KDE4: How It Looks

Aron Schatz
December 25, 2007
KDE4: How It Looks
The K Desktop Environment is one of the big two of windowing managers for many operating systems. KDE4 will be released in a couple of weeks and brings many revolutionary changes. Here is a preview of what is to come.

Page 1: KDE4


Even though KDE4 will be released in couple of weeks, there are already distributions releasing packages and even live CDs with the RC2 release. Kubuntu has released a live CD that uses KDE4 and that's what I'll be showing you today. This is by no means a complete preview, just a quick look at how the interface has changed and what is to come. Remember that KDE4 has not been released and shouldn't be used in a production environment (yet).



When you're greeted by Kubuntu's KDE4 for the first time, it reminds that this is Linux. It is what you want it to be. You are presented with the base installation (and many things don't work) and you can choose what you want to enable or disable. Many things have greatly improved in KDE4. With KDE4, it really seems that you can use KDE as the entire distribution of Linux. It really has (almost) everything you could need for a desktop. Remember that KDE has many parts to it. Let's go through some screenshots.

widgetadd.jpg widgetadd2.jpg

KDE4's new desktop is not a folder anymore. It is a brand new concept that they call Plasma. Plasma is really the term for the new way KDE4 interacts with the user. Plasma allows the information you want to have on your desktop for immediate access. The concept of widgets have really burned through all pieces of software and KDE4's Plasma interface allows the use of many custom widgets. More and more widgets will be created, this is the concept of a true dashboard. Maybe we'll start calling the desktop a dashboard?

The Menu:

menu1.jpg menu2.jpg menu3.jpg menu4.jpg

The KDE4 menu is powerful, but incomplete in my opinion. It attempts at an improved way to get to your programs fast. It fails at this for a number of different reasons. I'm sure that these will be fixed for the release. Menus should have infinite space. The Mac and Windows OS know this already. This is why the Mac keeps its menubar at the top of the screen. You can't go higher than that and it is pretty hard to not hit the menubar. The Start menu for Windows is the same way by defaulting to the lower left corner. You have the ease of moving the pointer to the lower left and hitting the Start menu. KDE4's menu may be a bit more advanced with its fast searching and streamlined interface, but when you try to go back a menu (which you have to click) you may end up missing the rather thing back part of the menu and are forced to open the menu again since you just hit the dashboard. I'll hold more criticism for when KDE4 is actually released with the proper tools that work.



Konsole has gotten an overhaul which is very much welcomed. KDE3's Konsole was a horrible globbed together interface for settings and such. It is nice to see the KDE4's apps are being streamlined. It really helps the user out in the long run.



Konqueror has gotten an overhaul as well. Since KDE4's KParts support Webkit, Kubuntu's maintainers decided it would be fun to use that as the default rendering engine instead of KHTML. You read this right. KDE4's Konqueror can support Webkit which is Apple's fork of KHTML used in Safari. This will be a huge boom to all users of KDE when Webkit replaced KHTML. KHTML has served Konqueror well for the past years, but Webkit is a great platform and it is good to see that KDE's browser can use it.


That isn't to say that it works correctly. This is a pre-release product, after all. It seems that Webkit wants Konqueror to show a file download dialog for everything it does and you can't input any text into form fields. Looks like KHTML is staying for awhile after all.

System Settings:

syssettings.jpg composite.jpg

The system configuration program hasn't really changed much. It was already well laid out so little had to be done. The most interesting thing about KDE4 is that it features compositing effects directly in default window decorator (Kwin). I'm sure the Compiz-Fusion team may have something to say, and I really hope that these visual effects start getting standardized. I've been using Compiz on Kubuntu, but it is still nowhere near where Beryl was before the merge (where's Aquamarine for Compiz?).

File Management:


Lastly are the file managers. In previous KDE releases, Konqueror was the default file manager. This is not so with KDE4. Dolphin is the new default file manager. I hate Dolphin as a file manager. It reminds me of Nautilus too much and it hides too much detail. Like everything with KDE, you can choose which file manager you want and I've also shown Konqueror behind Dolphin. Kubuntu started using Dolphin in 7.10 and I promptly switched back to Konqueror.

More To Come:

When KDE4 is fully released, expect a much more in-depth review of all its features and enhancements as well as its shortcomings. I hope you enjoyed this preview of KDE4. Please »drop by the forums with any questions or comments you have. I hope KDE pushes Linux in the direction it should be heading... Everywhere.
members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2178m.jpg start.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2179m.jpg widgetadd.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2180m.jpg widgetadd2.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2181m.jpg menu1.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2182m.jpg menu2.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2183m.jpg menu3.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2184m.jpg menu4.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2185m.jpg konsole.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2186m.jpg konqueror.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2187m.jpg konqueror2.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2188m.jpg syssettings.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2189m.jpg composite.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/24/2190m.jpg filemanage.jpg members/attachments/upload/2007/12/25/2191.jpg kde4.jpg


Medium Image View Large