A week of KDE4 usage

Alex Schuster wonko at wonkology.org
Sat Jul 2 13:21:45 BST 2011

In May, Duncan wrote:

Sometimes it takes me a while until I answer your mails, they are so long :)

> Alex Schuster posted on Tue, 10 May 2011 01:49:49 +0200 as
> excerpted:
>> [Oh, this has become rather lengthy. It's a description of my
>> various problems with KDE4, the details are not so important, no
>> need to read it all. My question is: Are your experiences similar
>> to mine?]
> I read it all, because I'm interested in such things,

I knew :)

> but I snipped the list, as replying to all the individual items
> wasn't the point.


> With kde4 it has been made /very/ apparent that the kde devs simply
> aren't interested in creating a "just works" desktop for ordinary
> users, or even ordinary /power/ users.  If they were, they would NOT
> have insisted 4.2 was ready for ordinary users, when it /very/
> clearly was still alpha quality at best -- huge gaps of missing
> functionality, and bugs with the devs saying that's not implemented
> yet, so it's not as if they weren't /aware/ of the problem, what was
> there often broken, good as a technology preview, but not for use by
> people actually wanting to get stuff done. Yet they INSISTED it was
> ready for ordinary users!  And were they

BTW, ordinary users here means people who often do not speak English.
The German localization misses a lot, so KDE 4 is not right for them.
Is KDE 4 meant to be for these people? I'm not sure.

> interested in normal users, they'd have not dropped support for the
> stable kde3 at the same time, when kde4 clearly wasn't ready.

Yes, it's bad that KDE 3.5 is getting insecure and unsupported, while KDE
4 is not really stable yet. It would have been nice if some developers
had stayed and done bugfixes and maybe implemented new features that are
needed nowadays. I don't know who the trinity guys are and how far this
project has gone, but some day KDE4 will be stable, and there's not much
need for 3.5 any more.

BTW, who actually does the coding for KDE 4? How many of those people
are being payed for this, how many just do this for fun in their free
time? I totally understand that no one would like to be among those that
still develop for the old KDE 3.5, instead of implementing and using all
these cool new features. And I also understand that it's more fun to
implement new features than to make the existing things stable and
translate stuff.

> So it's quite clear that the kde folk would rather simply have people
> who just want things to work, move on to other desktop environments
> and quit bothering the kde folks.
> Now, arguably (and I've repeatedly made this point myself so I
> obviously argue it to be so), by later 4.5, say 4.5.4 and 4.5.5, KDE
> (um... KDE-SC) had improved to the point that it was ready for what
> /should/ have been the official 4.0 release -- had it been aimed at
> ordinary users.  But again, it's NOT aimed at ordinary users any
> more.  So what they called 4.0, which they clearly labeled as
> developer-only, freezing the libraries but with a barely functional
> UI skeleton over top, really /WAS/ a .0 release IF YOU'RE TARGETING
> Looked at thru that filter, the filter of who their actual target
> audience is, now, all the rest begins to fall into place and make a
> WHOLE lot more sense!

Hmm, I guess the devs see things a little different, but you have a point.

> In a way, this evolution of KDE could be seen as taking that
> philosophy to the next level.  KDE will continue on, pressing into
> new territory, perhaps never really stabilizing things, but that's
> fine.  They're a "software collection" targeted at the developer that
> knows how to deal with such things.
> And... I'll probably be one of those who sticks with them, because
> while I'm not a dev, I'm computer oriented enough to like the
> customization kde offers, and to take the bugs, now that they've
> gotten kde4 to a generally usable state, in stride.

Me too. KDE is so customizable, and I like things to be integrated. To
have the same file dialog for all applications. I also like the idea of
a semantic desktop, although I do not make use of it yet. Or activities,
which are probably nothing for me, but quite interesting.

> OTOH, I've not seen nearly the number of bugs you apparently have.
> We may use the same distro, but my usage patterns and hardware are
> obviously different.  And the bugs I DO see, I've been able to work
> around, or, in the first time for kde4, I've actually git-bisect a
> bug down to a specific commit, file the bug both upstream with kde
> and with gentoo, and using that commit to generate a reversing patch,
> I now have that applied to the kde-base/plasma-workspace-4.6.3 I have
> presently installed.  I expect that'll continue working thru the 4.6
> series if they don't fix it, and by 4.7, hopefully, it /will/ be
> fixed, or if not, hopefully the patch will continue to apply,
> possibly with a tweak or two.

> As to the what does your mom run question...

I tried some distros, and in the end I installed Linux Mint. It's
Ubuntu-based, which I tried before. After installing proprietary video
drivers, the text console is garbled and unreadable, and X does not run.
I did not investigate this much, but I was annoyed that I do not even
have a Grub boot menu. I have to enable this in /etc/defaults/grub, and
change the timeout from 0 seconds to something else. How annoying. So I
simply do not install these drivers in Linux Mint, and have a backup of
the boot partition just in case.

Gnome works fine, but I did not use much of it. Networkmanager is a
pain, and I had a hard time setting up WLAN. This was not very user

> I'm a confirmed Linux-head, but I realized some time ago that I don't
> make a very good Linux missionary for the masses, because I'm far too
> tech (and freedom) oriented.  As you mentioned was your experience
> with kde4, not being able to recommend it to others based on what
> they see you dealing with, that's pretty much what I've found to be
> the case in general with Linux.

Many things are still hard to do with Linux. On the other hand, some
friends also had problems with Windows, and switched to Linux.

> I *CHOOSE* to run Gentoo.  It takes me HOURS to build install a KDE
> update that binary distributions install in fractions of an hour.

I also gave Sabayon a try, it's like a binary Gentoo. But Gnome did not
run, and again I did not bother to investigate. I also wasn't sure which
parts of portage I could use safely. But the speed was nice, building a
Gentoo system takes quite a while.

> I won't (legally can't, because I can't agree to the EULAs, which are
>  binding enough here in the US to at minimum be a legal issue)
> install servantware.  As such, no flash (gnash works sometimes,
> sometimes not, youtube and certain other sites there's downloaders
> for, and I can play the videos in smplayer, vlc, or whatever), no
> nvidia or ati proprietary drivers, etc.  My dad sends me *.ppt files
> from time to time that I don't have the software installed to open.

I worry about flash and its insecureness, but I mostly do not bother to
read those licenses when they are not written in a way that I can
understand easily without having a lawyer at hand. If _they_ would want
me to read them, the would make them simpler. So I use Flash (I shouldn't), 
Acrobat (only in cases when Okular has problems or misses a feature),
LibreOffice (it even opens .ppt files), VMware-Player, Google Earth.

> So while I'd /like/ to be a Linux missionary, in general, I don't
> bother, because most of the time I'd be rather convincing people that
> it's not for them.  I /could/ learn how Ubuntu works, etc, and thus
> be a rather more effective missionary, but that's not interesting to
> me, so I don't.
> My mom doesn't do computers much, but my dad does reasonably well for
> a guy in his 70s that didn't work with computers in his career.
> However, they live several states away and I'm not as close to them
> as I might be.

Mine is a Windows user. I had also installed Linux for him, but he
wanted to use some Windows software he got, and booting Windows was
easier than to run his software in an emulator, so he sticked with
Windows. Sometimes I have to fix some things, like Thunderbird no longer
starting, Folders suddenly being readonly, update and run the virus
scanner, but all in all it's not too much work.

My mom is very happy with Linux, but she only uses a web browser and
mail client, and the OS does not really matter for her.

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