Release 4.8.3

Duncan 1i5t5.duncan at
Fri Aug 17 09:07:38 BST 2012

Doug posted on Thu, 16 Aug 2012 12:10:35 -0400 as excerpted:

> I have upgraded my "sandbox" from 4.6.5 on PCLOS to 4.8.3, and with the
> exception of a more cluttered systray or "panel" and a somewhat uglier
> desktop, both of which I was fortunate to have been able to revert, I
> see no obvious advantage.  (I don't consider the changes I noted to be
> an advantage.) Please explain why I should upgrade my two "work"
> computers to 4.8.3.
> Thanx--doug

An interesting question it is that you ask.  From many angles such a 
question can be approached.

[How's my attempt at "Yoda-personation"? =:^)

First, as regulars here will no doubt verify, I've made it no secret that 
IMO, kde4 only reached what /should/ have been the 4.0 release, with what 
was /actually/ numbered 4.5, or more precisely, the latter bug-fix 
releases in that feature-release series, 4.5.4 and 4.5.5.  Until that 
point, I contend that despite kde public propaganda to the contrary 
beginning with 4.2, kde4 was simply too feature-incomplete, bug-ridden 
and broken to be considered ready to replace 3.5.

While I don't particularly wish to drag up the unpleasant details of that 
period, I'm repeating that point here in ordered to make another: Pre-4.5, 
there were huge holes in features and functionality, and where things 
/did/ work, they didn't always work /well/.  As such, until 4.5, the 
improvements of each release were huge and dramatic, since in general 
whole bits of previously entirely missing or broken but rather basic for 
normal use functionality was being filled in.

With 4.5, however, most/all of the basics were in general there and 
functional, and improvements since then have been much more incremental 
and easier to miss at first glance.  In fact, as also well known to 
regulars, I'd argue that with kmail's akonadification in kdepim 4.6 
(which many distros didn't ship at all, sticking to updates of kdepim 4.4 
until some time in 4.7), kdepim actually reverted to a broken what should 
have been pre-release state once again, causing many users including me 
to switch to something else for mail.  Personally, I've been extremely 
impressed with and recommend claws-mail, tho those who prefer HTML mail 
and/or pim-suites that include calender/scheduling, feed-reader, etc, are 
unlikely to find it suitable.

>From that angle, pretty much any kde4 since late 4.5 has the necessary 
basic functionality, tho it's worth noting that 4.5 itself was still
hal-based for hardware management, while 4.6 switched to udev/udisks/
upower, and most distros dropped hal at about that time as well, so 4.6 
is really the minimum for a post-hal system (unless that functionality is 
disabled at compile time, a choice gentoo, for instance, as a scripted 
build-from-sources distro and my distro of choice, provides).

So from that viewpoint, anything from late late 4.6 on (early 4.6 had 
rather severe issues, in part due to issues in kde's general switch from 
svn to git at about that point), still with the kdepim 4.4 if you install 
any kdepim at all, should suffice.  

But as I said, incremental improvements have continued.  You might not 
notice these immediately, in much the same way as you don't necessarily 
notice it the moment a headache goes away, and only a bit later realize, 
"hey, I don't hurt any more!"  In fact, if you don't customize much, you 
may not notice many of them at all (but in that case, honestly, a lot of 
folks prefer something "simpler", with less "confusing" options, 
something that "just works" as-is, without too much chance to change it 
and perhaps break it, or at least that's my opinion... as a generally 
heavy customizer who never met a desktop he liked as-shipped and doesn't 
expect he ever will!).  A lot of it there depends on what kde components 
you actually use, and as I said, often on how much you take advantage of 
kde's ability to customize.

Two cases in point have been quite noticeable /incremental/
/improvements/ for me, even if 4.5/4.6 /was/ generally usable: (1) kwin's 
window rules, made much easier to manage in 4.7, and (2) konsole 
functionality, with a number of very long-term bugs fixed in 4.9 (which 
with 4.8 you won't see yet), some of which went back to the kde3 era, 
before kde4 at all!

Kwin's window rules dialog is where you go if you have a window that you 
want to behave differently than it does -- for instance, perhaps you want 
it to consistently start at the same size, even if you resized it the 
last time you used it and it normally remembers that, so would otherwise 
start at the newly resized size it remembers instead of the consistent 
size you want it to start with.  Or maybe you want a particular window to 
always appear maximized...  Whatever the case, the window rules options 
can be reached in two different ways, either from the window menu 
available from any window (context-click on the window decoration, or 
there's a hotkey, alt-F3 IIRC by default), or from kde settings, 
workspace appearance and behavior, window behavior, window rules (that's 
the 4.9 location, I think it might have changed slightly, recently).

I have... eyeballing... about 30 of these rules setup for various things 
so I use window rules enough to have noticed this within a couple of days 
after it was introduced in the 4.7-pre-releases I had decided to test.

The window specific settings dialog you get if you setup a rule is quite 
a bit easier to understand and work with in 4.7+ as compared to 4.6 and 
earlier.  Previously, there were two different tabs that affected rule 
matching, in addition to the tabs that setup what the rule actually did.  
With 4.7, the two matching tabs were combined into one, and the wording 
of both the matching options and the various actions was changed to be 
MUCH clearer and easier to understand.  With 4.6, it was much more 
difficult to actually setup a rule to do what you wanted, because many of 
the options were unclear.  In 4.7+, the wording is far clearer, and in at 
least two cases (ignore requested geometry and obey geometry 
restrictions, there's now a tooltip with an additional explanation, if 
you hover over the option.  I know /I/ never understood the difference 
until I had those tooltips to read!

That's exactly the sort of "incremental improvement" that kde has been 
getting a lot of, since 4.5/4.6.  Not visible right away, and not 
something everybody's going to notice at all, but it really does improve 
usability. =:^)

Similarly with the konsole improvements and bugfixes in 4.9.  There were 
quite a number of "little" bugs fixed, including as I said, some opened 
against konsole for kde 3.5 or earlier.  The one that most affected me 
had to do with how the mouse works in the konsole terminal window.  
Original Linux (Unix?) terminal mouse protocol limitations going back to 
the age of 640x480 screens at 80 columns by 25 lines didn't allow for 
proper mouse output on today's widescreen monitors, often 1920 pixels 
wide -- clicking in a spot that happened to be too far right on a 
widescreen would produce gibberish output.  (I think the same applied to 
too far down, as well, but am not sure.)  There's two protocol extensions 
available that can fix this problem, with fixes applied to some of the 
other terminal programs, but not to konsole until 4.9.

Again, that's just one of a whole list of bugfixes that hit konsole with 
4.9, but it's one that made a big difference for me, since I regularly 
use mc (midnight commander) as a "semi-gui" file manager in both text VTs 
and in konsole under X/kde.  Again, this is /exactly/ the sort of 
/incremental/ improvements that various kde components have been getting 
since 4.5/4.6, improvements that you may not even notice, but that 
together, make for a much improved kde experience, in general.

So that's another angle...

A third angle is security related.  If you're the only user of your 
computer, and don't use kde tools (konqueror, kmail, knode, kopete, 
akregator, etc...) on the Internet so don't have to worry so much about 
security vuln exploitation from the net, you /might/ find yourself able 
to ignore security issues, tho I could never recommend it unless you 
REALLY know what you're doing, in which case you'd likely not be asking 
questions such as the above.

Actually, while we're on the topic, I'd recommend NOT using konqueror for 
a primary web browser in any case, as KDE devs themselves obviously 
consider it only a toy.  What else would you call ignoring the fact that 
in kde4 konqueror was left without security cert management, at a time 
when whole certificate authorities were having their certs revoked, for 
YEARS after kde4 was claimed to be ready for "ordinary users" (with 4.2), 
when in fact, such "ordinary users" could easily be depending on their 
browser for web-based banking, shopping online, and the like?  (I know I 
do nearly all of my banking online here, tho I guess I'm probably a bit 
beyond "ordinary".)  Additionally, one of those early 4.6 issues I 
mentioned above was a "double form submission" bug in konqueror -- you 
know those financial transaction sites that specifically warn not to hit 
the submit button twice, or you might be billed twice?...  While such a 
bug would have probably never made it out of beta in a /decent/ browser, 
it was actually introduced in kde 4.6.2 IIRC, a bugfix release that as 
all bugfix series releases, was claimed to be safe to upgrade to, as it 
supposedly contained bugfixes only.  But, not only was it introduced in a 
bugfix release, but kde waited TWO MONTHS before releasing the fix in 
4.6.4, 4.6.3 didn't fix it.  Compare that to any of the big browsers, 
which would have almost certainly had a high priority fix, especially as 
the commit introducing the problem was known, out in days!

So either kde devs are entirely irresponsible, and deliberately recommend 
products such as konqueror that they know don't get proper security 
support for use by "normal users" for "normal usage" such as online 
banking, etc, or... they simply don't consider konqueror any more than a 
trivial toy... not used for "important" stuff like ordinary online 
financial transactions, by ordinary users.

Either way, the effect is the same, konqueror is a definite WARN on my 
list in terms of more than trivial online use.  Strict security practices 
would insist it shouldn't even be installed, but I /do/ still keep it 
installed here.  I just set kde's browser pref to firefox, and rarely use 
konqueror at all any more.  I'll probably uninstall it at some point, but 
haven't yet.

Then there's all things kdepim, including kmail, akregator, knode, etc.  
The kdepim devs are integrating all kdepim apps with akonadi, 
"akonadifying" one app at a time, starting with kaddressbook in IIRC 
4.4.  I already mentioned that with kmail akonadification in kdepim 4.6, 
it regressed to pre-release quality.  

To be fair, since I migrated to claws-mail before installing 4.7, I don't 
know from personal experience how kmail has done since.  But reports say 
that at least as of 4.8, it was still eating people's mail occasionally, 
and causing less severe issues more frequently.  So while they may 
eventually fix it, if you use kmail, I'd definitely recommend NOT 
upgrading it past kdepim 4.4.x (kmail 1.x, 2.x is the akonadified version 
that started shipping with kdepim 4.6), tho as I mentioned, many distros 
continued to ship kdepim 4.4.x thru kde 4.7.  And I'd suggest switching 
to something else when you otherwise would upgrade kdepim beyond 4.4 
(which again, depends on distro).

What I actually did here was uninstall all of kdepim entirely, tho the 
only apps I had been using from it were kmail (and kaddressbook of 
course) and akregator, so that's all I had to find replacements for.  But 
then I could uninstall it, and along with it, akonadi.

So for anything kdepim including kmail, I'd actually recommend switching 
AWAY from kde/kmail/kdepim, to something else.  As I said, I found claws-
mail a good match for me here and can recommend it for those that don't 
need a pim-suite and who prefer plain text to HTML mail.  Otherwise, 
consider thunderbird or evolution or something, but I'd still say stay as 
far away from kmail2/kdepim-4.6+ as you can possibly get!  Paraphrasing a 
well known saying: "The mail messages you save might be your own!"

But other than anything kdepim (and other than konqueor as a browser), 
I've actually been quite happy with newer kdes, and really have found the 
incremental improvments to be just that, /improvements/. =:^)

As for the two specifics you mention, systray and desktop, those are 
/entirely/ configurable, and as long as you save /home during upgrades, 
once you've customized them, they should stay pretty much the way you put 
them.  It's only if you leave them at the defaults that they're likely to 
change, since the defaults do change sometimes.  They usually call the 
default changes an improvement, but as I said I've never seen an as-
shipped desktop that I was happy with and don't expect to, either, so I 
don't worry too much about /what/ the defaults are, as long as they don't 
mess with my customizations, and I'm happy to say that for the most part, 
barring the occasional bug, they've been pretty good about leaving those 
as they are. =:^)

Bottom line:  From late 4.6 the improvements have been mostly 
incremental.  If you don't see a reason to upgrade, and you are in a 
position where you don't have to worry about security vulns, then really, 
unlike some commercial "subscription software" plan where you have to 
stay with what they're supporting or it ceases to work at all, it 
shouldn't actually /break/, and you should be able to continue running 
the old versions as long as you want, at least until your hardware breaks 
and you find the new hardware won't work with the old distro version you 

But regardless, I'd definitely recommend switching to something other 
than konqueror for browsing, as that's a potential security issue, and 
I'd definitely recommend either sticking with kmail1/kdepim-4.4, or 
switching to something else, as the messages you save may indeed be your 

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

This message is from the kde mailing list.
Account management:
More info:

More information about the kde mailing list