Why KDE4 (might) suck!

kde4 rc-1
I've been a kde user for very long time, since from before version 3.0. I vaguely remember being excited with version 3.0 to the point I was using the beta releases on a daily basis.

Similarly I have been anticipating kde 4.0, the next major release since 3.0 I suppose. But it seems that is just its problem! Its too much of a major release to be pushing out in such a hurry. I have been following kde 4 from time to time by reading some of the discussions on the panel-devel list, trying out the alpha releases via the SUSE live cd and of course discussing with Siraj, our local kde developer, on the internals (technology and community wise).

While things have improved a bit, with each release of kde 4, its far from ready. We are now at RC1 and the announcement says its ready for prime time testing.

Building on this, the majority of applications included in KDE 4.0 are now usable for day to day use. The KDE Release Team has recently underlined this by calling on the community to participate in reporting bugs during the time remaining before the release of KDE 4.0 in December.

Meanwhile, preparations for the KDE 4.0 release event is taking place, with the main event taking place in Mountain View, California in the USA in January 2008. Make sure you don't miss it!

Well from what I saw on the Debian based LiveCD, its far from being usable on a daily basis. I sincerely hope this is because the Debian guys didn't compile or package it correctly, even though thats very highly unlikely.

And while I don't want to ruin the January release party at Google, which by the way, goes up to Jan 19, which happens to be my B' day (Whooo!), my feeling is kde 4 should have been pushed back to June/July to make give that polish.

Anyway rather than just rant on and on, let me put forward my main issues with it, coming from a kde 3.x background. My testing procedure involved booting up kde 4-rc1 debian live cd and taking notes on the iTouch. To get a bit more background to the issues I was facing, I mailed those comments off to Siraj and I have included his comments and my replies to his comments :) Even he seems a bit frustrated with some aspects of the current state of kde. I'm sorry I don't have screenshots. All this was tested in 30-40 minutes, which only goes to show that its too easy to be annoyed with kde 4.

Legend: My initial comment, Siraj's comment, My response to his comment :)

Bugs like

* I see a floating klipper with black background

> Not a bug, plasma is yet to find a way to using XEmbed windows
inside a QGV , so till that is ready clipper will float.

>>Well its a bug! I get this from time to time even on kde 3.5.x after compiling with library versions used with beryl/compiz. But that happens randomly on 3.5.x and is predictable on 4.0. This should be fixed before final release

* I can't adjust time using clock applet. How do I change time format from 12/24

> you can't ;) it's a known issue :P

* I can't remove some applets like Lancelot. Why not have a remove applet functionality inside add applets dialog

> I don't think the IPC (dbus call) to remove an applet is not ready yet

* I can't resize plasma applets!

> hehe, the clock you can! others u can't ;)

>>Thanks for adding that feature. But its still crude (you need to type in a value under configure menu). Resizing should part of (inherited in )all applet

* Its not clear how I add stuff to kde menu's quick access tab.Would've been easy if I could drag and drop from app tab

* Plugging in my iPod, USB disk didint fireup the what should I do pop up. Neither did it show anything on my desktop.

> I don't thing solid supports all that, but do u have the solid applet loaded ?

>>No didn't have this loaded. I think such applets, if there are any needs to be loaded by default.

* I can drag a file from file browser to desktop but it only shows icon not file name and I can't move its position

> I think the applet lock is on, unclicking unlock should let you move it

>>I'd really like to believe that, except there is nothing that shows its the case. There was no indication in the icon (via an emblem of a padlock for example) and I don't recall an unlock option in the context menu or even a context menu :) Its also bad you don't see the file name. Imagine having 10 files on the desktop all having just the same icon!

* How do I get multiple desktops. Used to be more intuitive

> there is an applet for virtual desktops.

>>If there is, this should be on by default.

* Launching the pager applet crashed the desktop and upon reload all the applets I had added were gone.

> Kwin and plasma is having lot of problems, this is just one of those. Yeap, no history support implemented yet ;)

>>A critical must fix bug, since kde4 seems to depend so much on these applets to provide core functionality previously supported natively (via kicker, konqueror)

Usability issues (and sometimes bug like)

* On the top right seetings widget has zoom in/out. Zoom out shrinks the desktop to a point of no return. Why not have a zoom default. Also this should be implemeted better esthetically.

> this is a pre plan for ZUI, which mean the default should be keep to zoom out. ZUI is not ready so it's a feature not a bug ;)

>>:) its a bug, because its a missing feature ;)

* Lots of missing icons so defaults to ugly icon.

> Oxygen is doing some major rework, when done should be ok!

* Default clock in systray looks ugly

> Agreed, argued no use, users are stuck with that! Aaron likes it

* In add applet dialog its not clear what the star does. If to rate then why 1 star.

> hehehe, maybe for the looks!

* Kde menu based on kicker looks unpolished and ugly

> :( life!

* Would be nice if I can clear recently used histry on that tab itself

> you will just have to wait :)

>>I can wait. Just wish kde can too instead of being released in Jan without all these

* Left and right click has the same effect on k menu button. How do I
add a custom item to menu?

> you can't for now :)

* I can't right click on taskbar. What happened those functionality.

> not implemented yet !

* Right click on desktop and I can't create new file, folder, launcher icon. WTF. Bettr to offer this along with option to hide icons from desktop. Dont cripple it

> not ready :)

* Where is trash icon? Should be in desktop or dock. Its not even an applet. It should be there by default.

> trash widget should be there but not ready yet :)

These are just some of the issues I found after playing with it for 45 min or so using the debian live cd. Definitely not RC1 quality. More like beta 1 or alpha 3!

kde4 rc-1 kde4 rc-1

So in conclusion, kde 4, IMHO doesn't offer much that isn't already available via other add-ons but as a result as compromised on usability and most of all flexibility which differentiates it from say GNOME. Worse yet, it seems to be missing a lot of the things we currently have with kde 3.5.x and earlier.

As a result, I think kde 4 has diverted from what its current users love and expect of kde. Its as if it has tried to be something its not. So my main complaint is that it needs a lot of work to get the same polish which we currently enjoy with kde 3.5.x series and should take the time needed before releasing prematurely. There is a saying in FOSS - It will be released when its ready!

In the mine time lets continue making kde 3.y.x incrementally better :)