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Saturday, June 26, 2004

LINUX: What's New, KDE 3.3 Preview

School's out. Let the fun begin


What's New, KDE 3.3 Preview

Wonderful, Now I've gotten that bad Scooby Doo reference out of the way... let's continue (if you don't get it, consider yourself lucky). Well I did it for KDE 3.2 so I figured I'd do it again :-] Maybe this time the world wont be pissed at me because of that little IE thing }:-]
So anyways KDE 3.3 is kinda close to being released and being the eager beaver that I am I had to go get it. I was so impressed after I got it, I decided to share. Again.

For the faint in bandwidth, I've once again decided not to add any pics directly in here, but the links (if they exist) to corresponding images have been added. And dude, get broadband :p
Percieved Improvements

Those geniuses have managed to speed up the start up time even more again. Well it seems that way at least. Maybe it's because I'm using this special account made just for testing out the new CVS, but seeing that I did that last time as well, I think there are definitely some improvements over 3.2's start-up time.

Ok, let's run through the apps and see what we've got.

1.
KDM
KDM looks better. No, it's not because it's gotten an GDM like makeover. Nor is it because MDM (from KDE-Look.org) has been adopted as the new DM. It's simply because we have usable user icons now. Yup, you heard correct boys and girls. I said user icons. Courtesy of some kind soul who saw the need and had the talent KDM users now have a variety of faces to choose from in $KDEDIR/share/apps/kdm/pics/users. As an added bonus there's also a simple way to choose those user icons, but we'll get to that when we chat about kcontrol.
2.
Kcontrol
Speak of the Devil! The KDE Control looks exactly as it did in the 3.2 release on the outside, however, in actuality it changed a tad. And for the better methinks.
* The Background and Window Decorations modules got a bit of TLC.
* The Background module got a face lift, while the Window Decorations (well some of them) now have support for the Advanced options kwin got in 3.2.
* Security & Privacy -> KDE Wallet looks like it got some cosmetic touch ups. I wouldn't know really since I avoid kwallet LIKE THE PLAGUE. Damn that thing is annoying.
Note to developers: add the option to not ask for a password EVERY SINGLE TIME it needs to access/store a password.
Note to self: Make a wish.
3.
*+[TAB] Switching
Ok, so this may be stretching it a bit and getting into the vein of ridiculousity; but I thought it was damn cool! Both Alt+[TAB] and Ctrl+[TAB] switching look cooler now. And cooler is better in my book. When I figure out how to take a screen shot of this it shall be done. Two minutes and one ksnapshot opening later... "Nevermind! I got it!"
4.
KHotkeys
From that thingy in the Control Center that gave Konqueror mouse gestures! MORE! I think. Is it an app? Is it a plugin? Who knows?! I'm just glad that it's there. Really isn't any need for Firefox now is there }:-] Heeeeere, foxy, foxy, foxy, foxy. I've got a present for you. A "retirement" present...
5.
Konqueror
Konqueror now correctly handles application/xhtml+xml files. Weeeee! It's been fixed! Good news for us web developers (and I use the "us" loosely).
6.
Amarok
OMFG! This thing is awesome! I could go on and on about it. I could post pics about it. But I'll just let you sit and wait in suspence. Until the release.
Amarok is cool not only because of how well does it's job as a music player but also because of the good documentation that it comes with. I actually figured out why I wasn't getting gstreamer output to work from reading ther help docs. One gst-register-0.8 later amarokin' baby ;) If you haven't already, check it out. It's definitely improved in both looks (slightly) and functionality (IMO greatly since the 3.2 release).

Well that's all I have to say about that. Time for the newness.
Newness

Not much to report back here, but what I find I will faithfully reveal.

1.
KControl
* There is a new Theme Manager module which I'm not totally sure how to use yet, but it seems to store the settings for your user's overall theme properties. That is it isn't a way to create themes (which is what I was hoping for).
* Breaking news today as the Desktop -> Panels module in the KDE Control Center has made a minor addition to the family. We'd like to welcome little Konqueror Profiles to the Panel Menu family. And in other news...
* Hey look guys! Redundancy! Isn't it fun?
Um. No.
As per the redundancy crack, I'm referring to the Security & Privacy -> Password & User Account and System Administration -> User Account modules. To my untrained eye they seem remarkably similar. I'm still wondering if that's a bug or a feature. Oh well. When in doubt file a bug report }:-]
* Looooooooads more Web Shortcuts added. At least there's a lot more there than the last time I looked since I only ever use gg: You'll find the whole she-bang in Internet & Networking -> Web Browser -> Web Shortcuts.
* New Stuff's also been added to KDE Components -> Component Chooser, the most notable (and only methinks) change being Instant Messenger. Wonder what it does... SINCE THAT'S THE ONLY POSSIBLE OPTION! Oh well, time will tell I guess.
2.
Konqueror
As reported earlier Konqueror has had new profiles added.

Bookmarks has a new friend! Bookmark Tabs as Folder...

And I can find absolutely nothing else to say about that. Seems a tad peppier though.

Oh! Oh! Oh! I just thought of one! You can now click on the empty area on either side of tabs to open up a new tab. It's a pretty neat feature and fit's in perfectly with KDE's feature richness (or what the guys over GNOME who're jealous like to call bloat). But I'll tell you this, I'll take bloat over that spacial nautilus any day.

Double Oh, Oh, Oh! I just figured out how to do find as you type. Just hit the ['] or [/] keys to enable. Wish that were documented somewhere. I had to try to remember what firefox used to get it to work. But hey! It works!

On a more serious and less "ranty" note, I'll like to thank that guy who puts together the KDE CVS Digest, that's where I found out about that feature (I think his name's Dirk, but chances are I'm horribly, horribly wrong). Neato!

Bugs. Bugs. Bugs.

Ok, now it's time to stop singing praises and start some hardcore complaining (known to those in the biz as bug reporting :-]). Remarkably this alpha release seems more stable than i remember them usually being. Usually I can only have konqueror open long enough to submit a bug report before it crashes. It hasn't crashed yet. And usually quanta crashes every other word I type forcing me to use my backup (older) version. Neither of those has happened very frequently. Dare I say this is beta quality work. To be fair (and honest) konqueror hasn't gotten the chance to be put through it's rounds since this computer isn't connected to the net. But the applications I use on a regular basis seem remarkably well-behaved.
As far as bugs (not application crashes now) go I haven't really noticed any since the computer on which I installed 3.3 cvs isn't yet connected to the net. Still waiting on my wireless router from a Newegg One Day Sale :)
Bugs are present but apps aren't crashing. Stability is way better than any alpha I've ever user before and it only looks to get better, which is always a good thing in my book.

Update:
While konqueror has managed to stay crash free Quanta and Amarok have not fared as well :-(. Also Kwin has suffered the occasional inexplicable death. You never really fully appreciate the term "Window Manager" until it's crashed and you realize just how much it does. Also artsd has on occasion pulled a kwin, and just died on me killing my amarok induced high, but it's been for the best. It sort of helped me realize just why i couldn't get amarok to pipe sound through gstreamer. I still haven't gotten that to work but now I think I'm going in the direction of a fix. See, crashes can be a good thing.

Well that's all she wrote folks. Um. He. That's all he wrote. Tune in next week when you'll improve the hit count of this page even more!

P.S. Please forgive the absence of screenshots. I meant to get 'em up but work caught up with me. :-(

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