KDE 4: Kubuntu, Systemsettings vs kcontrol [Update]

During aKademy Jonathan Riddell talked about Kubuntu and unveiled some plans regarding KDE 4.

Kubuntu and KDE 4

The first news in this talk was that Kubuntu will not ship with KDE 4 as the default version for the next two (!) Kubuntu reasons. This is due to the fact that the next version of Kubuntu, Gutsy, will not include KDE 4 because it will not be ready till then. The version after Gutsy would be totally perfect for KDE 4, however, this version will be a Long Time Support version. These specific Ubuntu versions are released every 18 24 months and aim at long term stability. Therefore they only include packages which are already in a pretty stable and reliable state. And Jonathan Riddell mentioned that he does not believe that KDE 4 will reach that state that far.
Sad, somehow, but since these releases are the business releases of Ubuntu it is understandable.

Still, this does not mean that Kubuntu will not ship KDE 4 at all – the opposite is the case, it is even planned to ship a KDE 4 only CD of Kubuntu. But this CD will be targeted at the early adopters and will not be the default option.

Systemsettings vs kcontrol

The other point which got my attention was a comment about Systemsettings: he mentioned that is has been pushed upstream for KDE 4. For these who don’t know: Systemsettings is a kcontrol replacement used in Kubuntu. It does re-use many of the kcontrol modules but features a different design.
Yesterday I checked, and indeed Systemsettings is already part of the “workspace” part of kdebase and is therefore part of the KDE 4 svn directory. And it is usable – I tried to change the style, for example, and it worked.

And today with the announcement of KDE 4 Alpha 2 it was unveiled that systemsettings will replace kcontrol:

System Settings, the replacement for kcontrol is an improved user interface hosting various modules for configuring the desktop and other aspects of the system is another addition worth mentioning.

If you now wonder about the move, keep in mind that Systemsettings re-uses most of the modules of kcontrol. So basically not too many things will change. But Systemsettings got quite some attention by usability experts, while kcontrol is already a bit old and overloaded.

But I do hope that some people will have a closer look at some of the modules – while they are basically working and nice there is still plenty of room for improvements.

The topic was also discussed at the KDE-core-devel e-mail list. According to that discussion Systemsettings is actively developed in terms of code as well as in terms of usability, while kcontrol is not maintained at all. There are still many issues (especially usability wise) in Systemsettings which have to be solved, but there are people actively working at.


26 thoughts on “KDE 4: Kubuntu, Systemsettings vs kcontrol [Update]”

  1. I took a look at system settings, I can see that it would be regarded as an improvement but personally I’m not too bothered either way. Just providing it maintains the same amount of options as Kcontrol.

  2. I’ve tried Kubuntu once, and the first annoyance was in fact the “systemsettings” interface (I’m running Fedora 7 now). Why do they have to hide things from the user like that? In kcontrol there is an intuitive, structured list, and I can easily just punch in a keyword in the search field, and *bang* the right module shows up.

    So personally, I like kcontrol better, but if systemsettings can also include such a search feature (and improve the module indexing), I guess I would be happy. Why not have the “old” kcontrol as an “expert mode” option?

  3. MartinG: I asked what the reasons behind that move are – however, the current Systemsettings version does already provide a search bar.

    buluca: Actually you are right – however, I would be very surprised if KDE 4 would ship with both. I will try to get more information about that.

  4. Just to get this right, will the KDE4 based Kubuntu be released in parallel to the 8.0x LTS version (on the same base feature set)?

  5. “These specific Ubuntu versions are released every 18 months are aiming at long term stability.”
    In fact you are wrong. It’s every 24 months! LTS (long time support) is LTS+4.
    And for kubuntu user wich want kde4 we will have in gutsy and Gutsy+1 an external repos from kubuntu maintainer with kde4. (this repo is add by almost every kubuntu user)
    Of course kubuntu will be with suse the first distribution with kde4. The only thing is that it will not be on the official CD.

    After for systemsetting you should know that in kubuntu we still have kcontrol but in fact after some times (long time) system settings is more easy to use for newbie people. To me it’s still a bit hard but we must think to other people! And kcontrol is now allmost unmaintained. Systemsetting has several people behind him.

  6. MKdx and Daniel: there will be a KDE 4 version of Kubuntu! If everything works out, maybe even the next Kubuntu version will ship with a KDE version. But this version will not be the main, default Kubuntu version but a extra shipped Kubuntu version.
    And the LTS Kubuntu release will definitely have a KDE 4 version – but without the LTS.

    So if you download the right CD/DVD you will not even see that KDE 4 is not the default.

    Anonymous: The 18 months are referring to the plans most often mentioned in regard to LTS. In many interviews Mark said the idea is to have 18 months between the LTS releases. The reality shows us more this cycle, but that is not the basic idea.

  7. >Anonymous: The 18 months are referring to the plans most
    >often mentioned in regard to LTS. In many interviews Mark
    >said the idea is to have 18 months between the LTS
    >releases. The reality shows us more this cycle, but that is
    >not the basic idea.
    Sorry the anonymous comment was mine
    In fact i can really tell you that it must be mistake. LTS are every 2 years…

  8. >marseillai, do you have any source? I only have a recent
    >interview with Mark in a German IT magazine…
    In fact i have no source to show you. But you (or the magazine) should have make this common mistake : every non lts release has 18 month support. But i can tell you that lts are every two years.

  9. Ah, I just re-read the interview, and indeed you can understand his statement in two ways: either not more than 18 months between two releases, or not more than 18 months from the time of the interview (June 2007).
    The more I think about it the more the second option seems more likely…

    Thanks for pointing out 🙂

  10. Even though I’m no Kubuntu user myself, I’m somewhat disappointed that they won’t feature KDE4 as default for that long time. I like to have a look at the newest Kubuntu releases now and then just to see what they make with KDE that Fedora doesn’t do yet. I’ll miss that for KDE4 for some months. Additionally, I think Kubuntu would be great to get KDE4 more stable ASAP because – I’d guess – its the most-spread KDE-distro (and doing the most active KDE-devel among distros).

    Still, I’m happy (being a Fedora Ambassador) that Fedora 8 will (very probably) be the first distribution featuring KDE4 as their default-KDE (Gnome being the default DE, though)…F8 is probably even shipped without KDE3 at all (ecept for some legacy packages maybe).

    This also means, that Fedora 9 will feature a more-stable, even-improved KDE4 – and probably got all KDE3-related-apps ported to KDE4 till then. Perfect for LinuxTag 2008 in Berlin which will probably take place shortly after F9’s release.

    BTW: great article once again…I’d even consider it one of your best (this opinion might be influenced due to my interest in 100% of the article’s topic, however).

  11. red_alert: I’m also looking forward to the KDE 4 integration of Fedora – although its a bit sad that there is no real developer as such who could improve the integration or for example could create a slick package manager…

  12. red_alert don’t be nervous about it! kubuntu team is allready working hard on kde4 integration in kubuntu! 🙂

  13. So to keep things simple, why can’t Ubuntu delay Gutsy for *one* month (i.e. 7.11, or even 7.12, rather than 7.10) so that it can include the *final* release of KDE4.0 and test the integration properly. Then the next LTS can safely include KDE 4.x.

    I think this reason alone would be able to justify the delay for Gutsy. One month delay of Gutsy is far better than 2 years delay of KDE4.x in LTS.

  14. because they don’t want to have kde4 in gutsy because there are many chance for him to be instable. they prefer let the choice to user to install it or not. So there are no reason to delay gutsy.
    Further more if kde4 appear to be stable it will be time to include it in LTS but they will be enough tester out without needing to put it in gutsy.

  15. This is a wise move, people aware and wanting to try KDE4 with Kubuntu will be able to. Those who are not aware (and therefore not likely to be able to find help or solutions to issues) will set with a FINE solid release that will meet their needs and be stable.

    I was disapointed at first too. But when you look at it from a service perspective it makes perfect sense. This is part of making Linux a viable desktop for the masses – serving them.


  16. KDE4 is not really that big jump from KDE3.xx. Kubuntu used to be quick to release a version whenever KDE4 releases, but not this time. I tried the OpenSuseLive alpha in my vbox, and I tell you it’s ugly, buggy right off the bat. You would wonder they could be testing those error messages pop-ups?? 🙂

    Anyway, I like the idea of releasing the stable KDE3.xx Kubuntu, and then release a ‘unstable KDE4’ for those brave at heart.

  17. Anonymous: You definitely did not understand the meaning of the word “Alpha”.
    Also, KDE 3-> KDE 4 is a big jump: arts will vanish, the entire kdesktop will be replaced, the run system will be replaced, the power manager will vanish, and so on.

    To speak of “not that big jump” is a bit strange in this light.

  18. A little nitpick
    I don’t understand why IBM Thinkpad and Sony Vaio appear in the list at all if the PC being configured is not one of these type. Also the Icon for them does not suit at all.

  19. @MartinG,baluca:

    kcontrol hasn’t worked in KDE4 since the QT4 port, AFAIK. No one has made any attempt to port it – devs have been using kcmshell to load up config modules.

    systemsettings is planned to be a complete replacement. There are still some issues to sort out WRT what to do with some of the modules that were (intentionally) left out of systemsettings. At the moment, they seem to live in an “advanced” tab in systemsettings – whether that will stay, I don’t know.

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