Monday, 20 January 2014

Arch with KDE: an unexpected delight

My Desktop
I used to be all for minimalism. As you will have seen in my my previous posts, I love Awesome Window Manager. But theres something to be said for an all out Desktop Environment. I was getting annoyed with having to find solutions for everything, and things that worked out of the box on Windows were needing text editing and tweaks here and there with Awesome.

So I moved to MATE, I loved Gnome 2 and its supported on Arch Linux so I installed it. Things were going great. But I suppose I got a bit bored, as you do. So after some research I decided to try KDE, which had always worked great back in 06/07 with SimplyMepis 6, although in Mepis7 when KDE4 came out it was awful.

Boy has KDE matured. Everything works great (apart from bluedevil due to the bluez changes, its quite buggy) and I now think that those who say KDE is slow are full of it. KDE is as quick as any desktop environment including XFCE, that is assuming you use Arch. One of the great thing about Arch is the minimalism, and even if you install the full KDE like I did (using the Arch Ultimate Install script) its so quick it'll blow your socks off. KDE is great for windows refugees, it looks like windows. I will say that the win7 system is more 'integrated', and one of the disadvantages I've found with KDE, more so in the past, is how chaotic everything seems. It isn't as bad these days, but theres still hints of it, with desktop settings here, and application settings elsewhere, It always seems like you need to open the launcher and go on a quest, but I'll admit its a lot better than it used to be.

Its a good desktop for a newbie to linux, Its pretty self explanatory, and may be a little more familiar in the manjaro iteration, which I expect is where someone with less experience of linux would go (for the most up to date software + ease of use), Manjaro goes for the traditional desktop with icons, whilst Arch goes with the default plasma desktop folder, which I don't understand personally. I want a desktop, with desktop icons, although, I don't spend much time on the desktop.

KDE is utterly adjustable, I tried, and succeeded to some degree to make KDE look like a mac, now I have no photos of it, but I promise you that I tried it, and although it was hard work it looked quite nice, this is testament to the good work that the KDE developers do, the desktop panel nicely adjusts to whatever size you put it at, and there are a large variety of themes out there for you to mess around with. One annoying feature is that a window thats minimized has the font grayed on the panel, on some themes this can make it near impossible to see what programs you have closed, which is annoying more than anything else.

I like that alt + shift + f12 deactivates and activates the desktop effects, its really helpful with games, as the effects have a tendency to cause some games to stutter (wow especially), again, a thoughtful addition to the DE.

In conclusion, KDE is much better in my opinion than GNOME, MATE and Cinnamon, I won't count XFCE in there because of how minimal it is. KDE feels much different, and I don't feel like I'm using something on top of linux, I feel like I am using Linux, it does feel integrated, and professional, much more than in the past. It feels as though KDE IS the OS, and I don't feel like I have to download more desktop environments because KDE makes me feel fulfilled as a user. Sure, it has its problems, but they're so minor I'm quite happy to let the developers deal with them. An environment like MATE feels kind of dated to me now, whilst cinnamon feels like a collection of GNOME widgets. I can honestly understand what the developers are going for. As much as OSX is mac, and Windows is PC, KDE is Linux, they're trying to make a desktop environment that is so powerful that it becomes the OS itself, to give the user everything they need, and to now make it feel hodge podged together.

It works, and its streets ahead of any other DE. Well done developers. Although it'll never be the case, I think that its a saleable system. With Arch it makes it much more stable, and speedy.

The word is: polished

8/10


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