Thursday, August 2, 2012

KDE SC 4.9 available now!

KDE SC 4.9 is in now, timely arriving to its summer date. This release is dedicated to the memory of one of the project's contributors, Claire Lotion:

"This release is dedicated to the memory of KDE contributor Claire Lotion. Claire's vibrant personality and enthusiasm were an inspiration to many in our community, and her pioneering work on the format, scope and frequency of our developer meetings changed the way we go about implementing our mission today. Through these and other activities she left a notable mark on the software we are able to release to you today, and we are grateful for and humbled by her efforts."

KDE SC 4.9 has a strong focus on quality and stability, always a very welcome initiative on any project. In the case of KDE, this is particularly relevant, because it consistently receives negative feedback around a much improved but still shaky foundation:

"The KDE Quality Team was set up earlier this year with a goal to improve the general levels of quality and stability in KDE software. Special attention was given to identifying and fixing regressions from previous releases. This was a top priority because it ensures improvement with each release.

The Team also set up a more rigorous testing process for releases starting with beta versions. New testing volunteers received training; and several testing intensive days were held. Rather than traditional exploratory testing, testers were assigned to focus on specific areas that had changed since previous releases. For several critical components, full testing checklists were developed and used. The team found many important issues early and worked with developers to make sure they were fixed. The Team itself reported over 160 bugs with the beta and RC releases, many of which have now been fixed. Other beta and RC users added considerably to the number of bugs reported. These efforts are important because they allow developers to concentrate on fixing issues."

KDE SC 4.9 is being labeled "best release ever" by its creators, but it may be so in a "quiet" kind of way. While the improvements are there, they are not of the very explicit kind that we are used to (ie, lots of new features). Instead, we should get a much more stable release, one that has received lots of attention to detail, bug-fixing and stability... Benefits that should be "felt", rather than "seen". Personally, I can't wait to get it, it is exactly what I wanted for a long time!

To get a bit into specifics, here's a bit of a summary of what the Official ANNOUNCEMENT had to say:

KDE SC 4.9 incorporates substantial improvements to core elements in Workspaces, such as KWin, Dolphin and Activities. The latter seems to continue its trend to give us more isolation for each activity, this time around allowing files to be activity-specific, thus making the whole concept a lot more attractive and useful. Activity encryption for private tasks is now possible. Dolphin is empowered with more powerful metadata management, as well as versioning capabilities thanks to the Mercurial plugin. KWin incorporates a revamped and improved Task switcher section and better performance for wobbly windows (yay!). Last but not least, Konsole now allows searching for words using KDE Web shortcuts, as well as changing directories from the UI.

In terms of application changes, the most significant fix belongs in Okular, which is now capable of saving and printing annotations in an PDF. Okular becomes even more powerful and is probably the best document viewer available. Kopete also gets a bit of attention (strange, now that KDE seems to be pushing KDE Telepathy one would expect Kopete to be left aside, but I guess any improvement is always welcome).

The idea is that the whole of KDE has been analyzed, scrutinized, then stabilized and improved, which is as good as it gets, if you ask me. How far those improvements have got and whether this is the stable KDE SC we all want remains to be seen, but I can only applaud this effort from the KDE community. Bravo!


  1. Using the new KDE 4.9 releases for almost a day now and they are awesome. Faster and not a single problem yet. Really nice. I thinkk I did a smart decision to switch to KDE desktop a few weeks ago. Best desktop ever.