Arch + Openbox: February screenshots

February 21, 2009

Yes, I’m back to Openbox. I liked KDE 4.2 an awful lot, I just realised that I don’t really need a desktop environment.  I guess that’s why I always return to Openbox: I know my way around it well enough to configure it just the way I like, and it doesn’t get in my way.
Not to mention it’s incredibly easy to change everything about it when I feel that this month, I need an black/white/orange with green dots desktop 🙂

So here they are, my screenshots for this month:

Arch February 2009: Clear

Arch February 2009: Clear

Arch February 2009: Busy

Arch February 2009: Busy



KDE 4.2: Beyond the first impressions

February 18, 2009


Or something like that. Yes, I did find some quite irritating issues yesterday, when I installed KDE 4.2 the first time. People have pointed out that KDE can hardly be blamed for the difference in looks between GTK and Qt applications, which is true, but the  result is still ugly. And the default menu is still craptastic, and the systray icons still look like they have been vomited on the screen.

But everything else is absolutely beautiful, from the switching between windows, and the plasmoids that pop-up when you move files around, the alt-tab switcher, the way windows become more transparent when you move them, to the discreet pop-up when you insert an USB stick…everything looks professional and elegant.

There are other things to like. When I used Dolphin for the first time I had my reservations, but in the meantime it’s become the standard of file managers, at least to me. It’s fast enough for me, simple enough, easy enough, and it has tabs. If it could somehow transform itself into a two-pane manager it would be perfect, I guess they wanted to move away from Konqueror-like configurabilty.

Another nice surprise came when I wanted to download a torrent. I was installing ktorrent at that time, so I just wanted to save it, and open it later. But KDE offered to open it with KGet, a download manager. Being curious, I let it, and indeed, KGet is capable of downloading torrents. As far as I can see there’s nothing fancy about it, like file selection, or a list of peers that you’re leeching from/uploading to, but in the end the files get downloaded and that’s what matters.

Most of all, working with KDE 4.2 was easy and speedy. I didn’t go crazy searching for one particular setting, and I never got the impression that the bling slowed the system down.

One other point of criticism though. By default, KDE 4.2 comes with a nice selection of clean, professional looking Plasma themes. Thumbs up. But when it comes to themeing the applications itself, the choice is very limited. You either choose Oxygen or something that looks like it was already ugly in the nineties. Even doesn’t offer much help here: it seems like KDE 4 needs a little more time before good themes start popping up.

In previous KDE4 releases, the first minor irritations were quickly followed by several other major ones. This time however, they stayed minor and quickly made way for a very good impression indeed.


Sound issues

February 17, 2009

When I loaded KDE today and heard a terrible squeeking noise I was sure that the new KDE had come and ruined my hard drive.

Instead I’d forgotten to install alsa and it was trying to play Metallica through my system speaker. Scary, I’ll tell you that.


KDE 4.2: First impressions

February 17, 2009

Not good, I’m afraid.

Now, before I go on, I want to clarify some things: First, I used archlinux, so the KDE I installed is plain vanilla. Any remarks I have about looks (especially GTK apps in a QT environment) aren’t present in distributions like Mandriva, OpenSuse or Kubuntu. Secondly, I didn’t even use the official KDE packages by Archlinux, but I used KDEmod, a modular install of KDE. And thirdly, I installed a minimal KDEmod, not the full blown everything-and-the-kitchen-sink option.

I also must say that Plasma has come a long way. It looks good, is fast, and doesn’t crash anymore, at least on my PC. I like that. But while configuring KDE to my liking, I also (and almost immediately) hit a few hugely irritating issues.

Let’s start with the menu. It stinks. It takes too much scrolling and clicking and mouse-movement to get anywhere. The classic KDE-menu option is way better (and available). It also doesn’t update automatically every time an application is added, but I believe that’s an Arch bug.

Secondly, there’s the integration of GTK apps in a QT environment…which quite frankly, doesn’t exist. Yes, the GTK-Qt theme engine is available, but tabs in Firefox looked horribly out of whack, and so did checkboxes in Pidgin.

And thirdly, the systray icons still look ugly. This should be solved with Qt 4.5, which isn’t available yet for KDE 4.2…

All in all, I end up with a desktop that looks gorgeous one moment and incredibly ugly the other. I’m sure I can work and hack and toil until things look decent, but I can’t say I’m enjoying that.



February 16, 2009

I know, I know…it’s been ages. But the move is finally over, and since the 12th of this month we have an internet connection. A computer without internet isn’t much use for anything, so the past three to four months I’ve mainly been gaming under windows XP, listening to music and reading comics in Linux Mint (because it comes with the needed codecs), and having a look at Windows 7 Beta (which I liked a lot, but didn’t play nice with my USB stick – unmounting didn’t work).

So while there are still a few issues with the network setup (lay cable, drill holes, wireless yes/no), I finally can connect my PC to the net again…and the first thing I did was deleting Linux Mint and installing Arch. It felt like coming home 🙂

My plan is to install KDEmod and openbox, KDE because 4.2 finally looks usable, and Openbox because it’s just so damn fast (and cool. Don’t forget cool).

So, this blog should be revived. Good times. Good times.