KDE 4.8 Review: Redux
Months ago I made my review of KDE 4.8, and after a few months of usage I feel a booster to my original article is due.
That Annoying Animation? Grows on You.
In my first review I blasted the dolphin shuffle animation as being almost impossible to turn off, and for being ugly. I’ll still admit, nobody will know where to look to turn it off, but that animation itself has grown on me.
First, the animation has surprised me how it has grown into a slight usability helper. If you have a dolphin window open and a file is moved or copied into the window, that shuffle will serve as a cue just where that file was placed. Anything that stays still is ahead of the new file, anything that moves is below the file. It especially helps because I constantly change how files are sorted. I’ll sort by date, name, type, and regularly refer to that animation to see where in that ordering a new file pops in.
The Fast Loading Dolphin Views are Tricky Sometimes
My new pet peeve is how dolphin manages freshly loaded folders. To speed up, Dolphin will show files as quickly as it can, but in alphabetical order. Once those files are all showing, only then will it re-order them to however you requested them to be ordered (such as date); The idea is that showing the icons before it can sort them is faster, but requires displaying icons that will change places a moment later.
This creates a second where you see a file, go to click it, and have it switch right underneath your cursor. Several times I’d become very confused because I thought I clicked one icon, but launched another. This isn’t a problem for smaller folders as much, but larger folders or slower computers will make this moment of “order lag” apparent.
KolourPaint Gets Alpha-Channels
I may be behind the curve on this, but KolourPaint can now see and manage proper PNG transparency. It’s not perfect and has some very minor qwirks, but for the small edits this is a welcome invitation, far faster and easier than using the cumbersome GIMP editor when I only need to change a few pixels or resize an image.
Gwenviews: 101 Ways to Scroll
Gwenview has a useful semi-transparent “drag tool” which lets you quickly whip around large images when zoomed 100%. This new tool will overlay itself over whichever image you’re working with automatically when able to scroll, but offers no option to disable it entirely. On paper it sounds great, but in usage it’s less than necessary and the inability to turn it off makes the tool less welcome. It becomes annoying when you want to look at a picture and the interface feels it should get in your way.
Muon is a Welcome Addition
Muon a software management suit, roughly mirroring similar utilities found in the GTK software family. It offers a user-friendly software centre and a more power-oriented package manager, and a third tool in development which will be released for future versions of Muon. The tools fit nicely with the general KDE feel and get the job done, but doesn’t yet feel as polished as the tools found in Ubuntu Software Centre.
KDE 4.9 On the Horizon
The future of KDE is fast approaching for regular users, and months after using the refined features of 4.8 I find myself enjoying some features I initially disliked, and vice-versa. I’ve kept reading about new features coming in the future revisions of KDE, and good things are ahead. KDE 4.8 delivered many innovations in a well-prepared package, And I look forward to KDE 4.9.