Loving KDE 4.4

5 03 2010

I’ve been using KDE 4.X for the last three months.  And despite what you might hvave read about from other bloggers and Linux users, I personally love KDE.  I do have a relatively peculiar setup and have been daring enough to install new versions of apps and kernels rather than waiting for a new distro release.  How I got to my current setup:

  • Installed Linux Mint 8 Helena, which is Gnome-based.  Everything works out of the box, and for some odd reason this is not the case with Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic, which is what Mint is based on.
  • Installed Kubuntu files from Synaptic.  At the time I installed KDE, Mint 8 KDE community edition wasn’t out yet.  KDE worked fine getting it through this, though.
  • Installed Linux Kernel 2.6.32 and .33.  Like I said, I’ve been pretty daring (at least for my standards) and have installed newer versions of the kernel as soon as they came out.
  • Upgrade to KDE 4.4. This was pretty easy as the wonderful Kubuntu team had them available just a couple of days after 4.4 SC came out.
  • Installed OpenOffice 3.2.  I had to do this “manually”, i.e. not going through the standard Synaptic repositories.  It was pretty easy as there are available instructions online.  I also had to uninstall the KDE “integration” package or whatever you call it as it was causing some visual problems with OpenOffice (fonts too small)

So at the end of it all, I just wanted to post an update that KDE is working really well for me.  Especially with version 4.4, I feel there are a lot of productivity improvements that I won’t be able to conveniently get from other OS’s.  Such as:

  • Present Windows. Similar to Expose on the Mac, but the added benefit is I can type the app I am looking for, and with just a few keystrokes, the window I am searching for becomes the remaining highlight. Really useful if you have several windows open.  No need to visually scan through each and every window.  Saves time.
  • Virtual desktops + Present Windows. Not a KDE-exclusive obviously, but in combination with the Present Windows function, I can easily see ALL my apps running with a quick META (Windows Key) + E keystroke. More importantly, I see them the way I laid them out on my desktop, such as having work-related windows in one desktop, and personal stuff in another desktop.
  • KRunner.  It’s like Mac’s Spotlight and Gnome’s DO (both equally good applications).  But of course I run KDE 🙂
  • Dolphin.  Awesome file manager! Browse two locations in the same window with one F3 keystroke. Get a terminal at the bottom of your Dolphin window with F4.  Very useful.
  • Desktop Plasmoids / widgets. Other OS will have this, but KDE’s implementation is quite good.  I like how the Desktop can be set as a folder widget.  It just feels more structured, hence less cluttered.
  • Snapping windows. I’ve heard about the Aero Snap feature on Windows 7, but having not spent enough time on Windows 7 except for a few tries here and there, I can’t really compare.  All I can say is, being able to maximize a window by simply dragging it to the top of the screen, or halving the window by moving it to the left or right edges is a real time-saver.
  • Resizing windows. I only recently found out that I can resize windows with an alt-right-click combo on a window.  Again saves me time, since I no longer have to carefully place my mouse pointer on the 3-pixel border of the window to do some reiszing.
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