Dolphin Free File Management: A Better Option for KDE 4?

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 09, 2008

Over on TechRepublic, Jack Wallen shares what he feels was KDE's major transgression with KDE 4: Using Dolphin in lieu of Konqueror for file management.

KDE has gotten its share of criticism for its delivery and handling of the 4.0 version since the initial release last January. The new desktop rolled out massive changes -- some good, some incomplete, and some that were just puzzling. The past eleven months have seen the KDE project build on the good and make impressive progress on the incomplete. As Wallen points out, however, there are still some aspects that people find puzzling.

I can't say as I wholeheartedly agree with Wallen's feelings about Dolphin. From the beginning, I'd say that Dolphin has been one of my favorite parts of KDE 4. I agree that for some tasks (like network connections through SSH or SFTP) Konqueror was -- and still is -- the best file manager available across the board. However, Dolphin has its fair share of useful features: split view file browsing makes tabs seem archaic, and multiple file selection without needing a steady finger on the "Ctrl" button have both proven themselves handy.

As Wallen points out, the KDE project isn't taking Konqueror's file management functions away, nor does it require anyone use Dolphin as the default file manager. He is curious as to why some of the Dolphin features weren't integrated into Konqueror, and perhaps different profiles offered for file management within Konqueror.

I feel as though profiles would have complicated the issue. Wallen's next statement, I think, elegantly highlights what gave the 4.0 release a rockier start than most expected: save precious resources to focus on fixing what is still broken in KDE 4. And shouldn’t that be what it’s all about?

There was a lot of reinvention with the KDE 4 release, and that's largely a good thing. In some areas, though, it seemed that the broader goal of reinvention became wheel reinvention. Sometimes that wheel can be improved; it can be made better, and faster if the essence of what makes it a wheel is even slighty flawed. Sometimes, though, the wheel works exactly as it should -- it doesn't mean it can't be made more functional with wide treads or look slicker with spinning rims -- but a redesign won't change the basic physics of the matter. And I agree with Wallen, wheel reinvention pulled some of that focus from other areas.

KDE 4 was (and is) an ambitious release, and the development team and contributors have made great progress with fixes and enhancements in the past months. It is impossible to make everyone happy in these situations, and the project will have to decide what direction it wants to take on the Konqueror/Dolphin debate. I don't, however, think the KDE team is (or ever was) trying to simply add features to intentionally draw attention away from flaws in order to avoid fixing them. I think "hearts" may have won out over "heads" on a few occasions in the development process, but this isn't something that can't be put right from here.