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A few weeks ago, I put up a post about the first beta release of KDE SC 4.6. Unfortunately, due to a number of bugs, I’ve had to revert back to 4.5 on a couple of machines. One because there seemed to be a regression in graphics performance on the Intel based chipset I had on one machine. The other, because I decided to move from openSuse back to Kubuntu, which I might say was a pleasant surprise in terms of polish and stability. Anyway, back to the story at hand … Having now installed KDE SC 4.6 RC1 on my main desktop machine, running Kubuntu, it seems to be playing quite nicely. Here are my impressions of this latest pre-release of KDE SC 4.6.

kdepim and akonadi

As I have stated in my previous post, the only really earth shattering thing in this release is (was) the porting of the KDEPIM suite of applications to Akonadi. This was left out of the 4.5 release due to too many bugs. Well, it seems that it will be left out of the 4.6 release as well, due to migration issues with large data sets. This is interesting, as I had a number of issues with Kmail 2.0 when testing the beta release. I’d checked on bugs.kde.org to see if others had experienced these issues and filed a bug in relation to the main issue I was having. I don’t know if my email store of a few thousand emails on my IMAP server would fall into the category of a “large dataset” and if the bugs I was experiencing were the same bugs that have held back the release. However, I’m glad they’ve delayed again until these bugs are finally sorted out. However, this does potentially move this release from “unspectacular” to “borderline uninteresting”. I just can’t see any new features that I can really get excited about.

kwin performance

Obviously there are a number of optimisations that have gone into this release. Kwin performance is spectacular on my desktop with the NVIDIA drivers installed. I do however note that there was an issue with the latest NVIDIA drivers crashing the plasma desktop if the digital clock plasmoid was in use. How that can happen, I have no idea – I would have thought that if one plasmoid was behaving badly, it would not bring down the entire plasma desktop. However, having said that, I don’t have this issue at the moment (I did on openSuse), as Ubuntu has not moved to the latest NVIDIA driver release. As I mentioned previously, kwin performance on the integrated Intel graphics chipset on my other machine took a major dive in the first beta of KDE SC 4.6. I did isolate this to the use of the blur effect, and with this turned off, performance improved greatly. However, I was using the blur effect in 4.5 and the performance, whilst not up there with the NVIDIA based machine, was pretty usable. I haven’t had a chance to test RC1 on that machine, but hopefully some improvements have been made there.

Regressions

There do seem to be a couple of regressions. I don’t know if that’s the Kubuntu packages, or upstream regressions. However, the filtering that worked reasonably well on Dolphin searches, now doesn’t work at all.

I’m not sure whether this is a regression. However, the DLNA server I run to access media on my PS3 shows up as a media source in Dolphin and in the Devices dropdown in the system tray. Only problem is that I can’t actually open or browse it in Dolphin, which would be quite cool if I could use it as I do for other KIO based protocols.

Activities

I have to say I’m quite interested in Activities in 4.6. There seem to be a number of new features that are evolving through the beta phase of 4.6. The following screencast from one of the developers working on Activities gives a basic outline of how this feature can work:

This seems really interesting in terms of workflow and this feature is finally starting to look like it could be useful, particularly the ability to assign particular windows to particular activities. I’m going to have to do a bit more playing with this. One feature that seems to be missing (correct me if I’m wrong) is the ability to switch between activities without having to go to the Activities pop up. It would be good to have a keyboard shortcut for this, or be able to get an Activities “grid” much like the Desktop Grid which is one of the Desktop Effects in kwin.

Looking forward to the final release, which must be due out in a few weeks.

12 Comments
  1. Nice wrap, thanks for that. I’ve noticed since I updated to
    RC1 that my kmail filters no longer work when new mail arrives – I
    have to select the new messages and use CTRL-J to manually trigger
    filter actions. I also had to disable strigi file indexer as it was
    eating large amounts of CPU time and freezing my pc for 10-15sec at
    a time. How are you finding using kmail with your IMAP email server
    you mentioned? I’ve found it incredibly slow since the IMAP
    connection was farmed out to Akonadi. On the same PC with
    Thunderbird it flies, yet KMail is incredibly slow to load emails
    and update folders. KDE 4.6 looks promising and I can’t wait but
    there seem to be a few gremlins to sort out yet (I guess as you’d
    expect for a release candidate!). :)

    • At the moment, I’m using the old version of mail that shipped with RC1, which is part of the 4.5 series. This means it’s not using akonadi. When I was using the previous beta, there were heaps of bugs in kmail, although imap speed was not one of them. I do filtering on the server using procmail, so can’t comment on filtering in kmail, sorry.

  2. Nice review…. but OMG — the video sounds like this was
    written by a female. Females run Linux?? I didn’t know girls ran
    Linux… seriously… that is so cool!

    • The video was done by one of the plasma developers (not me), who is a woman … and yes women do use and develop Linux …

    • Yes she does. She is not only a user, she is one of the
      plasma core developers. And she really knows what she is doing. I
      know her and can tell you: she is really cool!

  3. KDEPIM is quite *broken*, even in RC1. I use IMAP to access
    my work Exchange mailbox and Kmail 2.0 / Kontact + akonadi has
    never successfully downloaded my messages yet! In this regard, I
    believe Kubuntu is wise to stick with Kmail 1.x from the 4.4.x
    series … which is what I am currently using (along with rest of
    KDE 4.6 RC1)

    • I think the move back to the 4.5 series for kdepim is an upstream decision, not a Kubuntu decision.

  4. nice voice :)

  5. “One feature that seems to be missing (correct me if I’m
    wrong) is the ability to switch between activities without having
    to go to the Activities pop up” On my installation (Kubuntu 10.19
    KDE RC 4.6 RC1) it’s Meta+TAB (WinKey+TAB). I also get a LOT of
    plasma-desktop crashes possibly related by the digital
    clock/calendar widget trying to access an Akonadi calendar?:
    https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=261593

    • Thanks for the heads up. I’ve had the odd plasma crash as well, but hadn’t had any at the time of writing the article.

  6. You can add the Activities Switcher widget to a panel to
    make switching as easy as with virtual desktops, though in my SC4.5
    version on openSUSE it fills almost all remaining space in that
    panel which isn’t always desirable. I decided to add a new top
    panel with a constrained width containing this applet, and then set
    the panel to auto-hide. The shortcut for Meta+Tab isn’t listed
    where you might expect in the Shortcuts from the Plasma ‘cashew’
    menu. Rather, it is hidden away in the System Settings Global
    Shortcuts Plasma Desktop drop-down. Not sure if any of this has
    changed for SC4.6.

    • Thanks, gumb! I’ve just discovered the awkwardness of the activity switcher and activity manager widgets and your solution is a clean workaround for the moment.

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