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Temporary exile

KDE4: It's the Fourth KDE!

At long last, my waiting is over and I have successfully downloaded and installed (according to directions) KDE 4.0! Hooray. I have a wide range of opinions on this release but overall, I am very pleased. I would share screenshots of me going about my normal day-to-day life but there are already so many screenshot tours (the best collection is on the KDE site) that it seems redundant.
At first glance, KDE 4 is visually gorgeous. The all-new Icon theme is called Oxygen and the matching window decorations only make it prettier. While the default theming is a mite dark compared to the brighter default look packaged in past KDE releases, the icon sets and window decorations still look sharp and crisp. Clean lines, an excellent default wallpaper and delightful SVG graphics on the desktop increase the aesthetic appeal even further.
Plasma, the new desktop and presentation layer, also packages a much-needed improvement to the aging SuperKaramba widget system. The new dashboard functionality allows for rich applets (affectionately called “Plasmoids”) to be added to the desktop layer. It’s an excellent start but many plasmoids are broken on their own or induce other display. I’ve had several of them completely crash Plasma and require a hard restart of graphics in order to get a usable desktop again. Even so, the future of Plasma looks bright with fun stuff on the horizon like a widget packaging system (Plasmagik) and multi-language scripting.
The visuals are not the only KDE4 features still developing. Under the hood, the 4.0 release is not yet the super-framework once promised. Fortunately, there is a whole lot of functionality there and the new hardware-management system called Solid is a perfect example. Opening up the Solid control panel shows a unified and intuitive way to control things like networking and Bluetooth. Furthermore, Solid deals with USB devices and other bits of your system in a straightforward fashion.
To be sure, the 4.0 release is not what I’ll be using as my primary desktop (for that, I have 3.5) but it does make one reconsider the ways in which we interact with our computers. While others agree that this release is buggy, I haven’t done much effort to determine if the issues I am having are a result of my particular configuration…

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