KDE 4.2: First impressions

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.

San

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11 Responses to KDE 4.2: First impressions

  1. Ken says:

    Just because GTK+ apps don’t play well in KDE environment, its not KDE’s fault. So, firefox tabs appearing horrible is NOT KDE 4.2’s failure but inability of GTK+ apps, if at all.

    I do agree with you about the menu though. Lancelot is a shade better but its slower than Kickoff even. A decent menu is something KDE is lacking in an otherwise extraordinary desktop–both in appearance and functionality.

    I should know — I an running KDE 4.2.63 (basically the unstable KDE 4.3 branch) from openSUSE repositories.

    Cheers.

  2. […] Celettu’s Weblog wrote an interesting post today on KDE 4.2: First impressionsHere’s a quick excerptNot 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. […]

  3. celettu says:

    Ken: True. I guess it’s more of a Linux criticism than a KDE one. I stand corrected.

  4. KimTjik says:

    Since Arch is vanilla and leaves the rest to the user (an Arch user myself) I believe you need to tweak appearance to your liking and you should be able to get pretty close even if we’re talking about a mix of engines. I don’t use KDE myself (XFCE or Awesome here) but I’ve seen that some use qtcurve as well to get a better “KDE” experience.

    I don’t think this is a particular Linux problem either. The only OS at the moment with consistent themes throughout applications would be MacOS, and still you have the odd ones with a mismatch theme. Windows is even worse since Microsoft doesn’t even make their own applications share a consistent theme (it looks like Windows 7 is going to correct some oddness though).

  5. celettu says:

    No argument on the Windows and MacOSX comments 🙂
    I’m aware of QtCurve, and I will install it this evening, I just think it’s a pity there aren’t any other cross-over themes like that.

  6. Ed says:

    So… You’re giving a bad opinion of KDE to a lot of people that’ll read this because : you don’t like a menu; you didn’t install the proper theme to make stupid GTK apps look relatively OK (they look bad even in a gnome environement anyway) and because of the tray icons… (i have tried KDEmod’s Chakra live cd and they look just fine :s).

    Isn’t that a bit restrictive for such a project as KDE ?

    I don’t know… a) use another menu [solved] b) configure gtk-qt look [solved] c) well, i dunno what went wrong with your install

    So now, on the an interresting criticism… please ?

  7. celettu says:

    Right…

    a) I switched to the classic menu, which looks much better. I criticized the default one for reasons I explained.

    b) KDE-fanboyish opinions don’t pull much weight. It’s not because an application is GTK that it’s automatically stupid. There’s not much configuration to gtk-qt anyway, and it still looked like shit, with text overlapping tabs and whatnot. Which basically means that if I want an attractive looking desktop, I’m restricted to Qt applications.

    c) As explained in my post, it’s a known bug.

  8. eldarion says:

    ” It also doesn’t update automatically every time an application is added, but I believe that’s an Arch bug.”

    Yes, it happens with me too. You have to run “kbuildsycoca4” every time you install/unistall an application that have an icon.

  9. eldarion says:

    (Sorry about the double post)

    ” Yes, the GTK-Qt theme engine is available, but tabs in Firefox looked horribly out of whack, and so did checkboxes in Pidgin.”

    What i did was to install the “kde4-oxygen” gtk1/2 theme and used the kdemod-extragear-gtk-qt-engine to choose that theme.

  10. Ken says:

    In KDE, there is *at least* a gtk-qt package. When working in GNOME, I have no way to make my Qt/KDE applications even look like GTK ones! Surely, the criticism should be laid towards GNOME for not having a theme to include Qt/KDE apps — and there are plenty of Qt/KDE apps that are popular and used by the non-KDE crowd.

    Anyway, for stuff like firefox, I simply go for the chrome browser theme, so it doesn’t matter what DE I am using.

    Frankly, I use KDE because I love its philosophy and the overall environment look and feel — not necessarily because one particular app looks like shit, especially if its using another toolkit … and I cannot dump a whole desktop environment for that app either 🙂

  11. celettu says:

    Ken:

    Again, true. Trust me, if the article had been named “Gnome XX: First impressions”, I would have had the exact same criticism.

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