No longer a KDE fan

Posted by ardchoille on Nov 18, 2008 2:48 AM EDT
Ian's Blog; By Ian MacGregor
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KDE used to be a very nice desktop environment for Linux, I remember using it over the years in CentOS, Fedora Core, Kubuntu, Mandriva, and PCLinuxOS. I used KDE 3.5.x in Kubuntu and thought it was the best desktop environment available for the Linux operating system. But what would a new Linux user feel about Linux if KDE 4 were the first environment they attempted to run?

So much is said about KDE 4 but I felt the views of your average, everyday KDE user should be made public. After all, the end user is the most important component in any product.

KDE used to be a very nice desktop environment for Linux, I remember using it over the years in CentOS, Fedora Core, Kubuntu, Mandriva, and PCLinuxOS. I used KDE 3.5.x in Kubuntu and thought it was the best desktop environment available for the Linux operating system. But lately things have gone downhill.

I'll start with Dolphin. The KDE desktop used Konqueror as the default file manager up until KDE4 when the KDE project replaced Konqueror with the Dolphin file manager. Konqueror was a feature-rich file manager that can double as a nice web browser, although not as good as Firefox. It has since been replaced with Dolphin, which is no where near as feature-rich as Konqueror. Why would someone take a feature-rich application out and replace it with an application which doesn't have a comparable set of features? Were the KDE developers bored and needed something to do for the next couple of years? I feel that the KDE developers should have left Konqueror as the default file manager, kept Dolphin out of the release, and written a new web browser comparable to Firefox.. this would have made KDE an even better DE.

Next I'll talk about KControl. KControl was a shell that loaded all configuring modules into one window. This way the user could configure all components of KDE from one place, one window, rather than having to open hundreds of other apps and configure things separately in their respective windows - which can be time-consuming for the end user. It was nice to be able to configure all of KDE from one window, but the KControl shell has been removed. Now the user must open hundreds of other apps and configure things separately in several different windows. Why would the KDE developers make things harder on their users? The System Settings application is nice, but it is a far cry from the features of KControl.

Finally, I must speak out on KDE4 and it's use of the Plasma engine. First of all, software should never leave the developer table until it has been tested and all features work as designed, at least the debian project tries very hard to accomplish this. This simply wasn't the case with KDE 4.0, it was released with many features still unusable and I've never had such a high number of crashes in KDE until I tried using KDE4. Secondly, the developers who wrote the application should know their code, and if they know their code then they know where all the bugs are. If they don't know where all of the bugs are then they have no business writing software for the public. It is not the publics' job to test your code, that responsibility falls to your beta testers - which is not the public at large. There is absolutely no excuse for releasing software in the state that KDE4 was in when it was released. I saw a screenshot of Windows Vista before KDE4 was released and KDE4 looks suspiciously like Vista. If the KDE developers were trying to mimic Windows Vista, then that was a very bad idea. Windows is one of the best examples of bad software development I have ever seen and you couldn't pay me to try and mimic that mess. No, I didn't file any bug reports because that's simply not my job. If the software had been held and tested until everything worked as designed then there wouldn't have been so many problems for the end user to begin with. You're going to have to fix the bugs sooner or later and you can save your end users a lot of frustration by fixing them before the software is released. And, after all, the end user is the most important component in any product. At least in KDE 3.5.x the user could easily change the color/skin of kicker. And I'm still not sure why the KDE project didn't continue development on KDE 3.5.x and work on KDE 4.x at the development table so that KDE 4 could be released in a feature-rich and usable state.

I can only assume that the reason KDE4 was rushed out the door was that the KDE project had an influx of amateur developers who didn't quite understand software development and how their work would affect their users. The one thing you don't want to do is force your users to abandon your software and migrate to another project, but this is exactly what I've seen happening since KDE4 was released. I also abandoned the KDE desktop and switched to the gnome desktop where at least everything works and there weren't any changes requiring me to make drastic changes in the way I use my computers. One of the good things about gnome is that the Nautilus file manager now has a tabbed UI. I'm not sure if Dolphin has a tabbed UI (I couldn't find it anyway) but I know Konqueror did.

If you had to get from point A to point B as quickly and safely as possibly, would you abandon your stealth fighter for a paper airplane? That is, in my opinion, exactly what the KDE project has done. KDE4 is a prime example of why Linux is not more widely used.. this kind of software is simply not worth using. My time is valuable and I cannot waste it fixing bugs and filing bug reports. Can you imagine what a Windows user trying to migrate to Linux would think if KDE4 were the first environment they attempted to use? What would be their overall opinion of Linux? Let's hope the Kubuntu dev team has the sense to fork KDE 3.5.10 and base their once awesome distro on that instead of staying with KDE4.x.

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KDE4 learning curve perspectoff 21 2,327 Nov 30, 2008 12:28 AM

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