KDE 4.x: The Rebirth User Interface Experience

I would raise my hat (if I have one) to toast the success of KDE community. They did a clever way of defining things that we solely would claim that only Apple who's able to do it in years: User Interface revolution. The long awaited KDE 4 is now ready to take actions. Well, not at least not this month.

For years, since the era of RedHat and Mandrake still walking on this earth, I have been a devoted user of GNOME My choice of desktop is always GNOME and KDE 2.x at the time is not that much and I would still rather to go with Window Maker (the default window manager at my faculty). IceWM would do nice, but I don't like another system GUI rip off and it has not enough configuration. But still, I would like to maximize my computer usage.

Window Maker have a weird concept of making big icons all over the desktop and I would think that it would screwed if I have so many applications opened in the same time. But still, I like the theme and the fact that I don't usually use the desktop with that many applications. Yeah, I do like the Window Maker. It has theme but I don't remember of the name of my favorite theme.

The other promising window manager (WM) I would take is the AfterSTEP WM and Enlightenment 16.x (DR16). I only have the AfterSTEP a while since it is no longer maintained. The Enlightenment 16.x is the best thing that maximized Virtual Desktop usage. One thing I would take a compliment of the DR16 is the way it inhibits the computer memory: a very low memory footprint! Yet, it offer features that I have it missing from today's WM. I've always use Milk theme.

What is good about DR16 is the concept of multiple virtual desktop as one big desktop. So, when I would need space, I would drag my application to different desktop. I don't need any click on the window list, I just go to the corner and the virtual desktop is switched with the slide effect, making me believe that it is continous. This is good because it makes me concentrate at what I am doing by believing that I just move to a side not warping and stealing my focus. The combination with GKRellM also maximize the ability. Ah, speaking of GKRellM is like speaking of the pioneer of useful gagdet inventor.

DR17 (a.k.a. Enlightenment 17) is another promising one, but over the years it only sits on CVS. I have one and I like their very first concept before they decided to go with the Shelf idea. The preview of an application window when I see it in the window list box is so good and I don't know when it was dropped. The Japan theme is my favourite theme and Lady Bug is my favourite desktop wallpaper.

Of course, after a while I like the idea and start liking the Shelf. Shelf is like a container where you could icons or any thing icon-wise (e.g. window list) to it. The icons and the other content is resizeable according to the shelf. So, if you resize the shelf, you would resize the content also. With the shelf, you would have consistent icons and it would have the functionality like taksbar.

I would set 3 shelves to my desktop. One is on the top of my desktop . One is beside it containing the clock. The last one I put in the left side of the desktop, containing all of my favorite application and everybody is happy.

If I may say, I would stick to this DR17 for the rest of my life. The only problem I have is it won't have a tray so my application e.g. Pidgin and Amarok can't be maximized to systray. Oh, the other problem is it is using CVS version which would screw the desktop after a certain update. Until yesterday, I cannot log on to my DR17 on my debian box. :((

So, what's so great about GNOME? Well, not much. It has two panel and have applets to amuse. It is a bloated simple desktop. It use GTK+2 and many applications developed with that library. The multimedia key making my office keyboard useful. It has nice themes to use. Well, may be the concept of "working just like that" is a good one and I could concentrate in my works.

Gimmie, one of applet start menu of GNOME would kick ass! But unfortunately I don't see it updated anymore, otherwise this would be the reason I stick with GNOME.

What's my story of KDE? Well, the reason why I don't like KDE is because of my not so good experience with KDE. Since KDE 2, I would receive random crashes and making my X freeze. The plain taskbar and a clickable "K" icon just like other WM. If I would list, nearly all of my application is based on GTK+2 which look plain ugly in the KDE. The KDE experience in Mandrake perhaps make me feel bad about KDE. It is very unstable and I could only use few applications with the fear of random freeze.

I realize the potential of KDE when I have found Yakuake and Amarok. Yakuake is like Quake/CS terminal, a terminal with slide down/up to show up. It's very neat and give me freedom and free my screen from useless space. For instance, I would like to copy and paste the URL on the browser and use WGET to download things. I still prefer MPlayer over other GUI player to play any film. The very real useful thing is I could use ViM, compile any source code without opening another terminal. The shortcut would be META+T to toggle the terminal, ALT left/right to move between terminal sessions, ALT up/down to open/close a session. Neat, isn't it?

About Amarok music player, what would I say than to say this is the best player ever! Foobar2000, Sonique, WinAMP, iTunes, XMMS, Banshee, etc at this moment can't be compared with this one. I think the first impression of people of having GNU/Linux experience would come from this application. It has a Library and indexing capability. You could move your music every where within the Library path and it still know you.

The very best thing is the dynamic mode that make use of the Last.FM account. The player would choose all relevant artists that available on my computer and add them to the playlist. The search box makes me search in real mode allow me to choose songs. The integration with Amazon make the player have album art of the particular artist (CD audio don't provide one and I don't have scanner). Integration with wikipedia can make me see the artist's profile. The lyric edit would open a browser and browse Google to find the song's lyric. MusicBrainz integration sometimes works but usually don't. Overall, Amarok would be my every day music player.

Unfortunately, neither of Yakuake and Amarok available in KDE4 at the moment. Another showstopper for me is the PROXY option unusable. In the past, that reason made me choose Pidgin instead of Kopete is that VERY IMPORTANT feature.

All that sacrifice is paid off with the new experience I have. If I watch the desktop, I have a feeling that KDE4 made my desktop wider than the usual. This soft feeling make my day! Yes, this is helping me a lot to be able in the monitor 12+ nonstop every day. I can't describe it but I have a feeling that the desktop is cleaner.

Yes, KDE community have very talented artists, they design the wallpaper and the theme (Oxygen) very well. Their design help me mentally to go coding all the way. My dark theme would play well with it and with the impressive ability of KDE to have modified color scheme, I can have my ViM, Eclipse, Pidgin, and Dolphin a consistent color, makes me believe they all in one part.

Speaking of Dolphin, this one have a nice idea of hiding the unnecessary where I would find Nautilus is not that good (compared to Dolphin). The 3 columns design is what I like about it. The folder column, the content, and the information. All just like a web design, neat.

The widget idea and the desktop ability to stretch out like dashboard also have the advantage to improve my experience with desktop computer. The folder view also the best.

Shoot. I'm writing from an internet cafe, time's up. To be continued... (if not lazy)

Dear lazy, meh! Yakuake have been supporting KDE4 for ages. Well, now I can have my yakuake. :D Let's see about the issue: Amarok and proxy.


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