A week with KDE 4.3

I’ve been using the new KDE 4.3 for a week now, and I think I’ll stick with it. There are still some issues to fix, but they are small things, I’m sure 4.3.1 will take care of them.

The fun I’ve had so far, and this is why I’d recommend trying KDE 4.3 to any computer user, is in the subtle little helpful things KDE does:

  • When you move a file to a folder that already contains that file, Dolphin (the file manager) will ask what to do with it. It even recognizes the file if they have different names! You can choose to skip, auto-skip, overwrite… No more manually trying to find duplicate files to interleave one directory with another.
  • In Dolphin, clicking on the filesystem path shown on top of your file list lets you edit it and manually enter paths. Very quick.
  • The widgets on the desktop are both silly and useful, depending on which ones you choose. I have the latest lolcats, Penny Arcade, XKCD and Nichtlustig comics on my desktop. But I also have a dictionary widget, the weather, a fuzzy clock (says “half past eleven” in so many words) and the files in my homedir. I can also add the files from my former desktop directory, and they show up in orderly fashion. Compare this to your average desktop, where there’s just clutter and no real useful features. In the worst case, I can glance at the weather and some lolcats. In the best case, I’ll quickly navigate to a file I was looking for.
  • Dolphin as file manager is amazing. I can have OS X-style columns in the window, then split the window and have your usual detail view on the right half. I can mix and match view modes as I please and use the one that’s best for each situation. When navigating the hierarchy a lot, column view might be good, but when sorting audio files from left to right it’s better with a side-by-side detail view.
  • Alt-F2 (this is freely configurable) brings up a quickstart dialog that is really powerful. If I enter “fire” and hit enter, firefox will launch. If I enter “22+3=” the bottom of the window will show “25”. If I enter “Ruben” and some Rubens are in my address book, one of the choices will be “Write e-mail to Ruben”. If I enter “gmail”, my Gmail opens because I visited that site in my browser once before. This is all done 100% automatically and transparently, without any configuration. I’m sure if I configured this thing, it would be even cooler. Very, very, very fast working is possible this way.
  • Kate is a wonderful text editor, it has probably the most beautiful code folding I’ve ever seen.
  • Choqok and other social networking tools integrate nicely with the desktop and also make use of the cool notification feature.
  • If your machine is doing something in the background (copying a bunch of files), your screen isn’t cluttered up with useless progress dialogs. Instead, all current tasks are summarized in the lower right corner in your notification area. Once the task is finished, you will be notified. If you want to look at the progress, hover your mouse over the notification area.
  • I have OS X’s Exposé and other window management features at my disposal, but I don’t need to use OS X for them 😛

Check out this screenshot of my desktop:

kde_43_rca

The kickoff menu in the lower left is very convenient as well. I think you can see that I’m very happy with KDE 4.3. If some of the issues (like the WLAN network manager that can’t connect to corporate WPA2-TKIP networks) are fixed, I see no reason not to recommend this stuff.

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