Thoughts about KDE/trinity…

First of all, this might seem to be mostly a rant about KDE, but I think it is not (at least partly 🙂 ).
But it is, for sure, criticism, and, of course, my very personal opinion (I am not in any way a representative of any of the mentioned projects, just a user/contributor – more or less).
So, what’s going on in the KDE world ?
In short, these are the most important activities:
In 2008, KDE4 was started as the successor to KDE 3.5, with massive changes to the underlying software stack, not just porting to qt4.
First to mention, the new desktop shell: plasma, with radical changes: no more ‚Desktop‘ with Program icons, Plasmoids instead of traditional Applications, new control widgets (‚Cashew‘) and so on…
But with all these changes, and their problems (which are quite normal in the development cycle of huge projects), it was more and more obvious that many users would not want to follow the directions given by the developers anymore.
To sum it up, there is now a clear demand for a lightweight, simple Desktop, based on technology already known (qt libs), but without the mandatory need to have more or less powerful hardware, and (at least) the option to just not install/run memory/power consuming services simply to be able to run a web browser or an email client.
And, of course, there are also (few) developers who share this opinion, and thus, we can now find at least 2 projects to follow the mentioned goals:
trinity and razor-qt, both taking a different approach, however:
while trinity stands in the direct heritage of KDE 3.5, trying to keep as much of this experience alive as possible
(including the underlying qt3 framework), razor-qt follows another paradigm:
provide a clean, slim desktop based on qt4, following widely accepted standards (xdg) without all the load something like
plasma/akonadi/nepomuk etc. bring in addition.
This doesn’t include a native set of applications, however – it is up to the user to decide which ones to add (and thus, which additional dependencies/frameworks to pull in – might end up with nearly a complete KDE4 desktop installed, though 😀 ).
The stunning fact, with these projects, is that for the first time in the KDE history, there are now ‚forks‘ which
aim to users who are not satisfied with the current direction of the project.
The interesting thing, now, is how these 2 projects are perceived in the KDE(4) mainstream, especially developers.
With razor-qt, there seems to be not very much flame-wars, at least not widely visible.
As for trinity, see e.g. this:
Pro-Linux Article (german).
KDE4 developers however, seem to be rather upset, that anyone ‚dares‘ to fork what they, appearantly, have dropped back then in 2008 (when KDE4 still was far from beeing usable in any respect) as if it were some piece of radioactive plutonium or thelike.
Anyone interested in this subject may just read Martin Grässlins articles/blogs:
Freies Magazin Article (german)
the-grass-has-always-been-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence
having-a-look-at-the-oldnew-desktop-environments
or also the trinity list archives:
trinity-devel.pearsoncomputing.net (threads ‚trinity coverage‘, ‚poll‘ …)
nwhere also Aaron Seigo’s statements can be found, who obviously avoids writing something on the subject in his own blogs – looks like he wants to avoid any publicity on trinity, presumably.
So, while I do not want to comment on the more technical argumentations in the cited sources, it seems to me that the KDE4 developers just can’t stand nor tolerate the fact that there are still users (and developers!) who prefer that what KDE3 offered: a fast, snappy Desktop (even on older Hardware) with a complete (though, with some respect, outdated) set of applications, without all the recently added ‚bloat‘ 😉 .
As a conclusion, simply time will tell wether trinity and/or razor-qt will survive (I personally hope so), and what direction KDE4 will go.

Welcome back, KDE4 ;-)

Ok,
so I bit the bullet once more and decided to try KDE 4.3.2 once again on my main machine (Dell GX270, Intel 865 graphics onboard) despite the horrible experience on my AMD Duron (SiS onboard graphics) described in my previous post ‚Goodby KDE4‘.
To be honest, with not much hope for improvement, as I already had 4.3.1 installed on the very same machine,
using kubuntu jaunty – not much better performance there as described above, though.
Anyway, the karmic developers claimed to have improved Intel Graphics support significantly, so I decided to give it one more try.
Installation side-by side my production system (Debian Lenny, KDE 3.5.10) went flawless, but slow (as expected).
Then boot into karmic, and surprise: this KDE 4.3.2 is no more an awful slug as before !
Not as snappy and responsive as 3.5.10, but really acceptable, finally …
(for the first time from any 4.x since I tried 4.0 in January 2008).
WoW.
So, it seems, KDE4 performance heavily depends on graphics hardware/driver quality, much more than any 3.5.x version before.
And I’ve been a victim of my outdated and/or poorly supported graphics equipment, so far.
Appearantly, the new Intel driver in karmic fixed that (almost), at least for my Dell’s.
What an odyssee …
As a side note, migration of personal settings/preferences (email accounts, kwallet, bookmarks…) went very well, I just copied my ~/.kde folder from Lenny to the new install and everything seems to have been converted smoothly without a hitch, well done, KDE developers!
So, yes, I’ll use KDE 4.x again, alternatively to my beloved 3.5.10, see how it improves and eventually make the switch at some point in the future…

Goodbye KDE(4)

Well, I’ve been a KDE addict since I first recognized it (that was 2.0, if I remember right), but now it looks like I’ll have to look for something else.
Why ?
Long story short: I’ve been following KDE4 development since 4.0, tried every minor version since then, discovered nice new features, learnt to do some things in other ways than used to, so far, BUT:
despite all recommendations/tips/tricks/hints (and even slight improvements) it has clearly turned out that KDE4 is a RESSOURCE HOG, turning older computers into slugs, outright horrible responsiveness, whereas the same boxes are snappy as hell when run with KDE3.5.
And no, I do not suppose a modern DE to be able to run nicely on 486 PC’s with 64 MB RAM 🙂 .
What I’m actually talking about, are my 2 DELL GX 270’s, 2.4 Ghz CPU, 1 GB RAM, onboard intel 865 graphics, and a comparable AMD Duron box (SiS graphics onboard).
Oh, yes, I know, this is NOT current state-of-the-art hardware, but IMO not too outdated for everyday web-browsing/email/spreadsheet/web development work – KDE3.5 still proves that very well.
KDE4, on the opposite, is just horribly slow: switching Desktops/Applications, e.g., as well as (de-)activating yakuake just leaves the impression, the sytem has first to think about (~ 1 sec. or even more) if it really should do what I want – and this is, what really pisses me off.
As already said, none of the tips/tricks/Xorg-configurations or whatever else I tried upon recommendation here or anywhere else, has improved this significantly so far.
So, it seems clear to me, the KDE folks have decided to just follow the M$ standard of doing things:
with every new version of the OS/Desktop, users have to buy new hardware in order to be able to work at a reasonable performance.
To some extent, I can agree with this, but not in a such obvious and oppressive way.
So, for now, this is the point where I’ll cease to follow KDE4 development, as well as installing/trying new versions of it (Last try was Kubuntu Karmic, KDE 4.3, 5 days ago, which promised to solve Intel Graphics drivers issues/performance – outcome: even more horrible than before with Jaunty).
I’ll just stick with 3.5.10 as long as possible, which ATM serves all my needs (running on Debian Lenny btw.) very well – including Quanta as one of my key applications (still no KDE4 version available, if ever).
Although I know, that will come to an end, at least with the end of support for Lenny.
It’s a shame that noone in the KDE Community is willing to keep 3.5 alive in a way that it will just run as-is on future Distros (specifically: kernel/glibc/Xorg versions).
But if anyone out there steps up doing so: count on me as a volunteer (be warned: my C++ programming skills are still rudimentary :D).
@all others: recommendations for alternatives welcome (even GNOME ;-)).

Debian Lenny on eeePC

So, I just finished installing Debian Lenny on my eeePC701, following the instructions on the Debian eeePC wiki. First attempt failed in phase ‚installing packages‘ due to an unrecoverable error trying to fetch/install some language (i18n) file (didn’t note the exact name), appearantly as a result of my choice of language ‚german‘.

Ok, next try was to just repeat the whole procedure with language ‚english‘, and voila, everything went smoothly, as described – seems the localized packages still need some love 😀 . weiterlesen

KDE 4.1 is out

So, now KDE 4 is nicely getting into shape – much has been improved/added since the launch of 4.0 in january.
I’m currently evaluating the 4.1 packages from kubuntu, and I must say, I’m more and more using it as my main desktop for day-to-day tasks.
There are still some rough edges, of course, as well as missing configuration options (e.g. adding favorites in kickoff menu still not possible from GUI), but as usual, these issues are getting fixed quickly.
Most important for me, however, is the significantly increased responsiveness and speed of the whole thing – still not exactly as snappy as 3.5.x, but much better than 4.0.x.
Also, more and more applications are getting ported to kde4, such as kblogger (which is what I’m using ATM to write this post 😀 ) – what I’m still missing is konversation and kdewebdev.
And, yes, there are many new things to discover/play around with – reading other blogs about these helps getting started,
often even more than just the impressive changelogs in the official announcements.
As a first conclusion, KDE 4.1 is now in shape to be adopted by a broad audience of (curious) users – I can only encourage anyone to give it a try, at least as an additional install alongside the well known 3.5.x, it is well worth doing so.

1 week with KDE 4.0 – first impressions

Now that kde 4.0 is out for one week, I’ll try to make a short summary of my experience with it:

+ installation (using kubuntu gutsy) is a breeze
+ coexists nicely with kde3.5, uses separate path (/usr/lib/kde4) as well as personal configuration (~/.kde4)
+ import preferences (e.g. konqui bookmarks) from kde3.5 is easy
+ little quirks/annoyances get fixed at astounding pace
+ kde3.5 apps run nicely within kde4
+ kickoff menu is impressive
+ system settings much better organized/cleaner than kde3.x’s control center
+ krunner is much more informative/flexible than previous ‚ALT-F2′
+ building cmake-based kde4 apps from source (e.g. from kde-apps.org) is much more convenient than the old auto* stuff (crap) weiterlesen

Welcome to WordPress

Ok, so I changed my website to also use wordpress for my KDE/OSS/Linux issues – I’ll leave the old static links untouched, at least for awhile.
Anything new in this area, however, will be created/maintained using wordpress (as it is easier, offers more features).
Next thing todo here are some adjustments so that this category uses its own theme (or at least: custom background).
Shouldn’t be that hard 🙂