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Day one with KDE – once again

It all started with FVWM around 10 years ago. It continued on to Afterstep, Windowmaker, Gnome, XFCE and finally KDE. I stayed there for several years, until I tried KDE in Ubuntu Horay or maybe Warty — it was horrible. Since then I have used Gnome and I have really started to like it.

KDE in Ubuntu has never been quite as polished as Gnome, with default media keyboard bindings, suspend buttons working and all those other small things that makes a nice user experience. Well, Feisty Fawn is being released in about a month, so I decided to give KDE another try in Ubuntu.

Konqueror

Using Konqueror instead of Nautilus for file management works fairly well, but I had to change the default settings so that a double-click is required to activate an icon. I also don’t like the way Konqureror handles files – instead of launching images using Gwenview for instance, it shows the image embedded in the Konqureror window.

Using Konqueror for web-browsing is fairly pleasant. It’s snappy and the KHTML rendering is fine most of the time (but not on my website it seems, and Google Reader) and the websites look decent. When having many tabs open, it still seems to be running quite fast which it didn’t when I used KDE the last time.

Window management

When dragging files between windows in Nautilus, the cursor will change depending on the action to be performed. In Konqueror, a menu will pop-up and show the available options to the user. This seems to be working everywhere, and even when dragging mail in Kmail.

One big give-a-good-first-impression issue that still seems to be present is that new windows doesn’t always have the correct size from the beginning. It is of course a small matter of dragging the window and thus making it larger, but it doesn’t look very nice if a new user is presented with that. Gnome seems to have done this better, and most windows do have the correct size from start. If you need an example, have a look at the image below.

kmail.png

This is the window presented to the user when double-clicking on an email in Kmail. Not very pleasant, but on to nicer things.

It is possible to use the scroll to change the virtual desktop in KDE. Just hover the mouse over and empty desktop area and scroll — instant switch to another desktop! This would require Beryl in Gnome, which is frankly quite terrible. The same goes for the so called hot corners, which will switch the virtual desktop in KDE if I drag the mouse off-screen to the left or right. Again, this is only found in Beryl and not the standard metacity desktop manager of Gnome.

Switching between deskops in KDE seems to be much smoother than in Gnome. I am not sure if this is due to the usage of QT instead of GTK, or if it is the window manager itself. It is quite noticeable tough.

Other applications

First of all, applications such as Opera, Skype and Keepass look much nicer, since they are all using the QT toolkit. Not a big deal perhaps, but it’s all about the small things.

One of the big problems I have is Kaffeine. While the player itself is quite nice, it is using the xine backend which means that it can’t stream video from an SMB share. This is a major issue for me, and it lead to the point of me having to use Totem from Gnome with the gstreamer backend to make this possible once again. I usually don’t like mixing programs from different environments, but I had no choice on this one.

I try to use Evolution for mail in Gnome, but all the bugs with mail disappearing when moving them around etc. is quite bad. Kmail on the other hand is stable and is working like a charm so far.

Another thing is that Digikam seems to be the only usable photo manager for Linux. F-spot and all the others lack normal functions, but Digikam works — not perfectly — but good enough.

Conclusion

I don’t want to start a war, but after day one it seems that although Gnome looks nicer, KDE has the better applications. I will continue using KDE for a while and perhaps present a better conclusion from my point of view later on.