While Kubuntu 9.04 will have the best l10n of any Kubuntu release in a long while, (and that’s not saying much) things are still far from optimal. While my second language, Spanish (which I don’t profess to know that proficiently) looks at least decent, other languages such as German are hit somewhat harder due to the fact that we scared all the German doods away with crappy l10n in past releases, so there is nobody to translate the string changes/new strings that we make when we add patches.
Anyways, on to the brighter side of things ™. One thing that had bugged me since KDE 4.0.0 (and probably a bit before) was that I always had to set my clock to am/pm from its default of military time, and from the default of metric measurement to the imperial measurement system. At first I assumed (In the KDE 4.0 betas/RCs) that it was just one of those little bugs. Then I forgot about it until I installed KDE4 on another computer. Eventually I got used to it, sorta. But every once and a while you’d encounter someone on IRC who couldn’t figure out how to switch to a 12 hour clock, so I guess it wasn’t entirely obvious how to do that manually. It is a bit of a pain.
In Kubuntu 9.04, however, startkde detects your country based on what you set the system to at the time you installed linux, and sets that as KDE’s county in kdeglobals (as long as you haven’t set it or other locale settings manually). This is thanks to the efforts of Harald (apachelogger) The result? Now you do not have to worry about manually setting time/money/first day of the week/measurement systems.
Even if translations are still somewhat buggered, this neat little enhancement tickled me pink.
I also received some encouraging words on IRC today:
[canesalato] Hi jonathan, I just wanted to thank you for your hard work on jaunty. You helped in almost every bugreport I’ve opened and backported a lot of fixes…I think jaunty is really a polished distro compared to intrepid and not only because 4.2 > 4.1. Thank you again
[JontheEchidna] Thank you
[JontheEchidna] I’m glad I could help
[canesalato] If you ever come to Italy (i live in pisa) I’ll offer you beer and pizzas till you are full
[canesalato] have a nice day
[JontheEchidna] you too
I must say that I do not really know who this was. Apparently I’ve triaged/fixed a lot of his bugs, but I do not recognize his IRC name from any bugs I’ve triaged. Still, it’s nice to see that even though Kubuntu has received a lot of flack in the past about it’s KDE packaging (I seem to remember the early KDE 4.0.x packages being perpetually late/buggy) that, at least, I am making a noticeable difference in somebody’s computing experience. That is really the best reward I could ask for. Making the Linux desktop better for myself and others is my main motivation.
On a related note to early KDE 4.0.x packages, I really think that Kubuntu 9.04 will be a chance to redeem itself, so to speak. The early KDE 4.x packages from Kubuntu were buggy, yes. The situation got a lot better in KDE 4.1/Kubuntu 8.10, but the stigma still remained. Looking back at KDE 4.1, I believe I know why this happened. KDE 4.1 was better than KDE 4.0. Worlds better. But still, being only the second major incarnation of KDE 4, it was still lacking something in the sense of maturity, and still had its fair share of bugs.
Then when one of the first (Not the first, mind you) KDE4-based distributions get released (Kubuntu 8.10 in case you were wondering), lots of people upgrade. When a userbase the size of Kubuntu was exposed to the not-quite-as-mature-as-it-is-today codebase of KDE 4.1.2, problems were bound to be found. Those for which everything worked mostly okay usually stayed quiet, unless they were vocal Kubuntu fans. Those who inevitably ran in to problems usually did report them, albeit usually not in the preferred method. (details bug reports…) Since those who have problems tend to be more vocal than those for which everything works fine, people were able to find a lot of people online with who were also having problems, regardless of whether or not they were actually the same problems. (Once again, there’s no way to tell without bug reports…) Couple this with KDE4-haters who are vocal against KDE4, and suddenly you have people murmuring over the internet that Kubuntu, does in fact, suck.
People who have problems take a quick look on the internet and see other vocal users having problems. (Usually generically blaming “the packaging”) Then, without taking the time to report a bug so it can be determined where in the software stack the bug lies, people who see other people complaining also complain while citing poor packaging as the problem, often without even describing their problem in their “kubuntu sucks” post at all. You can see a cycle here…
This really wasn’t fair to Kubuntu/its developers, but I suppose a stigma of things going badly in the past can tend to stick around.
But, again, onwards to the brighter side of things. I am quite confident that Kubuntu 9.04 could be the “redeeming release”. The packaging is pretty solid this time around. The whole experience is polished, too. KDE 4.2 itself brings loads of polish. (Though you know KDE 4.3 will make it pale in comparison) GTK applications no longer look like they’ve come out of a blender. Amarok and Dragon Player now prompt you to install missing codecs. When KDE detects flash content in Konqueror, the “do you want to download flash from macromedia so that you can go through all the steps of installing it yourself” prompt that used to be there has been replaced with a dialog where one needs to merely press “install” and enter their password to let the computer do all the work for them. The device notifier gives you things to do when you insert audio CDs. The update/reboot notifier now uses KNofication instead of those ugly KPassivePopup bubbles. All in all it’s years ahead on Kubuntu 8.10, contained in a quick-booting, generally snappy package.
So that’s me, trying to look on the brighter side of things. Hopefully I’m not being delusional, and I hope you enjoy Kubuntu 9.04 tomorrow. (Or today, if you’re in the right timezone)