Monday, September 14, 2009

Why does KDE 4 suck so badly?

Yesterday I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on Patricia's computer at home. The installation process was very easy, as usual for Ubuntu. I proceeded to install kubuntu with KDE4, since we prefer using KDE over Gnome.

One login later my socks were blown off. Wow! So much eye candy. Animated windows. Transparency effects. A pretty task bar. ... but, where's my desktop? What did they do to the K menu? How do I modify menu entries? Where's konqueror? Where does my digital camera show up? What is this plasma thingy? How do I turn of this active widget thingy that's slowing my computer to a crawl? Why does it take so long to launch an application?

First I turned off all the desktop effects, which are pretty, but make KDE *really* slow to handle.

Next, I tried to slim the default fat window title bars (whose fatness remind me of Windows XP). This is apparently only possible by selecting a different theme than Plastik.

Now, dealing with this horrible contraption they call the K menu. It's a big, fixed size box that shows all the menus one would expect in a Startmenu, sorted into various tabs (Favorites, Applications, Computer, Leave, ..)
If the menu is longer than what fits into the box (i.e. > 7 entries), a scroll bar appears and one needs to scroll. In the age of 32" wide-screen computer monitors, this forces me to search for the application I want to start via a little peep hole in the lower left corner of my screen. Going back up the menu tree requires clicking on the a slim bar to the left of the menu list that only has a back marker once you hover with your mouse over it.

What's worse, I haven't found a option to rename, delete, or move menu entries around. This is particularly annoying in the Leave tab on this computer, since there are 8 options and two separator lines, which moves the Shutdown menu entry just below the bottom of this box, so one is forced to click in 5 places to shut down the computer:

K -> Leave -> scroll down -> Shutdown -> Shutdown now

On to the widgets screen. KDE3.x had, like most modern operating systems, the concept of a desktop. Most people clutter up their desktop with various icons, just like they clutter up their desk with paper and stuff. KDE4 took a cue from Macintosh and added widgets that by default show in the background of the screen, instead of the familiar desktop. While on the Mac the widgets are overlaid on top of the regular screen, in KDE4 they are behind all other windows (like the old Microsoft Active Desktop). The point of this escapes me. I also turned this off.

Digital camera integration with gphoto, konqueror, gwenview, and the kamera io slave worked pretty nicely in KDE3. Not so in KDE4. Looks like for now I'll open konqueror and go to camera:/ manually. gwenview became totally useless. It rotates photos for me when viewing them, but there is no way to save just the rotated photo.
konqueror has a plug-in supposedly using imagemagick to rotate photos (great!), but I can't figure out how to make it actually do that, all it shows now under actions is options to convert images to other formats.

I'm aware that most of this is fixable. My point, however, is why this needs to be so unintuitive. E.g. I actually like the rotate photo buttons in Windows Explorer. They are simple and get the job done. Loading The Gimp for every rotated photo is just crazy.

Enough whining. On to figuring out how to make this work the way I want...


Steve Lacy said...

So, exactly why do you prefer KDE over Gnome?

Bernhard said...

Good question.

I used KDE for several years and got used to it's look and feel. Gnome always felt a bit oddly lacking to me. Little things.

I'm actually using Gnome on a couple computers I have around the house, and it's ok.
I'll give it a shot on this machine and see how far we get with the things I pointed out in this rant.

Anonymous said...

Reading these kind of posts reminds me of just how technology truly is everywhere in this day and age, and I can say with 99% certainty that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further advances, the possibility of transferring our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I dream about every once in a while.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4i SDHC[/url] DS SurfV3)