Friday, February 20, 2009

My KDE Experiment: prelude

I have long thought that a good Linux distribution with a stable and feature-rich KDE 4 environment installed on a good computer, like a laptop, with all compatible hardware would be able to compete with the latest from Microsoft of Apple.  Naturally, openSUSE is the first that comes to mind since they are the largest supporters of KDE and even innovations like the slab menu found in KDE 4 was available in openSUSE's KDE 3!

So to find out if this is true or not I decided to try a little experiment. I have an extra desktop around and I am going to install openSUSE 11.1 with KDE 4.2 and see how the overall experience is on a couple of different levels.

Of course openSUSE will be tested on its technical merit as I meander through the requirements for administrating the system after the installation. While this may be of interest, this is actually a very minor focus of the experiment.

The main focus, by large, is the supposed "consumer experience" one would have if they were to receive a comptuer system with openSUSE pre-installed and configured.  How does it look how responsive is it, how easy is it to customize, can I do all I want to do with it?  These and more questions will be looked at.

KDE is built from the Qt programming language and has spawned a huge number of applications in and out of the official "KDE Family".  Just about any application that is posed will have some form of KDE/Qt equivalent.  The advantage of using these is consistancy as is enjoyed with Microsoft products (well.. maybe except for Office 2007), where configuration files and settings are in the same location across most, if not all, applications! If I want to change a setting in the application I go to the Configure menu just as I would Tools > Options in Windows.

In order to do this, I will be using KDE or Qt based applications whenver possible, such as
  • Krita instead of Gimp or Photoshop
  • Konquerer instead of Firefox or Opera (though I will keep Firefox for website compatibility issues)
  • Kontact instaed of Evolution or Thunderbird or Outlook
  • Kopete instead of Pidgin
  • KOffice instead of OpenOffice or MS Office
  • Amarok instead of Banshee or Rythmbox
  • Quanta Plus instead of Bluefish or Kompozer or FrontPage (unless I really need Kompozer)
  • Karbon 14 instead of Inkscape
  • DigiKam instead of Picasa or F-Spot
So not only is this going to be a test of the KDE desktop experience but also to put KDE applications through the test!

I am hoping, though, that my inexperience with KDE (let alone KDE 4) will be a benefit more than a limitation as it means that I will be learning the system just as somebody new to Linux will be learning the system. Who knows, maybe my family will like it better than their current Ubuntu Gnome sessions?... ;)