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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.