My Impressions of KDE 4.2

I have actually been meaning to write this post for a while now, but as usual school takes away most of my ambition to do things such as write to this blog or write fun code.

I have been using KDE 4.2 on both my Gentoo systems (laptop and desktop) since about a week after it was released. I still run it now and plan on running it until the next big release of KDE.

KDE 4.2 really took my breath away on many fronts. First of all the Phonon sound system works properly. This also means that I can use Amarok 2.0 which is a HUGE plus for me. In 4.1 I had all sorts of annoying problems getting Phonon to even play sound, and when it did it would block any other applications from using the sound card. Not so any more!

Also, the Plasma widgets are running much cleaner and faster. In KDE 4.1 they seemed to resize slowly and imprecisely. Now, not only do they resize correctly, but if you stick them off the screen in a strange way or place them in some funny manner they try to arrange themselves in a neat fashion. For someone as OCD as myself this feature is wonderful!

The fact that you can now use a Desktop View widget as a desktop is probably good news for some because it means easier access to icons. Personally, I don’t really care about that because I hate desktop icons to begin with. I launch all of my programs through the Run Command interface anyway.

I started using Kopete recently as well, and that has seen huge improvements since the last time I used it. I’m not sure when they changed the interface around and added all the animations, but Kopete has now replaced Pidgin as my default messaging client.

In terms of looks… well KDE 4.2 looks very much like KDE 4.1 or even 4.0. They updated the default theme a little bit, but it is still the same fundamental idea. This is fine with me. I love the new Oxygen theme and it gives a fresh look to my desktop.

As far as running KDE on my laptop is concerned I like 4.2 much better for basically one reason alone… The battery meter widget shows the time remaining now and is also aware of different processor throttling states. This is a great improvement over what I experienced in 4.1 and it makes KDE completely useable on my laptop. Also, since KDE is now more aware of dual screens and screen settings it made it nice to use while I was giving presentations with Okular (the new KDE pdf viewer) on my laptop. I’ve yet to play around with the GUI for changing the display settings (I use xrandr from the terminal) , but I hope to give that a try some time in the near future.

Dual screen support in terms of my desktop setup seems to be about the same as it had been, but I think that is because I am using the proprietary ATI driver and not the open source one. It works well enough that I don’t have any issues. I really like the feature where if you have a maximized window on one screen you can just drag it over the other screen and it stays maximized. Maybe other versions of KDE had this… but either way it is real handy.

I can hardly say enough good things about KDE 4.2 and I am really looking forward to the 4.3 release and some additional bug fixes.

Now that I have gone on and on about the positives I will list a few bugs and whatnot that I have found, but am confident they will be fixed in later releases. The first is that the “Run Command” feature seems to crash if I have KDE running for too long. I typically leave my system running for days at a time so I don’t like it when stuff like that breaks. Also, when I first installed KDE 4.2 I had to clear out all my KDE 4.1 settings before it would run correctly. This is only a minor annoyance, but if you have a bunch of settings that took forever to set up it would be a bit of a bummer to reload them all.

Overall I am extremely happy with KDE 4.2 and would reccomend it to those who have been holding off on account of stability issues. I use it everyday for doing school work and I have not run in to any problems that have caused me to need to downgrade to 4.1 or to switch away from it entirely. Great work KDE team!

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6 Responses to My Impressions of KDE 4.2

  1. Ken says:

    I liked your review — especially because I’ve been using KDE4 since its 4.0 avatar and it has improved by leaps and bounds. For comparison, I still have a partition with PCLinuxOS running KDE4.0. Although looks-wise not much seems to have changed, KDE4.2 is miles ahead of 4.0 — as it should be!

    Thanks for the tip about moving maximized windows from one monitor to another. I like it 🙂

  2. Jack Strangio says:

    Maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon, but for the life of me I just can’t take to KDE 4.x. I’ve tried it at each of the major subreleases, 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, but to me it’s just not anywhere as good as KDE 3.5.

    It’s got to the point where I’d rather use Gnome than KDE 4.x, and that’s saying something.

    Everything in 3.5.x just works, which is more than I can say for 4.x.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now. 🙂

  3. jintoreedwine says:

    @Ken: Glad to hear you liked the review. It’s good to know there are other happy KDE 4 users out there 🙂

    @Jack: I’m sorry that you find KDE 4.x to be of lesser quality than KDE 3.5. Is there some particular set of features that you think is missing, or does it have to do with the fact that portions of it have been completely redesigned?

  4. sergiu says:

    I’m using KDE 4.2 on sidux and my battery meter only shows the percentage remaining, not the ramaining time.
    Am i missing something?

  5. Ken says:

    @sergiu: I believe you can right-click the battery icon in the panel and go to configuration screen and check the box that says “Show percentage on the icon” or something like that.

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