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A quick look at KDE 3.2 Beta 2 (AKA 3.1.94)

Introduction

I am a bit re­luc­tant to write about a new KDE ver­sion, be­cause I am very at­tached to the pro­jec­t, and re­al­ly can't be im­par­tial, but I have now up­dat­ed to KDE 3.1.94 (A­KA 3.2 be­ta 2), and I say, what the heck, I like it!

In this piece, I may lib­er­al­ly speak about stuff that is not in KDE prop­er as if it were, don't men­tion it, I al­ready know about it. Al­so, the score num­bers are just per­son­al, if you dis­agree: buh-hu. Al­so, I will treat stuff I just found out about as if it were new. If you no­tice some­thing here that has been present in an ear­li­er re­lease: tough. Fi­nal­ly, this is not com­pre­hen­sive, it's just a cou­ple of things I no­ticed.

Hardware and Performance

I am testing it in one of my office boxes, a PII 233MHZ, 128MB of RAM, 20GB IDE drive, really an old noname workhorse clone. Despite this aging carcass, it worked pretty well. Starting a large app (quanta) is slow, but konqueror blinks up, (probably the new preloading), konsole flashes open, and everyhting is a lot faster than 3.1.4, so kudos to the KDE guys for it.

How I got it

I am not ac­tive in de­vel­op­ment of KDE HEAD pack­ages, so I don't have the KDE CVS tree around. In fac­t, I haven't build KDE from source in a cou­ple of years. Pack­agers do that. In this par­tic­u­lar case, I used the Red Hat 9.0 pack­ages built by Rex and the oth­er nice guys at kde-red­hat.s­f.net.

Since that is an apt repos­i­to­ry, it was as sim­ple as ap­t-get up­grade for me, or ap­t-get in­stall kde for those who aren't us­ing this stuff yet (y­ou re­al­ly should ;-).

Look & Feel

Plastik:
It's really good. The tab widget looks great, the scrollbars look very good... I like all of it. Understated, classy. Looks much better with a smallish font, say 9pt Verdana or something like that, because the widgets are smaller than Keramik's (I am smaller than some of keramik's widgets :-) [9/10]
Crystal SVG icons:
Much nicer than previous versions. Konqueror's toolbar buttons, for example, are now just right, the mimetype icons are also better. [8/10]
Window Decorations:
Haven't noticed much new, I am a Glow fan, and switched to the square version.
Menus:
Liked the reorganization, the new Actions stuff. Not that I use any of them, Alt+F2 is my medicine.

Old Apps

Konsole:
Looks much nicer with real tabs instead of that weird button bar it had.
Konqueror:
I only use it as a web browser, if I used it as a filemanager, I would have a problem: I modified the location toolbar, and apparently those changes are not per-profile. I wish they were! Konqueror-the-browser is much simpler like this.
Good and Not So Good
Kicker:
This is the panel, you newbie! I was going to say it's just the same old thing, until I ran into the "Universal Sidebar Panel". This nifty addition puts the new collapsed Konqueror sidebar on the desktop edge, so all your bookmarks, devices, networks, services, digital cameras, files, etc are just a couple of clicks away, wasting very little screen space. I now can't live without it!
It makes no sense having to open a web browser to then open a bookmark. Just whip the mouse to the edge, click on the star, select, and then the brwoser opens.
Sidebar expanded and collapsed

New Apps

Krandrtray:
Gooood. Does what it should, does it well. If you don't know what it is: switches resolution, refresh rate and screen orientatin on the fly using the RandR X extension.
Kpdf:
Not so good. In fact, it doesn't show any of the PDFs I give to my students right. Since xpdf does and Kpdf is based on it, it must be some glitch. While the content is scrambled, the app looks nice, so I really hope I can soon use it instead of (ugly) xpdf or (slow) kghostview.
Quanta:
Yes, quanta is not new, but it's VPL component is. Works OK, it seems, but is quite slow in this slow box, crashes sometimes, and doesn't seem to handle stylesheets, so it's not really WYSIWYG. Not my thing. Quanta in general is much better, though. Better edition of tags.
K3B
Again, not really new, but I wasn't looking at it much. Two words: Bootable movies. Two more: I like!

Problems

Not many. I am hav­ing some prob­lems with key­board han­dling (a page down will scroll 4 pages or so), but that may be be­cause of the si­mul­ta­ne­ous up­grade to XFree 4.3, it needs fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Some apps (no­tably kon­queror) some­times crash when you re­con­fig­ure them, or re­con­fig­ure the desk­top theme. I can't quite re­pro­duce this re­li­ably, though, so no bug re­port yet.

Conclusions

This one's a keep­er. Works much bet­ter at most things than 3.1.4, and I was al­ready hap­py with it, so, what's not to like? Very lit­tle.

Roberto Alsina / 2006-04-04 16:24:

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