KDE – So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

I’m sure that in the long run, the decision by the KDE development team to dump their old code base and start from scratch will be looked upon by historians as a wise decision. Yet however inspiring and revolutionary their work may be, for some reason I continue to be less than thrilled by the overall direction of the KDE 4 desktop.

Don’t get me wrong, the whole “everything is a widget” concept is great and is so logical that one has to wonder why it wasn’t done much sooner. But what of us users who don’t use any widgets on our desktops at all? What does all of that extra effort achieve for us?

Graphical glitches, slow response times and buttons that don’t work anymore while they chase after bugs, that’s what.

[more after the jump…]

Admittedly, the response times in KDE 4.2.2 are much improved and I haven’t been crippled by graphical glitches yet like I had been with 4.2. But “improved” doesn’t mean that they have necessarily regained the speed that was there before. There’s definitely an odd  sort of lag that I’ve noticed.

Unfortunately, now my volume and other media keys now don’t work, the scroll portion of my touch pad no longer works and with what I perceive to be an oddness in the response times, I get that sinking feeling that I’m running beta grade software again. (KDE 4.2 felt more like alpha grade) Especially since they are reinventing the wheel by copying the eye candy of Compiz using an implementation that, for whatever reason, just doesn’t have as a good a feel as the original.

Granted, the input device issues are actually a specific problem with the latest Xorg release which was pushed along side the KDE4 update in my sidux distribution, but I feel that the burden for this should still fall on the KDE release teams’ shoulders to assign dependencies to ensure proper functioning of the overall desktop experience.

On that note, I backed up my /home partition so I can do the reinstall I was planning on doing anyway. The main reason for this upcoming reinstall actually has nothing to do with KDE itself, but instead is to enable encryption of hard drive again so my data is secure when I travel or am just out and about. If it weren’t for the lack of encryption I wouldn’t have to reinstall at all because I can still check my email, access the web and do all of my other computing in e17. But in this day and age of identity theft, I really don’t like not having the extra security of having all of my personal (and company) data encrypted; especially on a laptop. Without the encryption I noticed that on my last flight back to Boston I was clutching my bags just a little more tightly since a theft would mean more than just losing a piece of easily replaceable hardware, it would mean having to call all my credit card companies, my bank, the credit agencies, all of my contacts, etc. And for the little amount of time that it would take me to correct the input device issues, I can have a whole new system up and running (Linux installs that fast and easy!) with my hard drive fully encrypted again.

I’m also going to tweak the partition sizes around a bit so they more efficiently align to my current space requirements. This will give me a little more room where it’s needed by shifting it from where it’s not being used. For example, I have 25GB dedicated to / and I’m only using 7.8GB of it with a full load of software and no less than 5 Window Manager/Desktop Environments (KDE, Fluxbox, e17, e16 and Gnome). Every extra bit that  I can manage to eek out will help to relieve the space crunch I keep bumping up against.

Sadly since KDE 4 isn’t ready (and doesn’t seem like it’s going to be my thing even when it is) and KDE 3.5 is going the way if the Dodo, it looks like KDE won’t be coming along for the ride in either incarnation. I feel a little like I’m in mourning because I’ve been a huge KDE proponent for many years. In fact, I still clearly remember the day when I first saw and experienced it back when the project first started. Alas, things change and we can either roll with it or suffer in the misery that arises from trying to deny that inevitable truth.

In closing out this post, allow me to just point out that all of this talk about the things that I don’t like about KDE 4 isn’t meant to say that you shouldn’t try KDE 4 out for yourself. It’s actually pretty good if you like the kind of things that they are trying to achieve and you don’t even have to install it to give it a spin because you can try it on one of the many live CDs that are out there. Who knows, you might just love it. There are many who do. I’ve just decided that it just isn’t a fit for me, so I’m moving on.

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~ by ghendar on May 8, 2009.