This thread will probably erupt in a massive flamewar, yet I decided to post my
story anyway. I am talking about the desktop experience in general, not the
technical details behind it. Keep that in mind.
I've been working these past few months with KDE 4.3 and it feels very sluggish
and incomplete. I can't enable the desktop effects because that makes things
even slower. I'm doing this on a fairly decent setup, an AMD Sempron 2 Ghz with
an nVidia FX5500. My laptop suffers from this sluggishness as well. On top of
that, lots of things annoy me in KDE 4.3, see the end of this post for my top
annoyances. Yesterday I had to reboot to my Windows XP installation on this
computer and I was shocked when I arrived in XP's userland. Everything was
ridiculously fast. When returning to my linux desktop everything felt even more
sluggish. That's when I decided to go back to KDE 3.5. I restored my old KDE 3.5
profile, installed the necessary packages and logged back in. WOOOOOF,
everything is fast again. Opening new windows is instantaneous, hell even
bringing up context menus is faster. If Linux is that much better, why does the
current Linux desktop (KDE 4.3) still suck compared to an operating system
that's 8 years old?
Last week I also had the chance to check out Windows 7, and I was stumped. I was
genuinly impressed by Windows 7's GUI. It feels fast, works fluently, it has
nice effects which just work and work FAST. When browsing around it felt like a
very solid desktop environment. I am jealous. I really am. The thought of
using Windows 7 in favor of KDE 4.3 has occured to me much more than I like. And
it's little things like dragging the windows to the top of the screen makes them
maximized, dragging them to the left makes the take exactly 50% of the screen.
How many times have you been manually resizing windows to fit next to each
other? I have, too many times. These are things that really improve your
So when should we have started working at a better desktop environment for
When Mac OS X came out. When was that again? 2001. Yes, it really was that long
ago. It already had awesome desktop effects that just work on (compared to these
days) VERY modest hardware. And it worked fast as well. It was and still is a
solid desktop environment. From that point on the Linux community should have
recognized the threat Mac OS X was for the desktop environment. Unfortunately
nobody did and we went on creating a big mess, fighting over implementations and
technical details instead of attempting to create a solid desktop environment.
Yet we did have a second chance in 2007. Microsoft obviously screwed up with
Windows Vista, we had the chance to win back alot of terrain here until the
release of Windows 7. So what did we come up with? KDE 4. Yes, a big
dissapointment. We still don't have something that's comparable.
So basically, where are we at?
KDE 3.5 is Windows XP
KDE 4.3 is Windows Vista
??? is Windows 7
When are we getting to the Windows 7 stage?
Microsoft didn't do a big advertising campaign for the launch of Windows 7,
nevertheless they delivered a big slap in the face to the Linux desktop
environments. The numbers speak for themselves, Windows 7 has already sold more
copies in its first week than Windows Vista did in its first month. And with
good riddance, Windows 7 really is better than Windows Vista. Microsoft
recognized the problems with Windows Vista and dealt with them. And dealt with
them swiftly if you ask me, doing it in less then 3 years.
We are losing ground. We are losing it fast. Our competitors recognize what the
user wants and delivered.
If we are comparing enterprise desktops, there's no going around Red Hat. The
current Red Hat desktop (5.4) ships with KDE 3.5, while its succesor RHEL 6 will
be, if looking what Fedora brings now, shipped with KDE 4.2 or 4.3. That means
KDE 4.2/4.3 will be the main desktop for enterprises for at least the next 3
years. A disgrace if you ask me. Users will be comparing desktop environments
and they will find Windows 7 or Mac OS X to be better. After the damage RHEL 6
will have done to the reputation of the Linux desktop, it will take again as
many years to rectify the damage done. Granted if we will have a solid desktop
environment comparable to Windows 7 by the time RHEL 7 gets released. Which I
can't help but doubt.
My top KDE 4.3 annoyances:
* Slooooowwww. Logging in takes a multifold of times it did under KDE 3.5,
repainting windows takes up a lot of time
* The battery status applet is buggy, it only shows the actual percentage after
you've hovered it with the mouse, even when you've set it to always display. The
scale it uses is also difficult to interpret. These bugs have been reported a
long time ago and are still not fixed.
* The run dialog is useless. The reason is the history function. It can't
display a full history when you start typing, you have to type alot more. Having
a pull down menu and using the arrow keys to select the entry you want is alot
faster. Even Microsoft knows they shouldn't touch that dialog, it still works
like a charm in windows 7.
* Double clicking the system icon in the titlebar doesn't always work to close
an application (the system icon is the left-most icon in the titlebar). This bug
has also been reported a long time ago and still not fixed.
* I get a full 10 minutes of extra runtime on my laptop when I switched back to
* Power management is buggy in KDE 4.3 and sometimes powerdevil just loses
* Some settings KDE 3.5 used to have aren't there anymore in KDE 4.3.
* Where's my "home" icon!!!??? :-(