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

The final day has arrived. I am considering switching from Gnome. There, I said it. Throughout this series I have maintained Gnomes superiority in some key areas, among them Ease of Use and Simplicity, and some Applications that are better than their KDE Counterparts – Evolution is one.

Right now I have to ask myself – am I ready for the power of KDE? Do I need a simple easy desktop, or can I finally take the plunge and fiddle until KDE4 is ready for me.

Read on for more on this, and VIDEO CLIPS!!! Yes I took screencasts for you guys.

Switching, or not?

During this Seven Day Challenge I have come to enjoy the KDE4 interface. A lot of that enjoyment has come from the absolutely excellent job that Mandriva has done with it. Of two things I am completely certain:

  1. If I had been using Kubuntu or any other distro I would not have come to this conclusion.
  2. Neither KDE4 nor Gnome has everything I need or want.

Which to choose, then?

One thing hampers me in building my perfect desktop environment, and that is a rule I set myself – Never install cross-desktop applications! That means that if I used KDE4 I would have to stop using Evolution, and likewise no Kontact for me if I decide to stick with Gnome.

My reasoning behind this is simple – breakages, and all the features of these apps are not available in a different environment hence I will essentially be sitting with a bunch of half-complete apps.

Why I might NOT switch.

I need a good KDE4 distro. Kubuntu simply does not cut it. PCLOS is not good enough and my favorite KDE4 distro, Mandriva 2010 Spring, has not mastered my Wifi network card, PLUS there are some command-line utilities that I simply cannot find. PLEASE, if anyone can tell me where I can find the simple ‘host’ command for Mandriva I will be MUCH obliged. I will have to go hunting for my perfect KDE4 distribution.

Possible candidates include:

  • the new openSUSE 11.3 – this one will be the subject of a review next week!
  • Linux Mint KDE – I will also give this one a spin soon.

Other than these I see no KDE4 distros that deliver on all three key areas:

  1. Stability – Mandriva is rock solid and deals with KDE4 issues with aplomb – very few KDE4 problems this week.
  2. Feature – Completeness – Ubuntu currently has everything I need, and if I need anything new I am almost certain to find a .deb somewhere.
  3. Hardware Support – Mandriva cannot suspend/resume while keeping my Atheros WiFi card alive – I need to reboot to get it up again. Ubuntu and Kubuntu does that without any problems.

KDE4 Problems.

There where a few bugs in my desktop soup this week – notably the four times I logged in only to need to either kill X and restart it or reboot my laptop because KDE or Plasma Desktop stopped working.

I also ran into a little glitch when using Kmail and scrolling through a mail – the scrollbar would move but the text in the mail would appear jumbled. Closing Kmail and relaunching it would solve the problem – this happened twice.

Wallet! Guys I checked, and re-checked. Wallet wanted to authenticate twice every time I logged in. Either I hit a unique bug or you guys are very lucky. It could be either.

Right now Gnome 2.3 is more stable than KDE4, this has held true over many distros that I have used and worked with that used KDE4 – it will be interesting to see how Gnome3 turns out. KDE4 is definitely lighter on resources than Gnome2 though, at least in my experience. Turn of Compiz in Gnome though and there is nothing to choose between the two.


Right now on to what you really want to see, the vids.

Have a look below, and again, for Linux users there is a zip with the original .ogg files in there for your high def enjoyment at the end of this entry. Note, the videos look best when larger.

First off I show the KDE Kickoff Launcher:

I prefer the Mandriva Classic Style Menu. I have gotten used to the Kickoff launcher though, but it needs some optimization.

Next I show the KDE Panel Behaviour, especially the excellent notification system that KDE4 has – Gnome take note.

Look at that! Really elegant and it provides really relevant and concise information. I like.

Next up the plasmoids. Honestly I believe this is an area of failure for KDE4 – in many distros I use, and also with PC-BSD, the Plasma Desktop is a source of instability with KDE4.

Nevertheless they are really pretty and could be useful – me, I don’t really see the use of widgets that are covered by windows most of the time.

Finally a note on the sound of KDE4, it reallyreally complements the desktop experience. So many Linux desktops fail at this hurdle, and Mandriva does it with aplomb – the sounds work, and a lot (most) of that has to do with that they left the KDE4 sounds and notifications alone.

I unplugged my laptop charger and plugged it back in for this demonstration – it was the easiest way to demonstrate both the sounds and notifications.

I notice that you can hear my hard drive in this clip, this is a second drive I keep around for testing distros on. I did not notice undue noise until recently, I was surprised that it came over so loud in this video…

My main 250gb drive is dead silent though…

Full-Size Videos: KDE4 Videos (8.7mb ZIP)


Will I switch? I don’t know. What I do know is that starting Monday I am going to actively begin hunting for a good KDE distro that plays well with my WiFi card. I would LOVE to keep using this edition of Mandriva, but where I could probably find every package I need or install every utility I need from source I am less sure that I will be able to fix the suspend/resume +no wifi problem that I have.

Because of the WiFi problem that I have in Mandriva I am going back to Ubuntu this weekend. For the sake of this series I stuck with Mandriva in order to use KDE4, but I cannot keep doing the reboot thing, I use suspend/resume a LOT.

All in all this was a very informing exercise for me. I hope I was able to translate what I experienced this week in writing to you guys – if you have any suggestions on how to improve these seven day challenges let me know!

(I am actively searching for the perfect KDE4 distro – CLICK HERE for my thoughts on the first candidate – openSUSE 11.3)

Related posts:

  1. Using KDE – Day 6
  2. Using KDE – Day 5
  3. Using KDE4 – Day 3
  4. Using KDE4 – Day 2
  5. Using KDE4 – Day 1