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Having given a quick overview of the first beta of the latest KDE SC release last week, a couple of days later, beta 2 was released. So dutifully, I have updated to KDE SC 4.5 beta 2 to see what’s changed.

Stability

According to the release announcement “1459 new bugs have been reported, and 1643 bugs have been closed, so we’re witnessing a lot of stabilization activity right now”. So for those who left comments on my last post bemoaning the KDE developer’s lack of enthusiasm for bug fixing – kerblam! take that! ;-) In fact, I have indeed noticed some stability improvements myself, so the empirical evidence is backed up by the anecdotal. In beta 1, there seemed to be a reasonable amount of instability in kwin. Compositing would turn itself off rather regularly, and on the odd occasion, X itself would give up the ghost altogether. With beta 2, no such misfortunes have befallen me.

More Things I’ve Noticed

Calendar Plasmoid

There has been a nice update to the calendar plasmoid, which can be accessed by clicking on the clock on the main panel. Now this shows PIM and calendar events using Akonadi marking the relevant date in the calendar, and hovering over a date displays the details. Different types of events are marked by different colours:

  • Today is marked with a black halo
  • A selected date is marked with a blue halo
  • Holidays that are days off are marked with a red halo
  • Holidays that are not a day off are marked with a green halo
  • Events and To-do’s and marked with a bold day number

Whilst this is only a very minor feature, it does start to show what Akonadi might provide KDE SC as developers start to harness its power.

Settings Reorganised

It seems that the settings panel has been reorganised. I’m no UI expert, but this change seems to have broken things down a bit more, so that there are fewer items in the submenus under the main items on the panel, and they seem to have been organised in a more obvious way. However, initially, I was scrambling to find things, however, the search function helped a lot in the transition.

Gliding On

There’s a new desktop effect for opening and shutting windows called “Glide”. Turning this effect on results in windows gliding in as if appearing from the “back” of your desktop and gliding into the “foreground”. Pure eyecandy, and no real usability improvement here – as far as I can tell. But nothing wrong with eyecandy (at least from where I’m standing).

Webkit

With beta 2, it seems that the openSuse packages have been fixed, so that I can used webkit within konqueror. However, konqueror now seems to crash on every website I go to, except for google. Again, I don’t know if this is a bug with Konqueror, or the openSuse packages, or my machine setup, but I have still been unable to test one of the “landmark” features of this release.

Activity Chooser

A new activity chooser has been added. This has the same look and feel of the plasma widget chooser. However, this new addition does very little to the usability and discoverability of activities on the KDE desktop. I think I understand what activities are for – as far as I can tell it is a way to have context relevant plasmoids associated with different tasks. However, there is nothing from the new activities chooser that would indicate this. Hopefully this interface is developed and improved over time, so that it becomes obvious to users what activities are for and how they work.

Conclusion

Obviously, the move from beta 1 to beta 2 won’t bring any new features, however, as I continue to use the KDE SC 4.5 betas, I’m continuing to discover the small improvements that aren’t obvious at first blush. Whilst there aren’t a huge number of new features in this release, 4.5 is bringing a level of polish that will serve as a solid foundation for the next steps in the evolution of the KDE desktop.

11 Comments
  1. nice
    even kde 4.4.4 is noticeably buggy… I hope 4.5 fixes alot of the issues I have noticed…. if not, i’ll have to find the time to fill out some bug reports…..
    Looks promising though… I don’t think kde has to worry about gnome 3.. they aren’t really bringing much to the table….
    Once kde reaches on par stability with gnome…. I will be a happy man

  2. I am sure that KDE 4 is by far the most innovative desktop around (proprietary or open).
    And all that innovation is not being polished, so it is great to see all that hard work that has been put into stabilization.

    Here is to a rock stable KDE 4.5.x branch :)

  3. When will they ever get rid of that awful cashew? At least give us the option built in and not some 3rd party plasmoid.
    Its a small thing but its silly that its still around.

  4. Nice review, I’m looking forward to using KDE SC 4.5!

    A new ‘feature’ you might want to mention in the next review is the ability to tweak your oxygen settings:
    http://hugo-kde.blogspot.com/2010/06/oxygen-settings.html

  5. I’m running openSUSE M7 and KDE 4.5 B2 on an MSI mega book – until 11.3 the most Linux unfriendly kit possible. It’s got an average Radeon graphics card and Ralink wi-fi. Until KDE 4.3.something compositing was rubbish, now it’s amazing (a concrete tribute to code improvement) For the first time ever wi-fi works without setup intervention and KNetworkmanager is completely transparent.

    I have had no problems with Konqueror under KHTML or Webkit. KHTML has upped its game on Acid3 to 89/100, and loads linuxtoday quite fast, much faster than it used to.

    notifications are well slick – nice touch

    Klipper is a bit rubbish at mo’ and sleep is lightly potty, but after the time it takes to have a coffee and a muffin, KDE springs out of bed and into life.

    Thee are a few things that are a bit rough around the edges, but I think that’s called “I am using M7/Beta2″ No crashes (but then I’e also had no stability problems on my 32bit 7 year old AMD machine since 4.2.something) .

    I’ve never use Gnome, no particular reason why not, just when I discovered SuSE 6.1 it was running KDE 1.something and I’ve always liked the way it is.

    I’ve got no idea if KDE fanbois turn up on Gnome sites to do negative comparisons but that it seems necessary for every KDE review to include at least one “when it’s a good as Gnome” comment indicates to me that KDE must be doing something right.

  6. Nice review with details. I’ve been following these articles. Please keep writing for newer version as well.

    To KDE developers, great work! Hopefully it would be a bug free release. I’m sure people won’t mind for a little delay.

  7. Hi, I’m very interested in Linux but Im a Super Newbie and I’m having trouble deciding on the right distribution for me (Havent you heard this a million times?) anyway here is my problem, I need a distribution that can switch between reading and writing in English and Japanese (Japanese Language Support) with out restarting the operating system.

    • Well, pretty much the top 5 Linux distributions – those are Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint, OpenSuse and PCLinuxOS will offer more or less the same capabilities. I believe they have come to some sort of tie up in terms of user friendlyness and usability. Language support is something these distros make pride upon.

      For super newbs, I would recommend Mint in any of its desktop varieties. To me, it is the most straight forward, newb friendly distro and the community is quite supportive.
      Ubuntu on the other side, will give you just a little bit of more work to do, as you will need to install some drivers and codecs after installation, which is anyway painless and easy. An advantage of ubuntu is the sheer numbers of its community: you will certainly be benefited from the forums should you encounter some problem.
      And….I you are there for the looks, I think ubuntu finally nailed it and its gnome environment is looking beautiful. KDE on the other side is so custimozable you can make it look like wtf you want no matter which distro you are using.

  8. I agree with Frank, above. (i-Hate-The-Cashew). But in my newest Mandriva-supplied build (still pre-Release), with many new patches above their “base” of 4.4.3 — the Desktop Cashew becomes even MORE distracting. Now it adds the word “Desktop” underneath, in BRIGHT WHITE BOLD.

    It seems that Aaron’s response to everyone who doesn’t like *his* cashew is to make it MORE Offensive, MORE distracting than ever. (I’ll characterize this response as “Miguel-Like”.) I hope that the 4.5 Plasma Desktop doesn’t go even further, inflicting a gigantic banner on top of your workspace: “This is your KDE DESKTOP DISPLAY on your KDE-Managed Monitor, it’s REALLY GREAT, isn’t it?”

    I’m quite aware that I’m looking at my f*****ng “Desktop”, and don’t need to have that text-enhanced intrusion trying to grab the attention of my eyeballs. (All the time.) The worst thing about all is this: A normal (left) click on the Cashew does nothing at all, and a Right-click brings up the exact same “context” menu which you can get get right-clicking on an empty region of the Desktop. It provides NOTHING which isn’t already reachable via right-click on the desktop itself!
    - – - -
    I have, of course, tried building and installing some Cashew-Killer Applets from kde-look. But none of them work against this very new version of Plasma. Plasma’s place of Development is very fast, so this problem isn’t surprising; the feature to “kill the cashew and label, I know how to click the right button” should be in available in Plasma’s mainline code. The option to display/not display should be provided WITHIN THAT SAME CONTEXT MENU.

    grrrrrr. Aaron, this “I won’t let you stop the advertisement” attitude might be losing friends.

  9. LOL!

    I’m allergic to cashews and I still don’t mind it in the least. It’s funky that it adds no functionality and you can’t turn it off, sure, but come on now. There are more important things to consider here…

  10. Nice review with details. I’ve been following these articles. Please keep writing for newer version as well.

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