Sunday, October 26, 2008

KDE4 Mixed feelings

I've been keeping my eye on KDE4 for a long time and now that I heard that Kubuntu was adopting it as the default in Intrepid I was very curious.So I went on and downloaded the Kubuntu Intrepid RC live cd just to see if KDE4 was better on a fresh install.

I had the kde4 packages installed on my Kubuntu hardy since the first release and after every update I tried it to see if I would be able to use it daily.
I would like to point that this post is by no way a rant, I love KDE4 and I wish it was ready and everyone would be able to use it.I am also a long-time fan of KDE3, which I have been using from the first day I was introduced to Linux.

That said, I ran into some serious usability problems.I like the new kopete-kde4 interface and I can see from the shell that it has new long awaited features like the ability to block messages from outside the contact list (for which I wrote a patch once, because I needed it badly in 0.12).
But the kde4 version has serious bugs handling the Yahoo protocol.
Don't get me wrong, I don't like yahoo, but everyone I know uses it.If I could , I would make everyone use Jabber with SSL, but it's not my choice.
I need instant messaging really bad. The kde4 kopete is unable to retrieve avatars, sometimes status message and it takes and awful lot of time for it to recognize which of my contacts are online and even after it does, it shows it only partially.I didn't test the file sending, which is really important for me (it didn't work in kopete-kde3 either).

Just to make things worse the kde3 version of kopete has the exact same problems using the kde4 libs.I don't know what workaround kubuntu will provide for this, but I sure hope they fix it.Maybe it will get fixed when telepathy/decibel will be ready.
I'm afraid that issues like this will leave a bad first impresion about kde4 in the new users of Kubuntu Intrepid.Of course, I could just use pidgin, but thats not the point.

The new folderview plasmoid bothers me too.Of course it's innovative but it really misses any form of configurability.What bothers me most is that it doesn't preview image files on the desktop.I know, it's a minor issue, but I miss that feature.

On the positive side the new KDE4 has stunning animations and they all work seamlessly by default on my 5 year old ATI Radeon 9200SE.
I also like the look and feel of kde4, it's really friendly and everything is in the right place, it's really elegant and all but it the default theme reminds me too much of Mac OS X, with that aluminium-like look, so that will get changed (I don't like Mac or anything Apple, don't even get me started on it).

Overall, things have improved and maybe making it the default in Kubuntu 8.10 is just the radical action it needs to push kde4 in the right direction and make it as great (or hopefully a lot better) as it's legendary predecessor.