Dolphin in KDE 4.5

September 2, 2010

KDE 4.5 has been good to me so far, except the monstrosity that is Dolphin. I was already irked by the slowness and the crazy sorting behaviour, now it hangs 10 t 15 seconds when I try to do CPU-heavy tasks like no file manager was ever meant to do, oh, I don’t know, move a file. Or maybe copy one. Opening a directory. Stuff like that.

But in KDE it’s always been easy to switch file manager. Most people in this case would use Konqueror instead, but I don’t like that one either. Thunar is my application of choice here, but up until now the Oxygen theme and Thunar didn’t play along, resulting in horrible default folder icons.

Up until now:

Thunar in KDE

Thunar in KDE

So now I’m using a file manager which is lighter, (much) faster, and has an incredible batch renamer. The only thing I miss is using tabs, and Thunar will probably never support that.

But yay! Thunar!


Very quick look at Mandriva 2010

November 7, 2009

I wanted to see what KDE looks like in ¬†other distributions than Chakra (which is, after all, the default look), so I downloaded Mandriva 2010. I just had a look around, meaning I just ran the LiveCD and didn’t install it. I mean, why go through all the trouble when I know I won’t use it anyway?

Mandriva had improved since the last time I tried it:

  • It looks better, but that’s probably because I installed the KDE version this time, instead of GNOME. Mandriva has a very consistent look, which is a good thing, but I agreed with my girlfriend when she said it looked “a bit boring”. It’s okay, but it doesn’t wow you.
  • Unlike last time, the nvidia driver was loaded. The resolution wasn’t right, but easily changed through Mandriva’s excellent Configuration Center
  • Performance was good, even for a liveCD
  • Wireless worked straight out of the box
  • Adding software was easy and pretty fast

I was just beginning to think that with distributions like this and Ubuntu, there’s really no need for the hordes of rabid bloggers, screaming that Linux has lost out to Windows 7, that Ubuntu 9.10 is the worst release ever (why does that sound so familiar?), that Armageddon is upon us, etc etc…and then I noticed sound wasn’t working. And I didn’t get a popup this time when I clicked an mp3, asking me to install the necessary codecs (which did happen in 2009). And Amarok crashed (but I won’t hold that against MAndriva because it fails to do anything even remotely useful in Arch too).

I probably could have solved this…maybe it would have been okay after install, but since I didn’t want to install it, I guess I’ll never know.


KDE makes me happy

November 5, 2009

I’ll be honest, I’m surprising myself by not returning to Openbox. I’m still running Chakra with KDE, and I still love it. It needs a couple extra seconds to boot, but afterwards it feels just as fast as Openbox. More specific, applications feel as fast in KDE as they do in Openbox. Of course, Dolphin is slower than Thunar, Kate slower than Leafpad, etc, but Emesene, Firefox, Transmission, and all the other applications I normally use feel just as fast.

Other nice points:

  • K3b: simply the best burning software out there
  • Gorgeous, GORGEOUS Air theme
  • SmoothTasks
  • Dolphin is actually a very decent file manager, with tons of nice little options, like the + and the – to select files and directories, which means I can finally see the attraction of single click behaviour, and a twin panel mode.

I’ve been meaning to use the spare partition on my HD to install Arch, XFCE and a dock, just to try it out, but I feel like I can’t be bothered. KDE as it is now is just too easy.

What I could do is install the latest Mandriva, Kubuntu and OpenSuse to test their KDE flavours…hmmm…


Wine, OpenGL direct rendering, and compositing

March 25, 2009

I mentioned problems running Warcraft 3 under wine yesterday, but I was convinced that it should be possible.

Of course, I couldn’t just let things go.

After some browsing around, and googling, and generally driving Jen nuts, I became convinced the problem was connected to direct rendering. I had done “glxinfo | grep render” before, but glanced over the result after I saw “direct rendering: yes”.
This time however: I noticed this: “OpenGL renderer string: Software Rasterizer “. No wonder everything was so slow: hardware rendering was turned off.

As usual, once you find the problem, the solution is found immediately afterwards. This forum post took care of the slowness, but warcraft kept crashing X when it was not run in windowed mode. It only happened in KDE though, not in Openbox (which I installed specifically to test these kind of issues). The solution was easy: I simply turned off compositing in KDE. After that, the game ran flawlessly.

I also checked if it was possible to play Heroes of Might and Magic 3 in wine (it was), and then I added some launchers to her desktop, which now looks like this:

Jen's pretty KDE desktop

Jen's pretty KDE desktop

I haven’t changed the default plasma theme, or the default looks in general, because quite frankly, she wouldn’t even notice. The launchers are little plasmoids, and I’m actually rather proud of the first one because it points to a very simple script that changed the directory to the one where the Heroes executable is stored, otherwise it complained about missing files.

And I added the moon phase plasmoid, because she’s a woman. Moon phases are special to them.


Give KDE and Gnome a unified look

July 23, 2008

Out of the box, both KDE3 and Gnome look like crap. There, I said it. Default KDE still uses Everaldo’s Crystal SVG icon theme, which dates from 2001. That’s about the time I started using KDE, and I loved it at the time, but these days, icon sets tend to be a little less bright. I remember KDE being compared to Playmobil a lot at that time… The default theme, called Plastik, isn’t much better. It’s perfectly all right, and more than a little bit boring.

Gnome is even worse. The default icon theme is so completely drab it doesn’t even deserve its own name. Concerning the widget theme, I think Gnome comes with Clearlooks as the default these days. Just reread what I wrote about Plastik. If I were your general average internet troll, I’d write “yawn” here (to all you trolls out there: stop doing that. It drives me nuts).

But all that doesn’t really matter. I might as well start complaining about the default theme of one of Ubuntu’s alpha releases. Themes and icon themes are easily changed, and with sites like gnome-look and kde-look, there are enough possibilities to keep you experimenting happily for years. No, the problems start when you mix KDE/QT with Gnome/GTK applications. Ever had a Quattro Stagioni pizza? That’s how well KDE and Gnome applications go together.

Look, I don’t mind that visually, KDE and Gnome are very different. They should be. I just wish more (icon) themes were made for the both of them. QTCurve is a nice example. This theme isn’t very exciting, but at least it makes your KDE and Gnome applications look the same.
Using GTK-QT-engine is another possibility, but that only makes your gnome applications look like KDE, not the other way around. If you happen to like a particular GTK-theme, you’re out of luck.

Icon themes is a little bit easier. Gnome-look and KDE-look are filled with people who produce icon set after icon set, and many of those are ports. It didn’t take me long that the (excellent) KDE4 icon theme Oxygen has been ported to both KDE3 and Gnome. The ports don’t look exactly the same, but they’re close enough to my tastes.
Of course, I just had to notice an excellent black version of Oxygen on Gnome-look, without a counterpart at the KDE side…*sigh*.

Anyway, this is how my desktop looks now:

Comparison of Gnome and KDE themes

Comparison of Gnome and KDE themes

Yes, I have a lot of applications open and it’s a bit hard to see where one application stops and where another begins, but that’s the point. From left to right you can see Amarok (KDE), Transmission (Gnome), K3b (KDE) and Abiword (Gnome). As you can see, there’s no difference in the appearance of the menu bars. At the bottom, there are two file dialogs. They’re not exactly the same, but the buttons are. That’s all QTcurve.
As for the icons, they look the same too, apart from some minor differences and the lack of a “Desktop” icon in the KDE file dialog. I think it looks okay.

But it would be nice if more themes were made for both KDE and Gnome. There are a lot of zealots on either side of the fence, but I don’t prefer one over the other. In fact, I’m using Openbox. Most of my applications are Gnome, except K3b and Amarok (they’re just better than everything else)…and Thunar as a file manager (It doesn’t have tabs, but I just can’t live without batch renaming).

So come on, all you artists and theme-ing enthusiasts out there. Give us some cross-desktop-environment artwork.