Monday, January 7, 2008

Thoughts on KDE 4.0.0

off-topic: First look at the unreleased KDE4.0.0 (with screenshots)

In my time in Linux, I've spent some time with KDE, but my heart's always been with GNOME.
The best interface is one that you don't notice.

I don't remember who I heard this from, but it's absolutely right. I may be a programmer and self-confessed geek, but I'm also very very lazy and intent on getting things done without my tools getting in my way.

If I'm a GNOME user, why on earth would I be interested in the new KDE release? There are only two reasons I haven't stuck with KDE: its interface hell, and the fact that it often looks like butt. Nowadays, spending any amount of time in KDE is the equivalent of setting eye razors as my background.

But it looks like things are changing, if the screenshots are anything to go by. I always said to myself that I'd give KDE another chance if it stopped looking like butt, and it doesn't look like butt anymore. Who knows? Maybe I'll be using KDE this very day next year.

And if that makes me a superficial bitch, then I guess I'm a superficial bitch.


Kamatsu said...

KDE has never been bad in terms of skin or raw appearance - it just required about 100 man hours in getting it to look good, and then the skin was fine.

It was their ridiculous menus, bad names and poorly designed application interfaces, as well as speed concerns, that made me leave KDE in frustration.

The KDE4 RC's I've tested has a marginally improved skin and icons (which are unfortunately more inconsistent than the previous icon set), run *quite a bit slower* and still suffer from the ONE major thing that has plagued KDE development from the dawn of time:

Everything is too big.

Fonts, Icons, Konfabulous widgets - they all made them just a bit bigger by default than necessary, for absolutely no reason. This in turn leads to butt ugly interfaces that slowly grate on you. The other problem is this: In KDE, you have little guarantee that, if you change the appearance settings, your new settings will work mostly smoothly on all your KDE apps. Often you end up finding inconsistencies which is something you would expect from Windows far more than Linux.

It's not that KDE 4 isn't a usability improvement - it is, over KDE 3, but GNOME still far outshines it in terms of simple, clean, shiny but unobtrusive interfaces.

In most GNOME apps, even things like the spacing of widgets on windows and their positioning is FAR better handled than on KDE. This of course goes back to the methodologies used by both Qt and GTK2. Qt opts for a windows-forms-2.0 style approach, which is a little less tedious to develop but produces poorer interfaces generally than GTK2's one-widget-per-container approach, which imposes fairly strict regulations on spacing and so forth.

In my opinion, GNOME also features a better application set. file-roller is much faster and more expandable. gedit is more comparable to kate than kedit (or whatever it is). rhythmbox/banshee beats amarok and Firefox/Evolution/Thunderbird beat any of KDE's offerings in the web department.

The major thing though that still irritates me about KDE4 is the menus, which are a scant improvement over KDE3. It's what I call the "include-the-kitchen-sink-in-toolbars-but-include-useful-features-in-menus" approach.

KDE4 basically took a pretty enough interface (say, Vista), and turned it into something only a programmer could produce.

Kamatsu said...

My "principle" got cut off because it's one word.

It reads.. "include the kitchen sink in toolbars, but include useful features in menus"