I like to always checkout the latest and greatest software offerings but it pays a high price. My system never stays 100% working. A lot of stuff I can fix, but some stuff just becomes too much of a headache to fix. It all sits broken and accumulates about every six months towards my mental breaking point – then I deem it time for a reload. Usually on “reload day” I will try something different than the same load that I had last time. Sometimes I switch distributions. Today, I stuck with SuSE 10.1, but I decided that it was time to come back to Gnome. KDE was a fun trip, but there are many things preventing me from using it at work. If you don’t care what they are, then stop reading now 🙂
For starters, the Kontact suite is a classic example of programmers designing software for other programmers. One of my reasons for switching to KDE was that I felt Gnome hides too many options from the user. On the other end of that spectrum lies Kontact. It does a billion things – all poorly. I shouldn’t have to setup my email information three different times, each in a different component that may or may not interface with it. I also shouldn’t have to manually configure the information to connect to my GAL at work. Kopete can’t accept file transfers from the AIM protocol. This effectively cripples the entire program (for my daily usage). Korganizer supports the Microsoft Exchange calendar components , but all of the appointments are 4 hours off after being imported. Thinking the issue was timezone related, I went into the configuration, only to find again that I have to setup the timezone in multiple places. The address book used for Kontact doesn’t pull from email or GAL contacts. The interoperability of the software suite is a move in the right direction , but it has a very long way to go.
The trend of overloaded settings and bloated menus continued on into other KDE applications. It is great that a program can do 500 things, but if none of them are relevant to what you are currently working on, then they are just in the way.
Konqueror is one of the few things that KDE seems to have gotten right. It has a versatile plugin system that allows many services and application to integrate with it. Compressed files, images, and multimedia all play within the file browser. As good as Konqueror is, it still has severe limitations. It doesn’t display shared printers on Windows shares. Also, the “tree” sidebar doesn’t follow the current working directory.
One of the things that really broke the deal is that I can’t stay away from Xgl. It will run in KDE, but things just don’t work like they should. You lose the pager, and several other small annoyances. The key bindings for the compiz WM are different than kwin.
While we are on the topic of things not lining up, the applications that I use the most are written in GTK. This is Gaim, Thunderbird, Evolution and most importantly â€“ Firefox. When I use the file manager calls, I am looking at Nautilus, not Konqueror in those boxes.
Some of the things that I miss in KDE are the fine tunings of power management, and the control over the desktop elements (menu and background). Konqueror also had a plugin that allowed you to view the file system by file size. I found this surprisingly useful, and found myself going back to it many times. I have left KDE, but I have taken with it the really great programs. K3b and Amarok should be examples of what all software should strive to be. They are easy to use, and give instant results.
So I am back “home” again with some twists. I am on the domain at work, I am using Microsoft Exchange, and I have full indexing for every program that I use. These things coupled with the “gnome-main-menu” featured in SLED, Xgl, and Kiba, I am having just as much fun as I was in KDE â€“ and now I can do my job faster. Ahh, an accomplished feeling.