On KDE

Tonight I filled out the KDE usability surveys that the University of Maryland is doing. For the most part, I found the questions fairly broad and not particularly well worded, but I guess some study is better than nothing. I might also note that the usability of the survey pages was pretty poor. However, this survey got me thinking about KDE a little bit.

I downloaded KDE 3.4 this past weekend, and so far I have not been disappointed. I've been using KDE for a little less than a year (starting with version 3.1.3, or whatever shipped with Slackware 9.1) and it seems to get better with every release. There are some very major improvements in 3.4 in particular. First is the integration of Akregator into KDE PIM, which means that KDE finally has a real RSS reader. (No, KNewsTicker doesn't count - tickers are good for the sides of buildings, but they're a terrible way to keep track of news from your desktop.) There's also the addition of a proper trash can, complete with file restoration, an IOSlave, standard compliance, and everything. This is a massive improvement over the half-useless trash can that KDE used to have. In fact, the old trash was so useless that I didn't even use it - I just used libtrash and set it and KDE to use the same directory.

However, there are still a lot of little things that annoy me about KDE, which I mentioned in the comments field when I took the usability survey. First, there's the problem with desktop icons not correctly maintaining their positions between sessions. Sure, it's not a big deal, but this bug has been there for several releases now, and it's just getting silly. The current version seems to work slightly better in this regard (the icons don't go as far out of whack), but it's still not right. This is kind of like the how the "Windows" key is supposed to pop up the applications menu, but it never seems to work quite right. In version 3.3.2, it only worked for me when I had the numlock turned off. In 3.4, it doesn't work at all.

Then there's the menu editor. Am I the only one who thinks the menu editor isn't really all that great? It's not really bad, but it just feels...forced. It's a subjective thing, I know, but I always feel like changing the menu is a chore. I'm sorry to say it, but in many ways, the Windows way is just better, especially when it comes to moving and deleting items, which can be done just by clicking and dragging on the menu itself.

The last thing on my list is Konqueror. I like Konqueror as a file manager, but not as a web browser. (I use Opera as my primary web browser because it's the only full-featured browser that runs fast on my aging system.) There are several things I don't like about Konqueror as a browser, but the two big ones are that it's slow and it doesn't seem to differentiate between file associations for local file management and for web browsing. For example, when I go to a web page and click on a link to a JPEG image, Konqueror asks me if I want to save the file or open it in Kuickshow. But I don't want to do either of those! I want Konqueror to open the image the same way every other web browser on the planet does! What's up with that? Am I really the only person who likes to view local images in an image viewer?

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