openSUSE 11.0 and KDE 4

As you probably know already, openSUSE 11.0 is out, and undoubtedly doing magical things for users around the globe (if not for me just yet–that should happen in the next week or so).

The openSUSE development team was faced with a difficult dilemma with this release. The KDE 4.0 desktop environment was released in January, with an entirely new way of doing things. The Plasma desktop, Phonon multimedia framework, and Solid hardware framework represented some spectacular changes from the familiar KDE 3.x interface in place since 2002.

Unfortunately, some key pieces of the complete desktop (including the KOffice suite, Kontact personal information manager and Amarok multimedia player) had not yet migrated successfully to the new platform. So KDE 4.0 was defined, rightly so, as a work in progress, while v4.1 would be the more stable, mature platform.

Meanwhile, the openSUSE community had set itself the task of releasing new versions twice a year, making openSUSE 11 due in June 2008. The question loomed large early in the development cycle: Which KDE should be the default KDE desktop? The team decided to go with KDE 4, and worked hard to make it as usable as possible.

Since the release, there has been much controversy on the openSUSE lists about this decision. Benjamin Weber tries to put out the fires and clarify things in this post:

  • openSUSE is not forcing people to switch to KDE4. Users can switch to KDE4 when they wish. Both are included on openSUSE 11.0.
  • If you find bugs in or are missing functionality in KDE4 please file bug reports so it can be fixed.
  • If you have an opinion regarding when the timescale for moving to KDE4 you are free to get involved and influence the decisions. You do not have to resort to insulting developers on the mailing lists to be heard, in fact insulting developers so is a good way to ensure that people disregard your opinion.

Fundamentally, this is the only fair solution

9 thoughts on “openSUSE 11.0 and KDE 4

  1. Some of the openSuse list comments were clearly unwarranted – no one forced people to choose KDE4, and the abuse heaped on the developers was insane.

    There were legitimate concerns, though, about the description in the openSuse install of both KDE3 and KDE4. I’m not sure the descriptions gave sufficient weight to the stage of development of KDE4, and it would, in my opinion, have been better to make it clear KDE4 was not fully functional.

    Personally, I’m not crazy that all the effort is going into KDE4 and bugs in KDE3 simply seem to be being ignored. There are lots of us that are still using KDE 3.5.x because we need our system to function, and will wait until all the bugs are out of KDE4. I certainly won’t switch anytime soon when KDE PIM – which is for me one of the main reasons to use KDE – isn’t included. And when, it is ready, I hope that all the current functionality will be maintained, including kpilot and kweather, etc.

  2. Bob,

    First, thanks for all the help you give on the lists. You’re an important part of this community. Since I’m planning to install 11.0 on my laptop first, I have your 4965 driver solution bookmarked. I seem to recall a similar issue with one of the 10.3 betas as well.

    Yes, KDE PIM is a showstopper for me too. I hope that gets resolved soon. In the meantime, I run KDE 4.0 as a separate user on my system.

    It is somewhat inevitable that, as new generations of software come out, the older bugs lose their urgency. It would be good if we had a bug-busting day/week where we could see if v4 does resolve earlier issues. Something for the KDE team to consider. Perhaps a suggestion at one of the IRC meetings?

    Description: I don’t know what kind of space limitation there is on the desktop selection slide (and those considerations play a role). I sympathize with those who might want to emphasize the “cutting-edginess” of KDE 4, but users unfamiliar with Linux would probably gravitate to the “mature and stable” description of 3.5. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it wasn’t that long ago that the user got no advice at all on what desktop to install, so even this is progress.

  3. Just remember the NIC T61 solution has changed from RC1 to 11.0.

    For RCI it was a matter of using the .81 version of the ipw driver from the RC1 DVD, but for 11.0, you really need to use the compat-wireless driver.

  4. I myself reminded all of my friends and co-workers that the KDE 4 desktop was not polished yet and to install KDE 3.5 until KDE 4 and SuSe released the up and coming 4.1. As everyone knows you are going to receive complaints even if a program worked smoothly because for one they do not know how to properly install and configure. The ones who complain the most usually are the ones who never had to develop a program.

    I have been following some of the reviews (if one would call them reviews) and it always seems they are comparing distro against distro. This always starts flame wars of my distro is better than yours and people just do not understand the Linux structure. Every system has its advantages and disadvantages, like comparing apples to oranges, and instead of flaming why not work together to better the entire system.

    What I am getting at is read, KDE 4 is still in Beta so expecting it to be perfect and than complaining about the SuSe developers is so far off base it makes me feel we have a bunch of people who do not understand computing at all. When installing 11.0 it gives one the choice so please expect exactly what you are going to encounter installing a Beta desktop.

  5. PeterPac,

    There are always different audiences for reviews. The two big questions for anyone considering going to Linux are always the same: “Why change operating systems in the first place?” followed by “OK, Linux is better, what distro do I use?” I can see why reviewers can get caught up in resolving the second issue to the exclusion of the first. Then you get sites like this where people just vote without commenting/explaining why they made their choice.

    I agree that we shouldn’t generate flame wars between distributions. I run openSUSE and (K)Ubuntu at different times on different machines. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, but either is superior to Windows in most ways.

    We do have to be cautious, though, when we complain about users “who never had to develop a program” or “do not understand computing at all.” These users, as I’m sure you realize, represent around 98% of the people using computers today (and probably always will). When the Linux community gets bashed for being elitist, not helpful, and hating users, that’s not good for us. We want more users, not fewer.

    My recommendation is exactly the same as yours: Install openSUSE 11.0. If you want the stable desktop out of the box, go ahead and install GNOME as the default. Once you’ve completed the initial install (and assuming you have plenty of disk space), get both KDEs.

    I’ll go further: Create a separate user to run KDE 4.0. That way you can play with all the 4.0 apps in whatever state they are in without risking your critical data. Nothing in KDE 4.0 will bring your system crashing down or turn your CPU into mush. At worst, things won’t work.

  6. Metaverse,

    I have found that almost all new users complain about the file system (I even did when I first started using Linux until I learned the system). I am a active member of GoboLinux and we are testing and working with a completely revamped Linux file manager and system now for about 1 year. We have made some very important gains in this area but this still requires more work and we have had some SUSE and Novell developers inquire about our work specifically on our uninstaller for programs. We have managed to completely restructure the file area so uninstalling a program is quite user friendly.

    Like you I also use Kubuntu and SUSE but since I am a computer forensic consultant I have to also use Windows. Not by choice but to be able investigate window base break ins. I see a great future for SUSE and in my spare time work on further developing this operating system. I am active in the SUSE US forum and I always try to help the new user to understand our programs or troubleshoot problems they encounter with most everything except Bluetooth which I do not use.

  7. Ok, 4.04 was the framework, not a finished product and while 4.1 is much, much better, it still has ways to go before I can say its stable but it seems to be progressing those steps like we thought it would.

    So can someone explain to me the savage three piece destruction of KDE 4 by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols including one which is all about how KDE 3.5 should be forked?
    Trolling for hits?
    Gnome fanboi (he says he is going back and not trying KDE for a long time) looknig for any reason?
    Fear of change?

    I get it when users start bitching taht they favorite font has been changed because everyone thinks things should default to how they do thing but a Linux writer going so apesh*t?

    Why do I use KDE?
    Because I like choice.
    I also like to make friends and family feel at home when they switch to Linux and KDE allows me to make it a seemless switch from the Windows world. (I know this irks a lot of people)
    Will KDE4 stop me from doing that like before?
    That’s all I care about.

    My parents are both retired (my dad is dualing booting a machine with Kubuntu, Xubuntu on his laptop and my mom is on PCLinuxOS) and both use KDE (dad has being using computers for 10 years, mom for less than 12 months). I had them use my laptop with KDE4 and they really didnt notice much of a difference from what they are running now.
    “Ok, so my Firefox icon is still here, so is thunderbird and kaffeine I know, so what exactly do you want me to see honey?”
    They so hate to use my sister’s Mac when they visit that I bought them a little EEE but as they are different levels of newb, they made perfect test subjects. My 6 year old could care less, he can figure out how to start, use a computer on his own, not matter the OS or desktop.
    People wont flee KDE4 because its different.

    And with those 50 millions brazilians school kids using KDE, I dont think 3.5 is going to go away soon.

  8. Nol,

    As it happens, I came across Vaughn-Nichols’ KDE 4 posts just before reading your comment. I will post about this soon.

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