James Alan Brown: Some Constructive KDE Criticism
Nov 13, 2000, 16:57 (74 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by James Alan Brown)
Re-Imagining Linux Platforms to Meet the Needs of Cloud Service Providers
So now KDE2 has been released and we have all had the chance to
try the first non beta version I feel it is now time to make some
First, I need to make this quite clear that I support the KDE
organisation fully and also their unflagging regard to pure open
source software. I am very grateful for the many programmers who
give as much of their free time in writing KDE software. I am also
totally opposed to this KDE/Gnome war of words that I know most
would agree is not the way to do things.
For me personally I have this dream, a goal in my life, that is,
to work on producing total standalone desktop PC systems that can
offer a real usable alternative to the Microsoft "own them all" way
of doing things.
Most people in the PC business that have embraced Linux as a
real viable alternative way of working and have a real wish and
desire to see Linux thrive. What is going to achieved that is the
need to have good stable reliable working programs. I think most
Linux users would agree fully that the Linux base system is indeed
much better that the old DOS way most of the, including me, Old
Timers got so used to.
The Desktop Environment:
Not wishing to upset others but it seems to me that we have just
two main choices and that is in KDE or Gnome. Having tried both my
choice became KDE and for a number of very clear reasons too. I
like some parts about Gnome particularly regarding the depth and
nice look of its display using GTK themes. The biggest downside of
Gnome though was its total lack of geometry control and childish
idiot looking icons. Another big factor was with its extremely
annoying messages, if used when running as the root user, and its
total lack of menu layout editing with its silly comments regarding
Xauth every time you try to make changes.
KDE on the other hand, even with KDE 1.0 was so easy and totally
customisable to use and at last, just as with MS Windows, I could
maximise each window and save the maximise setting as the default.
Some excellent packages and partially nice looking multimedia
programs that worked very well. When KDE 1.1.2 came out then it
became very clear that Linux was at last going to make a viable
alternative, for the many MS windows users, quite possible.
The downside of trying to use Linux as a total standalone PC
with ISP connection was still however held back by a total lack of
some real good word processing packages. Star Office certainly has
helped change that situation also AbiWord is getting quite nice and
very functional. Take a good look at version 0.7.12 that is due out
within the next week or so! The nice point regarding AbiWord is its
ability to dual theme in making use of GTK theming when running
under KDE 1.1.2.
You may like to look at my URL:
http://www.jabcomp.force9.co.uk/download/ to see an example
screenshot running on my pure gold theme.
I downloaded every beta, as they became available, and took a
good hard look at those to see what future direction KDE is going
to go. I was very keen to download the full release of KDE2 but I
must say that I am somewhat disappointed in what I have found so
Please note: All my KDE2 installs, to date,
have been done using total clean Linux installs. (formatted hard
drives and with the correct QT versions too)!
You can't help but notice how much it looks like Gnome
particularly regarding the lack of geometry control. I have never
liked opening programs that are half hidden off the bottom of the
screen or that open half way across the width of the desktop.
The ability to open a word processor maximised and yes sure you
need sometimes to minimise it when cutting or pasting. There is
nothing, that is, so dam annoying as to have to click on the
maximised button each time! The nice strong part regarding KDE1.1.2
is to use the -geometry flag on a link that now seems so sadly
lacking in the new KDE2 version.
I can't begin to tell you all how much I looked forward to
koffice as I felt so sure at last a real alternative to MS Office
and that this was the final link to getting my many customers on to
Linux. So many things wrong with it and it is still so unstable as
to render it useless at the present time if you plan on doing any
business work with it!
I am really sorry to say that but I do feel it is justified,
however. No disrespect to all of those who have worked so hard on
Koffice but it is important to understand that it needs to function
much better if it is ever going to be a fully working usable
I have a PCI Yamaha XG soundcard that works like a dream on
KDE1.1.2 with excellent sound quality in running Quake III, Midi
files, Mp3 files and CD sound tracks. The Alsa drivers also really
work well on KDE1.1.2. Another nice feature was with the 3 programs
Kmidi, Kmp3 and CD player. They looked so nice as also functioned
so well. No longer a part of KDE2 though but some flash looking
media player that just made the odd noise; tells me that something
is very wrong indeed!
I notice too that what little sound I now have was badly
distorted and it was no longer able to play even basic wave files
let along do anything at all with Midi or Mp3 files. So what has
been changed to bring this about? Surely KDE2 should be a step
What happened to KFM?
One of the best features with KFM is the total ability to
customise fully the file manager's views and colour schemes. In
fact with the split view, mini folder tree view on the left side
and with long file view on the right hand side, using a black
background, folder/file names in green with details in white it
really looked something. The ability to save ,so easy, your colour
settings, view preferences and geometry to suite your customised
themes was really great.
KDE2 thinking now seems to be going in the direction of total
web integration and please note that that has already taken place
under the Microsoft banner! This became one of the main reasons why
so many have taken a long hard look in the Linux direction. Many,
and indeed I am one of those, who in using KDE1.1.2 loved this new
found freedom of being able to be totally in control.
The new KDE2 File Manager has lost most of this control and
stability too by trying to go down that very same road of web
integration. I really think that the KDE team need to look very
hard at this side of things! Geometry and customisation is now very
poor, and although the icons look nice, take a good look at what
happens when you change the icon size or try to set colours or
I can't help but think that KDE2 has been rushed out to counter
what's new in the Gnome camp rather than to get things sorted out
correctly. KDE's good name for stable software needs
None of this is in any way to be taken other than as for what it
is and it's just my view.
Constructive criticism is the best way that I know to change
I want all of you think hard about these comments, and if you
wish to reply then please do so, but, in a way that is not going to
create negative or rude remarks.
This is an open invitation to a real meaningful discussion.
I really want to see KDE succeed and be something that makes
others feel that at last Linux has come of age.
James Alan Brown