Marooned in KDE and Lovin’ It

I hadn’t much of a thought of KDE before. When I first started Linux I did as most people did and tried Ubuntu, and I was in love. Gnome did just about everything I needed to do and was endlessly customizable. I heard braggarts before yarn about KDE but I thought, “why bother?” I had tried KDE before, oh, it must have been 10 years ago. It seemed like a rock to me then, nothing much I could do with it, too much like Windows. I had also tried Gnome when it wasn’t much more than a panel, and gave up Linux. Now, when I installed KDE 4.1 on this computer is wasn’t by any desire to try KDE, it’s just Gnome wasn’t available. There’s a problem in Gentoo land that Gnome 2.24 hasn’t quite hit the treeyet. Some problem with gnome-session and a good enough problem that developers are working on a proper fix. So I needed a desktop and went and installed KDE.

After installing my initial thought was, “WTF!!!… where is my desktop!” I had no desktop anymore! I had always used my desktop to organize projects before. What was KDE doing ruining all this space? Then I learned about plasmoids.

I had offhandedly heard of plasmoids somewhere and forgot it as the concept just sounded odd. Well plasmoids can be best defined as desktop tools, Mac OS X users would call them widgets. I learned that there is a folder plasmoid that I was able to add to the desktop. And it does it so in a nice organized way:

Folder Plasmoid

KDE4 has some nice features like support built into the application for adding new themes, icons, wallpapers from kde-look.org. KDE’s program menu far surpasses Gnome’s in ease of use and program design (i.e. don’t have to wait 10 seconds for it to open). Amarok does rock, though Amarok is still in it’s early stages from being ported from KDE 3.5. I like the System Settings program that puts all the setting in one window like Mac OS X. And KDE sessions behave and save sessions like you’d expect them too and are not broken like Gnome’s.

KDE Tips

A few tips to those willing to try KDE 4.

Emerge KDE-what?

To try KDE 4 I’d recommend using the “kdebase-meta” package. There’s a kdebase light package (kdebase-startkde) that will pretty much just be a desktop and a kde mega package (kde-meta) that installs every possible kde 4 app possible. I found that kdebase-meta was a good comprimise along with adding:

kdeplasma-addons
kcalc
ark - file-roller for KDE
amarok
gwenview - image viewer
okular - pdf viewing
kontact - personal information manager
kopete - instant messaging client
koffice
kmail
akregator
ksnapshot
kmix - mixer for sound
kompare - kde diff utility
kgpg - needed for several KDE admin tasks
kcolorchooser
kdeartwork-kscreensaver

Link Wallpaper Folder

To add downloaded wallpapers to KDE4 best to create a link to them:

ln -s ~/.kde4/share/wallpapers/ ~/My\ Wallpapers

To Fix a Broken Saved Session

rm ~/.kde4/share/config/session/*

Setup Keyboard Volume Keys

emerge kmix

Open System Settings and goto “Keyboard and Mice > Keyboard Shortcuts”.

In “KDE component” select Kmix then the component you wish to change followed by the custom button.

Tired of 22 uh minus 12=

To have a non-military time clock, open System Settings > Regional & Language > Time and Dates Tab and select time to: pH:MM:SS AMPM.

Mounting Devices

Though external media should just be loaded on insert in KDE 4 this did not happen. Having installed kdebase-meta I just assumed that it would include a device mounter but I could get no devices to mount. Reading an old Gentoo bug/request that suggested kdebase-kioslaves (part of kdebase-meta) required pmount to mount devices. Through a lengthy argument at the time, it was decided pmount was needed and added as a dependency. However between here and there it got decided that it is again not needed. So if desiring automatic device mounting, add pmount:

emerge sys-apps/pmount

NTFS Read/Write Support

If needing to read and write to an Windows NTFS file system use the NTFS-3g userspace driver.

Note: FUSE will need to be enabled in the kernel: File Systems > Filesystem in Userspace support.

emerge ntfs3g

Add Applications to Load on Boot

ln -s /usr/share/applications/kde4/dolphin.desktop ~/.kde4/Autostart/

KDE Hmm’s

KDE 4’s new UI, widgets and QT framework has a professionalism to it and brings a new maturity to lead all of Linux’s desktop environments. KDE’s weakness has nothing to to with it’s framework but rather the lacking of necessary tools that in Gnome could be taken for granted.

KDE needs a mail-notification program. Yeah, I can awkwardly configure Gnome’s mail-notification to work or try the 3.5 version of kbiff but neither are good alternatives. Yes there’s kmail but who uses ISP mail these days? A real back breaker was I couldn’t find a good program like Tomboy or Zim to take notes on. I have tons of notes used by both these programs that I need immediate access to but neither Tomboy of Zim will run in KDE. I looked at Basket Notes but it wasn’t the same thing. And there are others programs that I can’t remember at the time.

I’d still say that KDE 4 is in a beta state. I’ve had three good crashes, one that required creating an all new ~/.kde4, another that required I create a whole new user, new user enter KDE, logout, login normal user to fix, and another where “Plasa Workspace crashed”. To fix:

mv ~/.kde4/share/config/plasma-appletsrc
~/.kde4/share/config/plasma-appletsrc.old

These all happened in the first two weeks and I haven’t seen one since.

I’m glad I’ve tried KDE. It’s a good desktop and I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. When Gnome returns I’m going to have a tough decision, but for now, I’m happy where I’m at.

References

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<3's linux

Posted on 2008-12-16, in Linux. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. There’s no reason you can’t run GNOME apps in KDE (or vice versa). Lots of KDE users till use Tomboy and Zim…

  2. Just shows how off the mark the Kde developers are with Kde4 when a gnome user thinks its an improvement while most of the Kde user base thinks its a major step backward. Useability is much more important than silly desktop effects.

  3. I agree mostly with what you wrote. I am using KDE 4 constantly now. I have used it off and on since last January, but now I am happy to stay in KDE 4.
    I have KDE 3 installed on other computers and Gnome installed here as well. I cannot criticize them. They are good interfaces in every respect, but KDE 4 stands apart. It is special and I hope that KDE 3 users embrace it instead of turning to something else.
    Gnome is due for a shake up. When KDE switched to QT 4 it resulted in KDE 4 and when GTK is upgraded, then Gnome Developers will be trying to update Gnome with a new look and feel and change is going to come to that community as well. It is inescapable and die hard KDE 3 users better get used to it. KDE 3 is yesterday. KDE 4 is where it is happening today and in the foreseeable future.

  1. Pingback: Boycott Novell » Links 18/12/2008: German City Migrates to Ubuntu GNU/Linux, New KDE4 Beta

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