Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

Hmm...another year gone by. Year 2008 will be forever precious to me, it is the year that I :
  • Got married finally, as I was considered an "old" man by most local standards.
  • Joined OSCC and got to know a bunch of talented people and have learn a great deal from them, thanks guys.
  • Got more involved in the local OSS activities - although I have yet to contribute code, I am very much for the richer to learn from the many local community members via the meetups and IRC sessions.
  • Got to attend the Conference in Beijing - I am forever indebted to my Manager, Haris for his support in nominating and the Management in approving my participation. Being there I had the good fortune to meet and exchange ideas with so many talented and diverse people; it was as if a mortal has somehow been granted the privilege to walk among the Titans. I learned so much about OO.o (and the wider FOSS world) in that short few days than the 6 years I have been a user. Also, I felt snow for the 1st time in my life! It was awesome and I think went overboard a bit by runing around like some nutjob sticking out my tongue to catch snow flakes!
  • Bought the very nice E71 cell phone (after my old SE W850i had an unfortunate accident with the washing machine), my very first smartphone.
  • Finally managed to move into my very own apartment, it's nothing grand but it's mine and it feels good.
Generally I do not have any high aspirations for a new year. But I do look forward to more Linux being bundled with netbooks and computers on the whole.

Resolutions? Same as last year, to have the strength to accept and make changes, serenity to accept things I cannot change and wisdom to know the difference.

Happy New Year to all and have a blessed year ahead.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Some thoughts on OpenSUSE 11.1 GNOME edition

A couple of posts back I was ranting about OpenSUSE 11.1 KDE edition. Well, I refuse to think that OpenSUSE is all that bad. I was using SUSE exclusively before it became "Open" and bought the 10.0 and SLED 10 box sets. Yeah, I was a real SUSE fanboy then.

After that I sort off drifted towards MEPIS (cool, but solely Anglo-Saxon; to enable CJK font rendering on files/dir was an exercise in futility) and then back to SUSE and then finally to Ubuntu, while flirting with Fedora all these while.

Yeah, I am what some would call a distro whore. I get a kick with installing and playing with the newest distros; to stay sane I loosely limit myself to xbuntus, OpenSUSE, Fedora and an occasion Debian-derived work.

Installation and Desktop
Well, pretty, very pretty and slick. Went on without a problem and surprise oh surprise, this GNOME edition detected my lappy's Intel 915 resolution correctly; compared to the KDE edition when I needed to reconfigure the setting AFTER the installation is over and needed to use SAX2. I smell a conspiracy here....

The cool thing I noticed in KDE edition was that, right after I logged in from KDM, I get this nice splash screen and it slowly fades into the desktop. Really cool. For the GNOME edition, it was the normal, GDM -> Splash Screen -> Blank for a couple or so seconds -> Desktop. Nothing fancy but at least I know it works.

The KDE edition was also quite finicky with most display adapters, i.e. I also tried on this workstation of mine that uses an integrated Intel Video (from lspci, Intel Corporation 82Q963/Q965 Integrated Graphics Controller) and the screen blanks out to white with fuzzy horizontal lines after the login and prior the cool fade in to the Desktop.

The conspiracist within me is really working up a frenzy now.

The GNOME edition uses the same GDM version as Fedora 10 (2.24) and thus look alike except with the SUSE greenish hues and better resolution and fit with the rest of the system. The Fedora one for some reason seems to like "larger" fonts for its GDM and I don't see any options to change it.

More green goodness on the desktop and the love it or hate it slab menu. OpenSUSE is I think the only mainstream distro that seems to make the two major desktop environments, GNOME and KDE to be as similar as possible.

The default Gilouche theme is kinda ok I guess but I would prefer something along the lines of Oxygen and it can be added easily via the Appearance applet.

However one major peeve I have with OpenSUSE's slab menu is that there is simply no way you can clear the recently accessed document list. The only sure fire way seems to add the traditional GNOME menu (with the single launcher and not with the three menus one) and clear it from there.

This issue has been around since they went slab menu and only under SLED 10 they managed to include that feature in. This poses some privacy issues and it is indeed surprising that the OpenSUSE people did not see fit to fix it.

The "tabbed" browsing feature in Nautilus is nothing to shout about, since it already made its debut in Ubuntu 8.10 and Fedora 10, but it is noteworthy that the rendering of the tab fonts seems better.

The stock GNOME software list like xchat, pidgin etc are included, sans GNUMeric and Abiword. There is a BitTorrent client named Monsson that is included but I have been using Deluge for some time now and I grabbed it from the repos easily.

Yast and Package Management
Yast under GNOME is better integrated compared to the KDE edition. Well I expected it as there is an issue with the Qt libraries. However, if like me who has not seen Yast for some time since its non-Open days, the Package Management is a little funkier than before, needs getting used to but nevertheless usable.

Zypper is truly awesome and after using for the third day now, I will say in many cases it is superior to yum, especially I find it easier to search through installed and available packages.

Again, even with a 8Mbit/sec line here in the office, updating OpenSUSE requires the patience of a saint. Note to self, disable auto-refresh.

Switching network media connection seems to work better under GNOME than KDE. I was running under Wifi, then I connected the cable and I can easily switch to it.

My Digi EDGE connection could only be done using Kinternet. Sadly, with all announcements on how good OpenSUSE will support mobile (GSM) Internet, it seems that Fedora and Ubuntu has the edge (no pun intended) here over OpenSUSE when it comes to mobile Internet.

OpenSUSE is nice but seems flaky at times. The slab menu file list issue is something that should have been resolved. Multimedia wise, OpenSUSE is simply top notch; I could basically play back any format I have without hiccups and the Pulse Audio system actually works for the first time for me. Even under the "mother distro" of Pulse Audio, Fedora, the controls to Pulse Audio were grayed out. Possibly explains why the audio output for both Ubuntu and Fedora is so crappy on my lappy without ear phones.

I get the feeling that the Novell folks seem to be more interested with GNOME than KDE. I cannot prove this but from purely a user's perspective, GNOME works a lot better than the KDE 4.x they bundled. KDE apologists might say that it is still considered beta or there exists issues with the Qt libs etc etc but the fact is, KDE has been relegated to the status of the proverbial "step child".

Since I am an unabashed fanboy, one of the main reasons I am willing to overlook someof the faults of the distro is that Novell does extremely well. They after all have a small army of developers behind the effort; more specifically the go-oo project.

Go OpenSUSE if you are interested in a good office suite, excellent multimedia playback and good networking stack. Overall a good distro but feels half-baked in some aspects.

Changing hostname under OpenSUSE

One of the quirkiest feature of OpenSUSE is that, there seem to be no way to change or add hostname during the installation. For instance, I ended up with the hostname linux1-woj.

To change the hostname edit the /etc/HOSTNAME (yes, it's upper-caps) file and modify the hostname there. No reboot necessary, but GNOME or your UI might need so.

Source of the tip :

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Some thoughts on OpenSUSE 11.1 KDE version

Yay! Another OpenSUSE release. And like some dewy-eyed and shameless groupie, I used (or misused?!) the company's fast Internet line to download the latest KDE Live CD.

So far, I have been quite critical of KDE 4.x. Most of its incarnation in other distros were, shall we say, less than usable? Things like moving icons around on the panel were made necessarily difficult and what's with the right justification all the time when adding icons to the panel?

Since Mandriva and SUSE are "KDE Kings" I was really looking forward to running it on my spare lappy, an "ancient" Centrino 1.6GHz with 1GB RAM and Intel 915 display.

For any distro, I always look for the following:
  1. Package Repository - how complete and extensive it is.
  2. Package Management - dependency resolution, how easy to update, patch install new software
  3. Multimedia - I use my lappy and home PCs to work and listen to MP3s, watch movies, trailers and Youtube.
  4. Networking - I am a heavy Internet user, in the office and at home I use Wifi extensively and when on the move, I use Digi's EDGE; thus, if any distro has problem working with them, it will never be considered. NetworkManager 0.7 and above should have that covered well.
I installed via the KDE Live CD. I usually prefer the Live CD method just to check everything is working before committing it to the hard drive.

Installation was just an icon click away and it took me about 20 minutes or so.

After the initial reboot, the screen flashed a few times with a message telling me that I shouldn't worry too much about it as the OpenSUSE was trying to properly configure my display. As always, it NEVER works and I needed to get to the Graphics Card and Monitor applet in Yast to get it done properly.

The KDE panel was "automagically" shortened to like 3/4 of its original length and I had to right click to configure the panel and lengthen the panel back to its original full length.

This "shortened" KDE panel is not something that happened only on my spare lappy, it also happened on some other machines I tried on as well. I do hope it is a bug and not some "feature" the KDE or OpenSUSE guys thought were cute.

OpenSUSE's splash screen is simply awesome. Very elegant. Instant bragging material when showing off to Windows fanboys; and it only took me about 35 seconds from startup to a usable desktop (including keying username and password fairly quickly). Very nice!

Also I could hit the ESC key any time during the splash screen to look at the boot up messages, something I miss sorely when running Ubuntu.

Well, it's very green; I was expecting the "normal" KDE 4.x blackness and blue swirl wallpaper, but still better than the orange/brown default of Ubuntu. KDE 4.1.3 is provided as the default. Staple KDE apps, Konqueror, KDE-PIM, Koffice with OO.o 3.0.

Novell's OO.o is known to be really good and in this aspect it doesn't disappoint. It seems snappier and works well even in KDE. Also it comes with extra templates.

I was looking forward to KOffice 2.0, but I guess it's better to iron out the kinks rather than rushing out an unfinished and buggy suite. Koffice is functional but it is simple horrible when working with MS Office docs and it doesn't fully support (or OO.o generated) ODF yet. On a brighter note, Firefox doesn't suck that much as was in Kubuntu or Fedora.

Konversation is not included by default, pity; I like that. Well it's just an installation away. So far Kopete in OpenSUSE seems to give me the least issues. I just can't explain it, maybe there is some special tweak or hidden check box somewhere.

Yast is still as always, dependable and good but looks dated as it is using Qt3 rather than Qt4; but still very usable.

Dolphin is looks like a step backwards. While it looks good, where is the tabbed browsing? Even Nautilus has it now and Dolphin looks so dated compared to the former.

Package Management
Zypper is a very cool tool. While I will not say it is comparable to the venerable apt-get; zypper is at least at the level of yum. Want to install nmap? Just fire away zypper in nmap.

Very nice indeed.

Or you can just launch Software Management applet via Yast. It's just me, I have a soft spot to doing stuff on the CLI sometimes.

Well, a package manager is only as good as the repos that support it. Sadly, the OpenSUSE and 3rd party repos like Packman (with all the multimedia goodies) are simply dreadful to work with. Firstly, to really get stuff configured well, you need to essentially configure the updates via Yast (not a bad thing actually, as it attempts to locate the nearest repo mirror to you) that timed out more times that I can count and in the office I have a dedicated 8Mb line. I finally decided to manually add the nearest mirror (Japan) to via the Software Repository applet. Not very noob friendly at all.

Adding to its issues, is OpenSUSE's insistence of refreshing all the repos every time you launch the Package Management applet or zypper to add/remove stuff. Although you can easily turn the refresh off, it is still annoying, especially so since the repos are so slow and time out so often.

I suggest turning off auto refresh to gain any sanity in working with package management utilities in OpenSUSE.

I watch a lot of AVIs for entertainement and listen to MP3s when I work and/or surf the web. So having a relatively good multimedia playback capability is a pre-requisite for me.

So far even the trouble-some RMVB files that I have seems to play seemlessly via kmplayer and kaffeine. I realy don't care much for Dragon Media player and Amarok seems bloated. For simple MP3 playback I prefer to use Audacious or XMMP.

NetworkManager is one of those gems that just work. While the GNOME version of NetworkManager is just one dialog box and a field to enter the key by comparison KNetworkManager is simply bad. Too many dialog boxes for something as trivial associating to a hotspot. And by default KNetworkManager doesn't even connect to a previously associated hotspot automatically, you'll have to start it automatically by ticking a check box. While some might call Wifi auto connection bad, I feel that I should not be bothered with so many details just to get work done; after all, would you like to re-tune all your favourite channels whenever you fire up your radio?

Not necessarily a feature stopper but begs the question, "WTF"?

As mentioned I am a heavy Internet user. Even when I am on the move I often bring along my trusty nc2400, especially when out for shopping with the wife. So connecting to Digi's EDGE service is important for me.

Well, when I attach my E71 (via a USB cable) to the lappy, I see an option to connect via /dev/ttyACM0 (I can almost hear a noob screaming WTF?!). Okay, bad label but should work right? When I clicked on it, it was dead in the water. A tail -f /var/log/messages said it had connecting /dev/ttyACM0 and error message 15.


It worked with Fedora and Ubuntu and they were released before OpenSUSE 11.1. Well, I finally got connected by configuring a connection via kinternet. On the other hand, when I tried using my wife's Maxis 3G USB dongle (Huawei E220), it got connected KNetworkManager and without resorting to kinternet.

I had the same issue with OpenSUSE 11.0, and so I was looking forward to some sort of improvement.

I would say that OpenSUSE 11.1 is a solid distro. KDE 4.1.3 still feels like unfinished but the OpenSUSE guys managed to tame it to the point it is somewhat usable.

I still think having a single pane only view for Dolphin is a bad choice. Konqueror is doing a wonderful job and sometimes I feel that some stuff are just "upgraded" and "improved" for its own sake.

Also, KNetworkManager simply has one too many dialog boxes. While I understand that KDE != GNOME, there are some cool features in GNOME that perhaps the KDE hackers can use and vice-versa.

I might just make OpenSUSE permanent on my home PC on the account of its excellent multimedia capabilities.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reading Comics (cbr) files with OpenSUSE and Ubuntu

I downloaded Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now comic and was faced with the problem of trying to read cbr files (comic book file, essentially rar'ed file of JPEGs and stuff) on my OpenSUSE notebook.

Unfortunately OpenSUSE does not seem to have Comix in its OSS, NON-OSS and Packman repos.

Oh well, no biggie, I'll head over to Comix's web site and download the tar ball.

From its web site, Comix is a user-friendly, customizable image viewer. It is specifically designed to handle comic books, but also serves as a generic viewer. It reads images in ZIP, RAR or tar archives (also gzip or bzip2 compressed) as well as plain image files. It is written in Python and uses GTK+ through the PyGTK bindings.

It needs Python 2.4 and above, PyGTK (python-gtk for OpenSUSE) and Python Imaging Library (python-imaging for OpenSUSE), and then it's just a matter of #python install.

For Ubuntu, all it took was the simple $sudo apt-get install comix

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Digi EDGE on Backtrack 3 USB Edition

I installed Backtrack 3 (BT3) on to my USB stick, booted into the Fluxbox desktop and from there I can get to the Internet via Internet Dial-Up tool (essentially KPPP) using my trusty Nokia E71.

If you are planning to use BT3 to connect to Internet via Digi EDGE using a cellphone as modem, as I do, usually the modem is connected to /dev/ttyACM0 instead of the default /dev/modem. To be sure check your /var/log/messages. Number to dial is *99# and the username is "digi", password is "wap" (sans quotes and they are case sensitive).

I use the bundled USB data cable to connect to my lappy (nc2400).

Speed wise, ain't nothing to shout about but since BT3 doesn't like my wireless NIC (iwl3495), being able to get online via EDGE is sweet.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Accessing the Internet via Nokia E71 and DIGI EDGE

I switched mobile provider from Maxis to Digi today. It was just a matter of getting to the Digi Specialised Store, filled in a form and that was that. I was given a new Digi SIM card and was told that my voice and unlimited EDGE data subscription would should take effect within two days.

At 2030, I got an SMS from Digi informing me of my subscription is a online. Talk about fast. I filled in the form at about 1700 and it only took about 3.5 hours to switch over. Now that's what I call service!

Well, I was totally engrossed with Life on Mars then and could not be bothered to put in my new Digi card until about an hour ago. All I did was just put in the card and walla! I could surf the Internet via Opera Mini and the speed was so much better than the crappy Maxis 3G. EDGE was supposed to be slower than 3G but it didn't feel like it.

Next was the acid test. Making it as a modem for my Fedora 10 notebook. As always, Linux is never supported by our friendly local ISPs. I plugged in my E71 and the phone gave me some options for connection. After a couple of times of cancelling the options and got my notebook hung after unsuccessful dialups using NetworkManager's Auto Mobile Broadband (GSM) option; I finally chose the PC Suite option on my phone.

No hangig this time but yet it would not connect, I got the following from /var/log/messages:

Dec 8 00:40:37 localhost NetworkManager: Marking connection 'Auto Mobile Broadband (GSM) connection' invalid.
Dec 8 00:40:37 localhost NetworkManager:
Activation (ttyACM0) failed.
Dec 8 00:40:37 localhost NetworkManager:
(ttyACM0): device state change: 9 -> 3
Dec 8 00:40:37 localhost NetworkManager:
(ttyACM0): deactivating device (reason: 0).
Dec 8 00:40:37 localhost NetworkManager: nm_system_device_flush_ip4_routes_with_iface: assertion `iface_idx >= 0' failed
Dec 8 00:40:37 localhost NetworkManager: nm_system_device_flush_ip4_addresses_with_iface: assertion `iface_idx >= 0' failed
Dec 8 00:40:38 localhost pppd[3269]: Terminating on signal 15
Dec 8 00:40:38 localhost pppd[3269]: Modem hangup
Dec 8 00:40:38 localhost pppd[3269]: Exit.

Argghh! WTF @#!&*<>!#

So I decided to go old skool bit and got the following :

--> WvDial: Internet dialer version 1.60
--> Cannot get information for serial port.
--> Initializing modem.
--> Sending: ATZ
--> Modem initialized.
--> Sending: ATDT*99#
--> Waiting for carrier.
~[7f]}#@!}!} } }2}#}$@#}!}$}%\}"}&} }*} } g}%~
--> Carrier detected. Starting PPP immediately.
--> Starting pppd at Mon Dec 8 00:37:19 2008
--> Pid of pppd: 3156
--> Using interface ppp0
--> pppd: ���[08]
--> pppd: ���[08]
--> pppd: ���[08]
--> pppd: ���[08]
--> pppd: ���[08]
--> pppd: ���[08]
--> Disconnecting at Mon Dec 8 00:37:23 2008
--> The PPP daemon has died: A modem hung up the phone (exit code = 16)
--> man pppd explains pppd error codes in more detail.
--> Try again and look into /var/log/messages and the wvdial and pppd man pages for more information.

Oddly my notebook actually found my phone:

Dec 8 00:43:17 localhost kernel: usb 4-1: New USB device found, idVendor=0421, idProduct=00ab
Dec 8 00:43:17 localhost kernel: usb 4-1: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=0
Dec 8 00:43:17 localhost kernel: usb 4-1: Product: Nokia E71
Dec 8 00:43:17 localhost kernel: usb 4-1: Manufacturer: Nokia
Dec 8 00:43:17 localhost NetworkManager:
ttyACM0: driver is 'cdc_acm'.
Dec 8 00:43:17 localhost NetworkManager:
Found new Modem device 'ttyACM0'.

Running out of ideas, I was beginning to think that it E71 was just "too new" for Fedora 10. Maybe better luck with Fedora 11 or OpenSUSE 11.1?

And then my lovely, adorable blessed be wife discovered from the web (using that crappy Maxis 3G) that I actually needed to do some stuff on my phone via Menu -> Tools -> Settings -> Connection -> Packet Data -> Access point; and change the name from None to the connection name of my Digi EDGE connection, Diginet.

And well, here I am, happily blogging via Digi's EDGE connection.

Thanks to kaeru, ditesh and angch for their feedback on Digi EDGE.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

OO.o 3x Document compatibility with OO.o 2x

For those who are already running 3.x, you might run into issues if you send the documents generated to users running 2.x.

The reason is that 3.x uses ODF version 1.2 for its documents while 2.x uses ODF.1.1.

To enable a downgrade of ODF generated, open any 3 application, Tools --> Options --> Load/Save --> General --> ODF File Format drop-down menu and choose 1.0/1.1 ( 2.x) and click OK.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Problems with installing Go-oo and Java installation How-to

I received some feedback saying installing go-oo on their respective Fedora machines did not work as expected as outlined in my earlier post

By the way, the method also works on Centos and RHEL machines.

Well it seems that after a re-installation of Fedora, and added the YUM repo, I ran into an issue where only 2.4.1 version of go-oo was available. I resolved the issue by changing the "baseurl = " parameneter in /etc/yum.repos.d/GoOo.repo file with baseurl =

The yum repo rpm points to a metalink i.e. it will redirect the downloader to one of its closest mirror. The repo I am using is in Japan, closest to Malaysia.

Also, if you intend to install Base, do install at least a JRE. I usually go for Sun's Java for maximum compatibility but the free and open Icedtea and OpenJDK seems to work as well.

To enable Java Runtime in a RHEL/Centos/Fedora/BLAG machine:
  1. Download JRE or JDK from
  2. Download the BIN file and not the RPM one (e.g. jdk-6u10-linux-i586.bin)
  3. su and then copy the downloaded file to /opt
  4. Change the file to executable by issuing chmod a+x jdk-6u10-linux-i586.bin
  5. Extract the file by ./jdk-6u10-linux-i586.bin, you see the extracted directory as jdk1.6.0_10
  6. Create the file /etc/profile.d/
  7. Put in the following file

    export JAVA_HOME= /opt/jdk1.6.0_10
    export PATH=$PATH:$JAVA_HOME/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin

  8. Exit and save the file
  9. Change the file attribute to executable by chmod a+x /etc/profile.d/
  10. Load it source /etc/profile.d/
  11. To test it, type java -version and you should see something like:

    java version "1.6.0_10"
    Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.6.0_10-b33)
    Java HotSpot(TM) Server VM (build 11.0-b15, mixed mode)

  12. To enable Jav plugin for FIrefox :
    ln -s /opt/jdk_1.6.0_10/jre/plugin/i386/ns7/ /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins

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.