My previous article, 10 things I hate about KDE 4 RC2, got a lot of unexpected attention. At Digg I was called a “damn fool”, “dumbass” (for some reason that guy thought I believed RC referred to Plasma) (?!) and an “idiot”. I apparently hurt developer feelings. The point of the article was to imitate complaints I expect to see if some things do not change. Had I read this post, I may not have even written it. I stand by my complaints about Release Candidate 2 (the openSUSE version), overall they were mainly minor. I will revisit that post once the release goes gold. I promised to follow up with 10 things I love about KDE 4 RC2+, so here goes.
10 things I love about KDE4 RC2+ (openSUSE flavor):
10. Oxygen Icons – Someone mentioned in a comment somewhere that I I could take the time to complain, but not take the time to mention how nice the Oxygen Icons look. Here you are! They do look nice. They aren’t cartoonish, they don’t look like Fisher-Price designed them (sup, XP). They look attractive and modern. I definitely prefer them to Tango, and it isn’t like Tango is bad. They present a nice face as the default icon set. A lot of work and thought has been put into them, and it shows. Great job, Oxygen-Icon team!
9. Look and Feel – Huge improvement here. The environment looks modern, subtly flashy (which couldn’t have been easy to pull off) and clean. I like the use of blacks throughout. I’m glad to see bright blue off of my screen. Little things like “Alt + F2″ are improved. First, it looks great. The Plasma box that opens is sharp looking. The added functionality, putting “application, location or search term” together is nice. The button to show system activity is helpful. A small area, but indicative of the work done. There is a consistency using it that I have not seen in an operating system (more on this below). It is a lot more attractive than Vista, to my eye. It looks fantastic and feels fast, and I’m using openSUSE’s somewhat dated packages. The more I use it, the more I like it.
8. Konqueror improvements – The over cluttered-looking Konqueror loved and bitched about endlessly is gone. We now have a snazzy looking default Konqueror, with helpful links on the opening page, seven icons on the bar by default. As I complained about before, some of the functionality I am used to is not there, more likely than not due to openSUSE providing an outdated kde-konqueror-addons package. It looks damn good. It has been solid as a web browser. I look forward to the release version. The recent Dolphin/Konqueror controversy is positive in a sense, showing the love and fanatical devotion we have for the swiss army knife on steroids that Konqueror is.
7. Koffice2 is amazing – This will get its own article, but Koffice2 looks and behaves beautifully. It fits in very nicely with the very attractive default desktop. I am looking forward to spending a lot of time with Koffice2. Excellent job here, developers. I already prefer it to OpenOffice. Much more about this topic soon.
6. Doing away with the desktop-is-file-manager idea – This is a bold step. It may feel odd at first, particularly for those of you addicted to stuffing your desktop full of icons. I like that it is a push in a new direction. The payoff might not show up entirely with the release of 4.0, but I expect to see big things here. Change is good.
5. Kickoff – Hold up, haters. It isn’t Kickoff itself that I love as much as the idea that it is there by default. It reminds me of the story (that I hope is true) of the French government doing away with phone books years ago to force people to use the internet. With the upcoming Raptor, Lancelot and other ideas moving forward, this choice again helps push us to the future. The more I use Kickoff the more I like it. I don’t find it to be the spawn of satan that a lot of you do. The familiar menu is still available if you prefer to kick it old school.
4. Composite effects – nicely done. Kwin’s Composite effects look great. Modern, not too much going on. I like that they are there but do not get up in your face. Tasteful default choices yet again. This area will be getting its own article soon. I want to spend more time with it and become more knowledgeable than I am. I like that “Ctrl + F8″ shows me my desktops. “Alt + Tab” is an attractive switcher. “Ctrl + F10″ show me all of my windows. This hands down beats Vista. It will be interesting to see how it will interact with Compiz-Fusion. Overall, I really like this and will have more to say very soon. Excellent job again, Developers.
3. Gwenview – Poorly named Gwenview is now cleaned up, as stated here, and now only gives you the image and a basic toolbar when opening an image. (Click link for nice screenshots) Images opened from Gwenview you get many more choices. This shows the level of detail and thought that went into creating KDE 4. It also brings me to my next point:
2. Consistency – I love this. It doesn’t jump right out at first, but settled in slowly for me. KTorrent looks like a KDE 4 app, because it is. KMail fits in perfectly. The games have been updated and look in place. I can’t imagine the work that went into achieving this, but it was time well spent. Going back to other desktops really magnifies the lack of consistency in them. The consistency is outstanding in KDE 4.
1. Guts, courage and balls – To me, this is the biggest thing about KDE 4. Frankly, I was surprised to read that developers were “hurt” and “disillusioned” by my “10 things I hate” post. I’m sorry to hear that they have been beaten down by criticism. A _really_big_thing_ is happening here. A move to the future has been committed to and the first step is close to being achieved. KDE 4 is better than Vista. KDE 4 improves upon the outstanding 3 series. There will be more improvements down the road, but honestly things are in good shape as of my dated RC2 system. I commend the developers for the outstanding work done. I can’t wait to see the results of the final weeks of bug killing and squashing. From what I read, development is at a frantic pace. You guys have done something tremendous for which you should be proud.
The fact that the KDE team has pulled this off is inspiring. My stupid little top ten lists do not do justice to this accomplishment. Trying to narrow things I love to ten was not easy. I decided to focus on what was immediate. The big-picture changes are just too big to be dropped into a little list. Phonon, Solid, Decibal and all of the other big technologies didn’t even get on the list. They need their own articles to get the attention they deserve. The changes are so big and so interesting that it is easy to become overwhelmed trying to write about them. If that is true, imagine coding them!
So, to close, I apologize to anyone I offended with my first article. I meant in no way to take away from the work that has been done. I can’t wait to install the final release. I can’t wait to see the firestorm of controversy that will erupt on that day. We Linux users are passionate, and this passion, while seeming destructive at times, is the fuel that drives the improvements. The future is very bright for KDE. The future is now. Thanks again for all of the work put into a system that I can use for free.