[kde-linux] KDE 4.2.4

Duncan 1i5t5.duncan at cox.net
Wed Mar 3 21:04:43 UTC 2010

Louis Hinman posted on Wed, 03 Mar 2010 13:31:48 -0500 as excerpted:

> I just upgraded my Linux installation to Slackware 13.0, which
> incorporates KDE 4.2.4.
> My previous installation was Slackware 12.2, which incorporated KDE
> 3.5.10.
> I am dismayed to find KDE 4.2.4 running very s-l-o-w.
> It's the same computer that I was running KDE 3.5.10 on.  It has 2 GB of
> RAM and a broadband cable internet connection.  I'm just running that
> standard desktop apps, but they are running much slower than 3.5.10 ran.
> Can someone advise me on how to fix this?

I finally did my switch from kde3 with 4.2.4, after trying for some time 
(since before 4.0).  But back then kde4 was hardly ready at all, WAY 
buggy, etc, and I had a lot of reconfigurations, stuff I had to learn NOT 
to try, workarounds, etc, to come up with before it was in any way usable 
at all.  I'd have called 4.2 late alpha or early beta, as there was just 
way too much stuff still broken.

But kde4 has improved at an enormous rate.  4.3 was markedly better, but 
still seriously broken in a lot of areas, probably late beta quality.

And while I had predicted with 4.3 as I saw it improve thru the 4.3.x-s, 
that 4.4 would finally be rc quality and 4.5 would be actually usable, I 
think I might have actually finally been a bit pessimistic, as 4.4 really 
does seem decently usable, from my perspective, comparable to a normal x.0 
release.  It's still going to require some getting used to, and a bit of 
tuning especially on older machines, but it really is usable, now.

So first thing I'd advise is to not even bother with 4.2.4.  If you can 
get 4.4.x now, either from an update repository or by compiling it 
yourself, great.  Otherwise, either stick with 3.5.10 or switch to another 
desktop until you get kde 4.4 available, because I can say from personal 
experience, yes, it's possible to sort of beat 4.2 into some sort of 
usability, but... well let's just say that most folks avoid beating their 
head against a brick wall for hours on end, if at all possible.

In particular, there was one bug fixed in IIRC 4.3.1 that made the plasma 
desktop extremely slow to repaint on some hardware.  Any widgets (called 
plasmoids, since plasma is the name of the desktop app, replacing both 
kdesktop and kicker from kde3) that require more or less constant 
refreshing, thus, pretty much any of the system monitor plasmoids, etc, 
slow down the desktop DRAMATICALLY, especially if you're running affected 
hardware and trying to do window transparency.  Thus, I learned not to put 
such plasmoids on the desktop.  (Putting them on panels, either always on-
top or auto-hide, worked somewhat better, both because they didn't end up 
drawn thru several layers of composited windows as when they were 
displayed they were on top, and because the panels are smaller than the 
desktop, but getting the bug fixed still had a big effect.)

Second, if you DO run desktop effects at all, set animation speed to 
"instant", and/or in all effects, if you turn on window translucency, set 
its fade duration (manually) to 0-20 ms (thus manually, as it's normally 
100 ms increments).  For my graphics hardware, then a Radeon 9200, that 
improved things dramatically, and combined with no constant-refreshing 
plasmoids on the desktop, sped things up to usability.  Others reported 
that they had to turn effects off entirely, but I wasn't going to accept 
that, as I knew composite based window transparency worked acceptably well 
in 3.5 on the same hardware, and wasn't going to rest until it was working 
acceptably well in 4.x as well.

Third, if you do run effects and don't have OpenGL, most of the effects 
available under "all effects" won't do anything.  Unfortunately, in 4.2 
there's no indication at all of which ones require opengl and which ones 
work with simply composite, except that the effect just doesn't do 
anything at all.  Normal GUI design dims out and disables choices not 
available in a particular mode (or doesn't show them at all).  
Unfortunately, kde hasn't followed convention here and there's no 
indication at all that you're trying to enable effects that do nothing in 
the mode your in.  By 4.4, while the no-effect ones still aren't disabled 
choices in xrender/composite mode, they do at least use system 
notifications to tell you which effects aren't going to work, when you hit 
apply and try to enable them.  That's a decent usability improvement 
there, by itself.

Fourth, this may or may not be an option for you (especially on a laptop), 
but consider a graphics card upgrade.  Over the years, I had upgraded most 
of my machine, except the video card.  I was still running a Radeon 9200, 
because it was for years near the top of the heap in terms of freedomware 
graphics support.  It could do OpenGL, but not at the resolution I was 
running (two 1920x1200 LCDs, stacked for 1920x2400 overall desktop 
resolution, while the r200 series Radeon chips limited OpenGL to 
2048x2048).  I upgraded to a Radeon hd4650, again near the top of the 
freedomware support heap (tho the 48xx would be better, the new hd5000 
series, r800 chip, code named "evergreen", isn't yet supported for 3D at 
all and barely has 2D support, except from the servant-ware drivers which 
I won't run), and now get full OpenGL effects at full resolution, but the 
support for it is very very new -- you want the 2.6.33 kernel, reasonably 
new mesa and xorg-server, and AFAIK, there's not even a new enough 
released xf86-video-ati driver so I'm running a straight from live git 
repo compiled driver.  But another benefit is that I get all the new KMS 
goodness, etc, too. =:^)

There's also issues like global multi-key hotkeys not working yet in kde4, 
kde bug #161009, apparently because the libraries don't support it yet.  
That was a big regression for me as I had a whole set of two-key 
sequential launchers setup with khotkey in kde3.  I ended up scripting my 
own solution (first key, configured in khotkeys, launchs my scripted 
solution, which takes a second key), or there's third party solutions such 
as xbindkeys.  I honestly don't know the 4.4 status on that as I /did/ 
script my own solution, but I'm CCed on the bug which is still open so I 
know they didn't close it.  But if it's indeed a library issue, it's 
doubtful there'll be much movement on it for awhile, so if you likewise 
relied on khotkeys for multi-key triggers in kde3, you'll need to figure 
out something else for kde4.

Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman

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