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Sorry chaps, I've left KDE for GNOME.

User avatar Dante Ashton
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Sorry chaps, I've left KDE for GNOME.

Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:01 pm
DISCLAIMER: I have used multiple distros on multiple computers, I've spent a year with GNOME and just over a year with KDE. I think I can safely judge at least some things here.

SECOND DISCLAIMER: I am no fan of Mono, but I have to admit many Mono apps are very feature packed and useful, hence why I suggest them. I'm practical at heart.

THIRD DISCLAIMER: If you think I'm being too odd with the above disclaimer, it's because too many people have accused me of being a “Micro$oft $hill”, with one or two people asking me how much they pay me whenever I complain of anything on Linux. My Mono-neutral status gets most of these people into a frothing fit, hence the above disclaimer.

FOURTH DISCLAIMER: Sorry for both the length of this post, and all these disclaimers :P


Recently I read a very good blog post about Kubuntu and KDE in general;

http://nowwhatthe.blogspot.com/2010/06/ ... notes.html

It's that blog post which inspired me to finally get around to this article.

Networking
When KDE SC 4.4 came out, one of the first things I noticed was KTorrent had a new UI button to shutdown/restart the computer when torrents were finished. This function could of proved useful to me, if only for one major flaw;

You see, every time I'd try to download a large file (by 'large' I mean about 200mb at least) KNetworkManager would silently loose my connection. I'd have to tell it to reconnect manually (which means I couldn't leave my computer alone if I wanted to download updates, for instance, I'd have to baby-sit it) and if I had to tell it to reconnect for the fourth or fifth time, it would never reconnect, thus requiring a restart of the computer. It's this bug that apparently caused Linux Mint KDE Edition to use the Gnome-Network-Manager, and why I switched to that or WICD myself. This bug does not occur on any GNOME distro, but occurs on all the KDE systems I've tried. (this includes my 4 different computers of wildly different hardware specifications.)

It didn't seem to matter what I was downloading, be it a distro, updates, streaming radio or even doing a few hours web-browsing. It would always loose connection. Throttling my bandwidth speed on both the computer's and the routers end changed nothing but making my downloads slower (of course). Unless I was using a wired connection I would continue to drop out.

Another note about the network manager; I bought a USB mobile broadband dongle on a £20 a month 18-month contract. In GNOME, if I plug it in, it detects it, sets it up and away I go, using 3G for my internet needs. In KDE, I have no such luck; All KDE does is change the icon to a mobile phone and asks me for details my provider is not allowed to give out. (This is not a mobile phone, this is a dedicated USB dongle that 'flip-flops' between two modes, one to install drivers and authenticate itself with the network, the other mode is the modem itself.) In GNOME this functionality is provided by the usb-modeswitch package, which configures it to use the correct modem setting, whilst the mobile-broadband-provider-info has all the details needed to connect to the network, providing you tell it who is the provider and what is your plan. On a KDE system, that's a wasted £20. On GNOME, it isn't.

PIM Suites

Kontact is a lovely bit of technology, but in comparison to Evolution and Thunderbird, it's quite behind.
I have a Google phone (HTC Magic), I use Google Mail, Google Contacts and Google Calendar, as does my College.
Trying to setup a way to download the data from various Google services is a pain in the backside, to say the least; I must provide details of the servers, ports, etc. And even after that, I can't get Google Contacts imported.

Evolution makes it fairly simple to import my contacts, mail and calendar. Better yet, it also has a lovely settings/data backup feature, whereas the Kontact suite requires you to rip out the files manually.

Now, Thunderbird in this regard is not really a PIM solution, but I would like to highlight one of Thunderbird 3's highlights. If I need to setup a new connection to a webmail system, all it does is request my email and password, and it auto-magically solves everything else. (This is even works for the minority web-mail services) I would LOVE it if Kontact were that easy to setup, but today it remains one of the hardest parts of any setup I've done.


Utility Tools
It isn't every day that I use a modern computer, most computers I have are old, worn out machines with one foot in the grave already. The most common failure for these machines (aside from the dust buildup) is the failure of the hard-drive. In GNOME, there is a disk utility for viewing the hard-drive's health, I can perform S.M.A.R.T checks on them, format the drive, repartition the drive, perform benchmarks, check the filesystem and even change their name. It even runs in the background and warns you if the disk is soon to fail. There is no such application for KDE systems, and that is a great shame.

The simple fact that I cannot format a drive (if memory serves, a KDE dev once expressed horror that such a destructive action was but a click away) if I need too, if I need to format a bootable USB back into a normal USB (some drives just hide all their files, making it impossible to just go into the drive through the file manager and delete them) and even other hard-drives and the occasional floppy. I cannot format any of them, I can't edit partitions, I can't do anything on KDE that this GNOME tool can do. Kfloppy does not load (and isn't on the system, despite all the package managers saying it's installed, same story with KMFormat.

I also have a very handy Network Tools application (which, being a computer science student, is rather useful) and the system monitor will also inform me of network activity.

Again, I have a very large file collection, which includes videos, pictures and documents of virtually every type out there. In KDE 4.4 Strigi is actually be working now, but on my netbook it takes around 2 minutes just to load the search pane. Not good.

GNOME's Tracker, on the other hand, has a damnsight more features then I could of hoped for and will not only search file names and dates, it will read the file, the directory name and can give me more metadata about the file then Dolphin's preview pane. I can simply query about a file, and I get an answer; not so with Strigi.


Multimedia Tools

I do a lot of image editing, and on Linux, the best tools for that is the GIMP and Inkscape. Both such tools are GTK only. There is Karbon in place of Inkscape on KDE, but it has nowhere near the same amount of features and tools. GIMP's only version on KDE is Krita, which really is more of a painting application then a image editing application.

Sound editing is also one of my hobbies, yet if I try and install Audacity on KDE then I am left with KDE assuming all the files I want to open are ones I want Audacity to use, so it loads Audacity. Which is again, a GTK app and looks out of place on KDE, even with the GTK theme engines.



Office Work

OpenOffice lets me do my work, Abiword has a few problems saving in the .doc formats used by College and Koffice just hates me. Using OpenOffice on KDE is masochistic to say the least, on my laptop it will load the Open/SaveAs window in bout three minutes, on my netbook with a 500mhz processor? The fastest it ever loaded was 8 minutes 37 seconds. I'm sorry, but that is TERRIBLE.


Internet Browsing

It was only recently that Firefox on KDE was able to use KDE applications (thanks now to an xulrunner) but it consumes so much memory it destabilises the system, even with just 15 tabs open (three of them with flash videos) On my netbook, it brings the entire system down, Konq and ReKonq do not play nice with some websites (including my College's intranet) so the only solution is Chromium, which requires a hell of a lot of memory to run once I get into my workflow on a KDE system.


Ease Of Use

'Ease of Use' is a subjective term to say the least, what in particular, is easy? For the purposes of this little article, let me introduce two people, my Mother and Father.

These are not computer people, they do not like the command line. They ignore all pop-up boxes. If Firefox/Chromium tells them something has gone wrong they will panic and think the computer is about to crash. If the printer is not printing they will not check if it's turned on, simply blame the computer. In the first five years of search engines, they would query the search engine as such; “Can you please find me XXXXX? Thank You”. With their Ubuntu machine having switched window controls, they would continually click on the wrong side of the window somehow thinking they can still close the window, despite me telling and showing them where the new controls were.

As I said, they are not computer people (Yes, all of the above is true. Please, my fellows geeks, feel pity for me)

KDE is very attractive to them, but when so many of the problems I mentioned above appear, they don't know what to do. This has involved me being woken up at 4AM in the morning to go and plug in their iPod into the computer, to turn the monitor back on, and to wiggle the mouse so the screensaver goes away.

Yet if I put them in front of a GNOME interface, complete with Docky, Banshee and the other tools, they know exactly what to do. Truly, these people were just MADE for Apple Macs. Better they were using Open-Source tech, eh?

Now, Kopete is a good example; it is a very good IM program that is let down by one thing; and again, it is setting it up.

If I want to configure Google Talk or Facebook Chat, then that requires a little in-depth knowledge of how to find the relevent data for ports and all that. On Empathy, I simply need click a button and it walks me through the process.

Another example is the Ubuntu Software Centre. My parents can operate this little bit of software, find an application they are after, and install it. They get lost in KpackageKit, and more-often-then-not, whenever KPackageKit helpfully pops up and offers to install extra functionality in certain applications, that function does not work. Video codecs are not installed, nor are MP3 codecs. It's a nightmare because my parents have no concept of 'failure' here. It worked. If their MP3 files don't play. They think there is something wrong with the speakers.

In their minds, Software Never Fails.

It is ALWAYS easy to use.

Now, these kind of people are the general desktop users. These are the people to whom the term 'Appliance Computing' was designed for. Throwing a load of options in their face and not holding their hand whilst they deal with them is NOT a good idea.

This brings me onto my final point:


Stability

Stability is the goal of any system. I don't think I need highlight the many issues which the KDE 4 series has gone through (and mostly resolved) but I am still faced with difficult problems, Over the past year, four to six times a month I'd have to reinstall my system, a process which would take around five hours after I've put my data back on and adjusted the settings to my liking.

This constant re-installation was because parts of the system would break, some programs wouldn't work, others would. Each re-installation landed me with a computer that was always partially broken. Twice I actually had a system that could get (and STAY) on my network connection with no problems. Only downside? The damn thing would restart by itself every four hours.

Worse are when the machine would be doing nothing at all, I'd leave it on whilst I quickly went over to the shops, and then I'd get applications crashing, the sound system dying, it was the OS version of the Apocalypse. It's happened 16 times on all my machines.

A month ago, I performed a experiment; I installed Kubuntu on my laptop, Mandriva on my netbook and OpenSUSE on my desktop computer.

None of these systems had any data of any kind on them, they had nothing changed and nothing configured (barring wireless for my mobile computers and wired for my desktop) I didn't even replace Konq.

The next day, I turned on my laptop, and it reported plasma had crashed. I gave the command to restart, it still crashed. Three days later my netbook followed suite, a day after that my desktop 'forgot' half the applications on it. All these machines had been updated, all of them were fine until they suddenly and rather inexplicably died.


That is the day I replaced Kubuntu/OpenSUSE/Mandriva with Ubuntu. I've never had a single problem. With Ubuntu, I can leave my laptop on for days and weeks at a time and know it will function perfectly normally. I know that if I try the same with Kubuntu, the machine would be a smoking ruin the next day.

Conclusion

All the Kubuntu machines I've prepared for interested friends have always come back to me with some strange fault. I phoned them up and gave them Ubuntu as well (two of them had replaced it with pirated Windows)

KDE is awesome. It has brilliant minds and brilliant ideas. But they don't work out; GNOME might be built on inferior technology, but it's a damnsight more stable then KDE. It's also a damnsight easier to use (and don't give me that rubbish about how GNOME removes features. If there is a demand for a feature, I can promise you there is an app for it.) as my parents have proven.


The point of all this is: Yes, KDE is better in many, MANY respects, quite like a high performance sports car (if I use a Car analogy) but, like a sports car, there aren't comfortable warm seats, smooth suspension, GPS navigation, drinks holder and no little voice reminding you that you left the handbrake on.

GNOME IS quite like that, though.


At the end of the day, however, I am a computer science student with a love of movies and music, and I love writing. I no longer enjoy tinkering with my computer and I want things to Just Work. All KDE distros I've tried (virtually all of them, I've used all the major ones, just have the most experience with Kubuntu, OpenSUSE and Mandriva) have failed me.

I don't feel confident about giving my parents and those who I know love to tinker a system I know from experience which is unstable. I used to think 4.X releases would fix these bugs; they are getting there, but I imagine I'll be looking at KDE again when it gets to the 5 series.


So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.
-Dante

EDIT: I have a very good rule when I'm designing something. Take characters like my parents, and explain to them, over the phone, what they need to do. Use that as a thought exercise when building interfaces; take the most inept people and if they can't do it themselves, you have failed. With most KDE apps this leads to frustration, in many GNOME apps, it does not.


Dante Ashton, in the KDE Community since 2008-Nov.
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jglen490
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'Bye. Good luck. Hope you don't catch mono.


I feel more like I do now than I did when I got here.
Proudly wearing a negative Karma.
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john_hudson
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Good luck and best wishes. It's been good knowing you.


John Hudson, proud to be a member of KDE forums since 2008-Oct.
User avatar Dante Ashton
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Thanks.


Seriously, if I didn't have so many problems with KNetworkManager, and so many crashes, I seriously wouldnt of left.

*sigh*

I do so miss Amarok :/


Anyway, toodles!


Dante Ashton, in the KDE Community since 2008-Nov.
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I hope you reported those crashes so the developers can fix them :)


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User avatar Moult
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I like to keep a variety of DEs on my system and something I found is that running all KDE apps on GNOME is extremely fast and snappy (even Dolphin!), yet when running KDE apps on KDE itself, it's lagtastic, eats into my swap, and in general becomes a pain. There is a delay when scrolling things, selecting files, opening menus, etc. I am right now typing this from GNOME and happily running the KDE apps that I like.

Obviously something is very wrong with KDE for it to be like this, but the developers from my experience like to turn a blind eye to speed with a "works for me, change graphics card, buy more RAM" attitude.

As for usability, I must say I agree with you completely. Sure, KDE has a lot of interesting features, but the vast majority of their "innovation" is not polished. Without polish, it becomes a hindrance rather than an added convenience. Take for example the plasma desktop - activities, plasmoids, panels ... the interfaces are half-baked and developed as though without truly understanding people's workflows. Semantic desktop? Bah. It's not because I don't need it, it's not because there's no infrastructure - no, it's because it's not usable.

I'm considering leaving KDE for GNOME too, but I'm going to hold on for a while longer to see if all this talk about the "potential" of KDE bears fruit.


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Dante Ashton wrote:*sigh*

I do so miss Amarok :/

You can use Amarok with Gnome as well :) All regular KDE apps using kdelibs run on Gnome.


Mamarok, hanging out in the Amarok forum since August, 2007
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User avatar Dante Ashton
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Ooh, I know, I know, but it just feels less clean, Amarok brings in KWallet, dosent adhere to the GTK+ style...I do so hope the combined Gudaec and Akadamy work together, if only to get GNOME+KDE apps looking the same on both systems!


As for the bugs, I could never determine their cause and the reports I filed simply didn't have enough data to be useful.

@Moult: That's a good idea (hanging on, I mean) the future of KDE is very exciting (some of you might of seen the 'NEPOMUK Of the future' document I put together) but try as I might, I just can't get things to play right. KDE 4.3 was more stable, oddly (though KNetworkManager was FAR worse)


In terms of a GUI, I'd love to see something like a "Smart GUI" that would reconfigure itself to provide the users most used options...


Dante Ashton, in the KDE Community since 2008-Nov.
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KNetworkManager, in fact NetworkManager itself, causes problems for a lot of people. Have you considered installing wicd and disabling KNetworkManager? Until the problems are ironed out, it's certainly worth a try. I don't have it on this system, but some time back I tried wicd on a Mandriva system and it was great. Of course it's not a KDE app, but we can always come back to KNetworkManager later.


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User avatar Dante Ashton
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I did go with WICD for a while, then at the time Plasma-desktop crashed.

The system seems to 'degrade' faster if I install non-QT apps :S

Also, WICD did not solve my mobile internet problem, so it was of limited use, but thank you for the suggestion :)


Dante Ashton, in the KDE Community since 2008-Nov.
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Well of course plasma is such a fast-moving animal that the circumstances may be quite different from when I tried it. I'm surprised, though, that it didn't solve your mobile internet problems. It worked fine for me. Still, if it won't work with plasma it's no longer an option in KDE. I'd be interested to know whether anyone else can either confirm the problem or deny it.


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@Dante Ashton: If you open System Settings > Appearance > Style, then you should be able to select Gtk as one of the available options. Note that only Qt 4.6 or later offers this.


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User avatar Dante Ashton
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Ahh, I was talking about KDE apps running on a GTK+ system, not the other way around :P



Just to sum it all up; I haven't COMPLETELY given up with KDE, but I'm finding the GNOME systems much more relibable and considering my current situations, I need a reliable computer.


Dante Ashton, in the KDE Community since 2008-Nov.
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here's a q - how many people have you known/read about that have had to " four to six times a month I'd have to reinstall my system"? Which of the many distro's you've used have you had to do this with? when you reinstall you do the de or the whole distro? Ever consider wiping away the .kde4 dir and see if maybe there's something corrupted there? Maybe running all these diff distros with the same .kde4 cause corruption if you endup downgrading the kde version ex 4.4.4 then 4.4.3 cause the rc files may no longer have exact same structure or options

Don't like strigi, what about recoll (it's kde4) and possibly the best of any linux desktop search tools (google, there's been a couple comparisons published this year)

your knetwork issues - maybe distro specific? maybe it's one of those app's still not ready for prime time but there should be other methods in your distro to control network connections. And isn't it just a front end to something else http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NetworkManager, which is used also by gnome?

smart monitoring - like http://kde-look.org/content/show.php/Pl ... ent=115526

the audacity opening all sound files - distro specific?

it seems you have a fixation on only using the tools that are specific to the de you're using - so running gnome then no amarok, no k3b, no digikam, no java apps?

ubuntu stable, kubuntu not? same company (canonical) same linux base packages - just diff d.e.'s

finally those things you're missing (kmail backup, google calander integration, etc.) have you reported them to bugzilla - seems they're thing that should be there


OpenSuse 13.1 x64, KDE 4.12.x

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User avatar Dante Ashton
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I've heard about quite a few people having to reinstall on a constant basis.

All KDE distros did this on ALL my machines.

No, each time I format and install from scratch, I've tried CD, DVD, (with internal AND external drives) image transferance from another machine (both machines crashed within 2 hours of each other) SD card and USB stick.

I did, in the early days, partition my home directory as seperate, but it could not be accessed after the third time I'd turn my computer on claiming it was corrupted, so I never bothered to save any config files after that.

Recoll never struck me as feature rich when I read about it, but that was some time ago, I shall look into it. :)


KNetworkManager IS a frontend, yes, which does not explain why the GNOME front end does not screw up at all (unless there is some software/hardware interaction going on)

It wasnt just SMART monitoring, the main features were formatting (I get a lot of old hard-drives) and notification that the Hard-drive was close to failure (I got a LOT of old hard-drives) two very basic things that KDE does not seem to have. SMART handling should of been delt with.

The Audacity problems happened on Kubuntu and Mandriva, I never tried it on OpenSUSE. KDE would load all sound files in Audacity and would ignore further settings changes.

As for my purist tendancies with DE's I find combining two DE's eats up system resources and as a result leads my computer to crash if I've got a really heavy workload on.

It is a general sentiment that Kubuntu does not get nearly enough testing as it's sister, Ubuntu, does. My experience with Kubuntu is proof. Something is wrong, somewhere, considering that these problems have plauged me throughout KDE distros, I assume (perhaps, wrongly) that the fault is KDE's and is part and parcel of KDE 4's instability.


KMail backup - wishlist item filed, it was marked as duplicate.
Google services intergration, considered to still be quite alpha.


Dante Ashton, in the KDE Community since 2008-Nov.
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