Friday, January 20, 2012

KDE SC 4.8 Upcoming Features

Later this month we will see the release of the KDE SC 4.8 series, another one of the typical six-month cycles that KDE relentlesly goes through. As we have seen since SC 4.4, probably the first truly stable and fast release cycle since KDE SC 4.x series started, KDE SC 4.8 will continue the tradition of building over the previous release cycle strengths. Given how much has happened in the last six months, I thought it was a good idea to review what's coming in the next few months. Most people will probably be aware of the highlights, but I think there is a lot of work that may have gone unnoticed that we should keep an eye on.


KDE SC 4.7 series witnessed massive improvements in the Semantic Desktop. Led by Sebastian Trueg, efforts concentrated on improving stability through bug fixing, but also on improving performance, optimizing resource use, as well as including some cool features. As a result, KDE SC 4.8 will be the first release with a powerful, stable and fully functional Semantic Desktop.


Kmix will receive a much needed facelift in KDE SC 4.8. New features and a better looking outfit are part of what users will enjoy. More details HERE.


From the official KDE SC 4.8 Beta announcement:

"Qt Quick is making its way into the Plasma Workspaces. The new Plasma Components provide a standardized API implementation of widgets with native Plasma Look and Feel. The device notifier widget has been ported using these components and is now written in pure QML. KWin's window switcher is now also QML-based, paving the way for newly designed window switchers."


The changes to Dolphin, the default KDE file manager, are among the highlights in this release. I have already covered them in a couple of articles, which you can read HERE and HERE.


Just like Dolphin 2.0 will meet icon animations, Gwenview will get some animations and transitions of its own. The following video demonstrates both Gwenview's and Dolphin's. This video also demonstrates the new QML based device notifier.


A password storage service, KSecretService will enhance the integration of non-KDE apps inside the KDE Desktop, as well as KDE apps outside of KDE.


We did see lots of improvement in this area thanks to Martin Gräßlin's efforts, specially after KDE SC 4.7.2. Martin did mention in an ARTICLE of his back then that things would get even better in SC 4.8: "But the real optimization by only calling the active effects will hit only 4.8".

This is cool news because the improvement in Kwin effects was very significant during SC 4.7, so even smoother effects in KDE SC 4.8 surely is exciting news.


Probably my favorite text editor (along Geany, but certainly a favorite in KDE) out there, Kate is in for some more changes and improvements. More details HERE.


I recently POSTED about this, and while it is not necessarily an SC 4.8 feature, it is likely that we will see the final release of Oxygen fonts during this release cycle.


After a few releases enjoying the awesome work of Nuno Pinheiro in the wallpaper department, it seems it is time for a change. Nuno himself conducted a contest to gather some new talent and eventually, the new official wallpapers for KDE SC 4.8. I have seen some information out there about the winners, but I am not 100% sure it is legitimate, so we will have to wait and see what the default wallpapers look like this time around.


A very interesting set of new features will land in power management land come this new release. I am particularly interested in isolated power management settings for each activity, something that I truly think adds value to the whole activity concept. Here's a video explaining more on the subject:


Dario Freddi posted the following in PlanetKDE:

"I wanted to blog about some improvements towards flawless power management inhibition. A GCI student, George Stephanos, took the task of testing and fixing inhibition in 4.8: the results were two bugs fixed, and dragon player being able to successfully prevent any power management action. But it does not stop here: yesterday I also added inhibition support in Okular – if you are giving a presentation with it, you don’t have to worry about your screen or your system going down anymore."


Not necessarily part of KDE SC 4.8, but it is during this release cycle that KDE users will be able to enjoy the final release of Calligra 2.4, a very interesting and promising take on KOffice that already works pretty well in its Beta state.


As usual, we can expect stability and performance improvements to come along with KDE SC 4.8. Aaron Seigo recently posted about bug fixing sessions that had gone particularly well, which made him feel very positive about this upcoming release stability. Having said so, I would recommend waiting until the usual April releases, which should allow enough time for distro builders to pack SC 4.8.1, 4.8.2, or even 4.8.3 along... unless you want to help bug fixing, that is!

So there you have it, I am sure I am missing things here and there, but even so, this short list should make it clear that there is plenty to be excited about as we sail into KDE SC 4.8 waters!


  1. Looking forward to it, thanks!

  2. how about FINALLY allowing icons to be bigger in the panels?
    i would like a bigger KDE start button, I need bigger icons in the system tray an I use a disappeaing side panel to put all different apps I need for work.
    all those icons can not be made bigger while everything else can.

    user should decide that since user knows best.
    this isnt gnome, let us make something bigger even if the UI kings dont like it.

    big fan of nuno, not sure how I feel about the font though. it hasnt jumped at me eitehr way..

    good to hear kmix is gettin facelift, a bit scared that Kate is too... its perfect as is.

    i hear semantic or nepomuk and I realize that some people still dont grasp the idea that using a search function should be seamless and pain free. you should be able to go to Dolphin on any default install and search through files.... I know the whys and the hows but this has to be the #1 question we get on our IRC help channel.
    why doesnt anyone grasp this?

  3. I am not sure if I am misunderstanding your point, but icons can be bigger in pannels. In fact, it's very simple:

    Go to System Settings > Application Appearance > Icons, then click on the Advanced tab. If your theme supports all sizes, you should see a list of areas where default icon size can be changed, panel being one of them. Simply select it and then change the default size to 128px, maybe 256px, if you want something huge (I wouldn't recommed it, because the notification area starts looking nonsense). As a final step, go back to your desktop, unlock widgets and then raise the height of whatever panel you want bigger icons on. That should do it!

    Hope that's what you needed!

    Take care

  4. COOOL!!! Thanks!!!

  5. @Chema: I dont think you can make the system tray fonts bigger that way. Im pretty sure I read on KDE forums that this wasnt possible because the system tray is limited to 48x48 pixels and that it was a limitation of the old System Tray protocol,
    Could be wrong but I remember the discussion going into hypotheticals like 'could we use SVG' and wondering why ths wasnt done.
    I have 20-20 vision but I do understand that it would be frustrating.

    Love all the new things in KDE but to be honest, Ive been a bit spoiled lately and stopped paying attention after 4.5.
    Dont get me wrong, its all nice and polished and quicker but Ive been loving my KDE4 for a while now and its like having a banana split sundae: right now were are putting the chocolate sprinkles on top of the cherry.

    I am awaiting Calligra anxiously though.
    I also look forwards to better power management and making things quicker. You can never have too much of either.

    Lorne G.

  6. @Anonymous: I am not sure I follow, to be honest. Are you the same person that posted the second comment here? If so, that comment is talking about the size of icons, not fonts, and that's what I was talking about.

    Perhaps that was a typo and you still mean icons, and while you are right about the system tray ones, the panel ones, like the KDE button you mentioned on your original email, can be enlarged using the method I proposed.

    As for the system tray ones, well, I kind of understand why they cannot be enlarged and I support it. There was quite a lot of talk around the notification area (system tray is more of a Windows term) and what should and should not go in there, and one of the things I agreed with was that it could quickly get out of hand and defeat its purpose. I believe that large icons in there would be one way of losing control and making a notification area look like something else entirely.

  7. Well, my problem regarding panel icons is exactly opposite: my panel icons grow to the full height of my panel, no matter what I set in the System Settings > Application Appearance > Icons. If I enlarge the panel to be 500px high, my icons grow to 500px, ie. ridiculously big. How can I stop them from growing?

    I'm running Debian wheezy with KDE 4.8.4.