KDE 4.3 on Fedora Linux – Screenshot & Mini review

KDE 4.3 as installed on my primary desktop

KDE 4.3 as installed on my primary desktop (click image for full size). Widgets in use include microblog (twitter), weather forcast, Google Calendar Gadget, moon phase, color picker, and post-it note.

KDE 4.3 was recently released and should be hitting the Fedora Stable repos very soon as a system update. I installed if from the updates-testing repo to get a look at what was coming. You may have seen the release announcement and screenshots on the KDE website.  When I first saw them I was quite impressed. But the story goes back a bit for me. When I first started in Linux (ages and ages ago) I played with the KDE desktop but always went to Gnome. KDE had too many things that could get screwed up and it was near impossible to achieve and maintain the eyecandy screen shots we all saw and even posted on the web. You could get everything set just right, reboot or change one font setting and everything was screwed up. That hasn’t been keeping me out of KDE all this time, but it’s what made me chose the Gnome Desktop in the first place. Since then and up until KDE 4.2 I have been a avid supporter of the Gnome Desktop. Actually, I still am. I’ve used KDE on testing platforms thought the years, but never on my primary desktop. When Fedora 11 launched I wanted to do a clean install and make everything ext4, among other changes. I sat at the ‘KDE or Gnome?’ prompt for what seemed like hours even though I knew I was going to pick KDE. I have a lot of time and energy in using Gnome, there’s history there. But Gnome wasn’t doing what I wanted on my desktop and I’d been seeing all the eye candy and functionality of recent KDE so I went with it. And I’m very, very pleased. I still love Gnome and it’s installed on every other computer I own and it will stay my choice for any production systems. But KDE has won my heart on my main computer. KDE version 4.2 was the first version that I really liked. It still has some quirks and wasn’t quite as stable as I would have liked, but over all, I loved it.

KDE 4.3 brings a new default theme, “Air,” and I have say it’s one of the best looking themes I’ve ever seen. Its simple, clean and very easy on the eyes. The screen shot I posted above is the default theme, though with a different background color. I tried the animated backgrounds and I like them, but animated backgrounds aren’t for me. This was where I found the only bug I’ve found so far. I could switch to any animated background and they worked. Once I switched to “virus” however, I couldn’t switch away from it. KDE would freeze and I had CTRL + ALT + BACKSPACE to restart X. Even after restart, I couldn’t switch to anything other than “virus” without freezing. I had to manually switch away from the virus wallpaper. To do this open ~/.kde/share/config/plasma-desktop-appletsrc and find the line wallpaperplugin=virus and change “virus” to “color” save and reboot (or restart X). So far this has been the only bug I’ve found.

The Plasma Desktop Shell is a large part of KDE and this update.

The Plasma Desktop Shell introduces a new default theme, Air. Air looks much lighter and fits better with the default application theme. Plasma also has seen large performance improvements. Memory usage has been reduced, and animations are smoother. Activities can now be tied to virtual desktops, allowing users to have different widgets on each of their desktops. Furthermore, Plasma has improved upon its job and notification management. Running jobs are grouped in a single progress bar to prevent the popup of too many dialogs. Animations are used to signify that jobs are still running by smoothly sliding dialogs into the systemtray and animating the notification icon. Smaller changes in Plasma include fully configurable keyboard shortcuts and more extensive keyboard navigation, the ability to create a plasma widget when you drag or copy content on the desktop and many new and improved Plasma widgets. (snippet from KDE 4.3 Release Announcement via KDE.org)

There is a lot of information in the rest of the release announcement: I’d encourage you to visit KDE.org and learn about other new features of KDE. If you interested in trying KDE 4.3 on Fedora before it hits the stable repo. Temporarily enable the updates-testing yum repo and do a group update. At that point, you’ll have KDE 4.3 running and will receive further KDE updates once it hits stable.

Run the following command as root to install it then you’ll need to reboot the system.

yum --enablerepo=updates-testing groupupdate "KDE (K Desktop Environment)" updated: kde 4.3 is now in fedora stable

If you don’t see the pretty new look, you may need to right click on the desktop, chose “Desktop settings” and set the theme to Default “Air”.

If you’re not a power user, I’d suggest you wait till KDE 4.3 hits the stable repo. I’ve only had the one issue with it (others have documented the same issue) but there is a reason it sits in the testing repo before hitting stable. I would expect to see it as a system update in the next few days. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Looks like KDE 4.3 Has dropped into the Fedora stable repo. So you can do a normal update to install it. Feel free to read my comments below or head over and read about what’s headed to Fedora as I comment on the Fedora 12 Alpha Release

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