22 October, 2007

KDE 4 - does it work or not?

After a few blogs which where rather positive, we're now also seeing blogs and comments much more negative (I don't feel like linking to them, sorry).

Aside from some speed issues (which I don't see, frankly KDE 4 is clearly faster here in many aspects - see my previous blog), 90% of the complaints is about the state of Plasma

Now I agree Plasma is a big thing, important for KDE - but judging the whole of KDE by the part which is least finished - I think that's unfair. And to be honest, 90% of commments about Plasma are about the panel with the still-very-basic taskbar and the missing menu. The menu still is in playground (could be it was just moved into kdebase, btw) and well, yes, the taskbar - it's not very ready either.

But come on. Think about it. You're complaining about 10% of 10% of KDE 4. Actually, much less, as I've made up these numbers :D

So how much time would it take to write a decent panel, provided the current state? And Plasma will still see a lot of work, it's not frozen yet, unlike the rest of KDE. I'd rather see everyone trying and talking about all the new good stuff instead of complaining about the almost-last portion of KDE still in flux...

When I show people the state of Plasma, they're like "hmm, that's not good". So I then proceed to show the Edu and Games, cheers them right up. And there is Dolphin, Ksysguard, Gwenview, Okular, Kolourpaint, KRDC, Konsole - all those apps which have seen so many improvements. Or these small things, like the file dialog, the character selection dialog, the shortcut dialog... I don't hear anyone raving about those. Is that just because they COULDN'T get past the missing menu and not-so-great taskbar applet? Please...

We should be realistic (KDE4 won't be perfect, and will have regressions) but all this complaining doesn't do much good either. Feel free to report bugs for those things which are supposed to be finished (I just emailed the kwin developers about the not-working window-shortcut feature). And join those working on the things still not ready. And complain to your mum.

Take care.


  1. I agree with you. The sad truth is, though, that people are superficial creatures. How many guys have wallpapers with women that look like cave-trolls, and defend it by saying "...but she's beautiful on the inside!"? People are trying to judge KDE by the rough (and incomplete) exterior. The real beauty, the stuff inside, is not immediately evident. You can't make screenshots of the brilliantly-engineered inner workings. So, I say to all the nay-sayers: find something better to do. If your idea of what constitutes 'beta' or 'alpha' software is different that the devs, who cares. Be constructive or shut the f*** up, 'cause the rest of us are getting tired of it.

    Sorry, Jos, for using your blog to vent.

  2. Maybe the problem is that we should differentiate about KDE4 and KDE 4.0.

    KDE4 is all the technologies that have been created to develop KDE, but we are not showing this now, we are showing KDE 4.0 beta, which is not all that KDE4 is going to offer us.
    Obviously, KDE 4.0 is not in the optimum maturity state, but it is a project afterall.

  3. You have to remember that Plasma is indeed a small percentage of KDE, but it is also the most visual and immediate of changes.

    Furthermore, there's probably been more hype generated (and specifically from KDE developers/promoters) about it than anything else, so necessarily expectations will arise. Hype-generation can be incredibly powerful, and it should be used very carefully. Now we just need to make sure that we _deliver_ on the hype. It is vitally important that we can.

  4. Jos, you are right, but I would have to agree with apokryphos more. Like I said in my own blog, Plasma is the first thing that user will notice and complain about (probably next to Oxygen). It is their main interface to the computer. They will only discover other working or non-working apps or features after they've gotten around to actually launching those apps.

    The fact that it's also really hyped and probably one of the most interesting for end-users doesn't help the situation.

    That said, whenever I meet someone complaining about it, I explain and defend it to no end. KDE 4.0 is not KDE 4, Plasma isn't finished yet, Plasma isn't the whole of KDE 4.0 or even KDE 4, etc.

    Here's to hoping to see Plasma stabilize within the next few days! And more power to you Plasmagicians. :)

  5. For me it works very well. I'm just beginning to use it but the new applications are quite impressive (not to mention the ported ones).

  6. @Louis: +1 -> it's a lot about the definition of Beta and Alpha. Bikeshedding if you ask me.

    @apol: We do... I know the marketing ppl do, at least.

    @Jucato: Sure, I said that, Plasma is important. And if the final release was tomorrow, you would be right - it would be sad to see it in this state. But I don't see why it couldn't be much better within a few weeks, so I don't see the problem. It was and is except from the freezes.

  7. Well, if you really want to redefine "beta"... But I have the same problems. It's unusable, because everythings(!) slow. Oxygen's contrast is pretty much non-existent, it hurts my eyes and i can't see which window has focus. KDE people generated lot's of expectations by hype and now can't deliver (having a strange definition of "beta"). And now they start whining for being bashed. WTH did you expect?

  8. @ anonymous: the point is that everyone is whining about the single component which isn't ready yet - and we NEVER said it was. Read the release announcement, I wrote you shouldn't submit bugreports for Plasma yet, etc.

    Its slow for you because compositing probably shouldn't be turned on by default, and because it is a debug build. Some things didn't get much faster, but a lot things DID, so on average, I expect KDE 4.0 not to be too much slower than 3.5.x.

  9. Just not telling that some things do not work, will not make suddenly those things work. I don't see why I should complain to my "mum" instead of telling the TRUTH. Why would I want to hurt KDE? Why would I want to lie? I wouldn't do it. I love KDE and I love the community. But releasing something which is broken will hurt KDE. Oh well, I was thinking about a lot if I should write that blog, I should write a mail to some devel list or should just shut up. I cannot shut up, and a devel list mail could turn into an endless discussion taking up precious time from developers, so I wrote the blog.
    And if you think KDE is usable for you, and you can use it as your daily desktop I'm more than happy. I still wonder why it isn't for me.

  10. I must support the anonymous poster before me. I'm a really enthusiastic KDE user, apart from a few patches here and there not a dev though so I didn't raise any voice until recently.

    The thing is, KDE is currently officially beta, to me (and to the KDE release cycles before) that means "Everything is there, please test all the stuff and report any breakages". But some stuff is clearly still in an alpha state (eg. last week I couldn't even post a message with KNode and Konqueror didn't store its cookies while amarok didn't play any music but was able to store them).

    Unfortunately, its not even clear where to report bugs for which apps. Shall I use bugs.kde.org or is that app I tried not stable enough and I will just spam the bug tracker? When I last time asked on #kde-devel where to report bugs, the answer was "that depends on the app". I'd really love to help by testing stuff but have no idea how...

  11. Last anonymous: Now you're not making sense. We are talking about the current state, not the release. Yet you say
    "But releasing something which is broken will hurt KDE."

    That's a rather different topic - IF we would release now, that would be bad. But we won't release for more than 2 months, so what's your point?

    I've said in my blog, some other comments and a hundred other places: STOP WHINING ABOUT STUFF WHICH IS NOT READY AND STILL BEING DEVELOPED AND NOT RELEASED.

    Complain about Dolphin, Gwenview, Okular - those are (almost) in freeze, so they are supposed to be ready. But don't complain about plasma being Alpha, it IS and we are still working on it. Is it so hard to understand that?

    And I'm not saying KDE 4 is ready for me, btw - at least Plasma isn't. But it's not supposed to be ready yet, so I'm not complaining about it.

  12. @ Malte:

    As I wrote in the Beta3 release announcement, you can write bugreports for all apps which are supposed to be ready (most are). From the announcement:

    Most applications in KDE 4.0 Beta 3 are ready for bug reports, like Dolphin, Konsole, Okular and most of the Games and Educational applications. Of course, the parts which aren't released with the Beta like KDevplatform, KDevelop and kdewebdev generally aren't ready for a load of bugreports, and the same goes for the components of KDE which are still exempt from the feature freeze like Plasma.

    Which components are exempt from the feature freeze? Find them on techbase:

    These will still see a lot of work, so you'd have to wait a little before sending in bugreports. All other apps - feel free to complain. There is a thread on the mailinglist where some authors asked specifically for bugreports:

    Read through it and start sending in the bugreports. Of course, SVN is preferred over Beta3, but both are OK.

  13. Yes, I read the announcement and already back then "most" was a very vague definition to me. For example if I'm not mistaken the whole kdepim was not in a reportable state. And what about Kopete? There has changed a lot as well if I'm not mistaken.

    The page you posted didn't really shed any light as well. Are all the apps there unreportable? Dolphin clearly isn't. And a lot is missing.

    I'm currently reading the ml thread you linked, but what is IMO really missing is a page on the techbase where the current state of all apps is listed.

  14. A page with a clear overview of the status of all parts of KDE would be great, that's for sure. But to take dolphin - it's supposed to be ready according to the techbase page, so please file bugreports. And KDEPIM also wants bugreports, though maybe not against beta3 but rather SVN.

  15. Jos, I was the second anonymous (Andras). My point is that we need to fix this in the next 2 months, because if we don't do it, that will hurt KDE. And 2 months is not a long time if you think about how much time has passed by since KDE4 development was started. And of course I can (and will) complain about the other apps as well, if they don't work, but why couldn't I complain about plasma? Is it some kind of holy code that we shouldn't even dare to criticize? No, it was released together with the betas, it is supposed to be (a major part of) the KDE desktop and it is not working now as it should. And this is the truth.

  16. @ Andras/last anonymous:

    Sure, nobody is saying Plasma is perfect and ready, that's not the point. The point is that it ISN'T SUPPOSED to be ready yet. Plasma is still Alpha quality, and it's useless to complain about it.

    The plan was, and has always been, to continue working on Plasma while the rest of KDE went into freeze. Then, when Plasma is ready, we release - not a day earlier. The basics are there, so Plasma should be basically usable and stable before KDE 4.0 comes out.

    - Yes, plasma isn't ready yet
    - which is according to plan
    - so start complaining when we ask for feedback, please, not earlier.

    that moment will most likely come with the next release, be it a fourth beta or the first RC.

    Meanwhile, you can enjoy filing bugs for all apps which ARE supposed to be ready.

  17. Plasma isn't ready, OK, your point is clear.

    But the hype started years ago, at the start of KDE4 development, and then... silence. Haven't heard of it for a year or so.

    Now the intended release date is approaching some people are thinking "heck, plasma... almost forgotten. Let's hack something together before it's too late." That's the idea I have of it. I would have expected that people were hacking on it during the whole KDE4 development to get it right, since it's a crucial component of what makes the KDE4 desktop. I have the idea people took the whole plasma thing too lightly and this is the result: bad impressions in this stage of development.

    And now I shut my mouth because I contributed zero lines of codes the past 18 months or so. Just like pipitas' comment in Andras' blog, I didn't dare to write a separate blog entry about it. But it frustrates me.

  18. Well, you have a point, Bram. Plasma development started very (too?) late. But well, it needed a certain kind of infrastructure, not the least of that being Qt 4.3, so I don't think it could've done earlier.

    And you've done plenty of work (bug cleaning, to name one) so I think you're entitled to a vocal opinion ;-)

    How much code did I EVER contribute?!? :D

  19. Havent tried KDE 4 yet, but I downloaded Kubuntu 7.10. It seems to have some of the KDE 4 files because Dolphin file manager now loads.

    Fantastic features, makes file manipulation a breeze, to those of us who dont like typing command lines.


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