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.
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.
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.
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.