(If you are new to this series you are invited to start reading from DAY ONE)

Day 6 is done. Today I wanted to customise my desktop a bit, but I will do that tomorrow. I had a non KDE related issue that I want to share – it’s Mandriva related, and then there are some comments on Kmail, Konsole and keyboard shortcuts in KDE vs Compiz – specifically switching desktops.

Notes on Day 6

Today was hectic. I had to troubleshoot two Macs for a large company that had issues with mail. Their techs gave up (or simply didn’t care to try) and I had to go and check stuff out. It was two simple issues that were easily addressed. I hate lazy techs…

I spent a lot of time today (three hours straight) having to work in terminals (Konsole) to help our team bring a server back from the brink of suicide thanks to some creative html cockups by someone at a very busy site – I can’t tell which, sorry.

Here are some application specific notes.

Desktop Navigation.

Spending three hours straight in a terminal (okay a bunch of them) can get entertaining very quickly. Let me sketch a scenario for you…

Our server was being thrashed. Hundreds of GET requests per second, to a page that made a call to a mysql DB hundreds of times per second, and caused Mysql and Apache to work hard. Add to that the actual bandwidth volume that was traveling in and out the server and you could see things got busy.

Some of you may have noticed the blog was loading slowly – yep I am on the same server…

Each of us had a task to do. One of us was in London, and three in the offices. On my desktop I had the following open:

  • Firefox with multiple tabs Desktop 2 – to load various pages while testing and keep an eye on load speeds of pages on the server.
  • Various Skype chats on Desktop 2 – sending code snippets and ideas between team members.
  • Konsole Desktop 1 – Five terminals in Konsole, three SSH sessions, and others for trying stuff out.
  • A Skype Call on Desktop 1 – the dude in London and I where chatting.

I had to constantly move between desktops to work at as fast a pace as possible, let’s do an exercise OK?

Put your hands on the keyboard, fingers at the typing position. Fingers on A,S,D,F and J,K,L, and ;

In Compiz, and Gnome, to switch between desktops you use the following key combination – CTRL+ALT+<LEFT or RIGHT arrowkeys>

In KDE it is CTRL+F1 or F2 or F3 or F4

While the key combination may seem to make sense on paper, take your hands and do the Gnome/Compiz combo first. Your hands move down to their respective sides of the keyboard, still in the same pose as you would be while typing, and can easily move back to typing position.

Now try the KDE combination. If you have BIG hands you may be able to hit CTRL+F1 with pinky and index finger, otherwise it is a two handed job – right hand has to come over to the left of the keyboard to help leftie out. Even if you do thumb+index  you bend your wrist and move the whole of your hand to the extreme left of the keyboard.

I find the Gnome way of switching between desktops a lot quicker. Before you type out an angry comment though I will concede that this could be because I am more used to the Gnome way of doing things. Still the Gnome/Compiz way feels like it belongs more in a touch typing workflow than the other.


I am beginning to enjoy Konsole. One standout feature, Tabs for multiple terminals populate the bottom bar, as opposed to Gnome terminal that adds another bar to the top. Makes more sense workspace wise. Again I have a slight reservation – SHIFT+CTRL+N makes a New tab, whereas SHIFT+CTRL+T makes a new Tab in Gnome terminal. Here the Konsole way is less of an effort than the Gnome terminal way, but the T makes more sense for a Tab and the N for a New terminal.

Again preferences and what I am used to dictates my likes here… Konsole wins on layout though.


I like it better than Evolution in many respects. Love the popups that tell you helpful info about your folders under your inbox – or if you hover over a message it pops up and gives you info like FROM address, TO address etc. Better than Evolution. It handles HTML signature a bit worse then Evolution does, I cannot get my signature to display correctly.

It is quicker than Evolution,  granted my mails in Evolution takes up multiple gigs, where I haven’t imported anything into Kmail – let’s ignore that for now, but it still feels nippier.

I dislike the blue-white striping of mails in the inbox though. Evolution beats it on looks and layout.

While you can do more with Evolution, Kmail might be better suited to the less intensive mail suite user.


Someone commented that setting up printing under KDE could be a pain. I decided to test that and ran into an immediate problem that I place squarely at the feet of Mandriva. Cups is not loaded at boot. When you want to add a printer, it will not work until Cups is started! The place where you start CUPS is separate from the setting up of printers.

  1. Quick solution, either one of these will do:
  2. Start CUPS at boot by default. Ubuntu does that.

Start CUPS when Printers are added for the first time and then load it at boot.

I had a heck of a time to add a printer – but once I figured out that CUPS was not running everything went well. Oversight on the Mandriva side…


Notice the grey "ADD" button?

You look at the screenshot above and tell me that CUPS is not running. If you knew that beforehand it would be less of an issue, but for someone new to an environment it can be a pain.

Still No Add

Yeah clicking on "connect" doesn't help either...

The add printer utility has a really awesome help utility, it told me that CUPS was not running. Great, where to find the place to switch it on?

In the Mandriva Control centre, under “System” and “Manage System Services…”

Start CUPS Here.

Start CUPS here, and then keep it loading in the future...

Arrogant as it may sound, I believe my solution will be better than the current way of doing things.

I could not really gauge printing in KDE since Mandriva has a lot of its own utilities and things built in to make this easier. Gnome does this better though, and Ubuntu starting CUPS by default is the winner in this department…

Summary Day 6

This week is on skids right now. I am so busy during the day that I cannot even take my morning coffee break to get an entry started! Lunchtime is non existent, and tonight I walked out the office at 9pm.

KDE 4 was nice to work with and aside for my minor reservations here and there I really have no major faults to find with it.

I do miss Ubuntu though – I need the “host” command, and cannot find it to install it for Mandriva, and my suspend/resume hampering due to the Atheros wifi card is a pain. Those and other little niggles make me yearn for my old install.

(The final day has just been posted, resplendent with Video too – Using KDE4 – DAY 7)

Related posts:

  1. Using KDE 4 – Day 7
  2. Using KDE – Day 5
  3. Using KDE4 – Day 3
  4. Using KDE4 – Day 2
  5. Using KDE4 – Day 1