Monday, December 1, 2008

Fedora 10 KDE

When one thinks of Fedora, the GNOME desktop comes to mind. Well, RH/Fedora is known as a "GNOME distro". I was piqued by the many talks of the improvements of the KDE version of Fedora 10. I was an exclusively KDE user until I switched to Ubuntu about 2 years back.

I downloaded the KDE version three days after F10 was released from a mirror in Japan. Initially I installed the GNOME version on my trusty Compaq nc2400 lappy (Intel Core Duo 1200, 2GB RAM, 945i Graphics etc) and everything was ok.....until I wanted to burn CDs. No matter what what burner (Brasero, XCDRoast, Gnomebaker) I used, they all reported that there was some issue with my SCSI connector. Got me panic a bit. Has my driver finally gave up its ghost?

Fedora is known to be a stickler to upstream code, meaning they will either not or add VERY little stuff to upstream binaries or code (unless it is a bug and then they will contribute upstream). So you basically get the stock binaries, with bugs and worts and all.

So, I burned a copy of the KDE version, installed it and used the venerable k3b to burn a copy of a DVD iso. It worked! Yay saved me RM350!

The KDE version came with version 4.1.3. Since I do a lot of media files, next I downloaded the RPM Fusion repo rpm. RPM Fusion combined the livna, Freshrpms and Dribble repositories. Now the number of packages made available for Fedora is increased. Interoperability and usability issues of using mixed repos of the past are now gone.

Next I removed the useless Abiword (to me at least), KDE PIM and Transmission BitTorrent client. I added and installed the go-oo variant of, Thunderbird and all "restricted" codecs. All worked well.

KDE 4.1.3 is in a word beautiful. The Folder View widgets are just cool. I no longer need to go to the File Manager just to look at my directory contents. I created two just to make things easier for me.

Amarok is one of the things I sorely missed when I was using GNOME. I did install it but somehow it looked out of place with all the other GNOME apps. Amarok 1.94 is included, there is a nice facelift to it and it somehow feels smoother on the eyes.

Firefox is still as ugly as ever running on KDE 4x. The much talked about scrollbar fix did nothing much to beautify it. I use a lot of Gmail and it is just bad. The left screen shot shows that the check boxes are just rendered wrong on Firefox. I get much better rendering on Opera. But since I use Firegpg to sign my mails, I still have to use Firefox. Ditto for Thunderbird in the ugliness department.

Konqueror, installed as the default web browser, is pretty much useless on most websites I care about (e.g. Gmail).

I did install the qt-gtk libraries thingy and there was an option in KDE Systems Settings for setting up GTK apps to run on KDE, but it did not help.

While I can understand the issues involved in beautifying a GTK app in KDE 4.x a beginner will sneer at this and dump it cussing that Linux is just plain ugly.

The slab start menu will get some getting used to. It is not necessary a bad design, it's kinda nice once you get the hang of it.

One of the promises of the KDE 4.x desktop is that you can add tons of cute widgets on the desktop. I communicate with many people from different time zones and in GNOME I can add world time easily via the time and date applet. Appreciating that KDE IS NOT GNOME, well I just thought I add a few more digital time widgets on the desktop, each reflecting different time zones. Sadly, it seems that crashes the desktop everytime I log off and/or restart the computer. I always get a SIGNINT error. When I re-login all the digital timers seem to like each other so much that they decided to group together and go on top of each other on the upper left hand corner. So much for the usability of the KDE 4.x desktop.

On the other hand it seems to work if I add the digital clock widgets on the Task Bar.

Kopete was for a long time a favourite IM client of mine. Of late however it just refuses to work i.e. I keyed in the right username and password but kept getting rejected by the remote server. I use YM a lot and it seems to work intermittently. That was an issue when I tried KDE 4.0x Beta. I thought they would have solved it by now. My co-workers running Pidgin have no such issues.

The Konversation IRC client is nice. In fact it seems to work better than my trusty xchat. It seems to be faster than xchat as well. This is definitely the bright light of my whole experience with KDE 4x.

In a nutshell, KDE 4 is definitely not ready for use. There are just too many issues with it. I recommend to ignore any iterations of KDE until it hits version 4.2.

However, if you do want to use KDE I will recommend OpenSUSE and Mandriva, both "kings of KDE" or so to speak.

I understand and appreciate the work the Fedora KDE SIGers put in but at this point, it is just simply "half-cooked"; it won't kill you but will give you some discomfort if you decide to eat it.


lolzlolz said...

thanks for the nice review, i just installed fedora 10 and am enjoying the slick visuals, however i'd definitely be lost if i didn't already know the package names... i find the package manager would be confusing if you'd never used linux (ubuntu remains the best beginner linux distro) but im excited to use the latest version of kde especially when the bugs you described are ironed out :)

msian_tux_lover said...

You are welcomed. I like KDE but it is simply not usable at this moment.

Punk said...

I am definitely movin to F10....but for now I am satisfied with OpenGeu as it works with my crappy H/W well enough.

Dagalur said...

If I have the "regular" (gnome) livecd, can I still install KDE? (I burned the iso and never realized that a kde version was available and now I'm out of dvd's, too lazy to go buy a new one)