KDE 4.1 Visual Changelog (Somewhere between Beta1 and today)

May 29, 2008

Hello there everybody in KDE-land. This morning I booted me up some kde4daiily in mah qemu. It runs like crap with my sub-par specs, what with the entire emulation layer and all, (KDE 4 runs great normally, of course ;P) but I was able to catch some noticeable improvements since Beta 1 was released. I also captured all the changes I noticed in my 10 or so minutes screwing around in this one screenshot:

Folderview applet
Yes, yes, we all know about folderview. (We hate you aseigo!!1!!! >:O … just kidding) What’s different here, you say?
Before we get started, let me say that this is basically a default desktop in the screenshot. I hardy made any modifications, except for maybe changing the order of things on the panel. The rest is strictly default. On to Folderview.

Folderview now supports a nice, semi-transparent background. By default, it displays the contents of your ~/Desktop folder. Now that a nice transparent background exists, you can have your nice Desktop folder icons cordoned off in a nice little plasmoid that blends in nicely with the rest of your desktop! You can manipulate these icons inside any way you like. You can add more than one folderview and set it to view any folder you like. For those who want icon representation of files on the desktop, this is a solution that is infinitely more flexible than the desktop-file-icon implementation of any Desktop environment that came before it. I personally will probably never use folderview, but for the people who do want to have icons on their desktop, this should be a dream come true.

Oxygen Window Decoration
I personally have had no problem with the Oxygen window decoration. But, for those who do, this improvement should come as a nice surprise. Active windows now have a few gradient-ed stripes running across the blank space between the window title, and the window buttons have been tweaked in general.

Dolphin
I know this is old, but I just have to re-iterate how nice the tabs on Dolphin are. Due to the work that was put in to make this feature possible, all tabs that any application uses can be closed by clicking an icon on the actual tab. (Not having this feature for Konsole was a pain)

There were probably more changes that I just failed to see, but qemu takes 5 seconds to bring up Krunner when I press Alt+F2. (Nice new KRunner, btw.) KDE 4.1 has some great new features. Since the first beta was released, there is already some noticable polish that is being poured on to this new functionality. KDE 4.1 should be great. Even if Plasma doesn’t quite have feature parity with the desktop components of KDE3 it’s getting close, and Plasma can already do many things that were impossible in KDE3.

P.S. I can has KDE 4.1 packages rite nao plz?

P.P.S You’re doing a good job nixternal.


How to sexify/improve KDE4 (even further)

May 12, 2008

On its own, the default KDE4 desktop Kubuntu-KDE4 gives you is pretty damn sexy. We can improve on it, though.

1. Improve how GTK applications appear.
This is about the most obvious rough patch of the Kubuntu-KDE4 look-n-feel. One of the most common complaints I hear about KDE4 is how fugly Firefox and other GTK applications look. This is actually a two-pronged problem.

-It is partly a KDE bug.
If you had selected a GTK theme other than the default one, GTK apps should not revert to the ugly default theme. This bug has been recently fixed in KDE /trunk.

-It is partly not a bug at all.
It’s true, GTK applications not having the samw look-and-feel as your normal, Oxygen-lovin’ Qt applications isn’t actually actually a bug. It’s more of the lack of a gtk-qt theming engine. Regualr old Kubuntu has one, and it works quite well.

Solution: Install gtk-qt-engine-kde4
This package is not installed by default. This package will do the same thing as it’s non-kde4 counterpart, gtk-qt-engine, theming your gtk applications with your Qt theme. The KDE4 version of gtk-qt-engine is new software and not without its bugs. Most of them are due to Firefox 3′s new GTK theming capabilities. Firefox 3 (An XUL application) actually “emulates” being having a GTK user interface. Our gtk-qt engine has a few problems dealing with this…

It still looks quite good, anyhow, as you can see from this screenshot.

2. Try a different Plasma widget theme, perhaps?
Even though the ability to change themes via a GUI won’t officially arrive until KDE 4.1 this July, it is still quite possible to change which theme you have. It’s quite simple really.

-First, create the folder ~/.kde4/share/apps/desktoptheme if it doesn’t already exist.
-Download one of the many themes off of KDE-Look. (I made my own theme, for the lulz.)
-Extract the theme to a folder inside
~/.kde4/share/apps/desktoptheme .
-Press Alt+F2, and type in kquitapp plasma. Plasma will go away; don’t worry we can get it back easily!
-Press Alt+F2 again and run Kate, open
~/.kde4/share/config/plasmarc .
-Where it says [Theme], change name=default to name=the name of the theme folder in the desktoptheme directory.
-Save, exit.
-Alt+F2 to bring up Krunner, type “plasma” and hit enter to bring back Plasma.

Plasma should now be sporting a pimpin’ new theme.



3. Get more Plasmoids!
Widgets == sexy. Therefore, more widgets == more sexy. If you haven’t already, install extragear-plasma for more widgets. KDE-Look also has a growing number of 3rd party, non-KDE plasmoids. You can install all of ‘em if you’re comfortable compiling things, but don’t worry if you aren’t comfortable with compiling things. I have made Ubuntu packages for the following plasmoids:

-Coremoid
This is a plasmoid that can monitor and interact with the cpufreq service. You can monitor cpu usage and manage frequency governers with this Plasmoid.

-Email Notify
This is a plasmoid that pings your mail server to let you know how many new messages you have. With this plasmoid there is no need to have your email application open all the time, or even your gmail tab open all the time in your web browser. You can reduce your memory footprint with this plasmoid since you won’t have to have your email client open all the time. As of emailnotify 0.3 Email Notify will behave well in the panel.

-Plasma-Wifi
A neat little plasmoid. It is used to give a visualization to your wifi connection strength.

-Toggle-compositing
This is a very useful plasmoid. It only has one function, and that is to turn on and off KWin desktop effects. With this you can disable effects before running OpenGL applications or games running in Wine without having to go back to System Settings and disabling it from there.

All of these are as easy to install as a regular program.
Add this:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/echidnaman/ubuntu hardy main

To your Repository list in Adept. Now plasmoids are as easy to install as regular applications. Package names for the plasmoids in my repository are:

coremoid
emailnotify
plasma-wifi
toggle-compositing

That’s it! I hope that you could use at least one of these suggestions. If I think of any other ways to improve the KDE4 desktop experience I’ll post ‘em here.


Hello world

May 12, 2008

New blog. I hope to post some useful stuff sometime soon.


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