KDE 4 Beta 3 – Screenshot Tour

Stephan Binner has released a new version of his KDE Four Live CD. This version uses a recent SVN snapshot and works quite well.

While I had some trouble testing the newest KDE 4 Beta release on my test machine, the KDE Four LiveCD works surprisingly well. According to Stephan the version used on this LiveCD is KDE 4 Beta 3 plus a set of recent patches.

The Desktop

The desktop looks nice – this is of course mostly due to the very beautiful wallpaper:

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Clean Desktop

The bottom shows the new panel, the new menu button and one type of the new clock. Plasma at work.
The menu is a KDE 4 port of OpenSuse’s new KDE menu and therefore comes with several tabs: Favorites, Applications, My Computer, Recently Used and Leave. While I’m not if I will grow used to this it definitely can help new users. It also supports search for application names or search for meta names (like “Browser”).

KDE 4 Beta 3 - MenuKDE 4 Beta 3 - Menu Browser search

The task bar is still very basic and does not support anything like right click or further configuration yet. But the rest of Plasma can be started easy: wenn the mouse hovers over the tool area at the upper right a small applet gives the possibility to start the Plasma widget browser. KDE 4.0 will ship with an entire set of prepared Plasma widgets, and several of them are allready included in the current SVN snapshot.

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Plasma At Work

Here you see the typical analog clock, an image dia show (the green area), the dictionary, a battery applet, a hardware monitor and an rss feed. While none of them is really new they just show that there are already many working and usable Plasma widgets.

However, this is Beta and therefore has still some bugs. The menu is infact a window and acts as one: it has its own window title bar with close button, is shown in the window task bar and does not disappear just because you click somewhere else.
Also, the button at the upper right is not shown properly on my 1280×800 system:

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Broken Plasma Button

The System

The system tools are also in quite a good shape. Probably best known due to its Nepomuk integration is Doplhin

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Dolphin

Notable is also Konsole which saw a lot of improvements. One of my favorites is the ability to easily and user friendly search the current output:

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Konsole Search

Also, the configuration dialog was improved. Especially if the user wants to change the defined colours the Konsole window shows live previews. Additionally, if some fancy graphics are not supported it is stated.

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Konsole Configuration

Another important tool is Konqueror, KDE’s web browser. The interface looks less clutered and it works without crashing (as it did during several Alpha and Beta releases).

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Konqueror

Also, the configuration dialog was cleaned up and improved:

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Konqueror Configuration

The good news is that Konqueror works flawlessly with WordPress (which is not the case with KDE 3.5.7, I hope KDE 3.5.8 has the fix integrated). The bad news is that there are still some other bugs: the buttons are screwed up, and the input line for example in Google looks too small and generally weird:

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Konqueror WordPress BugKDE 4 Beta 3 - Konqueror Line Bug

Speaking about Konqueror reminds me that I haven’t heard anything about WebKit and KDE recently. I wonder if the cooperation between both has improved somehow, or if there will be a working kpart for WebKit (there once was one developed, but more as a technical demo).

Another KDE system application is kwrite, an editor. Compared to it’s KDE 3 version an outstanding improvement is the search tool similar to Konsole’s.

KDE 4 Beta 3 - KWrite SearchKDE 4 Beta 3 - KWrite Search And Replace

Btw., the search tool is one of the biggest wishes in KDE bugzilla. All developers should think about integrating it instead of the old, dumb search dialog.

With Kwrite at my hadn I also checked the new shortcut dialog. The idea is that you can alter the shortcut in a field which opens as soon as you click at it. That is more intuitive than the old way.

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Shortcuts

It looks nicer than the old one, however the blue ribbon must go around the entire dialog because it looks broken otherwise! But a nice improvement nevertheless.

Systemsettings, the replacement for the old kcontrol interface, was also freshed up and now looks good:

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Systemsettings

As you can see in next example, many of the embedded system configuration parts have an extra headline to introduce themselves. This additional explanation is again just the tiny bit of userfriendliness which can be necessary to convince the user of KDE.

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Systemsettings Style

The Applications

KDE is an ecosystem providing a desktop environment experience. Therefore it comes along with a wealth of prepared and tightly integrated applications.

And out of these applications there are two areas where KDE really stands out: Education and Games. With KDE 4 both areas will show what they are capable of – and at the same time what KDE 4 is capable of.

For example, most of the applications now use SVG. This allows the apps to easily adopt new themes. Check for example the Mahjong game with the themes “Traditional”, “Imperial” and “Alphabet”.

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Mahjongg Traditional

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Mahjongg Imperial

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Mahjongg Alphabet

Such things are possible with most of the other games. Here are some impressions:

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Bovo

KDE 4 Beta 3 - KMines

KDE 4 Beta 3 - KSudoku

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Patience

KDE 4 Beta 3 - SameGame

The educational applications are most often represented with Marble (which unfortunately crashed for me), Kalzium which I already covered elsewhere and Parley, the “new” vocabulary tester:

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Parley Main

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Parley Check

There are many others, and the only reason why I don’t upload screenshots here is that I’m running out of space here on wordpress.com. So make sure you test them when you have your look at KDE 4!

Other KDE packages include the graphics set. I would’ve loved to test Gwenview because that program is just a nice and well working image viewer – however, it crashed for me. FOrtunately I already had a look at it some weeks ago.

Another application which I checked for the first time was Okular, KDE’s new viewer for everything.

KDE 4 Beta 3 - Okular

The screenshot shows a PDF file and some of the new features Okular now provides: a text marker (therefore parts of the text is highlighted yellow), a marking pen (the green line) and a stamp tool (I have no idea what that is for).

Other apps

If you search for an adjective to describe KDE, one of your first choices might be “rich”. Rich in applications, rich in features. And this wealth makes it almmost impossible to generate screenshots for all pieces of KDE 4.0 and beyond. Therefore I appologize for all the missing pieces (the PIM suite, several EDU apps, the multimedia and network parts, etc.) but I will try to have a look at them in the next screenshot tour.

Some more bugs discovered

The current version is a Beta version, and therefore comes along with some bugs. I already mentioned some above, here are some more:

One of the probably most disturbung bugs I found was that the shortcut Ctrl+Del does not delete the word next right to the cursor but indeed kills the next window I click at with my mouse. I am used to get such a “killer” cursor by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Esc, not Ctrl+Del . However, I’m not really sure if that is a configuration done by the OpenSuse folks or by the KDE 4 team. But whoever is responsible for it, please change it because that is just stupid.
Also, it seems that Pos1 brings me to the first line of the entire text instead of the first char of the line. Very disturbing indeed…

Besides, the save dialog has a couple of issues: when I hover over existing images I can see a little preview in the left upper corner although there should be no preview at all:

KDE 4 Beta 3 - KSnapshot bug

Also, when I click save I expect the file name line to be activated by default so that I can immediately start typing without first clicking on it. But in this KDE 4 version I first had to click at the file name line every time.

Another thing which I find odd is that my system is detected as not capable of fancy graphics. But I have a Radeon 9600 which has free 3D drivers. All the other fancy stuff (Compiz, Beryl and so on) works pretty well.

A last word about Bugs and the Beta state: there was much discussion if KDE is already in Beta state or not.
The problem here is that Beta is not a fixed term – while some projects only call software Beta when there are no crashes and no visible bugs anymore, other projects start using the term Beta earlier. As an example, flickr changed the entire interface together with the background technology during the Beta process…

However, several people mentioned huge performance problems. Although several other people couldn’t verify that at all the KDE team should have a close look at such reports. KDE will, in the end, run on millions of different computers, and the KDE team should be very careful if there are some performance bugs hidden somewhere due to some odd reasons (like the fact that my perfectly 3D capable card wasn’t detected as such).

Last words

As a result I must say that I’m very impressed. There is still a lot of stuff missing and some bugs and missing features will have to wait for KDE 4.1, unfortunately. Nevertheless the current snapshot shows that KDE 4.0 is shaping up nicely and will lay out the foundations for impressive future releases.


70 thoughts on “KDE 4 Beta 3 – Screenshot Tour”

  1. If you’re referring to selection-replacement/deletion problem in WordPress, it is indeed fixed in 3.5.8. Button sizing in trunk is in my TODO list.

    As for the issue with Apple’s fork: what made you think that there is any cooperation on the renderer?

  2. i already fixed the menu-is-a-windows-and-shows-in-the-taskbar thing the other day =)

    as for webkit, it’s still actively worked on and will be ready for production use by Qt/KDE apps Q1 2008. there are a couple of companies (including Trolltech) and community members working on it.

  3. Excellent…I look forward to this.
    Looks very nice…And at last the min max restore buttons look different than Microsoft’s!

  4. Has anybody informed the developpers of Dolphin that this program that is supposed to help managing files lacks the essential and basic function of “sort by type” ?


  5. @Nikoolinux Absolutely, that’s the only thing I still miss in Dolphin. For everything else, I like it much better than konqueror.

    @LE The window buttons look different, but they do not extend to the corners of the screen when maximized, which makes hitting them very hard. This really needs to be fixed. The plastik window buttons are excellent in my opinion.

  6. SadEagle: Thanks for pointing out the thing with the fixed WordPress bug.
    About WebKit: there was a work to get a WebKit kpart running afaik. That’s all.

    Aaron: Nice to hear. You do a very good job!

    Constantin: No, the contest is not over yet.

    Nikoolinux: In KDE 4 you can sort by type.

    Leo: In worst case you can just switch to another theme. If everything works out themes will be more flexible with KDE 4 and chances are that there will be even more themes.

  7. @A KDE Advocate: that article is almost entirely incorrect; unfortunately they have not issued a retraction.

  8. I got the same problem with kwin not enabling compositing. Running debian sid with packages from experimental (svn didn’t work either) on an nVidia 6200; used all sorts of xorg.conf’s (including ones proven to work on a parallel install) with driver 100.14.19
    I’d *really* like to hear of any ideas, since nobody yet was able to come up with anything.

  9. “If you search for an adjective to describe KDE, one of your first choices might be “rich”.”

    While it’s an improvement over the current KDE, the adjective that is my first choice is (still) “baroque” 😉

  10. @Nikoolinux + Leo (“Has anybody informed the developpers of Dolphin that this program that is supposed to help managing files lacks the essential and basic function of ‘sort by type'”)

    Sorting by type is supported in the KDE 4 version of Dolphin since some months already 🙂


  11. I really like KDE’s interface and the way it is set up. But I have a major gripe, about how bad the UI widgets look for non-KDE programs e.g. Firefox. I am talking of things like firefox (not the HTML rendered) buttons, scrollbars etc. Does KDE4 improve on any of this?

  12. Huhh, as i c that screenshots, it’s not a big deal..

    The really usefull function would be the uncrashable transparency for all window on a very old pci videocard too…
    …without any 3d chip, with about 2 mb of videoram…
    …as like my total commander plugin does . All of my windows are transparent right now while i’m writing this message on a p2-300 with 256 mb of ram, and a 2,5 mb videocard toshiba tecra 8000 notebook without any hardware 3D acceleration, and those windows are still quick when i’m moving them on each other.
    So let build that Xorg 7.x into KDE4 and make that transparency ruler next to the “always on top” after all !

    thank you dear KDE team ! 😉

  13. Man… I was soooo excited for KDE 4 about a year or so ago. But now, the more I see, the more I think they were just talking a big game. The interface is just as much of a mess as any of the older KDE’s, just with a shiny new layer on top of it. If this is what they meant by their revolution in the desktop, they must have been kidding. I haven’t seen anything impressive lately. What especially saddens me is that, as a Ubuntu/Kubuntu user, I figured that perhaps a new ass kicking KDE would drive the GNOME team to play catch up and add some long needed improvements on their side of the fence. As it’s shaping up, it looks like GNOME won’t really have to do much at all to maintain their position in the lead. (NOTE: By the lead, I am merely indicating the attractiveness of their design. This in and of itself is really debateable. I just think of GNOME UI design as a sniper rifle, whereas KDE UI design is like a sawed off shotgun.)

  14. Nice. Oddly enough, the thing I’m most excited about is Konsole with the search features. Konsole is the main reason I use KDE, right now as I already feel it’s my killer app on Linux. Nothing on any O/S is as cool of a SSH client.

  15. Some nice things but the fonts used for the menus, toolbars, windows titles is definetely wrong. I do hope they’re not going to use that as default fonts, it would ruin all. Style and windeco don’t look very nice too.

    Does the system settings window auto-resize to display full content when it doesn’t fit in the defaut size ? I wonder since the kubuntu system settings which is very close to that does not resize automatically and it looks quite ugly and weird (for example sometimes no button ‘ok’, ‘apply’ or ‘cancel’ is visible so the user has to scroll down and right or resize the entire window).

  16. Hmm, your screenshot of Dolphin makes it look like something the cat throw up and I sure hope it won’t look *anything* like that in normal use. What was the author anyway, blind? I never understood who were actually using icons at that size, but apparently they’re “useful” to impress users via demos. *shrug*

  17. @G|oS|co: For that reason you can *click* on the screenshots…

    @moldy dr: The LiveCD is linked in the second sentence…

    @Not a big deal..: I doubt that this is real transparency. Fake transparency isn’t that much of a deal and was supported for example in Konsole for quite some time. But it is just fake transparency, not real transparency…

    @Joshua Sailor: Since almost all menus have been reworked you might want to point out what exactly is messy. Indeed, the best would be to fill a bug report against it. If its well reasoned, post the link as a comment and I will report about it here.

    @quenturi: Yes, there are some fonts issues, but that could even be distribution specific.

    @Jug: Of course the icons are resizable, and no one would ever use such big icons, but this is a *screenshot* tour. Having the IQ of a slice of bread isn’t an excuse for stupid comments or not thinking yourself.

  18. @Tobias: how can you say that judging from just a couple of screenshots? How about pointing out what you think is a mess and what not?
    Also, this is Beta!

  19. ugly, messy and unreadable… looks like a chrismas tree !

    @liquidat: judging from just a couple of screenshots is the very point of this post… some would think it’s nice, others would thinks it sucks (i belong to the second ones). Oh, it is beta ? nice, i just feel better.

    i don’t like the new interface because i think is really lacks of consistency. the screen shots don’t make me feel the operating system being powerful, stable and secure…
    an i think linux is, but the new Kde just can’t make me feel this.
    i think one of the responsibilities of the graphic layer is making the user confident in the operating system running behind the screen.

  20. @hadrien: No, the point of the screenshot tour is to get a first impression, not to make final and detailed judgements.

    Anway, you fail to point out what *exactly* is the problem. You write the interface is not consistent – but the theme is replicated for each app, the icons are similar, etc. Where do you see a lack of consistency? In the comparison of Dolphin and Konsole?

    Besides that it is interesting that you get a feeling of stability and secureness from screenshots. How do you do that? Because security has little to do with screenshots or how a GUI looks like but a lot with the underlying system. MacOS looks pretty but is a mess from the security point of view. And stability is something you simply cannot judge from a static screenshot.

  21. Aaron, you and all the other KDE developers have poured your hearts out to get KDE 4 where it is today and my only reaction to these screenshots is a deep sadness.

    I read in an article many moons ago about how KDE did not want to go the route of Apple’s HIG where it specifies -down-to-the-very-last-pixel- how the developers should design their interfaces. Looking at the above screenshots, I clearly see why Apple has chosen to be so strict.

    Every year I run Linux, hoping that this will be the year when I switch over. This exercise has been going on for almost a decade. Each time I load KDE and marvel at how things are different to what I am used to, the great applications, the looks, Compiz etc. After a few days, the cracks start to appear and it’s not long before I uninstall Linux and go back to XP.

    My reality is the following: XP Classic is boring, but so completely consistent (in my mind at least) and uneventful that I am able to stare at my monitor and not notice or think about it. I only notice how I don’t notice it, when I am faced with a look that p* me off, such as Luna.

    I look at the screenshots and don’t even know where to begin with how utterly inconsistent the user interface is. At least the myriad of useless bevels seems to be better than KDE 3. I understand that this is a beta, but the screenshots above look like early alpha shots developers use to get a rough idea about a direction they want to take.

    I will continue to try Linux and KDE until the day arrives when I switch. Linux already has everything that I need in terms of applications. I simply have not been able to endure the user interface. I have evaluated the Linux desktop competition and it is worse, for other reasons.

    All the best with KDE 4.

  22. re:hadrien I find it interesting that the way a system looks makes you think of its stability and security, I’ve allways found that feedback rather than appearance is what makes me judge stability (I have no link between appearance and security save the warning signs of infection, e.g. popups on google).

    Basically if the OS responds to my actions, + points for stability. Opening a loading dialoge counts as respons, or a tooltip appearing on a mouse hover. But if I don’t get any response then I think its frozen at least for a little while and – points for stability, unless there is a good reason for it to be busy.

  23. @Deep sadness: If you like the Windows Classical look, then go ahead and use it inside of KDE. That never was a problem.
    If you speak about consistency: talk as much as you want, without providing at least some bits of more information (not to speak of analysis or comparisons) you just produce hot air.

    Besides, if you would really care for KDE you would spend 5 minutes with a bug report and actually show of what you’re talking about. Hey, I would even volunteer to post your comparison here.

    But let me guess, you are just another hot-air-producer which just wants to talk about thinks he never spent more than a thought about.

  24. is the kd4 “sort by type” like windows xp’s “sort by type” where jpgs come before avis or is it a “sort by extension”? would love a sort by extension too…

    what would be even better is a list view like xp’s explorer, because 99.999999999999% of the time i don’t wanna see details of big icons…

  25. forgot to say on last post that i wanna dump my girlfriend and marry kde4. god, i’m shaking all over for this!

  26. boobsbr: I’m not sure, but in the end it should sort by type in the sense of mimetype.
    But I’m not sure what you mean with list type – KDE 4 will of course provide similar view types like KDE 3, and here on KDE 3 I do have several different list types to look at. The only reason why you never see them in screen casts or screenshots of KDE 4 is that list type is boring to look at 😉

  27. @liquidat

    i can’t seem to find something similar to “windows explorer’s list view” on konqueror on kde3.5.

    windows explorer list:

    windows explorer details:

    sorting by mimetype is ok, it can’t get worse than xp, but i really would like to see a sort alphabetically by extension, like we can specify on bash.

  28. boobsbr, know I see what you mean. The details list can be created, see here.

    However, the usual list without details can only be created from left to right, not from top to bottom as Windows does it: Example.
    I personally find the windows type very annoying, but if you find reasons why that should be part of Dolphin you might want to add a wish-bug report.

  29. @liquidat

    well, i guess i’m in a cognitive lock-in, since i’ve used windows a lot, it seems natural to me and i don’t want to change…

    but if there is a way to suggest features, i will give it a try.

  30. 001Dark, the licence of the content of this blog can be read at the left side. As long as you are using the content according to the licence everything should be fine.

  31. As a longtime KDE fan, I’m not really sure what to think about KDE4. There are some new things, such as the ability to run it under Windows, which I think would help current Windows users planning to switch to Linux, plus it’s been touted as having less bloat than KDE3, although this is debatable.

    That said, quite a few screenshots I’ve seen of KDE4 look like KDE is trying to impersonate Windows Vista and/or trying to dumb things down. While it is helpful for current Vista users considering a switch to Linux, I personally can’t stand the thought of KDE looking like the specimen of excrement that Vista is. KDE deserves better than that.

    Not to mention, some of my gripes have to do with being used to the way KDE3 does things. It is, after all, part of Mandrake/Mandriva, which was the first distro I ever used, back when it was still known as Mandrake, back in 2004. But now, I feel like a piece of tradition is being ripped out from under me. The question is, will I miss some of the stuff I liked about KDE3?

    While there’s not a doubt in my mind that I could adjust to KDE4, the question is, will I like it, or will I find myself longing for a switch to another desktop environment?

    Right now, I’m downloading a KDE4 LiveCD to see if KDE4 is something I’ll like, or it it will drive me crazy enough to switch to Xfce, which has long been my #2 favorite of the Linux desktops, with #1 being KDE3 — but if there are some things in KDE3 I like that aren’t there in KDE4, I may very well make the switch. We shall see what happens once I try the live CD.

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