labeled called KDE 4. Honestly, I wanted to wait until “Beta 3″, which should have appeared on 5th October, but as you all can see, that never happened. On the IRC channel, #kde4-devel, I was informed that “Beta 3″ should have been tagged yesterday, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way: not waiting for more time to pass, I made up my mind and have updated the SVN, having run already run cmake.

First glance

Right after running the latest KDE, you can tell at once that the new wallpaper is far more beautiful than the old grey one, making the marvelous contrasting flower well matched on the bottom bar: unfortunately it does nothing more than display the clock. The taskbar, despite the fact it was on the bar, didn’t display processes and all the effort I made to add any applets or the pager was in vain, resulting with a complete crash of the bar: succession was only met with the placement the Kickoff menubar.


Kickoff – the new KDE menu

The first appearance of Kickoff was in SUSE Linux 10.2 as a new menu for KDE. The icons were arranged in five categories: Favorite, Applications, My Computer, Recently used, and Leave. There is nothing more than the search box that helps you find applications and documents. It’s too early to discuss the new KDE menu or even commenting on the appearance. IMHO, I wish that the search engine wouldn’t be based on Nepomuk or Strigi: I would like to mention that it is only the initial version of this menu in KDE.





Kget – is still surprising

I’ve talked about this program a lot so far. Quite a bit of the offerings and selections have changed, not only in the appearance but also in the functionality. I’ll briefly remind that the reader that Kget is the download accelerator that provides you queuing, placing files in a specific directory chosen by some criteria. This version is enriched with the transfer graph applet, which displays, in graph form, the download speed of current file. It’s the third applet like this, the first two being a pie graph and a bar chart.






Plasma – new applets

I’m used to some sort of nice rules. While I check the state of KDE 4, I meet new plasmoids. The first one is the old well-known Network Monitor, which has transformed from the two flushing monitors to the graph that displays the traffic flow.


The next two applets are quite new. The first one is the System Monitor. The intention of this applet is to inform you about the state of the main parts of your PC. In the future, you can expect it to read and display ACPI information such as temperature and fan speed. Unfortunately at the moment, this applet tries to perform only on the usage of the disc space.


Today the best applet I’ve tried was the Color Picker. It helps you to “pick” the color of any pixel to use on the screen. Using the standard tool, the “pipette”, you are provided with the color in a few color formats. This is a very interesting feature as it seems to be the probe and display the history that shows a few earlier tries.


KWin Composite – enabled by default

It seems that KWin Composite effects are enabled by default. You can notice shadows under windows and the animated windows’ minimization. Available features from Compiz Fusion allow one to point at the left top corner of the screen you are starting, or something similar, and to use the Scale plugin. Switching between windows using Alt+Tab displays thumbs of the windows. Quite interesting is the fact that KRunner looks different from when the Composite effects are disabled.



KSysGuard – the system guard

The System Guard has also changed its appearance using the new background under the graphs.


KStyle / KWin – styles and decorations

It is a rule that I always look very carefully at: the appearance in comparing Oxygen with Bespin (the unoffical style). IMHO, Oxygen still seems to offer far less contrast. I believe that the authors are deserving of credit for continuous improvement, as they improved from the last version in appearance of tabs and the highlighting of elements and buttons. However, the scrollbar turns to green under the mouse point. and it still seems that it is far from mockups on the Internet.



The last the buttons have tooltips. Now you don’t have to think which button closes the window :)



Dolphin and Kate – the new appearance

It is high time to see how some applications that look like those in Oxygen. I’ve tried the Dolphin file manager and the text editor, Kate.



Amarok – at least there is some noise!

At the end I’ve checked my favourite audio player. The best way to describe it is to say “sometimes better – sometimes worse”. This time, however, I couldn’t manage to make a collection, not even play one mp3 :/ But instead, I could connect to Jamendo and listen to their songs. Thanks to that, you can see what Amarok looks like.


This article is a direct translation of text published on author’s blog: KDE 4 rev 723381

Translated by titter, proof-read by fgibbs

About the Author

Korneliusz Jarzębski

Free software enthusiast, KDE fan. Author of a popular blog: /dev/jarzebski (in Polish). Contributes to PolishLinux.org since October 2007.

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