KDE 4.2: Stable and Shiny

Written by BinnyVA on February 6, 2009 – 12:59 am -

KDE Logo

I have upgraded my laptop(Kubuntu 8.10) to KDE 4.2. And all is well. The laptop did not, I repeat, did not explode. As a matter of fact, its been on KDE 4.2 for the last whole week – I never got to write anything about it because of my busy schedule. For the rest of the article, I have to write ‘KDE 4.2’ lots of time. To save some time, I am going to short it to 42. Seems appropriate. So when ever you see ’42’, mentally replace it with ‘KDE 4.2’

42 looks good. And by ‘looks good’ I don’t mean all those fancy effects. I mean it’s usableunlike its 4.x predecessors. You can actually get things done on it. You don’t have to hit save every other second because you know that the inevitable crash is just around the corner. 42 fixes most of the glaring errors in the earlier releases.

And it does look good – yes, visually this time. They really got into gradients and shadows in this release. Lots of fancy effects as well. Some of them are actually useful, to my surprise. Usually, I just ignore the shiny things – but the ‘Present Windows’ mode have changed my mind. It is a effect that actually has a use. To enable it, go to System Settings > Desktop > Desktop Effects. Now set the ‘Effect for Switching Windows’ to Present Windows.

For all you screenshot fans, here is a nice one…

KDE 4.2 Screenshot

Still, I have some complaints…

Missing Widgets/Plasmoids/Whatever

Command Widget
I want a input area in my panel that can be used to execute commands. The new Run dialog is useless for this purpose.
Bookmark Widget
In the old KDE, there was an option to add the Konqueror bookmarks to the panel – this was very, very useful for me. I cannot find this in the new version.

I am not really worried about these – I am sure the KDE team will add these soon. If they fail, there is always KDE-Look.org. If they don’t have one, well, I could always write one myself. Tinkerability is one of the main reason I love FOSS!


There is still a few bugs left – and for some reason, most of the bugs I notice seems to be in the panel side.

I have two panels – the bottom(with taskbar, system tray, pager, etc) and top panel(clock, quick launch, etc). Unfortunately, my top panel is having a lot of troubles. I cannot position the icons correctly – some widgets(like clock, quick launch, etc.) try to take up way more space that they actually need.

Also the folder view desktop mode seems to have a problem remembering the icon positions.

Again, not too worried – nothing big enough to cause me any trouble.

Kinda Crashy

Even though 42 is much more stable than 4 or 4.2 beta(Nightly neon) its still has a long way to go before it can reach the reliability of KDE 3.5. Still, since I am working on a laptop and not on a server, 42 is more than enough.

Anyway, whenever 42 crashes on you, use this mantra, as I do. Just tell yourself…

It could be a lot worse – I could be using Windows

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Posted in KDE, Opinion, Reviews, Ubuntu | 9 Comments »

Dell Vostro A840 Laptop and Linux

Written by BinnyVA on December 3, 2008 – 11:59 pm -

A few days ago, I bought a Laptop – the Dell Vostro A840. Specs…

  • Intel Dual Core
  • 1 GB RAM(I upgraded to 2 GB)
  • 120 GB Harddrive
  • OS: Preloaded with Ubuntu 8.04

Since its preloaded with Ubuntu, every thing worked without much problem. Wifi autoconnects, display look good, all the laptop specific buttons work without any problem(did not check suspend/hibernate). So what’s my next step? Uninstall Ubuntu, of course.

Don’t worry, I am not going to install Windows on it. No, I am not going for Fedora either(I use Fedora 8 on my desktop). I installed the latest version of Kubuntu – 8.10 or the ‘Intrepid Ibex’. As a matter of fact, I installed Xubuntu and then install the kubuntu-desktop package(I couldn’t get a Kubuntu CD). So now I have Kubuntu 8.10 with KDE 4.1. If my last experience with KDE4 has taught me anything, it is that KDE4 is nowhere near ready. Well, KDE 4.1 is much better – but still it has a long way to go before I am going to switch my desktop over to it.

My main complaints about KDE 4.1…

  • Lots of bugs
  • KHotKeys don’t work
  • Panel setting don’t get saved – the position of the icons gets reset
  • No Icons in Desktop! (I hear 4.2 has fixed this)
  • And more.

Anyway, I am going to continue using KDE 4.1 on the Lap. Hopefully they will release the stable release of 4.2 soon and I’ll upgrade to that.

After I moved to Kubuntu there were a lot of ‘driver missing’ issues. Wifi stopped working. Some laptop LEDs stopped functioning. So I begun the driver hunt. The DVDs provided with the laptop had linux drivers in them – but they where RPMs – not DEB packages. I cannot understand why Dell did that either. If you preinstall ubuntu, provide the .deb packages.

Before long, I stumbled upon an excellent tutorial on how to enable Atheros wireless. That got my Wifi up and running. The LED don’t work yet, but who cares.

So what does this mean for you visitors? Expect some posts on Laptop specific topics as well as some on Ubuntu/Kubuntu. Earlier I only wrote about Fedora.

This is what my laptop looks now…

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Posted in KDE, Reviews, Ubuntu | 14 Comments »