KDE 4.6.1 Almost Perfect

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 14, 2011

When KDE 4 was released, I hated it. It seemed a lot of my favorite customizations had changed, moved, or been removed. It was heavy and a resource hog. It didn't seem to work real well, things were either slow and crashy or didn't function properly. Subsequent updates did little to help. Until 4.6.1. I think KDE 4 is finally maturing into a stable and usable interface.

I got a new computer sometime during KDE 4.3 or 4.4 with a Quad Core processor with eight gigabytes of RAM and an NVIDIA 9800 GTX. Even that wasn't enough to run KDE with desktop effects and the new search engines. The first thing I didn't upon a fresh install was disable those. But even then if I had too many Konqueror windows open, the system ground to a slow crawl. One of the most annoying bugs was the overlapping taskbar application task indicators. Sometimes they'd overlap so badly as to hide one app behind another another. I hated that curly in the upper right corner that seemed to waste space. I had trouble with Kdict that didn't seem to pull in full definitions if it worked at all and gone was the nice panel-embedded textarea. If you had too many windows open, the taskbar list would extend beyond the screen space and it was impossible to get to them (beyond a right-click which sometimes caused a slip of the mouse and closed of all the windows). It took forever to get used to the Kickoff menu, which I didn't really like because of all the extra clicking around it required to find anything. Don't even get me started on PulseAudio.

Now I've never cared for the GNOME look or operation and was hooked on the K apps. I tried to make do with other desktops and Xfce with KDE support and using KDE apps came close, but no cigar.  So, most of the time I just suffered with KDE.

However, with each upgrade more and more issues were fixed. Kdict soon began functioning properly. I got used to the menu with a strong reliance upon the Favorites list. I've developed a tolerance for the curly and can successfully ignore it unless I want to use it. A few releases ago the window indicators in the taskbar list began resizing smaller and smaller as needed to fit them all onto the screen.

More significantly though, the most annoying bug seems to be a thing of the past. With 4.6.1 it seems that the taskbar indicators no longer overlap no matter how many different applications I open and close. This is a major improvement for me and I'm a much happier camper now.

Not only that, it seems like there's been a significant performance boost this latest release. I can for the first time leave desktop effects and those semantic search engines running full time. Not only that, I can open up as many Konqueror windows as I need without a major slowdown. I can even leave TVtime running as much as I want. Plasma-desktop hasn't crashed once since upgrading to 4.6.1 either. Yes, I'm much happier now.

But it's not all perfectly perfect. I still miss being able to stretch one wallpaper across two monitors. I think having to set the wallpaper separately for each is a bit unattractive. Akregator is still too crashy to really use. Desktop icons are still ugly since being treated as a "plasmoid." However, you can rotate desktop icons and widgets all around now. It be more convenient if we could customize the desktop from System Settings instead of separately having to right-click the desktop and choose Desktop Settings. But that's it. That's all I can think of to complain about.

From where KDE 4 and I started, this is almost perfect. ...if we can just get them fix this wallpaper thing...