27 May, 2009

a week with KDE on Windows

I thought it's time for a little update on my experience with my new Vaio Laptop. Running Vista and KDE 4.2.3. First about the hardware. It's serously good. Right now I'm typing with the brightness on it's lowest level, yet it's almost too bright. I've even used it in the full sun already, and if the black casing wouldn't have gotten so hot with the sun burning on it I might have stayed longer ;-)

Secondly, I'm typing in the dark. So I can't see the keyboard, yet I didn't make any mistakes with that smiley above. Maybe I'm a great touchtypist, or easily impressed - but I'd rather think this keyboard is just amazingly intuitive. Oh, and logging in by swiping a finger - well, let's just say any geek would appreciate that.

Then about KDE. Getting it installed was a little challenge - the installer still needs a little work. Well, it didn't get one of the dependencies, and many of the servers didn't work or were outdated, the installer itself works just fine. If only it would pick servers automatically...

I've installed an Amarok nightly, and beta3 of KOffice. I must confess I miss plasma and KRunner (at least plasma is there but it's integration with windows is... missing...) but Explorer and I are getting along reasonably well. That app has some seriously powerful features, yet it's reasonably easy to use. The windows menu however is horrible (how can people complain about Kickoff if this is the standard for most computer users?). Luckily you can use it as KRunner - hit the 'Win' key, type and hit enter. Mostly works. As soon as MS fixes the windowmanagement (or lack thereof) I would probably consider Vista 'ready for casual use' ;-)

Anyway. So what KDE applications are a great addition to the MS desktop? I'd start with Okular. Adobe's pdf reader is an abomination, and Okular feels like a breath of fresh air. Kolourpaint is surprisingly similair to MS paint, except that it's not THAT anorexic in the feature department. Perfect replacement. And I often run Kopete, Konversation and Choqok in the communication department. Gwenview is a fine replacement for the normal Vista picture viewer.

As I said, Explorer is rather OK as a filemanager, and Dolphin, lacking some Vista integration, doesn't make a lot of sense as replacement right now. And imho nothing beats Chrome in the performance department so that's what I use to browse the web.

Unfortunately Beta3 of KSpread 2.0 doesn't work with most of my ODF presentations. I know the RC on linux does so I guess a later version will do better - and the final release is soon. KWord is fine for casual texts, and it can do more advanced stuff as well - but the interoperability with OpenOffice isn't great and some things are missing or work rather uncomfortable so I wouldn't recommend removing OO yet.

KTorrent works, and downloads just fine. Digikam - well, beyond starting it up I haven't used it yet. Thanks to a broken monitor I'm stuck to this laptop so I use it a bit more than usual but I still don't feel like working on it like I would on my normal PC...

All in all, KDE on windows works pretty well. It is an alien environment for the KDE applications, which sometimes shows, but generally they do a fine job. Performance is comparable to native windows apps and stability is reasonable. Personally, I still find windows a bit uneasy so I find it hard to judge how good it all really is, but with the KDE apps it feels a bit more at home for me so I like it ;-)


  1. > As soon as MS fixes the windowmanagement (or lack thereof)
    > I would probably consider Vista 'ready for casual use'

    This is my single biggest complaint about Windows. :)
    And one of the things that pushed me over the edge (again) to KDE on Linux. The others were little things that slowly built up frustration over two years of using Vista.

    And indeed Okular beats many other PDF readers. That was probably my most often used KDE app in Windows.

    I just find a full KDE + Linux environment allows me to get my work done faster and easier. I don't know how people develop software without a full-featured terminal (admittedly, I didn't use MS Visual Studio - only open source tools, so that may have something to do with it).

  2. Good to see KDE on Windows, sadly with my internet connection it would take days to download :(
    Good to see someone else using Chromium though :)
    Best browser on Windows in my opinion.

  3. KDE user from PolandWednesday, 27 May, 2009

    Startup time of KDE on Windows applications is tooo looong. Otherwise really good job all kdewin devs!

  4. If you really miss KRunner that much, give Launcy a try. It seems to do more or less the same as KRunner. You can find it at http://launchy.net/

  5. I'm not sure if krunner is packaged, but it mostly works on windows, even if it's not really useful since it can find only kde apps

    koffice beta 3 is really old, it has been removed from 4.2.3, the latest koffice requires qt 4.5 and we still have 4.4 for kde 4.2

  6. @Niels: I'm really not going to find and install all kinds of software on that thing, it only ever got me trouble. You have to maintain it all by hand, be sure it has no bugs, virusses and other issues -no thank you. Chrome is the one exception I want on there, besides KDE stuff of course.

    @Brandon: Well, I pretty much only use KDE apps besides Chrome so finding only them is perfectly fine. And I'll be on the lookout for new stuff then.

  7. Does it still require administrator's privileges to run KDE applications? Last time I tried KDE on Windows, I was rewarded with plenty of UAC popups that KDE's settings daemon (or whatever was it called) requires them to run.

  8. @anonymous: yes, it sometimes pops up a thing for some KDE component I don't remember which exactly. Very annoying indeed...

  9. Vaio notebook keyboards are simply the best you can find (on a PC platform) by far and wide. In regard to the TZ, I consider it at the very top of in terms of build quality and mobility.
    And good luck with highlighting what needs to be improved with KDE on Windows. There is definitely a need for it (even though I run Linux on my TZ).

  10. @last anonymous: does the fingerprint reader work? How about the other hardware, suspend etc?

    (I'm unsure about how long I'll be keeping vista on this thing...)

  11. Suspend/resume works fine on openSUSE 11.1 as long as you first unload the webcam driver, at least for my TZ21 model. Only the integrated cardreader doesn't have any kernel driver at all so far.

    As for the fingerprint reader: I strongly discourage using it, irrespective of whether it works or not. Fingerprints are easy to copy (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M8D4wWYgsc ) and you cannot get a new finger once a copy has been made (remember that you already leave one on every object you touch).

  12. KOffice character spacing looks really busted


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