Category Archives: Screenshots

The Power of Plasma theming – a gallery of 23 themes [Update]

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One of the most often mentioned concerns at the KDE booth at LinuxTag was the question if Plasma would force the user to have a black panel. While we did have a second machine showing another theme to resolve all doubts it showed that not all users now yet the power of Plasma theming.

KDE is well known for the possibilities to configure it just like you want. And Plasma is no exclusion of this rule. Instead, the theming is well documented and there are already many user themes available at kde-look.org.

However, the shots shown below were made with the KDE 4.1 development version, and not all Plasma themes were created or tested for that version. Please keep this in mind and be tolerant regarding smaller issues. Additionally, I picked almost all themes which were offered via the GetHotNewStuff dialog, so there are themes of all types of quality.

But the gallery does indeed give quite a good impression of how flexible Plasma theming really is: it doesn’t matter if you want to include reflections, different colors, decorated borders or different backgrounds – everything is possible.

Update:
I forgot to stress that the shots were made using KDE4Daily in VirtualBox – there was no way to enable funky effects like transparency. Some themes do not look like they should because they are made with such composition effects in mind. So keep that in mind when judging my screen shots of themes like Glassified!

KDE at LinuxTag 2008, Day 2 – Taking over the World

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The second day at LinuxTag is over. It showed how KDE is steadily taking over the world.

Today a group of CIOs did a guided tour through the exhibition halls, and of course the icing cake was the KDE booth. There the main question was: how can KDE be interesting for such people, for companies.

And the answer was never easier than with KDE 4: through portability. The KDE 4 libs are amazing, and additionally the already existing apps on top of it are excellent programs. The key point for such people is however Kontact (which was also presented in a talk today which I unfortunately missed). Kontact provides an easy to manager group ware client compatible with a lot of different servers out there – and now it is also available on all three big platforms. This makes it possible for business people to have one central place for the configuration for all platforms while the client itself is fully integrated with the native platform look&feel.

And the most important thing is: this is not theory, it exists already. In fact, the booth of the BSI, the German Federal Office for Information Security, shows Kontact running natively on Windows and on Mac OS X. Here are three screenshots for comparison (thanks to the BSI for the Mac OS X and Windows screenshots):

KDE's Kontact on Linux

Kontact on Linux.

KDE's Kontact on Mac OS X

Kontact on Mac OS X.

KDE's Kontact on Windows

Kontact on Windows XP.

The versions displayed are based on the current in development KDE 4.1 libraries. But they are already working, and it is just a question of time until this becomes stable enough to use it in daily business life. This ports would not have been possible without the help of the BSI – which does support and promote Kontact and help with the development of security plugins – and also Kolab who do an amazing job in the world of group ware.

So, at the moment there is only one serious group ware client out there which runs on all three major platforms. And it does not only run there, it is natively integrated, users will immediately feel at home in them. The importance of these two facts can not be underestimated, and in the mid term more and more companies will consider Kontact – and therefore KDE – as a possible solution for their often mixed setups. And with Kontact other useful apps like Konqueror, Dolphin, Okular and others – which could again be configured at one single central point – are in reach as well.

Arora, a WebKit browser in Qt

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The release of Qt 4.4 came along with the WebKit browser engine which could be tested with an included demo browser. This demo browser is now developed independent under the name Arora and is already, while in early development a cross platform Qt browser.

WebKit is a browser engine which was originally forked from KHTML and is now developed further by Apple, Nokia, Adobe, Trolltech and others. Up to a certain point there is also cooperation going on between KHTML and WebKit.

With Qt 4.4 WebKit is officially part of Qt, and therefore every Qt app can take advantage of WebKit (this is also true for every KDE app, but they can use KHTML for quite some time now anyway). The demo browser of Qt 4.4 was shipped with the release to show what the engine is actually capable off. Since it was already a (basically) working browser its own code repository under the name Arora. The WebKit code used is the one of Qt which is directly developd in the WebKit trunk.

Arora main window

Arora preferences

The browser is currently under heavy development and is still in an early phase, so it can hardly be compared against the “old” ones like Firefox or Konqueror/KHTML. However, the browser already has a nicely working Rich Text Editor support which for example works with WordPress blogs:

Arora support for the WordPress Rich Text Editor

Also, there special private browsing mode which makes it possible to deactivate the history and cookies just for a short time:

Private browsing mode Arora

Besides, recently the support for flash plugins was included, and Arora can restore closed tabs. Currently planned features include the support for password store mechanisms in the form of plugins which will make it possible to connect Arora to kwalletmanager and therefore integrate it seamless with KDE – or to connect it with the Gnome keyring and integrate it with Gnome.

But it can also be seen that Arora is still in development: in the version tested on this machine there were some issues with the scroll bar and also with the line-edit field and the buttons on the Google home page:

Arora display errors

Additionally, there are some things missing: especially web shortcuts which I really got used to should be added at some point in the future. Also, the preferences dialog does not list options which are normal for other browsers (always display tabs, always open in a new tab, etc.).

However, given that the development continues at the current speed these features should be available soon. In the long term Arora could become a real competitor to Firefox: while it is also cross platform like Firefox it could actually adapt the native design of each platform thanks to Qt. Additionally, with intelligent chosen plugins it should be easy to integrate it into the platform (password storage, favourites, desktop search, etc.). Last but not least thanks to its origins it features a much smaller memory foot print and is simply faster than Firefox.

For KDE users it could be an interesting alternative to Konqueror to have a look at WebKit and simply as a stand alone browser inside KDE.

In case you want to give Arora a first test the easiest is to run Ubuntu (probably in a virtual machine) and install the precompiled binary. Since Arora does require quite recent Qt packages it can’t be compiled in Fedora 8, and even Fedora 9 might not be sufficient at the moment.

KDE4Daily – testing KDE 4.1 with daily updates

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KDE4Daily, a virtual machine image of KDE 4 with daily updates was released for KDE 4.1. This gives anyone the opportunity to test the newest KDE 4.1 sanely inside a virtual machine.

KDE4Daily had its debut in November 2007 when SSJ announced a virtual machine image with daily updates for the still in development KDE 4. Today it was announced that once again the KDE4Daily project will provide a daily snapshot of the current KDE development in form of a virtual machine image.

The image itself is a some 660 MB large qemu image. It can be run directly within qemu, but it is also possible to transform the image into for example a VirtualBox image.

Once launched the Ubuntu based Linux starts up and simply works. It can be used to have a look at the new features of the upcoming KDE 4.1. But it can also be used to find bugs. However, in case you find a bug always state that the bug was found inside KDE4Daily – it could also be that a bug is specific to this special environment.

In any way, KDE4Daily already shows that KDE 4.1 will indeed be an appealing Desktop Environment. The following image gallery is just a random set of images I shot having a look at the virtual machine.

KDE4Daily - loginKDE4Daily - startup

Logging in, starting up…

The new Plasma runnerThe new Plasma panel configuration dialog

New things from the Plasma world: a new runner and a panel configuration tool.

Konqueror\'s support for recently closed tabsKonqueror\'s session manager

Konqueror now offers session management and support for closed tabs.

Dolphin\'s new selection featureGwenview\'s full screen diashow tools

This shows the file selector in Dolphin to select several files without the keyboard. Next to it the Gwenview diashow mode can be seen.

Kontact in KDE 4Kinfocenter, reworked for KDE 4

KDE 4.1 ships the first KDE 4 version of KDE-PIM apps. They are still not based on Akonadi, but they are at least ported to KDE 4. In other news, the KInfocenter was also ported and got a face lift.

The Kubrick gameDesktop globe marble with mercator projection

Among the new games is Kubrick – the image speaks for itself. Marble of course got a new projection: Mercator.

Areca: Linux desktop backups made easy

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There are some desktop backup tools available for Linux, but most of them are not developed anymore. Areca however is under constant development and also provides a user friendly GUI.

Backups and Linux are a twofold thing: if you have hundreds or thousands of computers backups are not a problem at all: Amanda, Bacula, Restore and others are your friends. Also, if you want to create backups on single machines, there are many tools available: rsync, tar, and many, many more.
However, all these solutions are not suitable for the average user.

In the last years several projects were started to provide user friendly solutions for the backup of Linux desktop machines. A year ago I already reported about SBackup. Also, the Ubuntu team developed the solution TimeVault and last but not least there is flyback which I used for several months to keep a backup of my thesis. But despite their advantages they all suffer from stalled development: all mentioned projects are effectively dead at the moment.

There is only one exception: the little known Areca. This in Java programmed backup solution provides a user friendly GUI and is even suited for desktop users who have a quite complex idea of backup systems.

The main view of Areca

Despite some current bugs (it chokes on large numbers of files, you have to use several backup rules in such cases) and some shortcomings (the file choose dialog only allows to mark one single file each time) the program has matured over the time and can easily be used in a productive environment. Besides the usual backup/restore it also features statistics, the ability of merging backups, different backup profiles, encryption and other gimmicks. But be sure to quickly read through the documentation so that you understand what backup groups and backup targets are before you start!

The only problem I now have is that it is not packed for Fedora – or any other bigger distribution besides Ubuntu. The download section provides pre-compiled tar.gz packages, however I would prefer a rpm I could automatically fetch with yum.