Saturday, January 28, 2012

A look at KDE SC 4.8

Yes, shortly after announcing the upcoming features in KDE SC 4.8, it's live!!... Using Kubuntu backports I decided to give it a try and here's a brief look at what I found. Note that this is not a review of KDE SC 4.8, just a preview of what's in store once distros properly implement it using stable chanels.

NOTE: My Kubuntu desktop is highly customized to my needs/taste, so not everything you see here is representative of SC 4.8. On a different note, this is just a very brief summary, certainly not exhaustively covering all new features.

A SCREENSHOT TOUR

One of the first things that jumps at you is the new set of wallpapers, specially the new default one. Personally, I consider this new wallpaper a step back, even more so considering how good Nuno Pinheiro's Horos was, but I guess this may trigger more interest from other artists to add their two cents come KDE SC 4.9. In any case, a wallpaper is not such a big deal, but nevertheless, the following screenshots will show the different wallpapers added in this release along with some other highlights.


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Unfortunately, the next thing that caught my attention was how hungry Nepomuk had become. As demonstrated on the screenshot below, it consistently ate huge chunks of my CPU power. I thought that could be a result of indexing my inbox (since file indexing was idle), but after hours and a couple reboots, the behavior didn't change. virtuoso-t and nepomukservicestub processes were busy most of the time, and that was obviously having an impact on my machine's performance. Unfortunately, after investigating a bit, I found that Akonadi was the source of the problem. I was happy to get Korganizer to work at last with my Google Calendar (wasn't able to in KDE SC 4.7, no matter which method I used) and because my Plasma calendar was set to show events, Akonadi would start right away after boot and drive Nepomuk nuts. After a while, I disabled the calendar events and things got back to normal, but this is a significant drawback. I assume (rather hope) that these issues will be fixed in the first dot release.


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Another new wallpaper and the new device notifier, which has been ported to QML entirely. Rumour says it already incorporates enhancements that will come to fruition when KDE SC 4.9 is released.


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Don't know if there are improvements in the calendar plasma widget, but it looks better than it did in SC 4.7.


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I guess none of the recent changes to the Network Manager interface made it to KDE SC 4.8, which is a shame. In fact, those buttons look kind of funny!


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Dolphin and its animated icons have got lots of attention as we were getting closer to this release. Personally, I am not too satisfied with the new outfit. Those icons look way too close to each other.


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Just like the device notifier, the application switcher has been ported to QML and now supports theming. For now, there are just a few available, and while the whole thing looks a bit premature, I think we will see it bloom in all its beauty come SC 4.9.


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Here's an example of my favorite theme, the huge icons one (have I mentioned I absolutely LOVE Oxygen icons?).


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Among other things, certain applications were updated to more recent versions, like Amarok.


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Gwenview is my favorite Linux image viewer/manager and this latest release just makes it better. Transitions and animations make image displaying a joy, and all the good old features are there. You can read more about Gwenview's new features HERE.


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Okular also incorporates new features in this latest release, which you can read in detail HERE.


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Kate also incorporates new features and improvements, as detailed HERE


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Another very cool thing that makes its debut in KDE SC 4.8 is the concept of activity-specific energy settings. I consider this a great idea!


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If you are of the adventurous kind, go get KDE SC 4.8 now and help stabilize it by reporting bugs (don't expect a fully stable DM this soon after release date). If you love stable stuff, though, I'd suggest waiting until the April releases and get it with your favorite distro. Either way, KDE looks and works better than ever!

5 comments:

  1. Good review IMO.
    Yet I would have liked to see the behavior of command line tools in the new environment. Does starting Okular or kwrite from command line produce KXMLGUIClient errors, as in previous KDE versions? Are command line tools for manipulating images upgraded and improved (for example how does the application "feh" behave)? How is working with yakuake in KDE SC 4.8 (faster/slower then in previous versions)? Are Kwin and Xorg consuming the same amount of CPU and memory resources when Desktop effects are enabled and youtube videos are played (with flashplayer enabled)? I know it's just a basic review, but...

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  2. Limac, thanks for your questions.

    This was no review, but even if it was, I am not sure I´d go into that level of detail. I encourage you to share your views here when you try KDE SC 4.8, though, I´d be interested to see how your tests unfolded.

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  3. I certainly will. I also have a blog at clinuxblog.blogspot.com where I focus on command line apps. Of course, my blog is not as popular as yours, given the popularity of CLI :p

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  4. Thanks!

    ...And you have a new follower, I do like CLI and am always interested in learning new stuff about it!

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  5. Good to have you around! Best,

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